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Sense of direction

| Monday, April 7, 2014

I’m going to preface this by saying I love Notre Dame. I can’t imagine going to school anywhere else, and I regularly find myself looking at the Dome and wondering how I got so lucky to I get to live here.
The differences between here and my home state of Montana seem monumental. Sometimes, I really can’t believe (and, more importantly, can’t understand why) I made the decision to move to Indiana of all places.
The thing is, as I sit here on the ninth floor of the library staring out towards Grace Hall and the Stepan Center, I’m still a little shocked by how flat Indiana is. I mean, I knew about this. It’s a fact I was well-acquainted with before uprooting myself 1,691 miles for school. Still, as a child raised in a valley in the middle of the Rocky Mountains, I didn’t realize quite how disorienting it would be.
In Missoula, I always know which way is south. I just have to find the South Hills and from there, I can orient myself using the cardinal directions. The mountains act as a sort of giant compass. I can’t find that in Indiana.
For most Domers, there would appear to be a similar landmark at Notre Dame: just find the Dome and then you know where you are.
Let me tell you something: the Dome is not the same as a mountain. I can walk around the Dome in a matter of minutes. So when I move around campus, it moves in relation to me. Using a huge mountain to orient myself is far more reliable, as it stays pretty consistently south of my location.
I don’t deny that the Dome is helpful for orienting yourself on campus. If I have a general idea of where it is, I can find almost any building based on a map. The Dome is not helpful if you tell me that you are east of something. Depending on my location on campus, the Dome could be east, west, north or south. Mountains don’t move like that.
My dad would probably hope for me to end this by saying that the Dome has helped me find my way after I felt lost in the disorienting move to Indiana. If I say this isn’t the case, I don’t think it means I love Notre Dame any less. If I want it to have some deeper meaning, I suppose I could make some allegory about how Notre Dame has broadened my horizons and opened my eyes to the millions of opportunities I wasn’t aware existed when I was in Montana.
I could say that my first year here has convoluted my plans for the future. I could argue that I’m learning new ways to orient myself and not just on the map. This wouldn’t be entirely inaccurate.
But perhaps, these are just facts. They don’t need to have some deep greater meaning to have meaning.
Indiana is flat. Montana is mountainous. The difference is disorienting. Maybe that’s all there is.

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

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About Caelin Miltko

I am a senior English and Irish language major, with a minor in Journalism. I spent the last year abroad in Dublin, Ireland and am currently a Walsh RA living in Pangborn.

Contact Caelin