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Gratefulness

As I made my way back from Chicago to South Bend after a relaxing and enjoyable Thanksgiving break with my family, I found myself reflecting on the last few days with an immense amount of gratitude.

Last year, during my first year of college, I spent the beginning part of Thanksgiving break working on a film analysis project and most of the rest of it filled with anxiety prepping for what was sure to be a very arduous Biology final. I realized that, even with this much needed break, I truly didn’t have much of a “break.” Even when I did get to take moments to relax, I subconsciously kept thinking about all that I could or should be doing to make my life easier during finals season. 

This year, however, was the first year that I truly felt I could experience the “break” part of Thanksgiving break, and for that, I am very grateful. 

At the start of break, I got to hangout with my friend Grace who was celebrating Thanksgiving in Chicago with her family. While hanging out, we played a card game with my brother and roommate from last year called, “We’re Not Really Strangers.” We also attempted not to burn sugar cookies. We all had a really fun time together, and I was so grateful to introduce one of my closest Notre Dame friends to my first-year roommate and brother.

Last year, my roommate celebrated Thanksgiving with us, and I was so happy to be able to do that again this year. My family doesn’t really have any particular Thanksgiving traditions, as we’re always doing something different each year, but celebrating Thanksgiving with my first-year roommate has kind of become its own tradition. This year, we’re on two different campuses, so I was really grateful for the time to catch-up and see what she has been up to this past semester. 

My brother drove us downtown, and we got to experience the madness of Black Friday shopping, even though we decided not to buy anything. On our way back, we got to look at all of the different Christmas decorations, and I noted how grateful I was to be home, even if it was just for a short time. 

During break, my family also got our Christmas tree. My family goes all out when it comes to decorating for Christmas, which includes multiple Christmas trees throughout our house. This past Friday, we got our real Christmas tree from our local church and decorated it the next day. I was grateful for the time spent decorating the tree and for the pine smell that filled the room. Christmas is in the air, no pun intended. 

Towards the end of break, I also got to hangout with my cousin, Grace, who is a first-year at Tulane. I enjoyed getting to hear about her college experience, as well as reflect on my own. I was so grateful for our much needed time together.

And as much as I longed for a few extra days of break, I am grateful to be back in South Bend at Notre Dame. While these final few weeks of the semester are sure to be challenging at times, I know I will also be grateful for them and for what’s to come.

Isabelle Kause is a sophomore at Notre Dame studying sociology and minoring in journalism. When she’s not busy, you can find her listening to country music or Taylor Swift or trying out new makeup/skincare products. She can be reached at ikause@nd.edu.

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

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Viewpoint

Sibling rivalry

As twins, my brother and I have spent most of our lives together. We attended the same grade school and high school and could very easily relate to one another when it came to the joys and stresses of everyday life. People have occasionally asked us if we have “twin telepathy, ” and while our answer is always no, we do share a close bond with occasional moments of competitiveness. 

After graduating from high school, we knew that going to college would be our first time going to different schools, as well as our longest time apart from each other. While I decided to stay in the midwest and attend Notre Dame, my brother decided to venture out to the east coast and attend Boston College. While we once saw each other every day, we now only see each other every couple of months during the school year. In two separate areas of the country, a mere 887 miles apart, we manage to remain close through FaceTime calls and Snapchat. And, even though we thought we’d no longer be able to relate to one another as much as we used to prior to attending different colleges, we still find ourselves able to relate in many ways, whether it’s about a class we found challenging or something fun we did over the weekend.

Given that we attend rival schools, Nov. 19 is a date that we have both been anticipating for a while for obvious reasons. It’s the date where our two schools will finally play one another. In grade school and high school, we were able to cheer for the same teams. The same thing can be said about all of our favorite Chicago sports teams. Our passion for the Blackhawks, the Bears and the Cubs runs deep. However, this will truly be the first time where we will be sitting on opposite sidelines. I’ll proudly be wearing my Notre Dame game day attire and cheering for the Irish, while my brother will be wearing Boston College gear and cheering for the Eagles. The Holy War between Notre Dame and Boston College is sure to bring out our competitive sides. I mean, if we’re being totally honest, our sibling rivalry was made clear from the moment we realized our schools would be playing one another.

Even though my brother will be visiting for the football game, he’s just as excited to see all that Notre Dame has to offer. He fell in love with the campus while helping me move in prior to the start of classes in August. He has already told me he wants me to give him the full Notre Dame experience. So wherever the day takes us, whether we’re grabbing a sandwich from Chick-fil-a (because apparently there aren’t many in close proximity to Boston College), going for a walk to the Grotto or around the lake, or simply just enjoying the game, I know it is sure to be am unforgettable experience for the both of us.

And who knows, after spending time on Notre Dame’s campus, maybe I’ll be able to convert him into an Irish fan.

