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Coming home from a long summer

Bianca Almada | Wednesday, August 28, 2013

After making the long journey to return to my humble dorm room, having a dramatic reunion with my Notre Dame friends and talking for hours on end about all of the exciting things that will take place under the dome this year, I have to say I am beyond excited to be back at school. The promise of a new beginning looms in the air, as everyone is eager to set new goals and create new memories. Everyone seems to have a spring in his or her step, soaking in the comfort and the excitement that comes with moving back in and enjoying the first few days with limited schoolwork.   

College summers truly are the longest summers. Although I was blessed with an eye-opening internship experience for eight weeks as well as six weeks in my hometown this summer, many times I found myself longing for my life in South Bend. I wholeheartedly enjoyed spending time with my family as well as gaining work experience, but the time away from the Notre Dame campus often felt long, even dragged out. I missed my friends, the familiarity, the freedom and the easiness of living within walking distance from everything I need.

Much to my surprise, however, many of my friends from other universities found these sentiments funny, even strange. I would say something along the lines of “I can’t wait to get back to school,” and people would just look at me oddly and ask why. “Isn’t schoolwork stressful?” they would ask, along with, “Doesn’t it feel nice to just relax and not have to worry about everything?” and “Didn’t you miss your family?” I would answer all of these questions in the affirmative, which of course only furthered their confusion.

The truth is that I could never eloquently put into words exactly why I was so excited to return to Middle-of-Nowhere, Ind. I could never really say what it was about Notre Dame that made me love it and miss it so much. The spirit of Notre Dame is really an indescribable feeling. It is as if one cannot fully understand what Notre Dame is and what it means without spending some time on its campus.

Notre Dame is walking back to the dorm after a long day and the sparkle of the golden dome providing encouragement to keep going. It is walking around campus on a blissful football Saturday and realizing that every visitor wishes that he or she were in the students’ shoes. It is going to the Grotto on a quiet night and feeling solidarity from the other community members praying. It is singing the alma mater arm-in-arm with fellow students at the end of a sporting event. For me, it can even be taking in the beautiful trees and buildings that decorate campus as I walk alone, looking around me and taking in the fact that, yes, I go to school here and, yes, this is real life.

And now this coming weekend, as my family flies in all the way from Los Angeles. for their very first home football game, I cannot wait to share this with them. Of course, my parents already sing the school’s praises to anyone who asks, my 16-year-old sister has her eye on the school, and they were all present for Frosh-O weekend. But I know this will be different. The electricity of a football weekend and the overwhelming amount of school pride is enough to make anyone emotional, and the experience will answer the question “What makes Notre Dame so special?” better than my words will ever be able to. This will come along with their realization that Notre Dame is my home now. California with my family will always be my home, but this campus and its people are my home for the time being.

This is life – messy, complicated, beautiful, rewarding, scary, real life. It is the here-and-now, the who-I-am, and the where-I-am-going. It is this beautiful campus, this talented student body, the promise of a new school year and the feeling that there is nowhere else quite like this university. For the time being, my reality consists of Notre Dame, my budding career and my college shenanigans. This semester, I hope to help you to accept yours, and to see the beauty that it holds.

Bianca Almada is a sophomore 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.