by Lily Kang, Class of 2016
“Americans are kinda strange…” This phrase entered my mind on my first day of
school in the United States, echoing throughout the following years.
Americans are such strict rule followers. I witnessed this once sitting on the
sidelines of a high school dodge ball game. To me, it was goofy, a little violent, and
very American. It struck me that my classmates followed the rules of the game
so strictly. Even when no one noticed that a person had been hit and he could
have kept playing, he voluntarily gave himself up and left the game. I was deeply
impressed by how much people honored the rules even when they are not seen. It
was a little strange to me because I was raised in an environment where rules are,
unfortunately, usually taken for granted.
Americans’ honesty is another “strange” thing that truly humbles me. Some rules
seem to go without saying. In high school, we were assigned a take-home exam from
our chemistry teacher. I assumed it was just like homework assignment and asked
my friends if they would like to work together. However, they hesitated. At first I
thought it was kind of strange, but when I realized the reasons of their reluctance
I was left ashamed. Even though our teacher never mentioned that collaboration
with others was not allowed, my fellow classmates seem to be very vigilant about
the violating the honor code. It was another important lesson I learned about the
unwritten rules in America.
Another incident occurred at a department store. There were pillows of prices
ranging from $9.99 to $40.00. I was debating which one to buy and the sales clerk
informed me that the 40 dollar pillow would go on sale in two days. I thanked her
for letting me know and explained to her that it would not be convenient for me
to come back to the store again. To my great surprise she winked and said, “I will
give you the discount now, just don’t tell anyone.” I was dumbfounded by what she
offered to do. Since when did Americans start overlooking the rules? A rule that
might increase the revenues of a store is one that other people do not need to be
reminded to follow. This woman’s actions were strange but truly nice and deeply
appreciated. Rules are admittedly respected in the United States, but they are also
situational and flexible—when the violation of rules is harmless and intended well.
Americans are kinda strange. They sometimes seem dogmatic with obeying the
rules, yet they contradict themselves in a proper manner. This is why I have fallen
in love with this country. In Chinese, the translation of America literally means
“beautiful country.” It’s indubitably a beautiful country. Thank you for all the things
you’ve taught me, ‘Merica.
April 23, 2013
by Theodora Hannan, USA
Happy Easter! (hop, hop)
It’s Easter Triduum here at Notre Dame, and quite a fine one. The sun is out, the weather is perfect, the hordes of alums and parents are visiting to sit like sardines in the Basilica for hours on end.
It’s the first time I’ve been on campus during the Easter break, since I’m from the Bend: usually my family does attend the Basilica masses, but not this year. My family’s in town visiting from their new home, but I’ve spent most of the weekend on campus with my friends. It’s a bit strange for me, since I’ve never had to deal with the truncated dining hall hours, the quiet of the partially empty dorm, or the sense of being on break (not having spent quite so many hours waiting for the Basilica doors to open).
It’s been nice to have that quiet for my homework, for working on plans for my future, to get some sleep – but my favorite thing has been how much time I’ve been able to spend with my friends. There are plenty of kids who don’t go home for what’s really only a four-day weekend, but my international friends really don’t have much of an option about staying or not, for the most part. Regardless of the circumstances, it’s been wonderful to spend some free time together with my friends: watching silly romcoms, trips to Kilwins for after-dinner dessert, spending some time discussing abstract and real problems for two hours in the middle of it all. These are the times I’ll remember when I gradu—wait, not using that word just yet. But these are the moments that I value most of all, and basking in them this weekend is the best Easter experience I’ve had.
It’s also wonderful to hear about my friends who have adopted or been adopted by others here. Friends to hang with in Chicago, local religious services instead of Notre Dame’s, foster parents here in America; these are the most touching things over this weekend for me, seeing how all of my international friends, Catholic or not, have made themselves at home here, who can feel like they belong on a family-oriented holiday. They are most certainly a part of my family, and I’m so glad they’ve chosen to be here with me.
March 31, 2013
by Theodora Hannan, USA
*overenthusiastic waving* Hi!!!