Isabelle Kause is a sophomore at Notre Dame studying sociology and minoring in journalism. When she’s not busy, you can find her listening to country music or Taylor Swift or trying out new makeup/skincare products. She can be reached at ikause@nd.edu

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

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Viewpoint

The long train ride

Like many other students in the tri-campus community, I am someone who is constantly thinking about what assignment I have to complete, what projects need to get done and what exams I need to start studying for. So, I think I speak for many when I say that having the opportunity to put academics on pause over fall break was very much appreciated. As sad as I was to say goodbye to South Bend for a week, I also looked forward to being reunited with my family. I especially looked forward to spending time with my golden retriever puppy, Bentley. 

Months in advance, my mom and I made plans to travel to Boston to see my twin brother at Boston College. This was something that we did during my first year of fall break last year, and so in many ways, it felt like it was becoming a tradition. Last year, we flew to Boston and spent a few days with my brother as he showed us around campus. Then, we decided on a whim to take a ferry to Nantucket for the night because it’s my mom’s favorite place. We created so many long lasting, unforgettable memories on this trip, and I wanted the same thing to happen this year. Instead of spending the majority of our time in Boston, we decided to spend half of the trip in New York visiting our family friend in her apartment in the West Village.

After visiting my brother for a few days in Boston, my mom, my friend and I took the Amtrak train to New York. And because there isn’t much to do on train rides in order to pass the time, this forced us —for four hours at least — to take time to relax and reflect. 

During this train ride, I thought a lot about my time at Notre Dame so far. Even though I have only been here for a few months, I am already filled with an enormous amount of gratitude for the things I have experienced, for the people I’ve met and for where I am today. When applying to Notre Dame, current students, alumni and anyone affiliated with the University all seem to emulate a similar idea: the close-knit, welcoming community you find at Notre Dame is unlike any other community on any other college campus. 

This idea that Notre Dame’s community is unlike any other was something I always believed and knew to be true, but I realized this was something I didn’t fully understand until becoming a Notre Dame student myself. From the moment I stepped foot on campus, I finally realized why Notre Dame’s community was something that was heavily emphasized by both current and former students. 

From going to Mass at the Basilica, watching Rudy on the football field, cheering on the Irish on game days, walking to the Grotto, going on late night trips to LaFun or simply just watching a good romcom in your friend’s dorm room, being a Notre Dame student provides you the opportunity to create lifelong memories, share what you are passionate about, and grow as an individual.

Yes, I know these were some pretty deep thoughts for a four hour train ride, but I couldn’t help but look back with an immense amount of gratitude for the time I have spent in South Bend thus far.

Once the train ride was over, my mom, my friend and I all piled in a taxi to head to my friend’s apartment. While in the taxi, I looked through the car window and admired the big city that surrounded me, filled with excitement to finally be in New York, appreciation for the last few months and also hope for the future and the remainder of my college years.

Just like last year, this trip was filled with unforgettable memories. I’ll never forget staying up with my friend and my mom to wait for the release of Taylor Swift’s new album, “Midnights,” strolling through Central Park with my mom and dining at my family’s favorite Italian restaurant in Boston’s North End.

As sad as I was once fall break had ended and as much as I longed for a few extra days of relaxation, I was excited to return to Notre Dame, my new second home.

Isabelle Kause is a sophomore at Notre Dame studying sociology and minoring in journalism. When she’s not busy, you can find her listening to country music or Taylor Swift or trying out new makeup/skincare products. She can be reached at ikause@nd.edu

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

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Viewpoint

Journey to Notre Dame

My journey to Notre Dame was not that of the average Notre Dame student.

During my senior year of high school when applying to colleges, I knew wholeheartedly that I wanted to be at a college that had a warm and welcoming, yet academically rigorous environment, much like the college prep, Jesuit high school I was attending in Chicago. It didn’t take long for me to realize that Notre Dame checked all of those boxes and then some.

When it came time to submit college applications, Notre Dame was at the top of my list. Like many other students, I spent countless hours trying to perfect my essays. When it came time to write the “Why Notre Dame?” essay, I vividly remember wondering whether or not I’d be able to say everything I wanted to say without exceeding the word limit. There were so many reasons why Notre Dame was the perfect school for me and why I wanted to cheer on the Irish as part of the Class of 2025. 

When I felt my application said everything I could possibly articulate about my love for Notre Dame, I clicked submit and was filled with hope (and nervousness) for the future. I began praying that my dream would come true, and that I would find myself home under the dome that fall. 

A few months later during the spring of my senior year, my parents were getting ready to go watch my brother play hockey when I got the email. Every Notre Dame student knows the email I’m talking about. It was the email that stated that application decisions would be released that evening. 

