Wednesday, December 23, 2009

#69: Love, Actually

Notre Dame Students love Christmas movies.  They love Elf for its contemporary nuttiness, oftentimes repeating quotes such as, “Bye Buddy, hope you find your Dad,” when somebody leaves a party or small circle (see #24).  They love It’s a Wonderful Life for its classic story and timeless Frank Capra themes, and they love Home Alone for its childhood memories of high jinks (as well as tiring debates about how many times Marv and Harry should have died over the course of the film).  While many people of different ages around the country love each of these movies (as well others) there is one movie that Notre Dame Students love so much more than it is typically loved.

That movie is the ‘Ultimate Romantic Comedy’: Love, Actually

Notre Dame Students love Love, Actually because it is a movie that brings together the joy of the Christmas season with the satisfaction of a good romantic comedy.  Not only do they love Christmastime (see #66), but Notre Dame Students also love romantic comedies because they love to love.  Notre Dame Students love their families, they love their roommates, they love their friends, they love their girlfriends/boyfriends, and they love their school; so it makes sense that they would love a movie that is ostensibly about love.

Love, Actually is that movie. 

What Notre Dame Students love about the film is the fact that everybody can relate to a different story in it (except the one with the guy who’s in love with his best friend’s wife; that’s just sleazy).  Some students love Sarah’s (Laura Linney) storyline because it shows a person that needs and loves her family over anything else.  Others love Jaime’s (Colin Firth) storyline because it shows how love can triumph over immense barriers like language.  Still others count Karen’s (Emma Thompson) and Harry’s (Alan Rickman) story as their favorite because it depicts a love for children.

While everybody loves Sam’s story (mainly because it ends with a rousing rendition of All I Want For Christmas Is You (see #39)), and few dislike the hilarious antics of Billy Mack (Bill Nighy); one of the more beloved storylines in Love, Actually is the story of the Prime Minister (Hugh Grant).  While the details of this tale are satisfactory, the climax of the story is when he gives the speech touting everything that is great about Britain.  Not only is this a great speech in the vein of Rockne and Holtz (see #15), but it also plays to the Anglophile sensibilities of most Notre Dame Students.

Overall, the storylines of Love, Actually make it a film that Notre Dame Students feel comfortable watching with their parents, with a group of friends in the dorm, with members of the opposite sex that they are just platonically friends with, and with members of the opposite sex that they are attempting to ‘Notre Dame Hook-Up’ with right before parietals (see #21 and #63).  Because of this, it has become an unlikely classic amongst Notre Dame Students and a film that they continue to treasure and love (of course) every holiday season.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

#68: ‘Studying’ in LaFortune

When the end of the semester approaches, Notre Dame Students lock down into a study mode that is extraordinary to see.  Many students make their way to the library for the first time all year while some students fail to make it out to the bars for the first weekend all year.  Students that are usually hanging around their dorms watching football games throughout the day are nowhere to be found, and the library is the place to see and be seen.

Notre Dame Students each have their own favorite places to study.  Some go to the basement of the library, or the second floor of the library, or one of the many other floors of the library (the place where actual work gets done).  Some students go to Jordan Hall of Science, others go to study rooms in their dorms, and others go to CoMo.  However, the most inexplicable location where Notre Dame Students study for exams en masse is the LaFortune Student Center.

There are very few sensible reasons why studying in LaFortune is a good idea.  Sure there is the Huddle and other mediocre food options (see #14), there are some tables where people can study in groups, parietals are non-existent so couples can study together, and the obvious fact that Starbucks doesn’t have to be snuck into LaFortune (see #22); but can any real studying actually occur within the walls of this building?

LaFortune is a loud building where lots of things are happening.  In addition to the typical groups of people getting their sandwiches and coffee, Finals week features additional distractions from Zahm guys going on the Bun Run, drunk students that are too good for studying, and even rogue Christmas Carolers spreading holiday cheer.  All these things combine to make LaFortune the worst possible place on campus to study for exams.

That’s why nobody actually studies there.

People might go to LaFortune with all of their books, their class notes, and their laptops.  They might spread all of these things haphazardly across a table to give the appearance that they are doing a lot of work, but ultimately they won’t go 45 seconds without stopping to talk with somebody, or checking their Facebook page, or getting up for more coffee and snacks, or playing online games, or reading blogs like this one.  Going to LaFortune to ‘study’ is nothing more than an exercise in procrastination (see #18).

This is the way Notre Dame Students like it.  They go to LaFortune and put up a facade of studiousness so that they can go back to their dorms or apartments and tell all of their roommates and friends that they, “spent 12 hours studying” when they really accomplished nothing all day.  These students use this ‘studying’ to later justify doing things that are SO college (see #11) like going to bars and/or ugly sweater parties (see #66). 

Not only are these students misleading their friends about their long hours of ‘studying’, but usually they are lying to themselves and believing that they are being productive.  Eventually these students might move to a better location where they will actually get work done; but as long as they remain in LaFortune they are merely keeping up the appearance of hard work.

Monday, December 14, 2009

#67: New Football Coaches

Recent years have unfortunately seen the necessity for Notre Dame to endure five different searches for a new head football coach.  While the specific circumstances surrounding and the people conducting each search have changed over the years, they have all (quite obviously) followed a period of failure and disappointment on the football field.

Because of the various perspectives of these failures, different groups within the Notre Dame community have different opinions of the coaching searches and of the men that are subsequently hired from these searches.  Old Alums (especially the overly fanatical message board crowd) are oftentimes angry and upset with new hires because these men do not fall under their arbitrary and unreachable ‘Tier 1’ designation.  These people make outlandish and unsubstantiated claims based on their ‘inside information’ (see #8) and choose to continue their never-ending pessimism about the football program.

