‘Tangible’ advice from a senior
Adam Ramos | Wednesday, April 25, 2018
After four years of writing for The Observer, the time has finally come to write my final inside column. So, in line with many that have come before me, here comes some reflective advice. And while I endorse the classic senior recommendations of “Always try new things” and “Take advantage of Notre Dame’s bountiful resources,” I thought I might try and deliver advice that’s a bit more tangible. The first being to move off campus as soon as possible.
Let me start by saying I really enjoyed my time on campus — Carroll Hall and the Vermin who inhabit it will always remain close to my heart. But, simply stated, living in a dorm stifles maturation. In my three semesters off campus, I’ve gleaned so many useful lessons by simply living in a house, such as fixing a fuse box, cleaning (everything), cooking, navigating a housing contract and dealing with communal chores, among many others. College is the time to figure these mostly-basic things out before the harsh reality of normal life sets in. So sitting in a tiny dorm room with a cleaning staff, RA, AR and rector seems like an unnecessary handicap for four years.
While I am at it, I would be remiss if I didn’t also mention the importance of expanding the social circle outside of the dorm bubble. Again, I don’t want to undersell the importance of the dorm community, but too often students completely organize their social life around the people that live close by. Notre Dame has a plethora of lovely, smart, interesting and diverse students, so limiting yourself by proximity can be extremely detrimental. So join clubs, be open to spending down time with students you don’t know very well or simply don’t be afraid to greet the girl wearing the cool T-shirt in DeBart. Having a strong, supportive system of friends is such an essential component of the positive collegiate experience — but it takes a little work.
The classic, “Enjoy your four years on campus, you have your whole life to travel,” is very bad, albeit very common, advice. The reality is that traveling to Rome for the weekend when you’re 30 is one thing, while living, studying and traveling for a five-month semester in a foreign country while in college is something entirely different. My semester aboard in Santiago, Chile was an indelible part of my experience at Notre Dame. Between normalizing to an entirely new culture, becoming fluent in Spanish and bonding with my fellow students abroad as well as my host family, I can’t say enough good things about study abroad at Notre Dame — and there is truly a program for everyone.
My last piece of advice finally has something to do with academics, and that is to never build a curriculum based on what looks good on a resume. I understand that in some ways college can be just job preparation, and so it’s absolutely fine to pick a major with a career in mind. But college is truly more than that. Picking up a minor in the program of Philosophy, Religion and Literature allowed me to take an array of tremendously insightful and stimulating classes on top of my international economics course load. Diversity in my course load allowed for a much more well-rounded education than the standard one-track approach, something I will always cherish from my time at Notre Dame.
To end, I just want to stress the importance of individuality. Don’t be afraid to defy convention; the Notre Dame group-think mentality is a very real thing — but it doesn’t have to rule your time here if you don’t let it. G’Irish.
The views expressed in this column are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.