My mom decided to stay home with me because she knew I would anxiously be awaiting the decision. I could barely focus that evening, as Notre Dame was all I could think about. Every minute that passed felt like an hour, and every hour that passed felt like an eternity, as I anxiously paced the floors of my living room.

When it was finally time to open the decision letter, I remember my heart pounding and my hands feeling numb. No other college decision evoked this much emotion from me. This was the moment I had been waiting for for such a long time. It felt like all four years of high school — the sleepless nights spent studying, the stress of AP classes and the hours spent participating in extracurricular activities — had all been leading up to this moment. Within one click, I knew I would find out my fate for the next chapter of my life. And unfortunately, within one click, I received the news I had not been hoping for. The news that said, “we regret to inform you that we are unable to offer you admission to Notre Dame.” I was instantly crushed and experienced the heartache that I know many others can relate to. 

I knew life was moving quickly and that I had to make a decision. A few months later, I decided to accept admission into the honors program at the University of Michigan. As much as I tried to envision myself there, my heart kept leading me back to South Bend. 

A few days later, it was as though God had heard my prayers. A mentor had told me about the wonderful community at Holy Cross College. God was laying out His plan for me; I just had to decide whether or not to follow it. 

Even though it was not in the way I had expected, I still found myself in South Bend that fall. From the first day I stepped foot on Holy Cross’s campus, I immersed myself in my classes and the tri-campus community. Although I wasn’t in the Gateway program, I was not giving up on my dream of attending Notre Dame just yet. 

At the beginning of the school year, I received an email that Notre Dame would be playing the movie, Rudy, on their football field — an experience that was sure to be unforgettable. As much as I wanted to go, I couldn’t bring myself to watch something that hit so close to home. Although our stories are a little different, I related to the longing desire of making your dream a reality. 

During second semester, I submitted my transfer application, filled with the same hope and nervousness that had consumed me months earlier, maybe even more so because I was able to experience the magic of Notre Dame’s community firsthand. 

Flash forward to today, and I am grateful to be writing this in my dorm room at Notre Dame. I am also grateful to my high school (Saint Ignatius), Holy Cross, my parents for believing in me and the many mentors that stood in my corner along the way. 

We all have our own journeys in life to follow. If there’s one thing this experience has taught me, it’s that sometimes we have to be open to following a slightly different path in order to reach our final destination.

Isabelle Kause is a sophomore at Notre Dame studying sociology and minoring in journalism. When she’s not busy, you can find her listening to country music or Taylor Swift or trying out new makeup/skincare products. She can be reached at ikause@nd.edu.
The views expressed in this column are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.

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Why I ‘worship’ Taylor Swift

When Taylor Swift first rose to fame, her flocks of fans, passionately known as Swifties, formed shortly thereafter. As a proud member of this group, I can attest to the personal benefit it brought to my own life.

After that first Taylor Swift concert I experienced years ago, my mom bought me a bracelet to commemorate the special evening. She never realized this at the time, but that two-dollar purchase would turn out to mean everything to me. Once I had that bracelet on, I subconsciously decided never to take it off. I wore it every day following that unforgettable night, even to middle school dances.

On one particular occasion — after having just completed my second day of an arduous high school math class — I went to lunch to decompress and ended up randomly sitting next to a girl with blonde hair and bright blue eyes, who also happened to be sporting the same rubber Taylor Swift bracelet as me. Nervous to strike up a conversation but eager to make a friend, I turned to her and said, “Are you a Taylor Swift fan?” as if the bracelet wrapped around her wrist did not already answer my question. When she confirmed that my assumptions were true, I couldn’t have been happier, and I know that she felt the same way, too. From that point forward, a friendship like no other blossomed, all thanks to Taylor Swift.

Because Taylor brought me my high school best friend, one person I have always “worshiped” is her — in a non-literal way, of course.

To a majority of people, hearing that I “worship” Taylor Swift might come across as extremely ironic, especially since she and I have never even met and she quite literally has no idea I exist. However, to me, she is everything. Taylor is the epitome of kindness and generosity. She gives to those around her without expecting anything in return, whether it comes in the form of paying for someone’s rent or visiting terminally sick children in the hospital. The environment that she creates for her fans is very welcoming. One thing that people who have met her will surely tell you is that when you have a conversation with her, she makes you feel like you are her best friend and the only person in the room who truly matters.

While she is definitely someone I look up to on a personal level, I also respect the way she carries herself in the business world. Most recently, she had her album recordings stolen out from underneath her. The songs she had spent hours handwriting on her bedroom floor were now gone. The songs that teenage girls like myself related to now belonged to someone else, a person who was hungry to make money off her fame and success. Taylor knew that not only was this a devastation to herself, but also to her millions of loyal fans. So she took matters into her own hands, announcing that she would be re-recording each one of the albums that no longer belonged to her. I have a deep admiration not only for how she responded from an artistic standpoint, but also for the fact that she did not let power-hungry record label walk all over her and steal her pride and joy. She set an example of right and wrongfor her fans — an example that will surely never be forgotten.