Young alums that personally witnessed all of the failures and disappointment that brought about the need for a coaching change are expectedly skeptical of the new coach.  While these former students are hopeful for a more successful future, they all remember how excited they were when the last coach was hired.  They remember the short lived ‘Return to Glory’ of Tyrone Willingham and the ‘Hard-working, intelligent, and nasty’ football teams of Charlie Weis. 

These young alums are skeptical because they can clearly remember a time before the last coach failed; a time when they were students and hanging Sports Illustrated covers on their dorm room walls.  They remember a time when the departed coach was the new coach, and they loved him.

This is because Notre Dame Students LOVE new football coaches.

When a new coach is hired, Notre Dame Students brim with excitement and unbridled optimism.  They dreamily look towards the upcoming season knowing that there will be better results on the field and certain that the coach will lead them to the Promised Land.  They update their Facebook statuses, listen to press conferences, and start thinking of sayings for custom T-Shirts they will sell the following fall (see #35).

Notre Dame Students love new football coaches because they represent the possibility to wake up the echoes and return Notre Dame Football to its previous years of glory.  New football coaches bring with them the chance to restore winning traditions (see #40) and the ability to give the current classes a chance to witness a long lost level of success.

Now, Brian Kelly represents that chance; and until he loses his first game every Notre Dame Student will love him.

Friday, December 11, 2009

#66.5: Things Fr. Jenkins* Likes

1)       “Going Green”
2)       Creating Controversies
3)       The Academic Forum
4)       Uganda (see #1)
5)       Killing the Vagina Monologues
6)       Running with ROTC Students
7)       Creating a family friendly atmosphere
8)       Groundbreaking Ceremonies for new buildings
9)       Killing the Gay Film Festival
10)   Bill Kirk
11)   Premature Contract Extensions
12)   Academic Freedom (sort of)
13)   Calling ND a ‘research institution’
14)   Sustaining  the city of South Bend
15)   Fr. Malloy (for being an easy act to follow)

*Fr. Jenkins AND the University Administration

Thursday, December 10, 2009

#66: Christmastime

Like most good Catholics (or Protestants, or uncomfortably jealous Jews for that matter), Notre Dame Students love Christmastime.  They love this period between Thanksgiving and the end of finals when they get to celebrate the holiday season on campus with all of their friends, and they love all of the festivities that come with it.

Immediately upon returning from Thanksgiving break, Notre Dame Students will begin the process of transforming their dorm rooms or off-campus homes into their own private winter wonderlands.  Students will put up stockings and ornaments, and they will hang Christmas lights everywhere they can possibly hang them.  These lights will remain hanging in their rooms for the entire second semester.

The decorations that won’t remain into the New Year are those that students organize for the outside of their dorms.  While years ago these lights and decorations were simple and elegant, the competitive nature of Notre Dame Students has brought dorm decorations to new levels of excess while wasting away all the credibility of the University’s attempts to ‘go green’ (although, they do look pretty sweet).

During Christmastime, Notre Dame Students feast on the best dining hall meal of the year (the Prime Rib Candlelight dinner) and they oftentimes break out into Christmas carols on a whim.  They exchange gifts with their closest friends and watch Christmas movies as a respite from exam preparation.  They will watch Home Alone, Elf, Bad Santa, The Santa Clause, It’s A Wonderful Life, and Love, Actually (more on that later).

Students will then throw more Christmas parties than any rational person could anticipate.  Those living in the dorms will be booked with multiple SYRs on the lone weekend between Thanksgiving and study days, with certain dorms lucky enough to host their SYR around the Christmas tree under the dome.  These SYRs will undoubtedly feature hundreds of Notre Dame Men wearing the timeless combination of a suit and a Santa hat. 

Meanwhile, off-campus students will throw ‘ugly-sweater parties’ like it is their job.  Because every student has a desire to plan his or her own party (see #25), their social calendars will be booked with such events on every Thursday-Saturday for three weeks straight.  With egg nog, ugly sweaters, and the perfect Christmas playlist that will prominently feature Mariah Carey’s All I Want For Christmas is You (see #39) and Do They Know It’s Christmas?(see #51) these parties will happen over and over again until everybody goes home for Christmas break.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

#65: Riding Bikes in Adverse Conditions

One of the great things about Notre Dame’s campus is that the residential and academic buildings are all relatively close together.  Students can easily walk between the most distant buildings of importance (so, not including Carroll) without exerting an inordinate amount of time or effort.  This pedestrian campus is promoted by an abundance of sidewalks and a lack of cars on campus.

Despite the convenient layout of campus, many students still feel the need to pretend like they are going to a large state school by riding their bikes between buildings.  Because of the short distances, these students will undoubtedly spend more time locking their bike then they will actually riding it (because locking bikes is necessary to prevent them from being stolen—or even worse, finding them hanging in a tree somewhere).

While this biking can be seen merely as a leisure activity in the summer months, Notre Dame Students inexplicably continue to ride their bikes in the inclement weather that lasts from October until May (see #43).  Whether it is snow, sleet, ice, hail, wind, or rain, the biking contingent of Notre Dame Students are relentless like postal workers in their insistence on biking.

These students will put plastic bags on the seats of their bikes to ensure dryness, and then they will hit the ice-covered sidewalks in their perilous quest from their dorm to DeBartolo Hall to the Dining Hall and back.  Never worrying about the inevitable loss of traction, these students will slide across the sidewalk, crash into pedestrians, and get even wetter than their sensibly walking counterparts.

