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Summer: another in-between time

Bianca Almada | Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Lately, it has become increasingly apparent to me that the school year is very rapidly coming to a close. Constant discussion of next year’s room picks, DARTing for next semester and major declaration/switching meetings have everyone already looking to and planning for the future. The study days, weekend escapades and days in my current dorm room are very clearly numbered for the remainder of the semester, and I am not exactly sure how I feel about it.
Of course every college student is excited for the summer – a break from the stress of schoolwork, a reunion with friends and family, and a pursuit of new experiences. However, it can also signal separation, uncertainty and, if you will, the end of a short era. We drift into an in-between, entering into a transient period of time that may have no clear direction. We can fill it in whichever way we choose, and it can be stressful trying to figure out exactly how to do so. This concept of freedom can be scary without the backbone of the familiar places and faces of the Notre Dame community.
This summer, I will be interning in Los Angeles with the Hispanic newspaper, La Opinion, through Notre Dame’s Cross-Cultural Leadership Internship Program (CCLIP). Though I am ecstatic to begin working and gaining experience doing something that I enjoy, the opportunity also signifies unfamiliarity and separation – from my friends each returning to their respective hometowns or pursuing opportunities of their own, from my family carrying on with their own routines and from my boyfriend conducting undergraduate research on the Notre Dame campus. It will be strange to be separated from their comfort and from the sense of home they provide.
It also reminds me that my greater in-between time of college life is one step closer to being over. There is no summer break, no in-between in the “real world” – a life of work, responsibility and financial independence carries on every day without much interruption. There are a small handful of “summers” left, and I am close to eliminating one of them. I am slowly getting that much closer to reality.
This separation and newness is definitely not for the weak. It is for those who wish to seek independence, authenticity and true, exhilarating life. Perhaps it is through distance from our loved ones that we fully discover who we can be as individuals. We can better come to recognize our strengths as people, free from the influence or protection of others. We can take an unfiltered, critical look at ourselves and reach to discover our maximum potential. We can be elated when we are reunited with our loved ones once again and we can share our new experiences of growth with them.
Maybe we need a reminder that the in-between of college life does not last forever, as tragic as that may seem. College does seem to have the perfect configuration – engulfment by friends and social events, immersion in interesting study, engagement in countless opportunities and limited real-world responsibilities. However, this time is not meant to be permanent. It is the in-between of adolescence and the real world. Summer reminds us this period is a transient one. It gives college students the opportunity to savor and enjoy the last few “summers” of break they have as well as provides opportunities that offer insight and promise of the next chapter.
Time goes by at such an incredibly fast pace, and each moment of it should be optimized and taken advantage of. Though summer poses the challenge of separation from friends and/or family and the slow realization of ever-approaching reality, it has the potential to be one of the college student’s greatest vehicles of hope and personal growth.  
Bianca Almada is a freshman residing in Cavanaugh Hall. She is studying English, Spanish and journalism. She can be contacted at balmada@nd.edu
    The views expressed in this column are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.