Holiday Week: 12 Days of Christmas to Explain my First Semester at Notre Dame

In light of the holiday season, I wanted to share some insight on my first semester at Notre Dame in a way that was true to Christmas! So, here are my 12 Days of Christmas to explain my time at Notre Dame:

  1. 1. One Christ, the Savior

    Notre Dame is a Catholic school, meaning Christmas here is very meaningful. Many students on campus are religious; and even if they're not, everyone here takes religious classes. While this might come off as strange to others, I personally see the value it provides. Education is all about being well-rounded, and theology is a subject just like any other. Besides this, I value religion classes because I grew up Catholic, but I honestly did not have a great understanding of my own religion. My theology class has given me so much insight on practices, customs and concepts of the religion, which makes this Christmas all the more meaningful for me.

  2. 2. Two of My Favorite Study Spots

    Personally, I can't study unless there is either silence or a dull background noise that I can tune out. Which option I choose really depends on my mood. 

    If I'm craving silence, I love to go to the basement of the library. Pros: literally no talking, tables/couches/booths and no windows so you can’t see how dark it is outside by 4 p.m. this time of the year. Cons: very silent (awkward to crunch on snacks) and no friends to study with because there is no talking. 

    If I'm looking for a slightly noisier alternative, I like to go to the second floor of “club Hes”—either in the big, ugly room (that people are actually petitioning to keep ugly after its renovation) or the single desks behind all of the classrooms/group study rooms. Pros: still relatively quiet, can bring friends and talking is okay. Cons: single desks aren’t great for a group of friends and there are only tables.

  3. 3. Three of My Favorite Clubs

    The three clubs I am currently most involved in are Ballet Folklorico Azul Y Oro (BFAYO), Student International Business Council (SIBC) and Her Campus Notre Dame (HCND) (if that wasn’t obvious)! 

    BFAYO is a ballet folklorico dance group that performs traditional Mexican dances. We practice for two hours every Sunday, which is a good study break and usually a good workout. I haven’t performed with them yet, but I will be very soon in the Basilica! I enjoy the club because it brings me back to my culture and teaches me a new skill that I have grown up admiring. 

    SIBC is a business club that allows students to work on a variety of business projects with real companies. I worked on the Edelman Marketing project and was able to travel to Chicago with SIBC to present to real professionals at Edelman. It was a very unique experience, and I would definitely recommend the club to any business students!

    Lastly, Her Campus. This is the club I am most active in, as I write for my chapter every other week, and next semester I will be a social media coordinator for our Instagram! Her Campus is a great opportunity to have fun, express your opinion or just write about anything you want. 

    (Honorable mention: Texas club. I love Texas, but haven’t been to any meetings yet, oops!)

  4. 4. Four Finals

    This semester, I have four finals. They are pretty spaced out with one on Monday, two on Wednesday and the last one on Friday. My tests are all a mix of formats, from multiple choice to free response questions. Personally, I think I prefer the free response type because you can get partial credit for those, but multiple choice can make guessing a little easier (which might be nice for these cumulative tests). In high school, I never had to take finals because I was always exempt; however, I do not really believe that my high school teachers would have prepared me for college finals anyways. I am slightly stressed and tired; but overall, I think I will be able to prepare well. My favorite study hack is writing out super short bullet point notes and reading them many times (very helpful for memorizing).

  5. 5. Five Best Dining Hall Foods

    I am not a fan of dining hall food, but I have to eat in order to actually survive, so here are some of the things I can tolerate: 

    Boneless chicken wings (I love the buffalo ones with ranch)

    Quesadillas (chicken, cheese and salsa verde with guacamole on the side)

    Hot chocolate (I had this with almost every meal this semester so it counts as a food)

    Southwest salad (no explanation necessary)

    White rice with teriyaki sauce (not as good as Whole Foods though)

  6. 6. Six Tips for Living With a Random Roommate

    At the beginning of the semester, I didn’t foresee any issues with my roommate and we weren’t really having any; however, about a month after we filled out our dorms roommate contract, I realized there were things that we needed to sort out. 

    First, decide how you will clean the dorm. I thought that I would prefer a “do what needs to be done” type of system; however, now that I am the one who vacuums, sweeps, dusts, cleans the mirror and sink and sometimes has to take out the trash too, I realized this is not a good way to do it. Set some boundaries.

    Second, split the costs of decor. My roommate and I are very different, and she is very minimal, so it quickly became my responsibility to decorate the dorm. This, at first, was nice because I could basically do whatever I want. However, it gets very expensive. I wouldn’t recommend this. 

    Third, beware of illnesses. If your roommate is a “no-medicine” person, good luck. My immune system took a hit. I would recommend discussing the importance of warding off germs ASAP.

    Fourth, some people snore. I have never been able to sleep when people snore, so here are my favorite coping mechanisms: crying. Just kidding. I sleep with music or thunderstorm noises. Not really fool-proof, but good enough (maybe?). 

    Fifth, spend time apart. Living with someone plus being around them outside of the room is going to be rough. It’s healthy to not do that. 

    Lastly, discussion isn’t confrontation. This is what my parents tell me, but I haven’t really implemented it yet because I don’t like confrontation. Maybe someday. 

  7. 7. Seven Days to Decorate 2N

    In Breen-Phillips, we get to have a section decorating competition to get into the spirit of Christmas. My section (2North) had the theme of the polar express, and our decorating turned out so cute! We won first place and bragging rights. Besides this, the sections in BP were already decorated from welcome weekend. I like the decorations—it makes our hallway feel more fun. I would love to have more competitions for every holiday.

  8. 8. Eight Semesters Total

    People keeps reminding us that we are only here for eight semesters. Things like this make me emotional because I feel like the time is going by so fast. However, if the rest of the semesters are as amazing as this first one, those will be seven worth experiencing.

  9. 9. Nine Words About the Weather

    I really, really, really, really, really hate the cold.

  10. 10. Ten Days Until I Get to Go Back to My City

    As I write this, I officially have ten days until I'm on a plane going to Dallas and then another to El Paso. I really love Notre Dame, but I can’t wait to see my cat, sisters, parents, friends, the mountains, desert and West Texas sunsets.

  11. 11. Eleven Weekends of Fun

    I'm honestly not sure how many weekends are in this semester, but I haven’t gone out for all of them, so we’re gonna assume 11 weekends of fun (...math). Fridays are honestly the highlight of my week because I get to get ready and go out with my friends. College and the freedom that comes with it definitely make for a lot of fun.

  12. 12. Twelve Things I Have Loved About Notre Dame So Far

    I honestly don’t even know if I could limit myself to twelve because I actually love this school a lot, but here’s a try: tradition, sports games, the people, the campus, my friends, the classes, chapel crawls, the basilica, the warm weather while it lasted, the opportunities, the fun and the IRISH!

This first semester has flown by! I’ve had so much fun, learned many lessons and can’t wait for the next seven semesters!