Ultimately, most students will realize that bicycles were simply not built to be ridden around in the adverse conditions of the South Bend winter.  These students, however, will choose not to leave their bike in one place throughout the winter, but will walk their bike across the slick and icy sidewalks so that it will still be with them when the day comes that conditions are more desirable for biking.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

#64: Omelets

Like most college students, those at Notre Dame are fairly apathetic towards breakfast.  With the majority of students only having 14 meals on their meal plan each week, and the breakfast hours of the dining halls incompatible with the schedules of many students, there is just no time or place for a traditional breakfast during the typical week.  Most students settle for a bagel and coffee from Waddick’s or Starbucks.

When students do get breakfast in the dining halls, however, they typically make sure to get the omelets from the omelet bars in both dining halls. 

Some students go to the omelet bar regularly throughout the week.  These students have their chosen ingredients set and they get to know the omelet makers quite well throughout their omelet making careers.  Other students only utilize the omelet bar on the weekends when it is a brunch option much later in the day.  These students find that the omelets do great work on hangovers and help the students prepare for a full day of studying.  They eat their omelets while recapping the debauchery of the previous night and thinking through the things they wish they hadn’t done (see #11, doing things that are SO college).

Further students only eat their omelets for special occasions.  Some make special trips to breakfast on mornings when they have early exams and enjoy their omelet as a sort of pre-test pump up meal.  Some students only get omelets when the monogram waffle-makers have gone missing.  Other students make a point to specifically go to the omelet bars the morning after they have pulled an all-nighter.  These omelets act as a triumphal post-game treat after a long night of studying or paper writing.

Overall, most Notre Dame Students find a way to work the occasional omelet into their diet, and the omelet bar is certainly one of the most beloved menu items at either dining hall.

>Note: The pictured omelet is NOT from either Notre Dame dining hall.

Monday, November 23, 2009

#63: Parietals (although they refuse to admit it)

Of all the unique intricacies of dorm life at Notre Dame, or Notre Dame Student culture in general, the most influential aspect is the rule that seemingly infuriates students ensuring that dorms remain single-sex; a rule called Parietals.

The rule of parietals means that at midnight or 2:00 AM (depending on if it’s a weeknight or a weekend) students must remove themselves from dorms of the opposite sex until the next morning.  This means that students (or outside friends and relatives) are not allowed to sleep in dorms of the opposite sex, and they are not allowed to stay later no matter what they are doing.

The majority of Notre Dame Students talk negatively about parietals.  They blame the rule for treating the students like children.  They use the rule as an excuse for poor gender relations amongst students, and they criticize the rule for being too old-fashioned.  If you listen to what they say in public, one might think that Notre Dame Students hate parietals.

Deep down, however, most Notre Dame Students actually like parietals. 

Parietals are a necessary check on Notre Dame Student’s drunken decision making.  They take away the pressure that Notre Dame Students feel about potentially sleeping together, and give Notre Dame Students an excuse not to sleep together (and limit themselves to Notre Dame Hookups at earlier hours, see #21). 

Furthermore, because of the sometimes lackadaisical way that the rule is enforced, students that are in long term relationships are able to break parietals fairly easily without trouble.  These students like to break parietals not only because it allows them to sleep with their significant other, but also because it makes them think that they are completely badass [or awesome].

Parietals force parties to end at reasonable times, giving Notre Dame Students an excuse not to stay awake late into the night.  While Students might sometimes consider staying up late to party, deep down they actually want to get to bed before 3:00 AM on Friday and Saturday nights so that they can wake up early and study on the weekends.  Parietals facilitate the innate desire that Notre Dame Students have to work hard and party hard.

Most importantly, parietals allow students to build strong relationships with the friends in their own dorm.  The most significant times of bonding occur amongst students after parietals when they play video games, participate in single-sex drinking games, and talk about every possible topic that could come up.  Camaraderie is built amongst students after parietals in ways that would be impossible if the other sex was present.

Despite all this, Notre Dame Students will rarely admit to actually liking parietals.  Not only is it very easy to blame poor gender relations on the rule, but it would also be very uncool to champion the rule.  Ultimately, liking parietals is completely counter to being SO college (see #11), and because of this Notre Dame Students will continue to steadfastly pretend that they hate the rule.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

#62: Tailgating at Actual Tailgates (as opposed to houses or frats)

Notre Dame Students love football and they love drinking.  Therefore Notre Dame Students love tailgating.  However, tailgating at Notre Dame is different than at most schools because students rarely tailgate at off-campus houses and there are no fraternities to host game day parties.

Students at schools across the country enjoy the pageantry of college football with tailgates.  Most of these tailgates occur within a system of houses and Greek life, however, and rarely involve a vehicle with a legitimate “tailgate.”  Students at these schools wear dress clothing that can’t be comfortable for the games, they play beer pong on porches, they do multistory beer bongs, and they yell obscenities at any fans of the opposing team that happen to walk past their house or fraternity.  Ironically, most of these students will never actually make it anywhere close to the stadium as game time approaches. 

At Notre Dame, however, students enjoy tailgating at actual tailgates where they can complain about the shirt while wearing it (see #2), claim to have inside information about the football team (see #8), be nice to opposing fans (see #13), form small circles (see #24), complain about the weather (see #43), network with alums (see #85), and of course, do things that are SO College (see #11)

As freshmen they like to wander the Joyce and Stadium parking lots hoping that random alums will offer them free food and stories about the good old days.  As sophomores they will seek out tailgates hosted by distant relatives of minor acquaintances where they will get free food and potentially sneak a beer or two.  As juniors, Notre Dame Students will now be friends with these distant relatives of minor acquaintances and they will confidently go to the tailgates knowing that they will be offered plenty of free food and alcohol. 

