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Abroad students adjust to campus life at ND

Madeline Buckley | Monday, September 10, 2007

After spending a semester abroad, many students say they view Notre Dame differently – a change that requires readjusting to on-campus classes, housing situations and South Bend social life.

One of the biggest differences, returnees say, is campus life. Senior Kaitlyn O’Leary spent the spring semester studying at John Cabot University in Rome.

“Living off campus this year helps because I was much more independent [in Rome],” she said. “I lived with five girls and cooked all of my meals. Dorm life would have been much harder to adjust to.”

Senior Kim Crehan, who studied in Toledo, Spain and lived with a host family, also said living on campus would have been a difficult adjustment.

“It’s easier to live off campus this year because I was more free in Spain,” she said. “People stay out much later, which would be a problem living on campus.”

Many students said returning to campus meant readjusting to greater demands in schoolwork.

“I had a much smaller workload in Rome, although I did miss some of the academic challenges of Notre Dame,” O’Leary said.

Senior Amanda Deckelman, who studied in Dublin, also felt the differences in academic structure.

“The biggest adjustment was being busy again,” she said. “Classes are structured differently here.”

For some students, however, studying abroad was similar to Notre Dame – making the return home less of an adjustment.

“Notre Dame London is much more like ND than other study abroad programs,” senior Christy Laufer said. “I took classes with students from Notre Dame. It was a lot like Notre Dame.”

Other students who studied in countries where a significant cultural immersion was necessary faced a greater adjustment.

Senior Katie Ward spent last semester teaching English in Puebla, Mexico. Living in Puebla was “more like high school,” she said, “because I was living with a family and taking a bus to school.”

Regardless of where seniors spent last semester, returning to Notre Dame meant coming home.

“Coming back to campus, I am trying to maintain my friends abroad. My circle of friends just got bigger,” O’Leary said.

Senior Mary DeBartolo, who studied in Copenhagen, said coming back to Notre Dame was something she looked forward to all semester.

“I am very happy to be back home with my friends at Notre Dame for my senior year,” she said. “It feels like home.”