Dear Junior Year,
The older that I get, the more I realize that the phrase time flies when you’re having fun truly is very real. The end of my third year at Notre Dame is coming to a close and the start of our last chapter on this campus sneaks up on me. Filled with love, laughs, tears, and anger, this year has been a roller coaster ride, more than any other year has been. I think back on the stress of finding an internship to the questions of “What’s your plan for after graduation?” Here’s a recap of what Junior year was for me.
I started off this school year in what I now consider to be an all time high. The excitement of studying abroad, being in a new country, exploring a whole continent was everything that I was hoping to experience at the ripe age of 20. I traveled to Madrid, Spain on September 7th and met up with my fellow abroad group. The nerves definitely kicked in as all of a sudden I was asked to speak in a different language 24/7 and had to instantly become friends with everyone in the program because this was going to be everyone I knew for the next 4 months. I arrived at my new school, met my host family, and the semester began.
Personally, I was cruising very nicely abroad. As a fluent Spanish speaker, the class content was interesting and engaging. The workload was also very manageable and easy to understand. Our first weekend trip to Lisbon rolled around and the school to travel-to-a-new-country pipeline began in full force. I made new friends from other schools and got to know the Spaniards in my town, all while traveling around the world to meet up with my Notre Dame friends.
That was probably the hardest part of studying abroad; my entire friend group was in the London abroad program. While I loved the place I chose, it was easy to feel left out or excluded as I watched them spend everyday together with people they were already friends with. It felt like I was missing out on that bonding experience. I worried they had forgotten about me (objectively not true at all I now realize). Then, add in the occasional homesickness as I lost connection with friends and family in the US because of the time difference and the shock that campus life kept moving while I was away! No one stopped or was unable to do their jobs because I wasn’t there. It was tough!
I quickly had to snap myself out of that mindset and come to realize that I had to soak up my time abroad to the maximum. I did what I wanted and before I knew it, I was on my flight back to the US and home for Winter Break. The fall semester was now over and another 4 months had flown by. Winter break was perfect in that I got to catch up with hometown friends and family and got to tell them all about my experiences abroad and share the gifts I had gotten with them. It reset me mentally and also got me so excited to come back to campus to see everyone again and pick up where we left off.
I arrived on campus in January to move into Lyons. Once everything was settled, I said goodbye to my mom and immediately became so excited for class and getting back into my routine. All of a sudden however, an overwhelming amount of emails about meetings and other things began. The stress of coming back was unlike something I had felt before. I felt unprepared and like I was not going to make it. I was happy to be back in my “comfort zone” but this comfort disappeared quickly. It felt like I was a freshman again trying to figure things out and make sure that I wasn’t falling behind. On top of school, I also began taking an LSAT course to take the exam this year. The looming concern of when to take the exam was another thing on my plate that I was not ready to tackle or become committed to. The halfway point of the semester came just in time to let me breathe. The arrival of Spring break definitely took me by surprise. I couldn’t believe how fast half of the semester had already gone by. It felt like yesterday that I was dropped off on campus to start the second semester.
After all of the emotions I had experienced during the first half of second semester, it felt appropriate to go home for a break. Being with my family and letting go of all my frustrations to my mom was exactly what I needed. I’ll be honest and say I had a good cry about everything (Perfectly fine to do and highly recommended!!). After just getting to share everything out loud I felt so much better prepared to come back and tackle the second semester with better success!
And that’s what I did. The second half of Spring semester was definitely on the upper side! I got myself together and was much more at ease with class, school work, and outside commitments; I just overall enjoyed myself more. In having a conversation about life and our current state of being, a very wise friend of mine asked me “What’s next for you?” My immediate response was to graduate and find a new place to start over. She quickly stopped me and said that there had to be something better than that to keep me going. And she was right. I came to realize how many close senior friends I had made and they became my “what’s next.” I spent time with them, listened to their advice, and grew closer so that my memories with them in their last few weeks were happy. I got to share the stage for one last time with the Dance Co seniors and it was at this moment at the show that I realized how quickly time flies.
We can’t harp on the past and our struggles or they begin to bring us down. Life will not be enjoyable if we don’t let it happen. It’s ok to reminisce on easier times, but growth is unattainable if we are hyper-focused on what we already lived through. My biggest lesson this year has been to stay in the moment, take it one deep breath at a time, and know that you are absolutely capable of achieving everything you want. Most importantly is that it’s ok to say no! No one will be hurt, no one will be offended. As a matter of fact people will be happy that you took a chance for yourself and your sanity.
As I go into the last few weeks of junior year and prepare for senior year, all I can say is that I am so excited for what’s to come and the time that will be spent with some of my favorite people. To the seniors this year, thank you for your guidance and support when I was a freshman and you were all sophomores. You took me under your wing and I learned so much from all of you. And to myself, you got this girl. There’s no better feeling than this and no better people to experience it with.
All of my love,
Class of 2024