As seniors, some students host their own tailgates.  While some of these students live close enough to campus where they can attempt to throw a state-school-style house party before the game, other students obtain parking passes and throw tailgates in parking lots such as the infamous Radio Tower (or X) Lot. 

Students who throw these tailgates do everything that they can to make sure that their tailgate is the best tailgate.  They get ridiculous amounts of beer and meat.  They play terrifying drinking games such as full beer flip cup, and they shotgun beers at regularly scheduled intervals.  These students will try to convince underclassmen to come to their tailgates, but the underclassmen will be too scared to show up.

Ultimately, Notre Dame Students love tailgating.  Unlike their peers from other schools across the country however, when the game starts the tailgates end.  Nothing is more important than the game.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

#61: The Grotto

“Every university has a place where students hang out for their social life, libraries where they study, and playing fields where they play sports, but how many have a praying place?” –Fr. Hesburgh (see #56)

There are many places on campus that are important to many students.  While students have special connections with their dorms, favorite classroom buildings, study spaces, or dining halls; all Notre Dame Students have an affinity for The Grotto making it one of the most sacred and beloved places on campus.

Tucked away behind the Basilica and facing out towards St. Mary’s Lake, The Grotto is far from being the most prominent or central location on campus.  Built with rocks and adorned with candles and statues, there is nothing immensely impressive about The Grotto.  But as the Stadium is loved for its traditions and grandiosity, and the Dome for being an icon; The Grotto is beloved because of its tranquility and simplicity.

There are no ancillary usages or purposes of The Grotto.  No statues mixing religious iconography with that of football.  No traditions of shotgunning beers or trying to hook up.  Notre Dame Students use it for prayer, not to prove how religious they are, but just to pray because they want or need to.

The Grotto is the place where Students go when they most need it, or when they don’t need it at all.  They go there when they are feeling homesick.  They go there when a relative is sick or has died.  They go there when they have lost their way.  Some students go there regularly to pray, while other students go there more infrequently.  All spend at least a little time there over the course of their four years to think in silent reflection and maybe light a candle [although they rarely leave an offering for said candle, see #3].

Notre Dame Students love The Grotto not because of its beauty or history, but because it is there for them when they need it most.  They love The Grotto because it is theirs, and they love The Grotto because it is one of the many things that are truly unique about Notre Dame.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

#60: Staying on One Level of Club Fever

On Thursday nights throughout the school year many Notre Dame Students (some that are over 21 . . . some that aren’t) like to frequent “Michiana’s most versatile night club” for drinking, dancing, and everything a person could ever want from the largest nightclub in northern Indiana.  When they go to Club Fever, however, they refuse to take advantage of all the 16,000 square feet of space it has and instead act like squatters on their level of choice.

When some students enter Club Fever, they immediately retreat to the basement where they can find pool and shuffleboard tables, regular lighting, and a decidedly more rock based playlist.  The basement of Fever is frequented by students that typically go to Finny’s on Thursday nights, but go to Fever because somebody in their group suggested that they need a ‘change of pace’ or are ‘getting into a rut.’ 

Many of these patrons will drunkenly make their way outside and down the alley to Finny’s before 1 AM.

[One important aspect of the Club Fever basement is the bathrooms.  Because the basement is attached to a very mediocre restaurant, the bathrooms are the nicest that can be found at any South Bend drinking establishment.  Ultimately this is unimportant.]

The main level of Club Fever is probably one of the most diverse places in South Bend.  There are drunk girls with the mindset of “F*** guys, I just want to dance” dancing with their girlfriends.  There are local residents who will oftentimes interrupt their dancing for unexpected fist fighting.  There are creepy guys walking around the dance floor trying to act cool but knowing that their best move is to come up at a girl from behind and begin dancing with her before she sees them.  There are also Notre Dame Basketball players.

These people love the main level because the darkness, occasional smoke, incessant strobe lights, and tightly packed crowd create an excellent opportunity for Dance Floor Makeouts.  The $1 Natural Lights also make this one of the least expensive public drinking locations . . . anywhere.

While the main level of Club Fever is one of the most diverse, the upstairs is probably the least diverse.  More open than the basement and better lit than the main level, the upstairs of the bar is enjoyed by the Notre Dame Students that wish they had attended state schools.  These students tend to go out every night of the week and see Thursday nights at Fever as the best of them all.  They kind of know each other well (but kind of don’t); they live off-campus as juniors; they’ve had fake IDs since freshmen year; they’ll spend lots of money on mixed drinks, but they probably won’t get too drunk.  People come to the upstairs of Club Fever to pick up girls/guys and go home with them, something students on the other levels are just not interested in.

All three levels combine to make Club Fever one of the most out of place bars in the entire South Bend area.  With three distinct areas (and stairs between them where people are rarely seen) Club Fever is a place that Notre Dame Students love, but for a variety of reasons, and a place where they will continue to go on Thursday nights (at least until it inevitably gets shut down).

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

#59:Hating Rectresses

One aspect of student life that sets the University of Notre Dame apart from other institutions of higher learning is the importance of dorm life for the students.  There are many unique aspects of dorm life at Notre Dame ranging from drinking traditions to dorm masses, but no aspect of dorm life affects the students more than the rectors and rectresses that live in and are in charge of the dorms.

Rectors and rectresses at Notre Dame are tasked with a myriad of responsibilities to ensure that the residence halls run smoothly and remain places that students want to live.  They assist their halls’ councils in order to plan events that the residents want to make dorm life interesting.  They promote faith in their dorms by encouraging residents to go to hall mass (and oftentimes saying mass if they are a priest).  They also serve as advisors to residents that are there to help them through personal issues of all kinds.

