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What I really learned at Notre Dame

Jay Fitzpatrick | Thursday, August 13, 2009

Before I begin, I need to apologize to my parents. They invested all that time and energy on me and my education, and all they really needed to do was pay rent for me in the house I spent most of the last nine months living in.

I learned more there anyways.

The first thing I learned was the importance of cultural diversity.

Diversity doesn’t just mean basic differences between people that you hear about most of the time in cultural-based classes, such as racial or gender diversity. (Sure, I lived with a Filipino the last three years, but it would be wrong to pigeonhole everyone’s differences into what they look like – especially at a place like Notre Dame.)

As a group we embraced the subtle differences that exist among people from the South, engineering majors and even Zahmbies. Without these different cultures, I never would have listened to anywhere near as much Toby Keith, couldn’t have built a structure to prop up a hose in Lake Geneva or … well I didn’t learn that much from the Zahm guy.

That diversity also helped us out this year because everyone had their own particular skill set that made everything easier. If we needed a fridge moved from just one person, we had a guy for that. If we needed to know who the Tsar of All the Russias was in 1815, we had a guy for that. If we needed someone to run 13 miles with you no problem, we had a guy for that, too.

I also learned about how important it was to remember what really matters.

Sure, when you first got a bad grade, you likely weren’t very pleased about it. When I got a C- on a freshman philosophy test (damn you David Hume), I was very upset at the time, but I think I’ve just about moved on by now.

But when you are with your friends and something great happens, it’s something you will always look at and smile.

Living together for a year, obviously we’ve been through a lot together. So that we would always have our memories from senior year, we decided to make a mnemonic device to help remember what happened.

We took a break when we got nine pages in 15 minutes.

But when you want to look back at your time in college, I would bet dollars to doughnuts that you are going to want to reminisce about things like porch sitting or the Kahuna and not worrying about that paper you didn’t do so well on.

The last important lesson I learned from 627 St. Peter St. was how much I needed to cherish my last year here at Notre Dame.

There probably won’t be another time in any of our lives when we can get away with the sort of things we did here. I really don’t think the best way to prepare for a real job than staying up until about 4 a.m. to play Rock Band with friends, but it seemed like a great idea to prepare for class some days.

There were so many things I did this year I couldn’t have imagined doing coming in as a freshman, and just about all of them were great experiences at the time and will remain great memories for years to come.

The old cliché about college is that these are the best four years of your life. That will most likely turn out not to be true for most of us, myself included. There are many great things to live in the future, and many more great experiences and memories to make.

But when I look back at that list from this year, I know that this will definitely crack the top four.

Jay Fitzpatrick was a double major in history and Arabic Studies who lived in Dillon Hall for three years and, obviously, off-campus senior year. He will be working for the federal government next year, although he isn’t exactly sure what his job entails.

At his time with The Observer he is most proud of the fact that he can now name the nicknames for all 120 Division IA football teams.

He would like to thank his parents and his fiancée for all of their love and support during his time at Notre Dame. Without you three he couldn’t have accomplished anywhere near the things that he has.

The views expressed in this column are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.