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‘So Notre Dame:’ translations of ND cliches

| Monday, September 29, 2014

Now that we’ve been at school for a month, we’ve once again gotten used to (or introduced to, for freshmen readers) being around Notre Dame students 24/7. One important part of this unique culture, as with any, is the common language used to communicate ideas. And just like any language, sometimes there’s a hidden meaning behind the words we say. For this week’s column, I’ve decided to round up some of the oft-heard Notre Dame-isms I’ve picked up over the past two years, their corresponding translations and some words for the wise. These are some general themes I’ve heard over the years:

  1. “Ugh, I’m such a slacker this semester… I’m only in 15 credits!!”
    Translation: By any measure of reasonability, I am taking a perfectly demanding schedule of courses at one of the most academically rigorous universities in the country, yet somehow feel an obligation to overwhelm myself more than I already do. My problem with people who fault themselves for this is twofold: first, that the University defines full-time students as 12 credit hours, so you shouldn’t feel any sense of comparative guilt when you’re three credits ABOVE that threshold. Second, 15 credits is five (FIVE!!) three-credit classes as it is! We all know how demanding these classes can be, so you shouldn’t feel it necessary to add another one to prove to others how stressed out you can be.
  2. “I’ve only slept seven hours over the last four days.”
    Translation: I am either extraordinarily bad at basic time management skills, lying and wanting to brag about how much crap I have to do (more on that later) or seriously need to pull a Snoop Dogg to that sixth class of mine and, “drop it like it’s hot.” I don’t know about you, but I run out of things I can find for myself to do at 3 a.m. Wednesday that don’t involve Facebook or thinking about how comfortable my bed probably is. The vicious cycle propagates itself when you are too tired to go to/pay attention in class, and you have to struggle through an incomprehensible textbook and play catch-up. If you find yourself rocking back and forth in a cubicle in the library on your third cup of now-stale Au Bon Pain coffee, it may be time to take a step back and reevaluate.
  3. “I’m failing all my classes / I just failed that test / I can’t believe I just bombed that assignment, gosh”
    Translation: I got an A-. I must admit, I’ve been guilty of this one myself in the past, so admitting this is a problem doesn’t come easily. I’m all about having high personal standards and being upset when you don’t meet them — you’ve gotta find a way to motivate yourself to improve, after all. Don’t be that kid who makes people who actually didn’t do well feel even worse about their performance than they already do.
  4. “I shouldn’t even be going out right now, I have so much to do” OR talking about tests or exams while you’re supposed to be having a good time.
    Translation: I have absolutely no concept about what it means to de-stress. If you’re going to weigh us all down with your academic troubles while we’re all just trying to have a good time … just no.
  5. “Sorry, I’m too busy to get dinner/hang out/go to that movie with you!”
    Translation: If I step away from my work for more than an hour, I feel guilty about taking a break. Again, I cannot claim exemption from this one myself either. It is sometimes exceedingly difficult to take a break from the hustle and bustle of a demanding Notre Dame schedule, but the importance of making time for others, and yourself, cannot be overstated. If you find yourself “too busy” to get a non-Grab-and-Go meal every so often, chances are your friends miss you a lot and wonder if you got lost en route to the library.

So, what if you’re like me and find yourself identifying with any of these stereotypical ND student phrases? Instead of shrugging them off as normal, expected or just “so Notre Dame,” do something about it. Take a meal each week to just sit for an hour and talk with your roommate or BFF. Realize that no one is really in 22 credit hours this semester, so your “slacker” 15 is actually a-OK. And, most importantly, make time for yourself every so often. Go for a run, lay out on the quad or just vegetate for a while. Finally, be mindful of what you say because you never know how a Viewpoint writer will interpret it later.

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

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