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Farewell for now

| Monday, December 3, 2018

I hate endings, I hate goodbyes and I hate change. Obviously, all three of those things are important parts of life for which we have to toughen up and that we have to get through. But that still doesn’t stop me from feeling nauseated whenever it comes time to bid people and experiences I cherish adieu.

In about a month or so, I will take temporary leave of sunny South Bend and relocate to Toledo, Spain, for the semester. Of course, I’ll be back in August. Nevertheless, I can’t help but feeling that this transition represents the end of an era. When I return, many of my friends will have graduated and others will be living off-campus. My time here will rapidly be drawing to a close. I want to use the opportunity of this Inside Column to reflect and express some gratitude.

When I arrived at Notre Dame in August 2016, I was overwhelmed. I hadn’t been groomed to come here since the cradle. In fact, my application here was a senior year afterthought. Welcome Weekend was only my fourth visit to campus. I had to consult the campus map on my phone for the first month. Much to the chagrin of my wallet, it took me a semester to figure out what a Flex Point was. Raised in a spiritual but predominantly secular East Coast environment, the Catholic Midwest presented some culture shock. I watched with frustration as other people dove in headfirst while I gradually adjusted to the water.

Over time, I learned that Notre Dame is much more “choose your own adventure” than people often realize. I impulse applied both to work nightly production at The Observer and to be a TA in the philosophy department. Over 60 bylines and about 50 somewhat-more-enlightened first years later, I like to think I’ve contributed something to the community through these relatively niche activities. When it came time to study abroad, I opted for the smaller program in Toledo over the more popular London and Dublin. I also participated in a summer program in Jerusalem that I had stumbled upon practically by accident. Even so, I left a piece of my heart in Jerusalem. I’ve found my happiness so far by eschewing convention. Don’t be afraid to step outside the box because it doesn’t fit the “Notre Dame experience.”

Of course, I need to thank many people for the joy of my time thus far at Notre Dame. So, to all my friends, those I have met in the corridors of Keough Hall, in the basement of South Dining Hall, on an overnight bus to D.C., half a world away in Israel and everywhere else in between: thank you. Thank you for supporting me and providing the color to my time here. To the friends who I see frequently: thanks for being a constant presence in my life. To the friends I haven’t seen for a while: I miss your presence, don’t hesitate to reconnect. To my senior friends who I might not cross paths with for a while: thank you, good luck and stay in touch. Of course, thank you also to my family, my professors and my friends from back home. I am who I am today because of you all.

With that, I’ve reached the moment I most despise: the end. Godspeed, everyone. This is Tom Naatz, signing off for now. See you in August.

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

About Tom Naatz

Tom is a senior at University of Notre Dame. He is majoring in Political Science and Spanish and is originally from Rockville, Maryland. Formerly The Observer's Notre Dame News Editor, he's now a proud columnist for the paper.

Contact Tom