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Can we top this?

Aaron Steiner | Friday, May 14, 2010

Fears about post-college life hit me hard Monday driving back from Wrigley Field after hanging around Chicago all day. I mentioned to a friend of mine that, in one week, we’ll be sitting at home and won’t be students anymore.
In that particular moment, having just spent the day with friends bumming around downtown, going to the ballpark, getting tipsy and having generally just a great time, I thought to myself: how will I ever top the last four years?
In the last four years at Notre Dame, I, like the rest of you, have had experiences I never imagined and made friends that will last a lifetime. We could talk for hours about that time freshman year our first TC party got busted, the summer we snuck into the tunnels, how much we loved tap with McKenna, the St. Patrick’s day we drank in class, how we lived through the circus over Obama’s visit last year, and on and on and on.
But what happens now, when that’s all over? This worry hasn’t been helped by the dozens of people who say you should “enjoy college while you can” because “they’re the best years of your life.” It’s probably good advice while you’re starting out, but it makes me sick to think about today.
But what now? Will I just turn into a wannabe-student alum — the alums who come back for all the football games, get wasted at tailgates and hit on undergrads at the Backer?I hope not. I want a life after college other than trying to re-live my college days.
What it boils down to is that I still want some adventure after college. And, in retrospect, having an adventure is something I’ve learned how to do fairly well in the last few years.
The best friendships, the best memories were usually about taking a risk, stepping out of my comfort zone, doing something spontaneous. I would have never had such a great career at Notre Dame had I been a risk-averse hobbit. It was diving into something new, something unexpected, or something adventurous that provided me with an unforeseen opportunity or a new friendship.
Like the time we decided to go to Cairo while studying abroad in Innsbruck, got on the plane without a plan, got lost and ended up riding the camels to the pyramids. That was stepping out of our comfort zone.
Or the time we did the Hesburgh Challenge at the end of this semester and were nearly caught on the 13th floor by a janitor. That was risky.
Or, even something like trying out for the marching band freshman year on a whim, and later going to the Sugar Bowl with some of my new best friends. That was an adventure.
College and the freedom it provides young adults like us is the ideal time to find adventure and have fun. But who says the adventure has to end with graduation? So that’s my goal for the next few years. Though, living in Chicago a mere two hours from campus I’ll be at a high risk of becoming one of those wannabe-undergrad alums, I’ll be making a point of seeking out adventure after college.
Even if we don’t think we can “top” the Notre Dame experience, we’ll have the memories and friendships to carry with us, along with a sense of adventure and spontaneity to make more great memories down the road, even as our college years come to a close.

Aaron Steiner will graduate with a degree in Management and German. After graduation, he is working for Deloitte in Chicago and will try to balance coming back to campus and being a wannabe-undergrad. He’ll also try finding adventure by (hopefully) visiting his adventurous friends in Korea and Europe and around the U.S. He owes everything to Mom and Dad, Ellie, Peter, Andrew and all of his friends — he will be forever grateful.
The views expressed in this column are those of the author and not
necessarily those of The Observer.