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viewpoint

People watching

| Wednesday, April 24, 2019

I have grown to appreciate people watching as a form of entertainment and at times, good distraction. Growing up in Austin, I can confidently say the phrase “Keep Austin Weird” manifests in the random art — from fashion to murals to music — throughout the city, but also in its people, in the best way possible. I think we can learn a lot about humanity, or simply be amused by it, just by observation, but I promise people watching isn’t weird … if you find the right place.

Starting from the time my older brother got his driver’s license, we have scouted our favorite places in Austin and determined the criteria for the best spots to people watch. I think our criteria applies to any city or campus. In addition to a place where there is a flow of people walking, or moving via some mode of transportation, you want to be able to hear people but not well enough for it to be considered eavesdropping. You want to observe people from far enough away without them thinking you’re staring at them. Ideally, you melt into the environment which surrounds you. While it may not be as easy to be entertained on Notre Dame’s campus by people watching as it is in the various “hippie hangouts” in Austin, I do believe there are some good places to people watch on campus.

I asked a few friends for their input and compiled the following list, in no particular order, of the best places to people watch on campus:

The LaFun basement from about 1 to 2:30 a.m. on Friday and Saturday nights: No explanation is necessary.

The High School Musical stairs in the Duncan Student Center: These are great for discrete people watching, and the ideal time is during the lunch rush.

The circular concrete sitting area on the South Quad side of O’Shag: In addition to a great spring reading spot, this spot is a stellar viewing of not only the courtyard face statue but also of people during passing periods.

Waddick’s coffee shop in O’Shag: I like grabbing a coffee here in between classes and seeing all the different books people are reading. Sometimes, if I’m really procrastinating my work, I even try to guess their majors.

The lakes: A walk around Saint Mary’s and Saint Joseph’s lakes is always nice, and I also recommend laying on the small hill in front of the seminary on a sunny day.

The quads: I’m biased, but nothing beats people watching on North Quad on a sunny afternoon, and the music, at times nice and at times interesting, is often provided by the Zahm common rooms.

Bond Hall steps: While this spot includes a good view of the Basilica and the Dome, it’s also a quiet spot at dusk to catch people walking to and from their dorms and other study spots.

Finally, while people watching is fun, squirrel watching is arguably even more entertaining, especially during springtime. While the trash cans outside of NDH are popular places for squirrels to hangout, my favorite place to sit and watch squirrels is on the benches outside of Hayes Healy. Next time you have a free 20 minutes, enjoy some people watching, and maybe even some squirrel watching!

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

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