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.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

#46: The Question of the Day

Notre Dame Students do not really seem to like The Observer all that much.  Sure, many students grab a copy at lunch and read a few articles in Sports or Viewpoint*, but overall the paper is not the most popular reading material for Notre Dame Students (although its far more popular than its ugly stepbrother The Irish Rover).  However, if there is one section that most students are sure to read every day, it is The Question of the Day.

The Question of the Day appears every day on the second page (behind the front page) of The Observer.  It consists of: a question (duh), and usually five pictures of students giving brief answers to the question that was asked.  The question that is asked can range from being completely serious and controversial to something that is completely ridiculous and barely comical.

Examples of potential questions include:
-What is your favorite dining hall food?
-How angry do the Vagina Monologues make you?
-Do you prefer sweatpants that are blue or grey?
-How do you feel about Bill Kirk?
-Are you going to The Show this weekend?

Regardless of what question is asked, the answers always come from very typical responses.  One student will answer with a phrase that has almost no relation to the question that was asked.  One student will answer the question completely seriously as if it is an important survey.  Two students will answer together, usually by mentioning the others name and pointing towards them in the pictures.  Finally, another student will answer with a question as if they are asking for elaboration of the original question. 

All of these students might make completely ridiculous statements, but they will all be incredibly happy when the paper is actually published because they finally made it into The Question of the Day.  Their picture will appear in the newspaper and people will comment about their statement, no matter how absurd, for the rest of the day.  This will probably be one of the best days of the student’s collegiate career.

Because the people who respond to the question are chosen by a top-secret process that The Observer folks will never reveal, it is impossible to seek out being featured in The Question of the Day.  Whether it happens to people who are in the right place at the right time, or to people who know the right people, The Question of the Day is one of the highest honors that a student can achieve, but one they can never possibly seek out. 

*Notre Dame Students might, from time to time, read the News section of the paper if something interesting is happening, but they will certainly never read any article pertaining to Saint Mary’s unless it is a part of some sort of Viewpoint War.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

#45: Becoming Eucharistic Ministers

One of the most unique aspects of Notre Dame is the religious component of the school. Because of this, Notre Dame Students hold a special place in their heart for things of or related to Catholicism. Notre Dame Students love the fact that they are Catholic and they love any opportunity to show other students how Catholic they are (see #4). One specific way in which students do this is by becoming Eucharistic Ministers.

While becoming a Eucharistic Minister is a very demanding process that requires students to show up at the Basilica on a Tuesday night; performing the tasks of a Eucharistic Minister are some of the most rewarding aspects of the Notre Dame experience. Students who become Eucharistic Ministers not only get to attend mass with all of their peers, but they have a critically central role that allows them to participate in the mass more than their peers.

There is no greater thrill for a Notre Dame Student than having a reason to stand near the altar at a important moment during mass. While lectors, singers, and petitioners all get to do this at one point or another; their positions are much less important because they are based on skill in speech and song (or simply signing on a list). Eucharistic Ministers, on the other hand, have an important task in the Mass that says something about their religiosity.

Eucharistic Ministers experience their share of perks and downsides to the job when they get called up to the big leagues and perform it in the Basilica. While this is a true honor, these students must unfortunately deal with the occasional churchgoer who insists upon taking the Eucharist with his or her mouth, something that no Student in their right mind would attempt in the dorm. However, students in the position also experience the benefit of being able to chug copious amounts of wine behind the altar while announcements are being made [too bad I made a Franzia reference in my last post].

At the end of the day these Eucharistic Ministers much prefer doing their job in the dorms because that is where they are best able to prove to all of their friends how Catholic they are, and how much better they are as people.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

#44: Calling their Mother while walking to class

Cell phones.

The spread of cell phones into ubiquity has irreversibly changed the lives of Americans over the past decade. Pay phones are a thing of the past, landlines are becoming rarer by the day, and people have become closer to each other than ever before. Because of cell phones, people are always able to find each other, and they are always able to contact each other; but it doesn’t necessarily mean they should.

At Notre Dame, Students unquestionably reap the benefits of cell phones (and the expanded coverage on campus) but the most questionable use of this technology by Notre Dame Students is the constant desire to call their mothers while walking between classes.

Hey, Mom, it’s Katie . . . yea, I just got out of class and am walking to lunch right now. . . I don’t think I did as well on the Anthro test today . . . oh, but don’t worry, I’m getting my Spanish paper back today, and I’m pretty sure I aced it . . . yea, I just like wrote the whole thing in English and then had the computer translate it . . . ok, Mom, I gotta go, I just got to the dining hall and there will probably be a long line for hummus. Love ya.

While calling Mom certainly isn’t a bad thing to do on a regular basis; it is bizarre that many students believe the best time to do this is during the four minute walk from South Dining Hall to DeBartolo. Never mind the fact that strong winds along the South Quad corridor might make it difficult for Mom to hear them explain the proper technique for slapping a bag of Franzia; a private conversation is impossible while walking along a crowded sidewalk in the middle of campus.

What is most shocking about these conversations is the degree to which Notre Dame Students share minutiae with their mothers. Certainly Mothers care about whether or not their children are in relationships, but it is borderline unhealthy for a student to tell their mother about each and every hook-up they have (Notre Dame Hook-Up, of course, see #21). However, these conversations can be heard near-daily on the sidewalk outside O’Shag.

Hi Mom it’s Meg . . . I’m walking back to BP right now . . . yea, we went to Club Fever last night, and I got pretty drunk on Vodka Cranberries . . . ok, wait, can you hold on while I walk through this building . . . [pause while walking through Stepan Chemistry Hall] . . . sorry, I gotta go, I just ran into Patrick and he’s gonna buy me Starbucks with his flex points . . . ok, later Mom.