So, I realize it’s been a while, but I hope you enjoyed the post from our excellent guest blogger Nikita. Now that the semester is back on track, you’ll be hearing from lovely me more often, promise! I hope all of your holidays were happy (and those to come as well – I’m looking at you, Chinese New Year).
I have two things I’d like to share today, and I’ll start with the most adorable one. Last night, two of my friends and I watched the film Love, Actually, possibly the most hilarious, inappropriate, and endearing Christmas movie I’ve ever seen. I’m sure you’ll agree with me if you’ve viewed it, and if you haven’t, go see it asap! Among the various couples in the marvelous ensemble cast, this time my eye was caught by the characters of Colin Firth and Lucia Moniz, who respectively are a Hemingway-esque author vacationing from his life to write and his housekeeper. Firth is an Englishman and Moniz is Portuguese, and neither speaks the other’s language.
From just before Thanksgiving to just after Christmas, Firth’s character stays in his cottage writing with Moniz working around him, and various blunders on both sides are made. Each forms an attachment to the other, but Firth returns to his extended family in London before anything happens between the two of them. Regretting his departure, Firth spends the next couple of weeks trying to learn Portuguese and rushes to Moniz’s home to propose to her in broken, but relatively coherent, Portuguese. Moniz, in turn, agrees in fairly fluent English. A month later, the two are seen returning to London, comfortable together and teasing each other easily.
Cliché as this might sound, these two people fell in love without ever exchanging words intelligible to the other. Now, I will happily engage in a debate about love and its qualities at another time, but my point here is that it really didn’t matter that they were from different worlds, with different languages, different everything. It didn’t matter. Both of them made the effort to bridge that gap, and got their Hollywood-rosy-colored-glasses happy ending. Realistic or not, I thought this was absolutely uplifting and wonderful.
My part two is…connected? Somehow? Give me a chance. My family life has had some significant changes in the last month, and my father just accepted a job offer at a university approximately 650 miles from here, South Bend, where I go to school and where they’ve lived since I was two. I’m going to miss them; even if I don’t go home every weekend to see them, it’s nice knowing they’re right there if I need them, that I can walk twenty minutes from my dorm to my dad’s office to get a hug if I really, really need one. Maybe it just hasn’t sunk in yet, but actually, I’m really happy for them. This is good, it’s going to make them both really happy, and that makes me happy. And even though they won’t be here all the time, even though my dad won’t know everything that’s going on here before I do anymore – they’re still there. Really, this probably sounds a bit strange to international students, because you all have left your own families much farther away than mine to be here. But it feels like a departure to me, and that’s what counts, right? But it will, in the long run, be for the best in the long run. And that’s why all of you are here too, right? So we’ll relish in the adventure, keep our loved ones in our hearts and minds, and look forward to the coming future approaching in all of it terrifying and beautiful glory.
February 3, 2013
Nikita Taniparti, Junior, India
Talk about extreme culture shocks. This semester spent abroad in Athens has been a whirlwind. The past four months have been filled with all things Greek – from the endless fried eggplant and baklava to the countless stray animals that loyally follow every passer-by, from the perfect Mediterranean weather to the “conversations” between people that really sound like heated arguments, and from the afternoon siestas to the very handsome young policemen – this place never gets old.
As an international student already at Notre Dame, I had come to identify as an Indian studying abroad in America. My identity as a student prevailed as I adjusted to the various cultural isms encompassing life in the United States. The American classroom was new and the professor-student relationship was a new dynamic that I had certainly come to respect and enjoy. An expert in the greeting “Hi, how are you?” – with no expectation of the truth – integrated me into the mainstream social courtesies. Fireworks on July 4th on the beach and singing Christmas carols galore – the day after a huge Thanksgiving meal – were something I enthusiastically looked forward to. While still relating very much with Indian festivals, spicy food, Bollywood dancing and native languages, two years instilled in me an interesting blend of both American and Indian personalities. Every morning I donned traditional hand-made jewelry and clothes from India while I applied copious amounts of very American lotion and lip balm to keep my skin from dying every time winter comes around in South Bend.
