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Sunday, March 3, 2024
The Observer

A guilty “Why ND?” confession

However well-masked under a polite Notre Dame smile, my Moreau partner’s expressions still showed slight concern and apprehension, as she saw that I did not quite match her level of excitement at being here. “So then, why ND?” she asked. I told her I didn’t know. Then, feeling almost guilty for not having dreamed of this school since infancy as she had, I added that it seemed like a very good school.

What I didn’t tell her, for fear of being really judged, was how I believed one reason I ended up at Notre Dame was because my dad wanted me to. He’s not an alumnus, not Catholic, not Irish — basically unrelated to this school in a number of ways — but for some reason, he was convinced Notre Dame was the right place for me.

I had no idea what I wanted in my future, and choosing a college was honestly just as stressful as, if not more than, the actual application process. The day the “intent to enroll” form was due, I looked up my schools, ate a lot and cried many stress tears before finally committing to the University at 11:56 p.m.

But while I may have committed on paper, it was tougher than I had imagined to commit my heart into the “ND family.”

Upon arrival, yes, college was fun, but the people, the culture, the obsession with football was so weirdly surreal. Initially, everyone really did just seem white, rich and Catholic. Coming from an art high school in Southern California, the stressful transition most freshman undergo also included the stress of a different social atmosphere. I lacked that same conviction other students seemed to have right from the start.

Now, we fast forward from the first month of school to where I am second semester, sitting in Ryan Hall writing a column for the school newspaper. I’ve definitely come a long way in finding a place within the Notre Dame community. I’ve joined Asian-American clubs, met with passionate professors in all sorts of disciplines, attended the Women’s March, designed for The Observer and actually enjoyed watching sports for the first time in my life. I’ve experienced a little bit of everything and found communities I didn’t think existed.

It was a particularly long process for me, especially because a small part of me kept thinking Notre Dame was my dad’s choice rather than my own. But in reality, the decision was mine alone. I’m thankful for all of the advice I received, and I’m glad it influenced me to join the ND family.

In the end, I am still finding my place, but the process is no longer as daunting. I hope that future freshmen who might stumble upon this will know that the transition period is different for everyone. Not everyone’s experience starts amazing. No matter how uncertain you may initially feel, there are so many different people and unexpected opportunities you’re bound to enjoy and find comfort in.

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