Dear Notre Dame,
There is no one Notre Dame experience, and that applies to all areas of campus life. Everyone has a different dorm experience, and for me, it has been great! I opted to live in Pangborn Hall, while the newest women’s dorm, Johnson Family Hall, was being built. I have had the opportunity to help build a brand new community at the University of Notre Dame by transferring into Pangborn Hall. The young women I have met this year made my sophomore year phenomenal. I am so sad that it had to be cut short, but I cannot wait to get back.
While my overall experience has been a great one, dorm life can certainly have its ups and downs. There will be times that you will be tired of showering with shoes on. If you had your own room at home, having a roommate will be an adjustment. I do not know how they do it, but Notre Dame does a pretty good job of randomly assigning roommates for first-year students. For every “bad” aspect of dorm life, I have personally found something better to counter it.
The fondest memories I have from dorm life this year are of activity nights. Each Friday, a different RA or Rector plans an event that everyone can participate in. Some nights it was self-care, sometimes a movie, or they just ordered pizza and we reflected on the week each of us had. These moments enabled me to know more of the people in my dorm, and we realized we had a lot in common. It is nice to have a night where we can all hang out and speak about anything and everything. I genuinely felt like I had found my home under the Dome.
I am not Catholic, so the first Mass I attended was the First-Year Mass and that was a lot for me. There were so many people, and so many practices I had never seen done before. During my first year, I attended several Masses in the Basilica, as a close friend of mine was serving as a Eucharistic Minister. Other than that, I never thought to attend a dorm Mass until this year. I decided to attend a dorm Mass one Sunday evening with one of my roommates. The experience was different. It felt more personal. I think I can attribute that to the fact that I knew almost everyone in the Chapel. The sign of peace took a few minutes because everyone was going around and hugging one another. For the first time at Notre Dame, I understood the beauty of what Mass can do for a community.
Dorm life will be different for everyone. A part of it going well is putting yourself out there. You do not need to be the most vivacious extrovert to have a great experience. Go to Mass, go to hall council, attend section socials, and just really try to get to know the people in your dorm. I am forging relationships that I know will last a lifetime.