Try putting that into context of studying abroad yet again in Europe. Now I am that “Indian girl who studies in America, but who lives in Greece”. In a class titled Immigration and Nationalism we are dealing with notions of what it means to be a citizen of a certain country, what it means to cross borders and establish new standards of identity. How does one assimilate or integrate within other cultures? And do do all these definitions of nationality and ethnic identity come to express one’s sense of belonging? Heavy concepts that we are still not sure we can decisively agree upon.
“There are no foreign lands; it is only the traveler who is foreign”. Indeed, most often people tend to think in terms of how every place they visit is different from “home”. They compare the way people dress (all Greek women only own four-inch stilettoes), what people eat (two words: olives and wine), how they communicate with each other (still attempting to catch on to the sing-song rhythm of modern Greek) and what the place looks like (crystal clear blue waters that entice you to immerse yourself in them all day long). All these things are certainly different the world over, but only in relation to each other. As I have come to settle in and become part of the Greek way of life, all these things have become seemingly obvious. Of course life should come to a standstill every day from 2pm till 5pm to eat and take a nap, clearly you haven’t had enough to drink if you can still coherently ask the waiter for the check, and obviously the cars don’t stop at traffic lights and you just make a run for it whenever the opportunity presents itself.
Yes, it is always disconcerting to be the newcomer in any place. You are both wearily and amusedly observed as you face the new culture head-on by the locals. Then one day you realize that you have stopped comparing things in your new surrounding to the things back home: suddenly it dawns on you that home is wherever you are now. Home is where the heart is. And if that doesn’t work, just do what I did last week – take a trip to Italy and Turkey. Then, in the blink of an eye, if it wasn’t already, Athens and Greece became my home and “where I was from”. It was tons of fun responding to people who inquired about our background with “well, I’m Indian, but I go to school in America. Oh, but now I live in Greece, and I’m just here visiting [insert city of choice: Milan, Venice, Florence, Rome, and Istanbul].”
As I wrap up my semester here, it is an intriguing feeling. While I am ecstatic to return to the Fighting Irish and show my solidarity as we battle it out for the National Championship, I also long to go back to India and see family and friends and be spoiled silly. It goes without saying that I will miss Athens, I will miss Greece, and I will miss the love that I have come to cultivate for this wonderful new home. From here on out, “Greek-ness” is yet another identity that I will be able to…identify with. Where next I wonder? I will try my best not to compare everything with the ways things are in Athens, but chances are it will happen anyway. Time to test whether “reverse culture shock” really exists.
Snapshot of my life at the moment:
December 6, 2012
University of Notre Dame undergraduate student Charles Cong Xu won first place in the Chinese University of Hong Kong’s (CUHK) 2012 Study Abroad Writing Contest. Xu, an undergraduate student majoring in Environmental Sciences with a minor in Chinese, is studying at CUHK for the 2012-2013 academic year. Xu’s winning essay is posted below.
A Permanent Sojourn: The Chinese Born American Perspective
Day 35 in Hong Kong: That preserved duck leg I had for dinner was way too salty. It was too bad they ran out of spicy chicken legs. *Yawn* Man, I should really stop Skyping home at 3 in the morning, but it does make me feel less homesick. Now, here I am in the 24 hour study lounge in central campus of the Chinese University of Hong Kong pondering upon the last 19 some years of my existence, trying to make sense of my “story”. I feel like there is too much to say, too much for it all to make sense, for it all to mean something. Practically my entire life has been an international experience and they expect me to condense it down to a mere 2000 words? Impossible I say, but I suppose I should start from the beginning.
I was born in the city of Wuhan, China and grew up within the grounds of Wuhan University. From the few pictures hanging on my wall at home to the scattered stories told by my parents, my memories of Wuhan and of China are left vague and surreal. I remember the hot humid nights when I couldn’t fall asleep and all I could do was listen to the chirps and buzzing of insects outside. I remember going out with my parents at night to find the watermelon vendor and slapping countless melons until we found our prize. I remember cutting the watermelon into halves and the three of us would dig in with spoons as if nothing else in the world mattered. I remember the joy of chewing on bite size chunks of fresh sugar cane that my mom had just peeled and cut. I remember my extreme sadness when I learned that my mom was going away for a while, to the United States of America to study.
