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Freshman year myths

Madeline Buckley | Saturday, August 21, 2010

This weekend three years ago, I learned all my dorm cheers, played an awkward version of soccer where one of my legs was tied to the leg of a boy from Carroll and sat through a few skits about the hook up culture in college.
After two days of constant Frosh-O activities, the action subsided into a quiet Monday, the day before classes started. That Monday was when the homesickness set in.
My parents left the previous day, and I had finished unpacking and gone for a run around the lakes. I didn’t know what to do with the rest of the day, and the lack of activity allowed for too much thinking. I missed my friends, family and my house.
In nearly every orientation activity, administrators, rectors and hall staff stressed that Notre Dame is a family, but I didn’t feel at home in my dorm surrounded by strangers.
Weeks went by, and every time someone asked me if college was the best time of my life, I nodded with a bright smile. “Yep, college is awesome,” I always said.
But the truth was, I didn’t feel at home at Notre Dame until a few months had passed.
And so with this story, I want to debunk the freshman year myth that every new student is immediately enamored with Notre Dame and no one gets homesick. Chances are, some of your peers that smile and exclaim that Notre Dame is the best thing that ever happened to them are secretly still trying to adjust and find their niche.
Anyone who had trouble falling asleep the first night in the dorm or thought DomerFest was uncomfortable to say the least, this column is for you — because it’s just going to get better.
One thing you can count on during your first month of school is being constantly busy. The weeks flew by, and suddenly, I realized I finally felt at home at Notre Dame. Life in Breen Phillips Hall offered a unique bonding experience.
The girls who I watched a nightly episode of Gilmore Girls with became the people that helped me hobble home with a severely bruised toe one night after I thought it would be a good idea to jump down some porch stairs at a house party (thanks guys), and then they became some of my best friends.
Through dressing up as ballerinas to play Bookstore Basketball, celebrating a wonderful 21st birthday Fever-style and thousands of late-night futon talks, I found my Notre Dame family — sorry for the cliché — and you will too.
Stay busy, meet as many people as you can and study hard but try to relax a little too. Another Notre Dame myth I will try to discredit: that it’s not okay to get a B. Take it from someone who has gotten a few. Although this might not actually be a myth, as I have had several annoyingly perfect roommates who have never gotten a B.
The bottom line is, everything you hear about Notre Dame being an indescribably special place is true.
For me, it took time to grow into it, to have those experiences that create a bond with a person or a place. And with three years of serious and silly, sometimes angry or tearful talks in a small dorm room with my best friends, I have created a home at Notre Dame, which leads me to my final conclusion that just recently hit me like a bolt of lightning.
Enjoy it because it will be over in the blink of an eye.

Madeline Buckley is a senior American Studies and Spanish major with a minor in Journalism, Ethics and Democracy. She is from a Chicago suburb, just like 98 percent of the students you have met so far at various Frosh-O activities, and can be contacted at mbuckley@nd.edu
The views expressed in this column are those of the author and not
necessarily those of The Observer.