Wednesday, May 22, 2013

"In the summer, the song sings itself." - William Carlos Williams

My freshman year of college is over. How did that happen?

Looking back on the year, I like to think of it as a marathon: Long and challenging, but unbelievably rewarding.

It was with a heavy heart (and heavy eyelids) that I left Notre Dame at 6 AM last Saturday. I'm a week out of school and I already miss my friends, my 4 cubic feet of dorm room, playing frisbee at dusk, lighting candles at the Grotto, waking up to see the Golden Dome out of my window, debating with myself about whether to bring an umbrella in my backpack (and then regretting leaving it in my room), late night hallway chats, getting packages, free t-shirts, s'mores in the dining hall, football, LaFun Runs, complaining about homework, reading (and writing for) the Observer, even doing my laundry....okay, maybe not doing my laundry.

I think if I miss school when I'm at home more than I miss home when I'm at school, I can consider it a good year.

And I'm only a freshman! ( I'm a sophomore. NO!) I can't imagine being a senior and parting with all of that stuff forever! 

I can't wait to be back at Notre Dame, and I actually will be there in the not-too-distant future. I will be a resident counselor in the Summer Scholars program from June 30 to July 13, working with gifted high school students from around the country and the world. I'm counting down the days until I arrive in South Bend and reunite with some of my Notre Dame friends.

That being said, summer is quite nice. I get an almost unfair amount of sleep, my family constantly tells me they're glad I'm home, and I can hang out with "home friends" a lot more often. I'm glad that the weather is warm, because after a winter of being bundled up like an Eskimo, I plan to wear shorts and sandals all summer.

Summer challenge: Wear only Sperry Top-Siders,
Birkenstocks, or Chacos every day

It's gonna be great. 

Monday, April 29, 2013

On the Heels of Legends We Rise to Victory

Spring has sprung in South Bend, and I have to say, I think it's my favorite season here. The trees and flowers are blooming in a riot of color, the birds are chirping, and flip flops and shorts are slowly creeping out of closets and drawers. Campus is thawing, and spring fever is in full force.

With the arrival of this green season comes all sorts of outdoor activities that would probably have caused hypothermia and untimely death during the winter.

Two weeks ago, my dad came out to South Bend to visit me for my hall's Father-Daughter Weekend. He took me out for off-campus food (always sought-after when parents come to visit), we go karted, and we even got a tour of Notre Dame Stadium, fulfilling a bucket-list goal for the both of us.

My dad and I with the famous Play Like
a Champion Today sign

Last weekend was the annual Blue Gold Game, in which the football team is divided into (shockingly) a Blue team and a Gold team and plays a spring scrimmage. All sorts of football festivities were on the agenda for the weekend like tailgating, Candlelight Dinner, and the release of the 2013 Shirt (seen below). The Shirt is a yearly tradition - everyone in the student section (and most other Notre Dame fans) wear it to every football game. Planned by a very secretive committee of students, the Shirt is a symbol of Notre Dame football and looks really cool on national TV.

The 2013 Shirt

I went to the game itself, which was played on a chilly but brilliantly sunny afternoon. I am SO EXCITED (!!!) for football season, especially considering Notre Dame's stellar recruiting class and the return of several key contributors from last year's 12-1 squad, including quarterback Everett Golson.

This past weekend was also filled with fun stuff. On Saturday afternoon, students flocked to Saint Mary's Lake to catch the 25th Annual Fisher Regatta. Fisher Hall hosts the annual tradition, in which each dorm builds its own boat out of odds and ends and attempts to sail it across the lake. My dorm's boat, seaworthy though she was, didn't make it too far before the crew had to jump ship and doggy-paddle it across the cold lake. That may have been because it was made out of a wood frame, several sealed buckets, and a piece of lattice fencing.

Spectators await the start of the Fisher Regatta

I only have two days of class left, and then four reading days before final exams start next Monday. It's hard to believe an academic year has already passed! I thought it was hard to study for finals before Christmas break, but attempting to hit the books when the weather is so lovely (today was 75 degrees and full of spring sunshine) is nigh impossible. Of course, I'm sure it will all work out, but that Philosophy paper is calling my name, so I'd better get back to it......

Monday, April 1, 2013

Time Flies

They really mean it when they say "time flies when you're having fun." Seriously. I did a double-take when I looked at my calendar and it said today is April 1. Hold on - where did January, February, and March go? With a sturdy pair of boots and a winter coat that looks like a sleeping bag with arms, I have survived (mostly) the harsh South Bend winter, and am ardently awaiting the first blooms of spring. (Hurry up.)

I've been up to my eyeballs with schoolwork and other fun stuff. Classes are interesting and challenging  as ever, and it's come to be that time of the semester when I have to start thinking about thenext semester's classes. Scary.

I've also done all kinds of fun stuff in the past few weeks. In February, I went to the Bengal Bouts finals, and it was definitely one of the coolest and most inspiring things I've seen all year. Bengal Bouts is the largest amateur boxing tournament in the world. Fighting by the motto "Strong bodies fight, that weak bodies may be nourished," over 200 Notre Dame men train for months leading up to the bouts and raise money for Notre Dame's Holy Cross missions in Bangladesh. (Women box in their own tournament, Baraka Bouts, which takes place in November.)

Bengal Bouts finals in the Purcell Pavilion

While I was home for spring break, my dad and I hopped the train to New York City to see the men's basketball team play in their final Big East tournament. We watched the Irish defeat Marquette (while wearing those...eye-catching...uniforms). We had a great time at Madison Square Garden, even though our boys lost to Louisville the next night.