Unbeknownst to me at the time, my mother had successfully applied for a Ford Foundation scholarship to pursue a Master’s degree in Women’s Studies at the University of Northern Iowa in Cedar Falls, Iowa. It mattered little to me. All I knew was that at the age of 5, my 妈妈 was half way around the world and I didn’t know when would be the next time I could see her. 6 months passed and all the legal documents had been filed, the visas applied for, and the flight tickets booked. My first international experience was not by choice, even though I wouldn’t have chosen to stay. My family meant more to me than my hometown; my family was my home. The three of us were again reunited, but this time in a strange and bizarre world that none of us had any experience with.
When I first came to the United States, I was distinctly Chinese. I did not know a single word of English and the first thought I had when I saw a McDonald’s was “They have McDonald’s in America too?” I was immediately enrolled in the English as a Second Language (ESL) class at my elementary school. Although I picked up the language rather quickly, I remember I still felt very different. I could not communicate with my classmates or my teacher. I had to point in order to tell the teacher I needed to go to the bathroom. In a town of only 30,000, being Chinese is something special – sometimes good, sometimes bad. There were those who were genuinely interested in learning how to say pencil in Chinese. There were also those who assumed all Chinese people knew Kungfu. Getting picked on and having pieces of paper thrown at you without being able to retaliate without getting physical tends to get you into trouble. I can’t say it wasn’t worth it though. Within a year and a half, I had “graduated” from ESL and moved to the Twin Cities in Minnesota. Language became less and less of an issue, but the cultural differences remained.
They say “When in Rome, do as the Romans do”, but I guess I never took that saying to heart. I remember thinking that Americans were quite primitive for eating vegetables uncooked, and it has taken me many years to get used to salads. One of my favorite snack foods in China was干脆面 or dry crispy noodle snacks for kids that are made to be eaten uncooked. Although they are extremely common in China, they are very rare in the U.S. So instead, I started eating uncooked American style ramen as a snack. I even brought it to elementary school with me to eat during break time. I remember it took a lot of convincing to get the first kid to try it. A few weeks later, literally half the class brought their own little ramen bags. The practice even popped up in other classrooms by kids who I didn’t even know. When I look back on this, I’m beginning to realize that I was not just eating uncooked ramen because I enjoyed the taste, but I was reminiscing about my life in China along with all the kinds of food I had grown up with. Yes, I started to like pizza and pancakes after moving to the U.S., but I also brought my home culture with me in the form of uncooked ramen, which was apparently embraced by the local Americans. Little did they know, not only where they enjoying a new snack, but by adopting the practice of eating uncooked ramen for snack, my classmates had helped me feel more accepted as an American. The metaphor of the American “melting pot” was never truer as 干脆面 was added to the pot.
Growing up in the U.S., I had a disproportionate amount of Asian friends. Although Asians probably accounted for less than 10% of the population, more than half of my friends were American born Asians or immigrants like me. This is still very much true today, even in my university life. Perhaps the reason is because we have all shared similar experiences of being excluded from the mainstream, of enjoying the same activities, and of having similar issues at home with often overbearing parents, at least compared to our American friends. Communication and mutual understanding is much easier, and you don’t have to explain why you eat rice all the time or why you can’t come out to play because you’re too busy studying or practicing the piano.
Fast forwarding some years leads my family and me to South Bend, Indiana. By this time, I had spent more time in the U.S. than in China, and my English had far surpassed my Chinese. Today, although I am able to speak Mandarin conversationally, my reading and writing skills have regressed past what I knew as a first grader in China. Somewhere along the way, I had transformed from being distinctly Chinese to at least moderately American. When my family and I eat watermelon these days, we do so half the time with spoons and half the time in slices. Perhaps all of these things mean that I have assimilated to American culture and have forgotten my roots. Perhaps this is true, but I actually know of many people who have moved to the U.S. like me who have completely forgotten their native tongue. In fact, their parents may not want them to learn Chinese because they feel it would be harder to become “American” that way. I completely disagree and am proud that I can still speak Mandarin. I think there is value to all cultures and being able to transverse between cultures is anything but a disadvantage.
