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To Notre Dame

| Monday, April 30, 2018

Dear Notre Dame,

Last time I wrote I told you that I wanted to touch briefly on some of the people and experiences that made my first year the incredible experience it was. Briefly forgetting the fact that you are gifting us with finals in a week, here are some of my thoughts. I want to start with some thank-yous and interjections about some individuals that impacted my freshman year.

I want to thank Professor MacKenzie (capital k, of course) for literally changing the way I see the world through his writing seminar. Through an entire year of classes, his class remains one of my favorites. Coffee on me next year, absolutely, and my apologies if there is any unnecessary wordiness and redundancy in this letter.

Dr. Erin McLaughlin and her writing and rhetoric class that transformed the writing process for me.

Professor McAdams and the debates, discussions and thoughts about Havel and authoritarian societies that I look forward to having in the coming years of college.

Professor Layman, who taught my American politics class in my first semester and completely opened up the subject for me.

Kasey Swanke, my first-year advisor, and the entire First Year of Studies, as well. FYS really does an incredible job preparing freshmen for the transition into college and teaching us how to navigate courses as we prepare for later years, as well as never failing to answer those early-morning emails about registration and future classes.

I want to thank Mr. Hubbard and Denise, part of the cleaning staff at Hesburgh Library and Coleman-Morse, respectively. I really appreciate all of the conversations about life we had over the course of the two semesters, and I look forward to the ones we will have in future semesters.

One year is over and I am making this sound like a graduation letter. I’m sorry. I just wanted to take a step back and reflect a bit on all that’s happened. I could end this letter right now with cliches about how fast it went and how it all rushed by, but I won’t (see what I did just there?). Instead, I just want to say thank you. Thank you for the Chainsmokers concert and the shows at Legends. Thank you for Show Some Skin and student stand-up comedy shows.

I am not going to thank you for finals because no one in their right mind would. But, on a more serious note, I do want to thank you for the challenges and late nights trying to perfect the last lines of papers and memorize equations. I came to you because I wanted a challenge, because I wanted to be tested and tried, and that is what you have given me. As Dean Page talked about and showed by example during Welcome Weekend, all of those prehistoric years ago, I cannot wait to see where the rest of my journey here takes me, during college and after. That’s an entirely different letter, one that I have yet to live.

So for now, I’ll just say that I can’t wait to be back here next year, standing in freezing rain as we watch our football team march dominantly through the season and win the national championship. So much has already happened, and I can’t wait to see what other experiences and memories will be shaped in the coming years. Next year, I won’t be looking at you through the eyes of a first-year student anymore. I’ve found my “secret” study places, I know where all of the dorms are (that’s a casual lie), I know that people are unsure of what “DeBartolo” is, but know that “DeBart” is right next to the stadium, at a right angle to the Snite Museum. The freshman experience is over. There, I said it. But I can’t wait to see and experience campus and college life now that I’ve already been here a full year.

The first time I saw the dome, there was a nervous-yet-excited anticipation. For me, it represented a challenge, a new time in my life that I wanted to jump into headlong. Now, with freshman year over, I see the dome a little differently. Yes, of course, the challenge is still there. But, after an entire year has passed, after the midnight papers, the first round of finals, the ABP chai lattes, the madness of football games and all of the endless moments and times I could recall, I see it as a symbol for home.

See you next year,

Gabriel Niforatos

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

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