The importance of community
Alexandra Muck | Friday, December 1, 2017
When people ask me why I came to Notre Dame, I rattle off the typical list of reasons: Notre Dame provided a top-ranked business program, it’s academically rigorous, I think I fit better in a smaller school, I like the Catholic identity. As I’m working my way through my sophomore year, though, I have realized that while those may be reasons why I originally came, the people and the sense of community are the real reasons I’ve stayed.
A freshman in my dorm asked me at the beginning of this year where I met most of my friends. Was it in classes? Was it from the dorm? I didn’t really know how to answer her because it was hard for me to pinpoint.
One of the strengths of the Notre Dame experience is that you belong to multiple communities. While being at Notre Dame is community enough, students here also belong to organizations, find friends in classes and foster community in their dorms, which often function as a home away from home.
All of these places contribute to sense of community that you find here. While you might be able to find parts of these on other college campuses, nothing that I’ve heard from others can rival what I’ve seen here at Notre Dame, and it only gets better as time goes on.
Moving into our twenties, we want to have a sense of independence — to feel like we can make our own choices, be responsible for ourselves and not have to rely on anyone. I don’t think, though, that we ever get too old to find somewhere to ground ourselves or for people who genuinely care about us, which is exactly what Notre Dame provides with its multiple layers of community.
Whether it’s meeting your best friends in your dorm or talking each week with someone from an organization you belong to or someone you met in class two semester ago, Notre Dame people provide a place to escape pressure for a bit and remind yourself why we push ourselves in everything we do in college. With the constant speed of college life in general, these steps back to a base sense of community are exactly what I need, and I hope I’m not the only one.
When I leave Notre Dame in just over two years, I know I’ll leave with more than a piece of paper for a degree. I’ll leave with lasting friendships and a home under the dome that I can come back to whenever I want. When you find a sense of community to belong to for life that always has an open door and carries no strings attached, it’s no small thing. When life gets hectic as we move into the holiday season and finals, I think it will serve us well to remember how we’re grounded in a community that features amazing people, and we should build it up while we’re here.
The views expressed in this column are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.