The most prominent responsibility of rectors and rectresses, however, is their position as the leader of the hall staffs of their respective dorms.  This position not only allows them to hand pick assistant rectors and resident assistants, but it also allows them to determine the degree to which university rules are enforced within their dorms.  Parietals might be in effect, liquor and drinking games might be banned, and parties might be limited, but all of these university rules impact students to varying degrees based on how severely their rector or rectress enforces them.

For the most part, the rectors in men’s halls are fairly lenient with the rules.  Alcohol flows freely (if not openly) in the men’s halls as dorm parties are a commonplace, beer pong and 40s are never far away, and liquor is sometimes seen at unnecessarily high levels.  Many rectors seemingly understand that the residents of their halls are college students and will act like college students regardless of the rules.  For their leniencies in enforcing the rules (while managing to keep the dorms incredibly safe) these rectors are beloved by their students and oftentimes form strong relationships with them.

However, women’s halls do not have the same luxuries because rectresses at Notre Dame are not nearly as lenient as rectors.  In fact, rectresses are so stringent with the enforcement of their rules that there is an enormous disparity between life in a men’s dorm and life in a women’s dorm.  While most men’s dorms play host to parties each weekend, women’s dorms never host parties.  While some Notre Dame men feel comfortable building bars in their dorm rooms, women must go to elaborate measure to bring even small amounts of beer, liquor, or wine into their rooms (and when they turn 21, they’re constantly accused of supplying alcohol to younger residents). 

These disparities have resulted in Notre Dame Women having fairly negative relationships with their rectresses.  While rectors might be seen as mentors, advisors, or friends in men’s dorms; rectresses are seen as judge, jury, and executioner.  Likewise, rectresses oftentimes develop hostile relationships with males who happen to enter their dorms.  Friends, boyfriends, and even brothers are not seen by rectresses as the well-intending Notre Dame Students they usually are, but as binge drinking heathens that force feed girls so much alcohol that they turn up passed out in shrubberies in front of Welsh Fam or Lyons. 

Rectresses run their dorms like convents where even the slightest infraction is seen as a truly troubling character flaw.  They try to be mothers to their residents but have no idea how to actually be mothers.  They treat their residents like children and are seemingly incapable of giving them the benefit of the doubt.  They are overly judgmental and overbearing, and many of them need to be replaced.  Because of this, rectresses across campus are unfortunately hated strongly disliked by Notre Dame Students.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

#58: Going to Appalachia for Fall Break

 At the midpoint of the fall semester, Notre Dame Students get a week off for all of their hard work.  Students use this break to do a variety of things such as relax at home, visit their friends at state schools, work on their thesis and other large projects, interview for jobs, or even to stay at school and drink excessively.  However, the most common thing that Notre Dame Students do with their fall break is go to Appalachia to do service work.

For those who don’t know, Appalachia is a cultural region that stretches across the eastern United States in the Appalachian Mountains.  The residents of Appalachia are widely seen as backward hillbilly types that are incredibly poor and uneducated (shockingly, the only state that is entirely within the Appalachian region is West Virginia).   Because of the poor economic conditions within Appalachia, Notre Dame Students take it upon themselves to make things better in this region by doing all the good work that can possibly be contained within one October week.

Students that go to Appalachia do a variety of things for the people there.  Some students work on construction and home repairs.  Other students work to promote recycling and the importance of organic farming; with further students working on issues ranging from health care to daycare.  Overall, when Notre Dame Students go to Appalachia, they make sure that they do as much good as possible in as little time as possible. 

Depending on the football schedule, Notre Dame Students are able to spend anywhere between 6 and 9 days in Appalachia each fall (and spring as well, if they do not like #11) and these Students need to do their good for several reasons.  Notre Dame Students feel the need to have the most well-rounded transcript and resume as possible.  Some know that their trip to Appalachia will look good on med school applications while others feel like it will be a nice anecdotal story to tell in future job interviews.  Other Notre Dame Students have a desire to prove how righteous they are to their friends and family by spending as much time as possible doing service work (and one week is not enough time to fly to and from Uganda).

At the end of the week, however, Notre Dame Students will return to campus with a good feeling in their heart knowing that they attempted to do good, and if given several more weeks they might have actually made a lasting impact.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

#57: Confusion About Cheering for Rivals

One of the defining parts of Notre Dame Culture is the devotion that students have to following the football team.  Students will spend hours reading message boards, they will intently listen to press conferences, they will drive and fly to away games at every end of the country, and they will cheer for the team through thick and thin.

Because of this devotion, Notre Dame Students also closely follow the games of other teams on the schedule so that they know more about their opponents and have a way to gauge how good the Irish team actually is compared to other teams around the country.  However, Notre Dame Students also have a difficult time watching these games because they are confused about what team to support.

The Notre Dame Football program has many rivals.  Some are friendly rivalries like Navy and Stanford (aside from their band).  Others are bitter rivalries like Boston College and Michigan State.  There are rivalries that are relatively new (Michigan) and old (Penn State) and some even have cool names like Catholics vs. Convicts (Miami).  However, no rivalry game is as important or as anticipated as the games against hated arch-rival USC. 

While Notre Dame Students undeniably hate the teams from these schools, they are incredibly confused about what team to root for when they watch their rivals play other games.  One might think that Notre Dame Students would root against teams like USC and Michigan at all costs because of the rivalries, but this is oftentimes not the way Notre Dame Students watch games.

In fact, many students actually root for USC and Michigan to win the rest of the games on their schedule.  These students want their rivals to win every other game so that Notre Dame’s wins against them look better to pundits.  Many students will vocally root for USC to win every game of the season just so they are undefeated when they play Notre Dame.  “If we’re going to beat USC, I want them to be the best team in the country,” Notre Dame Students will say.  While this logic makes sense in some ways, as the students are hoping that they serve as witness to history, in other ways this logic is completely insane.