13 and a half years passes faster than one would think and I had not had the opportunity to return to China. I felt like I missed out on all those family gatherings, all those missed birthdays, mid-autumn festivals, and especially Chinese New Years. Some days, I wonder how much closer I would be to my grandparents had we stayed in China. I learned today that one of my cousins is about to have an engagement party in the next month. I didn’t even know she had a boyfriend. I had forgotten what real 干脆面 and I couldn’t even tell you how many provinces are in China if you asked. In a sense, I had forgotten what it meant to be Chinese and was left clinging to my uncooked ramen. I desperately wanted to rediscover my roots, the parts of me that I had left behind.
Thus, when I learned that my home university, the University of Notre Dame, had an exchange program with the Chinese University of Hong Kong, I applied immediately as I knew this would be the perfect opportunity for me to return to China. I am the first year-long exchange student from my university, and so far it has been a rollercoaster of an experience. Being truly independent in a different country has brought many difficult and unexpected challenges that I have learned or am still learning to deal with. However, I am beginning to understand the local Hong Kong culture and am also meeting many new faces from literally all over the world.
Hong Kong has made me realize just how American I have become. Although I still do not fit into the mainstream culture of America and probably never will, I feel much more out of place in Hong Kong than in Indiana. My homesickness is not of my hometown of Wuhan, but of my friends and family who are all in the U.S. I miss the pizza and I miss the pancakes. However, there are bits and pieces of Chinese culture around Hong Kong that I can still identify with. A few days ago, I bought my first package of 干脆面 at the Park N’ Shop on campus and crunched on it proudly as if my quest of nostalgia had been completed. I’m even more excited about when my parents will come with my little brother to visit me in Hong Kong. We will then return to Wuhan as a family for the first time in 14 years, a once in a lifetime opportunity that will surely bring much joy and tears.
You may want to ask me what I have learned from all my experiences or if I have gained anything concrete that I may be able to list off. It is really not like that. I am the result of all my experiences. My personality, my values, and my beliefs all embody my time spent in China, in the U.S., and now in Hong Kong, and they will continue to change as I spend more time here. Reflection is important, but it is only important because it helps encourage learning and personal growth. To me, internationality is not just a label or a point on a resume. Rather, it is a way of life, a way of thinking, a way of interpreting the world. Today, I identify more strongly with the world than with either Chinese or American. As the world becomes smaller and smaller due to the shrinking effects of globalization, more and more people will have significant international experience and be able to identify with not just the community in which they were born into. Internationalism is the way of the future. It doesn’t matter if you are Chinese, American, American born Chinese, or even Chinese born American. You are human, you are you. Embrace the positive experiences and learn from the negative ones. The world is big; the world is inspiring, go.
December 4, 2012
by Theodora Hannan, USA
Hello! I’m here to awaken you from your post-Thanksgiving slumber. This is a bit strange for me, because I’m an American student, and I’ve spent the last nineteen years having a Thanksgiving blowout meal every third Thursday of November, and to me it just seems normal. But being an International Ambassador has provided constant mental kicks to my default mode, and I spent quite a bit of time this week thinking about all of you.
I know for certain of a few countries that most definitely have a Thanksgiving Day, but I don’t think it’s a safe assumption to suppose that each one does. And when I begin to think about it more and more, what is Thanksgiving really for here in America? It’s Turkey Day, and Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade (which, for the record, I did watch, and I swear it had more international music entertainers than Americans, doesn’t that strike you as a little strange? Maybe just me, but I wasn’t expecting Carly Rae Jepsen), it’s the day before Black Friday, the most profitable day for the US economy (followed closely by the upcoming Cyber Monday). As I stopped and stuttered every time I wished one of my international friends a happy Thanksgiving, I had to wonder: what is this day about?
There are plenty of other national holidays here, many of which are official days off: Independence Day, Labor Day, Memorial Day…. And this seemingly random day in November is just another day, after all – in fact it was one of my new international friend’s birthday on Thursday! Life goes on living, the world goes on spinning – what’s so cool about today?