Even though Taylor does not know who I am, I still consider her one of the greatest people to “worship.” I aspire to be like her, someone who does not back down from a fight while also making sure to live their life acting in kindness and making the world a better place. I worship the humble way in which she carries herself when she interacts with her fans and how she is an example for those within the music industry. No matter where my life takes me, I hope to act in the way Taylor does with such grace and compassion. And at the end of the day, I know I will never be too tired to turn on a Taylor Swift song.

Isabelle Kause is a sophomore at Notre Dame studying sociology and minoring in journalism. When she’s not busy, you can find her listening to country music or Taylor Swift or trying out new makeup/skincare products. She can be reached at ikause@nd.edu.

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

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News

ND Evans scholars teach golf to underprivileged kids

Sophomore engineering majors, Luke Christy and Kyle Connors, partnered with John Young Middle School in Mishawaka and the Kids Golf Foundation at Harvest Farms Country Club in Sugar Grove, Illinois in order to teach underprivileged kids how to play golf and expose them to the different opportunities that golf has to offer.

Christy argued that the inspiration behind their motive comes from their personal experiences at Notre Dame. Both Christy and Connors are Notre Dame Evans Scholars and were both awarded the Chick Evans Scholarship for caddying. 

Christy mentioned that the scholarship not only provides its scholars with financial assistance, but is also centered around being in community with others. 

“[The Chick Evans Scholarship] is targeted at helping kids who are in need of financial help go to college and live among kids similar to them as scholars,” Connors said. 

Christy and Connors both desire to give back to others in the same way that they have been given to.

“As a community, we understand the incredible privilege we have of going to Notre Dame, for having our tuition and housing covered. So, we wanted to reach out to the youth in the area to make them aware of these opportunities that golf, caddying, and the scholarship has to offer,” Christy said.

This initiative started over the summer when Christy was at Warren Golf Course where he happened to meet John Young Middle School’s principal, Mike Fisher. Christy and Fisher discussed implementing a golf unit at Fisher’s school. 

“We both kind of realized that we could sort of do something with each other. We ended up meeting over the summer to talk about logistics, and we ended up agreeing on doing a golf unit in August. This golf unit was targeted at introducing kids to golf, caddying, and the scholarship,” Christy said.

The golf unit took place Aug. 15 and 16. Christy and Connors set up a putting and driving range, as well as putt-putt games for eighth grade students. Christy and Connors assisted with different gym classes centered around teaching kids about golf. 

“In total, we were able to put clubs in the hands of over 400 kids. There were four gym classes that we did each day. We got there around 7:30 am and left around 3:30 pm and also set up the gym class for the kids each day,” Christy said.

Both Christy and Connors argued that it was rewarding to see kids being exposed to golf. “We wanted to make kids aware who wouldn’t be made aware otherwise. [After the event], there were kids that were coming up to us and were saying, ‘We’d love to caddy; how can we get into this?,’” Christy said.

Christy and Connors said it was extremely rewarding to see how excited the kids were to come and learn. “Word was traveling to the point where kids were excited before they even got to gym class because they knew what was going on. They knew what they were about to do for the day,” Christy said.

Connors argued that this event would not have been possible without their partnership with the Kids Golf Foundation.

“There’s a group called the kids Golf Foundation out of a country club called Rich Harvest Farms in Sugar Grove Illinois, and we ended up brokering a deal, which involved hours and hours of communication between the Kids Golf Foundation and John Young Middle School. Through this deal, the Kids Golf Foundation sent out golf equipment [for the event],” Christy said.

“They sent out all of this SNAG (starting new at golf) training stuff. It’s all just like basic training stuff, like these velcro tennis balls and these really basic clubs, just to kind’ve introduce them to golf,” Connors said.

Christy and Connors said that they felt fortunate to have connected these two groups — the Kids Golf Foundation and John Young Middle School — together.

“[The Kids Golf Foundation and John Young Middle School] are over 150 miles apart, so to see how they would have been connected, you know, otherwise — and it’s not to say look at what we did — that just goes to show you how much there is out there that’s not out there in South Bend,” Christy said.

Christy and Connors said that, ultimately, they just want kids who are in similar situations financially to benefit in the same ways that they have been able to. 

“We want to be a mentor for these kids. And personally, we would like to start a youth caddie program in the area. That’s our vision,” Christy said.

Christy and Connors both said that they are also hoping to expand this initiative with more kids at John Young Middle School.

“The principal kind of already invited us back to do this with the seventh graders too because that obviously would be a great experience for them,” Connors said.