Notre Dame Students should hate USC at all costs.  They should root for their players to ___________________*.  While they can secretly hope that USC is highly regarded when Notre Dame plays them, they should never root for the Trojans (or any other rival) to win under any circumstances because it is utterly impossible to hate a team and cheer for them at the same time. 

*joke omitted because it would have been classless and USC-like

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

#56: Father Hesburgh

There are a lot of priests that live and work at the University of Notre Dame.  While some live in the dorms, others live in Corby Hall.  While some teach classes, others work as rectors and administrators.  While some are loathed by students, others are beloved; but no Holy Cross priest is as cherished and revered as the legendary University President emeritus Rev. Theodore M Hesburgh, C.S.C.

Notre Dame Students love Father Hesburgh because he is a living legend.  They dream of opportunities to make their way into his library penthouse, and oftentimes ride the elevators needlessly up and down hoping for a brief chat with him.  They crowd in dorm lounges to hear his stories of American Presidents and Civil Rights leaders and they cherish the pictures they are able to take with him at these events. 

Why, however, do Notre Dame Students love a man whose greatest achievements (besides all of those honorary degrees) occurred before they were even born?  While some Notre Dame Students love Father Hesburgh because he is a really old and influential priest that vividly shares many of his fascinating stories with them, the majority of Notre Dame Students hold such high regards for Father Hesburgh because of his effortless superiority to his successors.

Since Father Hesburgh retired, the Notre Dame community has had the privilege of being led by two men that could never be able to match up to the lofty standards set by their predecessor.  While these men tried (and have been trying) admirably, the Notre Dame Student body longs for the days when SYRs were permitted, liquor could be consumed, controversies were at a minimum, and the football team managed to at least come close to expectations.

Notre Dame Students love Father Hesburgh because he made the university the excellent place that it is today.  Under his leadership, Notre Dame was transformed into a top flight academic school that still managed to field a top flight football team.  He is a great man who used his position as University President to impact change not merely within the Notre Dame bubble, but across the entire country; and Notre Dame Students understand that they are privileged whenever they get a chance to encounter this living legend.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

#55: Hanging Irish Flags

Almost all Notre Dame Students like to claim they have some sort of Irish heritage no matter where their family actually comes from.  These students live for St. Patrick’s Day (well, who doesn’t), they have several albums by Dropkick Murphys and Flogging Molly (even though those bands come from Boston and LA respectively), they care deeply about the direction of their Claddagh Rings (see #6), they sip Baileys to help them fall asleep, and they do whatever it takes to get into the Dublin study abroad program (or they enter the Saint Mary’s program).  The one thing that all of these students are sure to do, however, is hang an Irish Flag in their dorm room or apartment.

While there is nothing wrong with hanging Irish Flags, these flags are as ubiquitous in Notre Dame Student’s rooms as sweatpants, Rudy posters, and spooning (see #49, #30, and #27).  It would be nearly impossible to walk down a hall of any dorm on campus and not see several of these flags draped across the walls of rooms.

Many students take the flag craze to the next level and work to complement their Irish flag with other flags.  Some rooms will have flags of their state next to an Irish flag.  Other rooms will have Notre Dame Flags next to their Irish Flag.  While the types of flags may vary (including Cubs W flags, Premiere League team flags, and unfortunately some Confederate flags), most students use some sort of flag combination to decorate their rooms because the flags are somewhat easy to hang, take up a lot of space, and don’t show wear and tear in the same way that posters do.

Whatever the case may be, Notre Dame Students love to hang their Irish flags so that everybody can know how Irish they are (or wish that they were), and so that the walls will have more clutter and character (similar to a Bennigan’s) that clearly defines the occupants of the room as one thing: a Notre Dame Student.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

#54: Standing at Football Games (but not really)

Notre Dame Students love standing during the football games.  They love drunkenly standing on the bleachers, wearing shirts that they hate (see #2), cheering out of sync, and making crazy arm and hand motions when the band plays menacing sound bites.  Notre Dame Students love to act in solidarity with the football team by never sitting down. 

Or do they?

As a collective the Notre Dame Students Body loves to stand during the football games, but Notre Dame Students individually do not like to stand at football games one bit.  Whether you call it a collective action problem or blatant peer pressure, Notre Dame Students secretly hate to stand at football games and only do it because everybody else is.

Notre Dame Student’s hatred of standing at football games is most frequently seen at halftime of the games.  It is not evidenced by the students actually sitting down (because this would obviously happen) but in the swift and decisive way that students lower themselves to the bleachers.  As soon as the halftime whistle blows, students sit down as if their legs are going to fall off if they do not.  Students will then remain sitting throughout halftime, unless the band happens to play a song that they like (see #9 and #51).

The most obvious proof that Notre Dame Students actually prefer sitting down during football games however, can be seen once these students graduate and become alums.  If the individuals who make up the Notre Dame Student Body really did love to stand, then the alums who have graduated would also love to stand.  However, most of Notre Dame Stadium is filled with alums who like to sit, and students who look forward to the day when they will graduate and finally be able to sit at football games. 

Thursday, September 24, 2009

#53: Chipotle

By the end of their freshmen year, Notre Dame Students will look for any reason to go off-campus for meals.  Having tested every possible combination of food in their dining hall of choice, Notre Dame Students get into the cars that they weren’t allowed to have when they first arrived and seek out eateries on and around the Grape Road corridor (because that’s the only place students know how to get to).

