Q: What is an average day for you?
A: This semester is slightly different from my first year because my classes this semester start significantly later in the day. My classes on Monday, Wednesday and Friday start at 12:50 p.m., and my classes on Tuesday and Thursday start at 11:00 a.m. I have four classes on Monday, Wednesday and Friday, and I have three on Tuesday and Thursday. This may sound daunting, but I am currently overloading, which means I am approved to take more classes than the maximum amount allowed. I am currently enrolled in 19.5 credit hours. The maximum number of credit hours per semester is set at 17.
As you may know, we receive 14 meal swipes for seven days and 500 flex points for the semester with the most common meal plan. I try to eat two meals a day, but sometimes there is not enough time. On a Monday or a Wednesday, I usually wake up around 8:45 a.m., do my makeup and aim to be out the door by 10:00 a.m. I live two minutes away from the dining hall, so there is no big rush. Once I get to the dining hall, I spend around half an hour eating, and then I head to my first class. The dining hall allows you to take one item with you, so I always try to take a muffin or a piece of fruit because I may not eat again until 6 p.m or 8 p.m.
My classes on Monday are Business Ethics, Elements of Calculus, IT Management and Accounting 1. I have classes back to back until 4:20, but I do not really mind because I find the subjects somewhat interesting. Luckily after my last class, I do not have work, so I am able to go back to my dorm and relax until dinner.
I try to complete my homework for at least Monday and Tuesday over the weekend, so that on Monday I can start doing homework that is due Wednesday. I start doing homework for Thursday on Tuesday. I try to finish most of my work in one sitting, but most of the time I mix that time with hanging out with friends, so the process is a bit slower.
Maintaining a social life at Notre Dame is all about balance There is a lot of work, but that does not mean you cannot enjoy it. Being in class from 11 a.m to 4 p.m. can be strenuous at times, but I make sure that I have time to relax, spend time with friends and do things I enjoy.
Q: Can you explain what a typical class setting would look like? (I guess the number of students and lecture halls but that obviously differs in every class)
A: There is no standard class size at Notre Dame. Class sizes will vary depending on your year, major and the semester. For example, my English major classes have a maximum of thirteen people, while my Microeconomics class has around 120. For prerequisite classes such as Organic Chemistry, Economics or Principles of Management, you can expect class sizes to be larger because more students need to take it. University requirements like theology and philosophy are typically more discussion-based, so class sizes can be anywhere from 10-50 people.
Don’t stress about not being able to establish relationships with your professors! While it is hard to know 100 students' names, some professors do! With others, however, you have to be a bit more proactive, such as participating in class and going to office hours.
Q: Do you have any suggestions for international students coming to Notre Dame and adjusting to American culture?
A: The strongest piece of advice that I can offer is to take things step-by-step. Do not lose yourself or your heritage trying to “fit in” with American culture. You should also try to experience new things, such as football, but just do not lose yourself. The beautiful thing about the United States is that it is such a melting pot of cultures.
When you are on campus, try to join the various culture clubs*, whether you identify as a part of the community or not. There is most likely an upperclassman from your home country, who will be more than willing to help you. It is important to rely on those who have already done it, so that you can learn how to properly adjust. Also, do not limit yourself to the culture clubs. A bunch of other first years also are in a similar situation, and everyone wants to make friends. Sometimes you can learn by example by simply watching how your new friends act. If something confuses you, ask questions. Many people on this campus are willing to help.
At times it is going to be difficult because you will be far from home, the food will be different, etc, but please ask for help or find someone to talk to when you feel lonely. These four years can be some of the best of your life, and we all want you to enjoy it!
*Culture clubs on campus include the Black Student Association, African Student Association, Asian American Alliance, Latino Student Association, Vietnamese Student Association and many more!