While calling home for such a brief period of time makes little to no sense from a conversational and communicational standpoint, it is also rude to other people walking near these students on the sidewalk. Unlike Mom, most Students do not need to be serenaded with mindless stories about their lives and while cell phone reception is excellent, it still requires them to talk obnoxiously loud while walking across the quads.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

#43.5: Days Notre Dame Students Like

Throughout the school year there are many days that students get excited for. Some of these days they know are coming months and years ahead of time, while others take the school by surprise. All of these days, however, bring a level of excitement that makes most of the student body very happy. Here they are:

1) USC Game [only in odd years]

2) Day/night before the USC Game [only in odd years]

3) First Friday of the Fall Semester [or whenever each dorm throws Dis-Orientation]

4) First Home Game

5) Saint Patrick’s Day

6) Michigan Game [an even year replacement for #1]

7) Room Picks [varies depending on dorm]

8) Blue-Gold Game [mainly due to PigTostal]

9) First Day of Spring [Halter Top Day]

10) First Big Snowfall of the Winter

11) The Day the Annual ND-SMC Viewpoint War reaches its Zenith

12) First Day of Winter Study Days [due to Christmas Parties]

13) Last Night Dorms are Open in the Spring

14) First Bookstore Basketball Games

15) Day Beer Garden Re-Opens at Corby’s

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

#43: Complaining about the weather

When prospective students apply to the University of Notre Dame they probably don’t know about most of the things on this list. They probably don’t know about the definition of hooking up (see #21) or where they will be getting pizza after a night of debauchery (see #14). They might know about Lou Holtz (see #23) and Saint Mary’s (see #38), while they have almost certainly never been to Finnegan’s or The Backer (see #20 and #26 respectively). However, if there is one thing that prospective students know when they apply to the school, it is that the weather in South Bend is absolutely awful.

South Bend has weather patterns that are somewhat similar to Siberian tundra or the real world in The Matrix. The sun refuses to shine on Notre Dame between October 1st and May 1st and there are only a handful of days each year that can be described using the word nice.* During the darkest months of the winter, snow falls at dramatic levels across the region and temperatures reach lows that are unheard of in most of the lower 48.

Despite the fact that all students know the problems with South Bend weather long before they attend the university, the students continuously complain about how bad the weather is and how they wish they lived in a more enjoyable climate. These complaints happen before class starts while they are taking off layers of coats, gloves, scarves, and hats. They happen at November tailgates where the beers aren’t put on ice to get cold, but they are laid out in the sun in order to get warm enough to drink. They happen when it snows at the spring game, and when it rains on the few warm days of the fall.

Not only will Notre Dame Students relentlessly complain about the weather they knew they would encounter in South Bend, but they will use the poor weather as an excuse. Some students will use the weather as an excuse to drink more (as there is nothing better to do in the cold winter months). Other students will use the weather as an excuse not to drink (because it is too cold to go out to parties, or to even get alcohol from the store). Students will use the weather as an excuse to skip classes and they will use the weather as an excuse to wear sweatpants (see #49).

However, the never-ending stream of poor weather in South Bend causes students to be even more excited for the beginning of spring (or as Bill Simmons calls it, Halter Top Day). On this day, which comes unexpectedly and at a different date every year, students rejoice. Shorts and skirts are worn and South Quad is covered with people playing games, tanning themselves, reading books, doing work, and just generally relaxing. For one day each spring Notre Dame Students do not complain about the weather because they know they need to embrace it while it lasts because the next day it will probably snow.

*Luckily in the spring of 2009 these three days fell on St. Patrick’s Day, Pigtostal, and the 22nd birthday of one Bob Kessler

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

#42: Broomball

Intramural sports are a much beloved part of student life at Notre Dame since every student participates in at least one sport or activity at the dorm, co-rec, or club level. Since almost all students were varsity athletes in high school, they are all obsessed with intramurals not only as a way to relive the glory of their pre-college years, but also as a way to satisfy the competitive fire inside them.

While many students continue with sports they played in high school such as football, basketball, tennis, and even cross country, some students fulfill their desire for intramural sports by playing games that are not typically seen as competitive sports. Dodgeball, horseshoes, and innertube water polo are some intramural sports that students participate in; but no intramural sport is as fiercely competitive or as brutally dangerous as Co-Rec Broomball.

For those who are unfamiliar with the tenacity of broomball, it is a sport similar to Hockey except that sticks, pucks, and skates are replaced with brooms, balls, and tennis shoes. Teams of three guys and three girls face off across a half rink of ice and try to stay on their feet and get the ball past the goalie. Broomball is the late night sport of choice for Notre Dame Students, and the leagues are always filled to capacity of men and women looking for good old fashioned fun on ice.

However, unlike most Notre Dame Intramurals the majority of students participate in broomball under the influence of the alcoholic beverage of their choice. The majority of the Co-Rec teams spend several hours before their late night games taking shots, pounding 40s, and chugging bags of wine so that they will not feel the pain when they slip and fall all over the ice or get body checked into the boards. This not only helps the games to become more interesting, but the drunken students moving around also make the games incredibly hilarious.

The largest problem with the Co-Rec broomball games isn’t the drunken students shenaniganning around; it is the fact that there is not enough ice time in the winter months for RecSports to sponsor enough broomball leagues. While every student would love to play broomball, only about 500 students get the opportunity each semester, and while RecSports has the incredibly fair system of “first come first served” to register for leagues, many students that want to participate are just not afforded the opportunity. Luckily, the Athletic Department has intervened, and will soon be breaking ground on a new Ice Arena that will hopefully be open 24 hours a day for Co-Rec Broomball madness.