Of all the eateries that Notre Dame Students frequent, none is as popular or beloved than Chipotle.  Notre Dame Students love the taste of their overly processed fake Mexican food just as much as they love any of the items on this list, and for many years they had been more than willing to take 90 minutes out of their busy days to drive to Mishawaka to satisfy their craving for burritos. 

This week, however, a new Chipotle location is opening in the Eddy Street Commons.  Because the Chipotle is the one place within this overly sterilized downtown area that Notre Dame Students will actually frequent, it is the only place that they have been waiting for. 

Because of the degree to which Notre Dame Students love Chipotle, it goes without saying that this location will quickly become the busiest Chipotle in the world (just like the Subway in LaFortune . . or not) because Notre Dame Students will now be able to ride their bikes or even walk to the location. 

Before long, this eatery will be so successful that the dining halls will have to examine their profit margins, Rocco’s will have to increase their already exorbitant prices, and off-campus students will do far less cooking than the trivial amount they currently do.  With a Chipotle closer to campus than Carroll Hall, Notre Dame Students will see little to no reason to explore other dining options. 

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

#52: Talking About Squirrels

One reason why people love the campus of Notre Dame is the layout of grassy quads surrounded by buildings.  The lack of streets going through the middle of campus not only helps to retain and promote this convergence of grass, trees, sidewalks, and buildings; but it also helps the native squirrel population to thrive like no place else.

At Notre Dame, squirrels are everywhere.  They roam the trees and shrubberies of God Quad, burrow under bushes next to dorm entrances, climb trees around the lakes, and run across sidewalks with nothing to fear.  While most students call Notre Dame home, they are merely passing thru; these squirrels will truly never experience life outside the bubble.

These squirrels are not ordinary squirrels, however, but are unusually plump because they make their home at Notre Dame.  While many theories explain the abnormally large squirrels at Notre Dame, the best explanation for their excess is their diet that not only contains nuts, leaves, and natural byproducts of trees, but leftover Sbarro pizzas and half-empty Keystone Lights they find in the dumpsters behind the dorms.

Because of the squirrels’ unusual heft, Notre Dame Students have become obsessed with them.  Notre Dame Students will talk about squirrels far more often than necessary; they will write Observer Viewpoint letters about squirrels, they will take pictures of the squirrels, they leave food in strange places for the squirrels, and they might even name their bookstore basketball teams after squirrels.

At the end of the day, however, the squirrels at Notre Dame are no different than those anywhere else in the world (or at least the greater Midwest) except for the fact that they are talked about by Notre Dame Students in excessively unnecessary ways. 

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

#51: Africa (the song)

Long time readers of this site know that Notre Dame Students love Africa (see #1), but what they might not be aware of is that there are two types of Africa that Notre Dame Students Like.  The first is, and more obvious one, is the continent; while the second, and less obvious one, is the 1982 hit song by the band Toto.

Its gonna take a lot to drag me away from you/
There’s nothing that a hundred men or more could ever do/
I bless the rains down in Africa/
Gonna take some time to do the things we never had.

Notre Dame Students love this song and play it more often than any song by Toto should ever be played.  It is played at parties, weddings, tailgates, dances, and is one of the few songs that regularly appears on the playlist at both Finny’s and The Backer.  This song is firmly entrenched on the Notre Dame Playlist.

But why do Notre Dame Students love the song?  Is it because of the lyrics they don’t really know the words to?  Is it because of the chorus that they love to belt out while covered in sweat and clutching their hands around a Keystone Light or a Long Island Iced Tea?  Is it because off the awesome background instrumentals?  Is it because of the sweet percussion break that makes even the most passive of Notre Dame Students bust out some air drums?


Notre Dame Students love this song simply because of how much they like Africa (the continent).  Notre Dame Students love of Africa (the continent) is so great that as a corollary they will love almost anything that relates to or discusses the continent.  Notre Dame Students also love the song Do They Know It’s Christmas?, the film Hotel Rwanda, and the episodes of ER that feature storylines in Africa.  However, no piece of entertainment is beloved as much by Notre Dame Students because of the Africa Corollary than the song by Toto that students will sing at any time of any night they hear it.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

#50: Telling Time in Terms of Football Opponents

Football is an incredibly important part of student life at Notre Dame, and almost every student plans their fall semester around the football schedule. Some students register for classes knowing that they will be attending various away football games, while other students take lighter course loads just to account for the toll that football season will take on their lives each week. Because of this incredible importance, students tell time in the fall in terms of football opponents.

If something is going to happen three weeks from now (with now being Michigan week), a student would not describe the event as happening three weeks from now, but they would describe the event as happening during Washington week. If their parents are coming into town next weekend, they would describe this as saying that their parents are coming into town for the Michigan State game. Midterm week [at least this year] is not described as midterm week, but is described as USC week.

The football schedule, therefore, is more than just a list of games that the football team plays, but a way for students to relate things that happen throughout their fall semesters. Students throw parties during specific weekends that relate to the team they are playing, friends and relatives come to visit depending on the team they are playing, students travel to different areas of the country depending on the team they are playing, and the excitement level on campus throughout the week is all determined by the team the football team is playing.

A year ago this weekend, there were torrential downpours throughout South Bend for much of the week. While this trivial tidbit of weather might not be important, it can be widely recalled by Notre Dame Students because it happened during Michigan weekend. Students can recall what happened a year ago, because they have a vivid memory of the football opponent. Five weeks from now students will throw parties and be eagerly celebrating across campus in anticipation of the USC game; they know what they will be doing on Friday October 16th, because they know the football opponent.

