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Scene Selections: Welcome Weekend edition

, , and | Friday, August 23, 2019

Diane Park | The Observer
Diane Park | The Observer

On Campus

Welcome, First Years! 

It’s a pleasure to finally meet you all: bright-eyed and bushy-tailed, fresh off a full-fledged hot girl summer, ready to start a brand new life in a brand new home. Your arrival has us feeling absolutely amazing — in the words of consummate summertime songsmiths Whitney, “Every time you come around / The days of the year slow down” — and we hope you can be as happy as we are. To ensure your ongoing happiness, we’ve compiled a cheat sheet detailing the ins-and-outs — all the little quirks — of cultural life both on campus and off. 

What’s on the Aux? 

Expect all the pop hits — Lizzo, Lil Nas, etc., etc.— but also be prepared for these timeless cuts when a Domer’s on the aux. 


  1. The Alma Mater: “Notre Dame Our Mother” — Joseph Casasantas and Rev. Charles O’Donnell, C.S.C.


Get ready to sing this tune, arm in arm with your classmates, to punctate every official (and the occasional unofficial) engagement at this fine University. The diddy, though short, packs a punch. 


  1. “Canticle of the Turning” —  Rory Cooney


“My soul cries out with a joyful shout” is a line to be taken literally, as you’ll soon discover a chorus of your peers launches into their rowdy rendition of this hymnal standard at dorm mass. When you see hymn #772 on the setlist, get ready to rock out. 


  1. “Here Come the Irish” — Cathy Richardson 


Celtic folk meets Phil Collins on this certified, wind-pipe clearing, sing-along. Make sure to loosen up the vocal chords before game day because you (and several thousand of your closest friends) will have to deliver its iconic chorus before every kick-off. 


  1. “I’m Shipping up to Boston” — The Dropkick Murphys 


South Bend is nowhere near Boston. We know this. Doesn’t make The Dropkick Murphys’ vaguely Irish riffage any less jaw-droppingly awesome. Da da dadadada dadada!


  1. “Mr. Brightside” — The Killers


No comment.

Seriously? Do you dweebs listen to anything cool?

Chill. There’s more. Notre Dame’s fledgling music scene, for instance. Keep your ear to the ground and you might hear rumblings from ND’s diverse community of student musicians: everything from funk-infused indie-pop (Basement Boxers), acerbic hip-hop (LadiBree), feverish folk rock (Felix Rabito), fuzz-caked indie rock (The Shifties), soothing synth-wave (Ashley Finster) and more.

Where can I go to the pictures?

At Notre Dame, any student can access quality films — not just the Film, Television and Theatre majors. While Netflix or Hulu may seem like the easy option, far more engaging options are just a short walk away:

Notre Dame’s Browning Cinema is located on the south side of campus in the DeBartolo Performing Arts Center. It functions as the campus’ de facto movie theater — screening the blockbuster hits, albeit later than the local South Bend movie theaters. Showings include, but are not limited to, Oscar nominees, foreign films, Notre Dame student thesis projects and Christmas films during December.

Every Thursday, Notre Dame’s Student Union Board hosts a movie watch, so students can view newly released films. Showings typically take place in DeBartolo Hall. 

The unmistakable 14-floor Hesburgh Library houses a thorough film collection accessible to Notre Dame’s student body with any valid student ID card. 

Or see some art? 

Notre Dame’s Snite Museum of Art is located at the heart of student life, attached to O’Shaughnessy Hall between the Duncan Student Center and DeBartolo Hall. Admission is free. Making a stroll through its collection and exhibits is as easy as opening the door. 

Out past the sparkling new architecture building and the DeBartolo Performing Arts Center, Notre Dame’s Charles B. Hayes Sculpture Park offers a secluded path lined with towering structures and natural features. 

How do I live the lit(erary) life.

Theater productions abound at ND. Once each semester, the Actors from the London Stage (AFTLS) send five actors to perform a work by Shakespeare (with only a small suitcase for props!). Student troupes on campus include the Not So Royal Shakespeare Company, the Pasquerilla East Musical Company (PemCo) and the Student Players.

The Hammes Bookstore hosts many creative writing and poetry readings upstairs. These are usually advertised by the English department. If you want to write yourself, check out the Mustard Creative Writing Club!

Many miscellaneous lectures take place at ND, so definitely check those out too.

Where can I hit the books?

There are more than a few places to Study Like a Champion. Though many students flock to the impressive 14 floors of Club Hes, here are some other spots to try:

Hammes Bookstore (patio and upstairs): Take advantage of the warm days in August and September to work on the comfy furniture outside. Once winter hits, you can take refuge on the first floor and enlist the help of Einstein’s coffee to keep warm. Or, you can get lost among the books (for classes and for pleasure reading) upstairs. There is even a new glass-cased reading room. 

