Upperclassmen Reveal 10 Must-Dos Before Graduating from Notre Dame

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In a few short months we’ll be back under the Dome, and campus will be awash with precious, doe-eyed, freshman. They’ll want guidance, and will seek it from some unreliable sources—their fellow freshmen. Well, the upperclassmen are here to set them straight.

1. Break out of the bubble

“I would tell freshmen not to be afraid to go off campus and to connect with the South Bend community. I have gone to church off campus for the past four years and have met a great community of families, professors, graduate students and students from other schools that I would not otherwise have known. Babysitting in college can be a great break from the stress of exams, and it was helpful for me to take time away from the Notre Dame bubble and put college life in perspective.” —Vienna Wagner, Senior, English

2. Muddy Sunday


Photo by Danielle Urdiales

Hosted by Keenan Hall, Muddy Sunday is a gigantic, free-for-all volleyball tournament that takes place…in the mud. Since expenses are covered by local businesses, all proceeds (entry fee, T-shirt money) benefit charities like Habitat for Humanity. You go, you get filthy and you do your best to crush the opposing team while slogging through slimy, thick muck. What’s not to love? 

“Every freshman should do Muddy Sunday! It is a blast and you get to dive in mud. My friends always throw mud on the person who drops the ball.” —Madi King, Junior, Political Science

3. Get involved in the arts

The number of clubs, performance groups and productions you can get involved with on campus is astounding. If you’re too busy for a yearlong commitment, you can participate in productions like Show Some Skin, which perform monologues written by students. And if you’re not the artsy type, there are plenty of opportunities behind the scenes, from being a Band Manager for the Band of the Fighting Irish to working on the marketing team for plays or other performances.

“I’m so glad that I got involved in the arts on campus. Joining PEMCo as a marketing director and now as a producer has given me incredible friends and amazing experiences with theatre, musicals, movies and so much more. Participating in these creative projects has been an incredible addition to my academic experience here.”—Lesley Stevenson, Junior, Film, Television and Theatre

4. Chapel crawl

Twenty-nine dorms on campus means twenty-nine chapels all holding mass at different times on Sunday night.

“Here at ND, a lot of people like the idea of a ‘chapel crawl,’ visiting all the chapels on campus for mass. I didn’t get the chance to go to all of them in my four years here, and I wish I had because dorm mass is a very unique thing here on campus. Each chapel has a lot of individuality and it’s fun to attend mass in all the different places.”—Denise Tarnowski, Senior, Biology

5. Beyond mass

From Easter dinner in the dining halls to prayer services at the Grotto, ND’s Catholic identity extends into all aspects of campus life.

“I love being a part of the live Stations of the Cross during Holy Week. It is amazing watching students carry the cross around campus to the basilica.”—Madi King, Junior, Political Science

6. Study abroad

Notre Dame offers both semester and yearlong abroad programs. If you simply can’t miss football or basketball season, there are thirteen summer programs that pack the intensity of living and studying overseas into a few short weeks.

“I’m really glad I went abroad, even though it’s basically the hardest thing I’ve ever done (don’t believe the Facebook albums). It makes you a better and more interesting person and it’s good to take a breather from the ND bubble.”—Emily Dargen, Junior, Film, Television, and Theatre

7. Just get out of the country, seriously

Where there’s a will, there’s a way. While 60 percent of the student body immerse themselves in a traditional study abroad program, plenty of students find other ways to see the world. You’ll never have the same freedom to explore new cultures that you have in college, so the best thing you can do is take advantage of it.

“Everyone should find a way to go abroad, even for just a little bit, while at school. Even if it’s not a full-blown study abroad program, going abroad is one of the best things to do while you’re in college because it’s so easy to find funds to do it. Research and short trips count! If you look hard enough, you’ll be able to find opportunities and, more importantly, money.”—Lesley Stevenson, Junior, Film, Television, and Theatre

8. Run the Holy Half

You want me to run 13.1 miles? No problem. Some students spend an entire semester training to run the Holy Half Marathon, a race held in the spring each year. The race is another event that raises money for charity, and it has benefited causes from the relief effort after Hurricane Katrina to local programs like La Casa de Amistad.

“One thing that I am proud to have done at Notre Dame was when I ran the Holy Half and beat a gentleman running it in a pig costume. It was a worthy race. I finally caught up to him at the stadium during the last lap, and speeded ahead with everything I had. I would define it as a ‘Rocky’ moment.”—Caroline Corsones, Junior, English

9. Make it to a stand-up show

Photo by Student Standups

Photo by Student Standups

The Student Standups of Notre Dame put on monthly shows guaranteed to have you laughing until you can’t laugh no mo’. With monthly shows at Legends (the campus nightclub) and smaller shows held in other venues, you have no excuse not to swing by and experience comedy gold.

“The Student Standups of Notre Dame is quickly becoming the greatest collegiate comedy club in the Midwest. It’s worth showing up to a workshop just to listen to the club bounce jokes off of each other, but it’s even more worthwhile to get on stage and have people laugh at things you thought of. We’ll help you sharpen things up to be stage-ready.”—Isaac Cabe, Senior, Film, Television, and Theatre

10. Find out what it really means to be Irish

“Really think about who you are and where you are in the context of you/yourself, your friends, family and society. Think about what you can bring to the world and test that. Do something that you think you might be capable of but you’re scared to do. It’s almost always worth it… Our university has incredible resources and amazing people, and 99 percent of the time, if you can think of something you want to do, there’s some way our school can help with that.”—Helen Zhang, Art History, Junior

“The other thing I would suggest is to challenge yourself. It can be easy, even at Notre Dame, to get comfortable and remain comfortable. But the best way to grow is to not allow yourself to get comfortable, keep pushing yourself and embarking on new challenges and new adventures. You might do this by studying abroad or by joining the marching band or writing for the Observer or any other thousand of possibilities.” —Patrick Boduch, Senior, Finance and Economics

A Floridian learning to survive in the tundra that is the Midwest. Sophomore English major at the University of Notre Dame. Goal in life is to be a cross between Jane Goodall and Walt Disney.

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