Each week a different opponent comes to town and this opponent, for better or worse, will define the weekends until December when football season will end and the weeks become much more difficult to define, and a lot more unpredictable

Monday, September 7, 2009

#49: Sweatpants

Notre Dame Students love sweatpants. While this is not shocking because of the cold temperatures that are almost always prevalent, the degree to which Notre Dame Students wear sweatpants is exorbitantly high. At Notre Dame, sweatpants can be worn for any and every occasion and are almost always appropriate even when they are inappropriate.

In most areas of the country and world, sweatpants are only really appropriate for people when they are working out or relaxing in the comfort of their own homes. People might wear sweatpants when they are jogging or when they are watching a movie in their family room, but they will rarely wear sweatpants out of the house for an endeavor that is not based in athletics.

At Notre Dame, students wear sweatpants everywhere. While it is almost never appropriate, students wear sweatpants to class more often than not. Notre Dame Professors are awestruck by the level of informality that students bring to the classroom wearing hoodies and sweatpants to classes like they are training to run a marathon. These students don’t think anything of their outfits as they are dressing similarly to the rest of their peers.

Not only do Notre Dame Students wear sweatpants to class, but they also wear sweatpants to mass. In many parts of the world going to mass is one of the most formal parts of the week that sees parishioners dress up quite formally on Sundays. At Notre Dame, however, dorm masses make it possible for students to worship on Sunday nights without changing out of their sweatpants, sandals, and t-shirts. While these masses probably are some of the holiest outside of the Vatican, they are also some of the most informal due to Notre Dame Student’s favoritism for sweatpants.

Because Notre Dame Students like to wear sweatpants so much, they also are sure to make customized pairs of sweatpants a lot. Just as Notre Dame Students like to make T-Shirts (see #35) they also like to make sweatpants to wear with their customized t-shirts. Students will make sweatpants for their dorms, sweatpants for clubs, and sweatpants for their class. The only question will be: what color do they want their sweatpants to be?

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

#48: Songs that were popular 6-12 months ago

In the hit CBS sitcom How I Met Your Mother* one of the main characters (Robin) hails from Canada and must explain to her friends how music trends take longer to make it to Canada.  While this may or may not be true for the country to the north of ours that Notre Dame Students use to exploit more lenient drinking laws (see #34) it is puzzlingly similar to the tastes Notre Dame Students have for music.

Whether they are too busy studying, praying, or watching football games; for some reason it takes Notre Dame Students much longer to find new songs to enjoy than the rest of the country.  While this phenomenon is inexplicable by conventional means, it can be examined by looking at songs that have become popular over the past year. 

For example, Miley Cyrus’s song See You Again was released nearly two years ago, became popular in the Summer of 2008, and has been playing in Notre Dame bars ever since.  While this song is unquestionably a fine choice to play at Finny’s and The Backer; it has worn out its welcome at nearly every other place in the country outside of a Best of Both World’s Concert (or whatever she calls it these days).  However, Notre Dame Students continue to request the song and enjoy it like it is the hip new thing or a treasured classic (something it will never be).

Meanwhile, it’s nearly impossible to spin a radio dial anywhere in the country without hearing the Black Eyed Peas I Gotta Feeling on several stations.  The song has been at or near the top of the charts for over two months yet is still roughly five months away from becoming a staple at bars and dorm parties.  It might be heard occasionally at Notre Dame, but come January it will be ubiquitous.

This trend has been going strong for several years as well.  Previous songs that Notre Dame Students embraced long past their welcome (and still are embracing) include Taylor Swift’s Love Story, Kelly Clarkson’s Since U Been Gone, Fall Out Boy’s Sugar, We Goin Down, and Estelle’s American Boy (feat. Kanye).  While these songs all had their moment for most of the country, that moment was continued far too long for Notre Dame Students.  

*Returns to CBS on Monday, September 21st at 8:00 ET . . . trust me, just watch it.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

#47: Saying they are from Chicago when they are really from a suburb

Because Chicago is the largest city in close proximity to Notre Dame, it goes without saying that many students hail from the Chicagoland area.  These students love the city they call home.  They grew up on Michael Jordan, live for the Bears, think Kanye West is the greatest rapper of all time, own a copy of Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, and can’t wait for the day when they can legally drink an Old Style within the Friendly Confines.  However, while these students say they are from Chicago, more than likely they are from one of its numerous suburbs. 

Notre Dame is unique because of the wide range of places that students come from.  There are students that hail from the east coast, from the west coast, from the south, from the Midwest, and from Texas; and each of these student groups have a different way of expressing where they are from. 

People from Texas might tell you what city they are from, but they are more proud of their state as a whole.  People from California will be sure to differentiate between NorCal and SoCal.  People from the greater New York City area might give any number of answers including New York, Brooklyn, Long Island, Westchester, Connecticut, and even New Jersey.

Likewise, people from northeast Illinois will more than likely say they are from Chicago even if they live roughly an hour outside the city.  The conversation goes something like this:

-Where are you from?
                -I’m from Chicago, how about you?
-Oh, I’m from Chicago too, which part are you from?
                -I’m actually from Vernon Hills.
-Where’s that?
                -It’s a suburb, up towards Wisconsin.
-Oh, well uh, I’m from Humbolt Park.
-Is that near Wrigleyville?

Students from the suburbs say they are from Chicago because that is the place with which they identify themselves.  Even though most of these students have never actually lived in the city and really only know enough about the city to get from the train station to Grant Park and Michigan Avenue, they identify with the city in the same way that people from Texas identify with their state and people from California identify with their region.

While this process of self-identification might not be the most conducive to giving friends and new acquaintances a perfect picture of where they are from, students from as far reaching places as Gurnee, Plainfield, and Crete will continue to tell people they are from Chicago and they will continue to be proud of it.