F R E S H M A N   F I R S T S: A Reflection
  By: Jack Kaspar, Freshman, North Carolina

    It was quite an experience pulling into the Steds parking lot for the first time. I could hear the music blaring, and as I looked out the window I could see the sea of green that was the Steds welcome staff. A whistle sounds, the group erupts, and next thing I know all my bags are being rushed inside and my parents are getting a car wash.

It’s funny to think how quickly time has gone since Welcome Weekend. So far I’ve had a blast, but college has been adjustment. Much of the time, high school seemed monotonous and boring. You wake up and go to school, head to practice, do your homework, and repeat everything the next day. There was little choice, but there was consistency. College, however, is just the opposite. Nearly every day is different, and there are infinite decisions to be made each day. Do I roll out of bed and go to 8:20 chemistry? Should I sit down and study for Spanish or keep playing FIFA? The temptations are real. But what I’ve enjoyed about college is that this freedom of choice provides me the opportunity to get involved in topics I enjoy and appeal to my interest.

In high school I played baseball and was a soccer goalie, and I’ve continued to stay active here at Notre Dame. I had a great time as a member of the Steds baseball team, coming out on top of our group and earning a spot in the playoffs. I also played intramural soccer with a few guys from Steds and loved every minute back on the field. I’m looking forward to a great season of Steds soccer when spring comes around. Additionally, I’ve had the chance to volunteer with Best Buddies – an organization that pairs ND students with the mentally and physically handicapped of South Bend –  as well as the Student Hospitality Program. For the longest time it had been my dream to attend Notre Dame, so it’s been rewarding to show “prospys” around campus and introduce them to Notre Dame.

The best part of my time at Notre Dame so far has definitely been the people I’ve met and friendships I’ve made. When I first heard the term “Notre Dame Community” I was a little skeptical to be honest… but it’s proven to be true. From the moment our car rolled up to Steds, I’ve felt a sense of belonging. And even though I’ve only been here a few months, I’ve developed several friendships I know will last for many years to come. From running through the ice cold reflection pool while “floating”, to cheering ceaselessly for the Fighting Irish on game days, to attending  Hall mass on Sunday nights, I’ve truly enjoyed my time here at Notre Dame so far.

It was funny last week when I was leaving to head back to Charlotte for Thanksgiving. It was my first trip home since August, for I spent my fall break on the Appalachia Seminar through the Center for Social Concerns. As I was walking to the bus to take me to the airport, I was overcome with a mix of emotions. Yes, I was excited to see my friends and family back in North Carolina, but it was strange leaving Notre Dame. I knew that when I got on that bus I would be leaving a part of me behind. I’m proud to call Steds my new home, and I look forward to all that lies ahead!

Ready for more,