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Thursday, Feb. 29, 2024
The Observer

Awkward guests

You may or may not have had this problem. You are talking to your friend from home, and you are explaining why Notre Dame is simply the best: the community, the sports, top academics, et cetera. Your friend doesn’t believe you, so you say, “You need to visit.”

Then you realize what you’ve just done. You’ve offered an invitation for your friend to stay and hang out with you. You may be off the hook if your friend is just as busy as you are being studious but also trying to create something that resembles a social life. Or you may be giving directions for how your friend can get to your dorm from Main Circle.

I’m not saying guests are bad; I’m pointing out that having guests is awkward. How are you supposed to entertain them? South Bend is not a thriving metropolis, and the majority of the school year is cold.

You obviously begin with a tour of campus: visit the grotto, take the typical dome pic, go into the basilica and show off your tiny dorm room (unless you live in one of the spacious West Quad dorms). You may also take them to the student center and some of the other buildings your admissions tour guide showed you when you were a prospective student. But then what?

What if there is no home football game or basketball game or insert favorite Notre Dame sport here to spectate? What if there are no performances in DPAC or events at Legends? What if the Snite hasn’t changed its collections, and all you see from the library windows is construction?

While it is highly unlikely that nothing is happening, it is likely that you may not even think of these ideas. You want to be entertaining, but you also want to show your friend your college experience. Personally, when I’m not studying or working or in a meeting, I’m playing video games or, more likely, sleeping. My friends could do that anywhere.

There is a lot of pressure to make the visit ideal, but what makes a trip to our lovely home under the dome worthwhile? A visit to our campus is rarely like what the media perceives a typical college campus to be like. The quads are dormant, save for those few warms days in late spring and early fall when it is nice enough to spend a good chunk of time outside. Parties only happen Thursday, Friday and Saturday (unless it’s syllabus week or Wake Week), and even then, there is no guarantee you can find one.

And what happens when your friend plans to stay for a few days or their whole spring break? When do you reach the limit of the fun things you can do? I wonder if this burden of being the awkward host works both ways. Maybe other campuses go dormant, and there are certainly more remote campuses than ours. After you’ve “entertained” your friend, you should bring up how great it would be to see how their campus compares. Then once you’ve conquered awkward guests, you can advance to hosting awkward relatives.

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