I have a pieve of family lore that makes me laugh and roll my eyes every year. My mother’s side of the family is actually related to some of the original pilgrims who came to the New World way back when. Now, according to their stories (corroborated by a library book when I was about twelve), one of my ancestors was a little kid that first year, was a right little terror, and got himself lost and picked up by the Indians (ahem – Native Americans, to be politically correct). They returned him safe and sound to the colonists, and began the peaceful first interactions between the Native Americans and the Pilgrims.
Now, I don’t really know how true this is (cute children’s library books aside), and frankly, I don’t really even care. Because the point is that it’s supposed to be a happy celebration, about friends who are friends even if they don’t particularly want to be (that little kid really was a handful according to the stories, I wouldn’t’ve blamed the Indians or the Pilgrims for wringing his neck). My family has never gone around the table and had everyone say what ze is thankful for, and I’m sure it’s due to the extreme strangeness of my family (don’t ask), because most people in America do this. And I for one think it’s nice: a time to be grateful to others, to share what makes you happiest, to take joy in others’ joy. That kind of mutual concern and love has nothing to do with nationality, an dI hope each and every one of you experienced something like that this week.
November 24, 2012
by Theodora Hannan, USA
In all fairness, I should mention a disclaimer that I’m not at all scary in real life, nor have I ever dressed up as anything in the least bit frightening for Halloween. Let me pretend, all right? I hope you’re all enjoying the festivities, or even if you aren’t doing anything exciting tonight – which would put you in good company, because I’m certainly not – that you at least got free candy from someone today. But that’s the point, yes? The free candy?
That’s been on my mind quite a bit lately, actually. One of my professors this semester is a dignified, polished British man in his sixties: he isn’t stuffy (quite a nice chap, really, and I hope you read that in an English accent) but he’s just so British. Does that make sense? Anyway, a few days ago, he was marveling at the concept of Halloween, wanting to know what the fuss is all about. Now, I am well aware that different countries have different holidays, and I guess I distantly knew that Halloween was a pretty American thing. But surely, even if one doesn’t celebrate, one can surely see the point? (cf. the above FREE CANDY.) For whatever reason, I was feeling particularly cheerful and peppy that day and went about attempting to convince him of the innate goodness of Halloween, only to be met with resistance. My selling points? Free candy, cute kids in fun costumes, no classes (because in American public elementary schools you spend the day doing nothing but looking adorable in your costumes), free candy, neighborly camaraderie (which is ridiculously difficult to spell), and, oh yeah, free candy. Sensing a theme?
But my professor just doesn’t get it. He goes out somewhere with his wife! Shocking. Well, not really, considering my parents conveniently live a condominium association with very few young families and therefore have not given out candy in quite a few years. Well, I for one miss it. I know that American consumerism culture is tedious, that Halloween evolved from a combination of pagan fears and a Christian holy day, that the focus on five-year-olds can be incredibly annoying. But as a five-year-old at heart, I love the fun of Halloween, its lack of seriousness. We have plenty of serious holidays, and most of them are mandatory, one way or another: Independence Day, Thanksgiving, New Year’s, winter holidays are all actually quite serious, if you pause and consider. But Halloween is pure fun, that we Americans do completely voluntarily and with great mirth. This is the opener for the holiday season, which will now begin at breakneck speed and sweep you up and off your feet for the next two months. So why not it start it off with a little bit of fun and a lot of free candy?
Now, while all the little kiddies count their bounty, I’ll be quietly sitting in my corner preparing my Christmas playlists for the stroke of midnight . . . but more on that later.
October 31, 2012
by Theodora Hannan, USA
I’m sitting, rather uninspiringly, in my dorm room, cuddled up in bed with pillows and layers and blankets. Now, you all don’t need a description of my snug little single in Lyons, but I bring it up to set the scene for the shocking news that everyone currently abroad needs to hear: it is fall in South Bend. I know, I know, that’s silly, of course it’s fall, Theodora, it’s October — but you forget, my friends, the bipolar nature of South Bend weather. On Thursday it was eighty degrees and sunny, but it’s been raining and overcast and downright chilly for the last two days, and it’s safe to say that there’s no going back. Worst of all, I looked out my window two weeks ago to find just one tree had decided to visit the stylist and was looking a little bit on the auburn side; walking to breakfast Thursday morning, with the trees and walkways darkened from the rainstorm the night before, and the leaves falling in halos around their previous owners, I couldn’t imagine a more perfect fall day (until it hit seventy degrees by 11 am, good old South Bend).
