Wednesday, February 17, 2010

#74: Giving Up THE Most Outrageous thing for Lent

Notre Dame Students love lent.  They love not seeing priests wear green every week, they love their inability to eat meat on Fridays, and they love the food the dining hall is able to prepare each Friday without meat (actually, they don’t love this at all, but hate it).  However, the most important part of Lent for Notre Dame Students is what they choose to give up for the season.

Many Notre Dame Students feel an incessant need to prove how Catholic they are to all of their peers and this desire oftentimes manifests itself by making religion a competition amongst students (see #4).  One way that Notre Dame Students can prove that they are more Catholic than other Notre Dame Students is by giving up something for Lent that is more outrageous and ridiculous than what their friends give up.

For some people these sacrifices are related to food.  Students might give up meat during all of Lent or give up something even crazier like cheese.  Some might give up Starbucks (see #22) or Reckers (see #14) while others might expand on that and give up all fried food.  Many Notre Dame girls might attempt to give up the FroYo machine, but this doesn’t last long.  Still others might take things a step further and limit or cease their consumption of alcohol during Lent. 

Many students give up completely different things ranging from using the elevator in their dorm (obviously only possible in the newer dorms) to something along the lines of the infamous Seinfeld episode, The Contest.  Other students might try to add something to their daily routine like working out more, studying more, or praying more. 

While Notre Dame Students might give many reasons for making sacrifices during Lent, deep down they all know that the things they give up for Lent are meant as a way to show other people how Catholic they are and how much more religious they are than the typical student.  All Notre Dame Students want to be the MOST Catholic student, and Lenten sacrifice is just another way to accomplish this objective.

Friday, February 12, 2010

#73: Digger Phelps

Basketball season at Notre Dame is usually most notable because it is the end of the football season, but there are certain things about Notre Dame Basketball that are uniquely enjoyed by Notre Dame Students (at least some students).  Digger Phelps is one of those things.

Digger Phelps was the head basketball coach at Notre Dame in the 70’s and 80’s, and probably the most successful coach in the history of Notre Dame Basketball.  He holds the NCAA record for most upsets of number one ranked teams, and led the Irish to their only appearance in the Final Four in 1977.  He is the son of an undertaker.

Despite the fact that these successes occurred before current Notre Dame Students were even born, the student body likes Digger Phelps for things that have nothing to do with his coaching prowess. 

Like Lou Holtz (see #23), current Notre Dame students like Digger Phelps for his oversized personality and his appearance on the ESPN College GameDay program (the basketball version).  Similarly to Holtz, Phelps uses the program to make unreasonable predictions about how the Fighting Irish will do in their games (although unlike Holtz he is capable of picking against the Irish squad) and as a way to showcase his uncanny ability to match the color of his highlighter to the color of his necktie.

Not only do Notre Dame Students like Digger Phelps for the unnecessary publicity he brings to their basketball program, but they also like him for his willingness to make frequent appearances on campus for events ranging from pep rallies to dorm talks.  At pep rallies, he is one of the most intense speakers the university has at its disposal, and he can make the crowd overly excited even when the team’s predicament is most dire.

If his pep rallies are noted for their intensity, his dorm talks are noted for their bizarreness.  When Digger starts talking in a dorm he will seamlessly transition from talking about his life and his career in basketball to talking about his political opinions about globalization and America’s future.  While oftentimes unpredictable, these talks can be even more interesting than those of the beloved Fr. Hesburgh (see #56)

Overall, Notre Dame Students like Digger Phelps because his personality matches their zeal and his devotion to the school brings him back again and again.  Whether they see him at pep rallies, on ESPN, at dorm events, or in the bars around South Bend, Digger Phelps can excite students in a way that few personalities are able.

Monday, February 1, 2010

#72: Talking About How Awesome London Was

One of the great experiences that many students have while attending Notre Dame is studying abroad.  During their junior year students can spend a semester or even a year studying in many far-reaching corners of the globe at locations such as Shanghai, China; Toledo, Spain; Santiago, Chile; Dublin, Ireland; and Fremantle, Australia.  These (and other) locations are interesting because of how their programs are set up.  Many feature students living with host families and taking classes with students from around the world.

Of all the abroad programs, however, the most unique and important is The London Program.

The London Program is unique because it is operated entirely by the University.  Students live in flats filled with other Notre Dame Students (in a building dominated by Notre Dame Students), they take all of their classes with only Notre Dame Students (classes that are taught by Notre Dame professors, in a building owned by the University), and they spend much of the semester travelling around Europe with other Notre Dame Students.

While other abroad programs grant students the opportunity to live and learn with students of different cultures, the London Program gives students the opportunity to create a miniature version of Notre Dame in a city that is decidedly more interesting than South Bend, Indiana.  These students embrace this opportunity by making new groups of Notre Dame friends and expanding their part of the Notre Dame network (see #85).

When these students return to campus from London, they continuously talk about how awesome London was.  They talk about going to clubs that aren’t named Fever.  They talk about going on weekend trips to Prague and Sweden and about drinking Ice Dragon in their flats.  These students talk incessantly about how awesome their booze cruise was on the River Thames, and they have seemingly added the word cheers to their everyday speech.

These students are able to talk about how awesome London was because they have other people to reminisce about it with.  While students in other abroad programs might have known a handful of other people from Notre Dame at their location, students in The London Program literally come back with new groups of friends who they can discuss their adventures with—and all of their old friends will have to sit through their stories again and again (especially the stories about the booze cruise).

However, students that didn’t study in London will eventually learn that the great thing about all of these stories is that it makes an entire class of students more tightly knit.  The 200 (or so) people that go to London each semester might come back with new friends, but these new friends will be linked with old friends and each class will seemingly become smaller. 

For this reason, the students that didn’t go to London tolerate all of the chatter about London because they will have made new friends because of how awesome London was.