Charron Family Café (New Waddick’s): Although it doesn’t look like it did in “Rudy,” the remodeled cafe now contains more study space and more coveted booths. 

Duncan Student Center: Whether you want to be amidst the bustle of activity (first floor), have a little bit of background noise (second floor), or in a silent space with a great view of the Dome (fifth floor/Meruelo Center for Career Development), Duncan Student Center has it all.

LaFortune Student Center: You can’t go wrong with the O.G. student center, either. While arguably the loudest study environment, there’s a Starbucks, and you have a choice of booths on the ground floor and in the basement.

The Lounge in Debartolo Hall: A triangular-shaped lounge on the first floor full of spots to study in between classes. The best part is the beanbags.

How do I  get involved?

If you’re sporty: RecSports organizes interhall and co-rec leagues as well as yoga, spin and zumba classes.

If you want to help out: The Center for Social Concerns is located in Geddes Hall. Their courses include community-based learning options and social concerns seminars, which allow students to apply what they learn through immersion and service in the South Bend community.

If you can sing: Notre Dame Glee Club, Halftime Acapella, Unchained Melodies, The Undertones, Chorale, Liturgical Choir … the possibilities are endless!

If you can dance: ND/SMC Ballroom Club, Notre Dame Dance Company (modern dance), Notre Dame Swing Club and many more.

If you want to feed your soul: Campus Ministry organizes Compass — small group sessions in which first years can discuss faith. Iron Sharpens Iron offers worship and talks every Thursday night in Coleman Morse (CoMo).

If you’re good with a mic: Host a radio show on WVFI and model the club’s famed NPR-style merch. 

Tip: Look at the posters that plaster the walls on the first floor of O’Shaughnessy Hall. 

Oh, and write for us!

Scene wants you. If you love the arts, have an interest in journalism, enjoy writing or thinking about culture in your spare time, love or hate Kanye, make music or want to — we’d love to have you. Shoot and email to [email protected] or visit our website if you’re curious, even just a little bit. (And sport our merch, too.)

Off Campus

There’s no shortage of creative and fun ways to escape the campus bubble. Getting downtown is easier than you think — even if you’re stranded without a car, you can hop on the South Bend Transpo bus at the Hesburgh Library circle for free. Here’s some Scene wisdom for how to explore your new home.

South Bend at a Glance.

Population size: about 101,000

Mayor: Pete Buttigieg 

Founded: 1865 

Colleges: Saint Mary’s College, Bethel College, Holy Cross College, Indiana University South Bend, University of Notre Dame


South Bend has some awesome restaurants.

CoreLife: Salads, grain bowls, broth bowls — an alternative to Chipotle.

Crooked Ewe: Set on the St. Joseph River, this restaurant (along with Evil Czech Brewery and Corndance Tavern) serves thoughtful creations with fresh ingredients.

Parisi’s Ristorante: All things Italian — an alternative to Barbicci.

Yellow Cat Café: A homestyle breakfast diner.

Rock out.

Vegetable Buddies has live, local music nightly in its friendly, youthful ambiance. 

Fiddler’s Hearth is the go-to stop for Trad (Traditional Irish Music) and craic (fun).

The General puts on acoustic sets in a cozy cafe setting. 

LangLab is an experimental zone wherein South Bend’s avant guarde can strut their stuff. 

Seek out student basements, porches, living rooms for ND house shows — loud, sweaty and intimate nights with the community’s finest up-and-coming talent. 

Get cultured.

Visually: The South Bend Museum of Art has five galleries showcasing beautiful works both contemporary and historical. 

At the Theater: South Bend Civic Theatre has no shortage of shows coming up. 574 Theatre Company operates in the summertime. Elkhart Civic Theatre is doing Mamma Mia!

Or catch up on school work.

Chicory: Locations in downtown South Bend and Mishawaka that serve buzzy, New-Orleans inspired coffee drinks, food and stellar baked goods.

Zen Cafe: Provides high-end coffee and sells records.

South Bend Chocolate Café: Offers chocolatey treats, soup, salad and sandwiches, plus some good old nostalgia. (Patio is nice when the weather permits.)

Bigby Coffee: An alternative to Starbucks with a drive-through and colorful interiors to make work less of a chore.

Free weekend?

Have a free weekend without a football game? Trade out Notre Dame football for a South Bend Cubs game while they’re still in season. Or, on a Saturday morning, wander through a maze of fresh produce and beautiful locally-made goods at the South Bend Farmer’s Market, and finish with a lunch at the South Bend Farmer’s Market Cafe, inarguably one of the best breakfasts in the city. If you can muster the courage, rafting down the East Race — open to the public as late as Sept. 9 for less than $10 — is a must. If all else fails, grab your friends and go for a walk along the St. Joseph River in the evening, when the River Lights, large interactive light sculptures along the river, are just starting to glow.

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