I tell you this, not out of any sadistic desire to make you yearn for your college habitat, or to make you cheer that you are currently grazing in better pastures, but because you aren’t here. You are far away from heart and home, off on grand adventures, living and breathing and growing and becoming. You are experiencing things I never have and in a great many cases never will, and I am here, at Notre Dame, also doing things without you here with me. Each time I think about you, want to text you or tell you what’s going on, I have to pause, realize yet again that you’re not here and that you won’t be for another few months. That barrier, that separation, never feels more real than in those little moments when I just want you here.
There has been plenty of time for me to dwell on this in the last few weeks, but it wasn’t until I sat down for a long talk with one of my new international friends this weekend that I felt how real this feeling is for those of you in the opposite position just by being here. It made the word “international” much more real to me, to hear my friend allude to his family across the universe from him, to realize that it’s exactly how I feel. How people in long distance relationships love and hurt when distance does not make the heart grow fonder, how family members spread across the globe for years lose the domestic closeness that had once bound them together, how once-friends look across the bridge of the lost years and find it too difficult to brave spindly wooden boards to close the gap.
Fall here is a beautiful time, and I hope all our newcomers enjoy it before it disappears in the blink of an eye. I hope to hear stories of falls in different climes and countries in just a few more months, but until then, we must content ourselves with the worlds we are each of us living, and wait in anticipation of better things.
And miles to go before I sleep,
And miles to go before I sleep.
October 6, 2012
by Theodora Hannan, USA
I sit writing this on the first home football Saturday this year, having been awoken by the dulcet tones of some of my fellow undergraduates’ wake-up reveille. Greeted by a little bit of rain, a little bit of sun, and a whole lot of fun, today brings back memories of my first two years here at Notre Dame. Even though I’ve been surrounded by a lot of Notre Dame spirit all my life (I am a dreaded “townie,” from South Bend, after all), my initial reaction to the Irish football weekend was pretty much “overwhelmed.” Huge crowds, loud noises everywhere, football stuff everywhere? I don’t think so. I went to most of the games freshman year, and had a pretty good time, but still didn’t fall in love with the whole process.
I’m as American as you can get: I grew up in the Midwest, I’m from a middle-class family, I’ve spent very little time out of the country. But I’ve also spent a lot of time with people less stereotypical than myself, not the least of whom are my international friends here at Notre Dame. I’m so happy this year to have that group of people grow exponentially by meeting all of you, to learn more about you and where you come from and where you’d like to go. I still don’t necessarily understand just why everyone here is so obsessed with football, but I can see how that love plays out here on campus seven weekends every year, as alumni and students and (quite probably) future students come together to celebrate. So whether you’re in love with football, encountering the Irish in all their glory for the first time, or missing us today from far away, know that there are people here who love you very much and can’t wait to experience these days, and many more, with you.
September 8, 2012
by Nikita Taniparti, India
Every August for the past two years now, I’ve left my family halfway across the world, to be reunited with my Notre Dame family once again. It was definitely a struggle learning to adjust in a new world, but Notre Dame made that experience that much more memorable and enjoyable. From the professors who adopt you as their children each semester, to the support system in the dorms, the dining halls and the Dean’s Office, this University has given me all that I could ask for and more.
As an international student, recreating a new life on the other side of the world takes time and effort; by defining a perfect set of contacts and a fostering environment, Notre Dame has helped me and my friends grow into the best possible adults we can be. I’m proud to say that I grew up at Notre Dame, learnt about life and have met people I will be with for a lifetime. Initially unsure about my decision before arriving at school, now having spent half my time here already, I would do it again in a heartbeat. Notre Dame definitely has a huge part of my heart, now and forever.
August 2, 2012