Fall semester will always be my favorite time of year at Notre Dame. While the golden foliage of the many trees on different quads and the annual advent of everything pumpkin spice are certainly nice, there’s just something remarkable about the general atmosphere, as if a vibrant electricity flows through campus. The month of August hearkens a return for many upperclassmen but also a sincere welcome for even more eager freshmen. Hectic move-ins, a bevy of excited roommate introductions, and a few teary-eyed parents thrown in characterize the start of every new academic year. Granted I’m a senior, but I still enjoy observing every minute of such hallmark moments since they bring me back to my first year under the Golden Dome. That’s the secret of fall semester: being able to see campus again for the first time, feeling for a few fleeting seconds how it felt to know that you were finally home.
And then Finals Week happens and nostalgia moves aside for some much needed exam preparation...
Although I spent the majority of last semester’s Finals Week in a somewhat caffeinated and sleep-deprived state, my workload felt a little bit lighter upon hearing good news: my cousin was accepted to Notre Dame as an early action applicant! Thus began my honeymoon period of gushing over his acceptance letter and congratulating him on his accomplishment. I was evidently more excited than he was, and why wouldn’t I be? It’s not as though I was looking for another good excuse to visit campus as a sentimental alumnus or even that I would try to live vicariously through his future ND life… I pretty much was planning to do those things anyways.
The real reason I am proud of my cousin and indeed of all of the young men and women who form the incoming Class of 2019 is that I appreciate the opportunity to share the meaningful gift of ND with a new generation. I have to confess that I did end up going back to California over Christmas Break, laden with ND merchandise and Fighting Irish propaganda, in order to celebrate my cousin’s acceptance. I, however, was apparently not alone in my enthusiasm over admissions decisions since my Facebook newsfeed was flooded with friends posting about younger siblings getting into ND as well. Many statuses rightly featured some variation of the quintessential phrase “Welcome to the Notre Dame Family.”
“Notre Dame Family” is a common phrase on campus, encompassing everyone from fans who purchase The Shirt on game days to alumni who graduated decades ago. “Family” is as much an ideal as it is a promise, inspiring the hospitality that animates the campus community. And so for all those incoming freshmen who have an older sibling or relative currently in attendance, try to remember why we’re so excited to welcome you to this campus, to this place that some of us have gratefully called home for the past four years.
Yes, we definitely applaud each of you, but in all honesty, we’re just happy to be able to see ND from your perspective, to witness the magic all over again in one more fall semester. So, when August rolls around this year and the family vans start driving into Notre Dame Avenue, you can count on me to accompany my cousin, to take in the nostalgia of campus one more time.