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Bittersweet advice

Allan Joseph | Friday, August 17, 2012

For the last few weeks, I’ve been doing everything in my power to avoid writing this column. Packing, eating, sleeping, writing, cleaning (okay, not cleaning), anything to avoid this moment.
Well, it means I have to officially accept my status as a senior. It means I have to face the fact I only have one year left here.It means I have to tell you the truth: I wish, more than anything, I could be a freshman and experience four years of Notre Dame all over again.
I can’t do that, obviously. But I can give you a little advice that I hope will make your time here just as great – or even better – than mine has been.
First of all, have fun. Really, I mean it. Have a blast. These are a totally unique four years in your life. You have more freedom and fewer responsibilities in your first two years of college than you’ll ever have again. Take advantage of that. Go to parties. Soak in every last moment of a home football weekend, or maybe take an impromptu trip to an away game. Seize the precious weeks of nice weather and throw a Frisbee around on the quad. You’ll make the best friends in the world, and you won’t regret it.
Second, take risks. Change your major – once, twice or five times. Find something you really enjoy, and spend four years studying that. Join a club you never would have expected to join, or maybe one that has nothing to do with your career goals. That’s how I got involved with The Observer, and I don’t think I ever made a better decision. (Note to staff: please remind me of this in three months.)
Third, take advantage of all the opportunities Notre Dame has to offer you. From Center for Social Concerns seminars to unique social events like PigTostal, from the Career Center to interhall sports, this community has a vast array of once-in-a-lifetime opportunities. Whether you study abroad in Australia or simply get to know your rector really well, you’ll have too many unforgettable experiences to count by the time you graduate.
Fourth, eat at J.W. Chen’s. Other unforgettable South Bend culinary experiences include Rocco’s, Bruno’s, Barnaby’s, Elia’s, El Pareiso, Uptown Kitchen and the ever-stalwart Fiddler’s Hearth. Your stomachs will thank me, I promise.
Fifth and most importantly, never forget how blessed you are to be a part of the Notre Dame family. Soak up every moment. Thank your parents profusely. Recognize just how true – and timeless – the words of the Alma Mater are.
If you do, my experience writing this column will make sense. In just a few all-too-short years, you’ll be the ones giving bittersweet advice to incoming freshmen. But I can promise you, without a doubt, that you too will tell them just how much your heart will forever love thee, Notre Dame.