Sitting in my favorite hometown coffee shop, home from Notre Dame for the first time since August, there are an immense amount of reasons to be thankful. Trying to write a Thanksgiving blog is difficult because I don’t quite know where to start. I’m grateful for time spent with my wonderful family, plans to unite with friends, and Louisville for giving me a wonderful hometown to go back to. However, sitting here drinking my favorite matcha, oat milk latte, I can’t help but think about all the reasons I’m incredibly grateful to Notre Dame. Obviously, it’s wonderful to go home, but in many ways, I never really left.
Going to school at Notre Dame didn’t mean losing the life I knew in Louisville. Rather, the Notre Dame community has added more love and joy to my life than I could have ever imagined. On the Monday before Thanksgiving, my friend group in PDUB (Pasquerilla West Hall) hosted our annual friendsgiving. Altogether our guestlist included old friends, new friends, class friends, work friends, out-of-town friends, and many more. Few moments in my life have felt as special as sitting around a 25-person table and knowing every name—knowing that I went into Notre Dame knowing almost no one. Initially, the transition to college was tough for me. I’m not always the best at handling change, and saying goodbye to my hometown was very difficult. There are few things crazier than saying goodbye to almost every person you know or love, packing your bags, and starting over in a brand-new-to-me place. However, I now can’t imagine it any other way. There is such joy and adventure in forming so many new friendships in college. Notre Dame has taught me the immense value of their stories, and the fun in being able to create new ones together.
At the same time, I love how my friends bring out the best in me. Their unique perspectives, passions, beliefs, and personalities have helped me to be a version of myself that I’m incredibly proud to bring home. Obviously there are many great reasons to choose a place to go to college. However, one underrated reason is to consider how those around you will shape you as a human being. The education one receives after moving to college is only partially one’s course load—of even greater importance is one’s peers. Whether in my dorm, on the quad, in the dining hall, or even at a party, I’m constantly surrounded by a force for good so strong it leaves me in awe. I admire my friends here more than they could know. Whether studying medicine to save lives, architecture to protect the Earth, global affairs to make the world better, or finance to raise the quality of life for all, I’m so proud to be called their friend. At Notre Dame, you are surrounded 24/7 by some of the best people in the world—you sort of have to get with the program.
In imagining what I’m thankful for this holiday season, an endless list of smaller things comes to mind. I’m grateful that the ND logo was visible on the baked brie I brought to Friendsgiving. I’m really thankful for such a beautiful fall day. I’m thankful that my stats exam went well. I’m thankful for my hometown. I’m thankful for my five siblings and even the fact that I’m now officially the second shortest in my family—behind only my eight-year-old brother. But above all of these small pieces of gratitude, I’m so grateful to be a member of the amazing Notre Dame community. Each day I’m amazed by the goodness I experience here, and the way Notre Dame has taught me to live my life with a love for God, others, and even myself.