My dad and I at Madison Square Garden -
note shamrock scarf
I made a quick trip home for Easter - which was lovely - and had the wonderful surprise of catching the Phillies game on Friday night with my brother and our friends. Though the Phils lost to the Blue Jays, we had a blast hanging out in the Diamond Club, eating Chickie's and Pete's crab fries, and generally celebrating the return of baseball season.

My view from the Diamond Club
Like I said, I've been quite the busy bee. With only a little over a month of school to go, I have no doubt that I'll have just as many irons in the fire (if not more). Check back for my progress! And for my daily musings, follow me on Twitter @nicolemcalee!

Monday, January 7, 2013

This Is Our Year

Today is the day I've really been looking forward to since Thanksgiving. Yeah, my birthday was fun, Christmas was good, and New Year's Eve was nice.

But today is the day when the Notre Dame Fighting Irish will leave their mark on college football history. Tonight, the undefeated Irish will take on the Alabama Crimson Tide (Seriously? I mean their name is Crimson Tide but their mascot is an elephant. What? Irrelephant indeed.) in the BCS National Championship Game in Miami. Sadly, I do not have a ticket to this game and thus I am not in sunny Miami. I blog today from my humble abode, but it's okay because I will be glued to the TV all night anyway.

Though Alabama is favored by a steep 9½ points, I feel pretty good about Notre Dame's chances. They've been underdogs all season. Who's to say they can't beat the odds again?

Here come the Irish! 
In other news, I've been thoroughly enjoying my month-long Christmas break. It's been great to catch up with my friends and family and have a few adventures while I'm home. On Saturday, my family and I took a day trip up to New York City to see Newsies on Broadway, which was so great that I want to see it again.

Newsies at the Nederlander Theatre in NYC
That said, I'm looking forward to getting back to school, seeing my friends, and starting a new round of classes. I'll be back to my home under the Dome on Sunday, and my first day of classes is next Tuesday.

Well, I'm off to mentally prepare for the game. I'll leave you with these parting words: 
"And don’t forget, men, today is the day we’re gonna win. They can’t lick us, and that’s how it goes." - Knute Rockne 

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Meeting a Hero, Football Frenzy, and Peter Pan

The Wednesday before last, I was presented with an amazing opportunity. I, along with a few girls from my dorm, had the opportunity to meet and pray the Rosary with Father Theodore Hesburgh, C.S.C. Father Hesburgh is the President Emeritus of Notre Dame and was responsible for admitting women to the University. This year is the 40th year of women's education at Notre Dame, so meeting the man responsible for that was extra special.

Father Hesburgh is an incredibly accomplished person: He was chairman of the Civil Rights Commission, chairman of the Rockefeller Foundation, and a founder of the People for the American Way. He won the Presidential Medal of Freedom (which was on display in his office) and holds the Guinness World Record for the most honorary degrees (150).

We traveled up to Father Hesburgh's 13th floor office in the eponymous Hesburgh Library (with the famous "Touchdown Jesus" mural on the south-facing wall) and were allowed to look around his meeting room while we waited for him. There were all kinds of things on display - awards, tribal art, model spacecraft, photographs, and letters from all sorts of notable people. We peeked in his tiny private chapel before we gathered to pray the Rosary. 

When we finished, he told us, "When you die, and you all reach the pearly gates, and you are asked what you have done with your lives, you can say, I am a daughter of Our Lady, and I went to Our Lady's University. And I'm pretty sure they have to let you in after that." It was awesome.

After that, Father Hesburgh allowed us to poke around his office (filled with even more cool stuff and boasting an incredible view of campus) and he answered a few of our questions, such as, "What was Martin Luther King like?" 

The magnificent view of campus from Father
Hesburgh's office window
Meeting Father Hesburgh - one of my personal heroes - was a dream come true, a definite check off my "Notre Dame Bucket List," and something I would love to do again. 

In other news, you might have possibly heard this, but NOTRE DAME FOOTBALL IS GOING TO THE NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP! They crushed the Trojans of USC on Saturday night, but unfortunately there were no nearby fountains for me to jump in, so I had to settle for doing a happy dance around my living room. 

Last bit of business: While I was home for Thanksgiving, I had the pleasure of seeing my alma mater, Cardinal O'Hara's, production of Peter Pan. Check this out, folks! It's a wonderfully fun show and great for families (plus my brother is in it and he wears a fake beard). 

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Cheer, Cheer for Old Notre Dame

Again, I'm terrible update-wise. I'm sorry. Being a college student is a full-time job!

I had a really nice fall break and hit the ground running as soon as I got back to campus. Here's some stuff that I've been up to lately: going to football games, studying, writing papers, reading about football, exploring campus, picking courses for next semester, watching movies (Skyfall was awesome), tweeting about football, sleeping in, playing in charity ping pong tournaments, and generally thinking about football. Did I mention football?

So. Notre Dame's football team is 10-0. IT'S AWESOME. This fantastic undefeated season hasn't been without a few bumps (namely a nailbiter against Pittsburgh last weekend that involved three overtimes). But all is well! We are protecting that zero from Wake Forest this weekend, and USC the weekend after!

My dad and I on the field of Notre Dame Stadium
before the Irish win against Pittsburgh
By the way, shout-out to Texas A&M for beating Alabama! Gig 'em, Aggies! (Insert thumbs-up here.)

Anyway, I'm getting close to the mad dash to Christmas! Next Tuesday starts my Thanksgiving break, and after that I officially register for next semester's courses in the thrilling/dreaded process known as DART, hand in two big papers, and then prepare for finals! (Imagine my excitement.)


Friday, October 12, 2012

Go Irish Go!

I have been terribly remiss in updating this blog, and for that I'm very sorry. The last few weeks have been a mad dash of football (yay!), exams (meh), and mountains of homework (zzzzz). But it's all good now because I am officially on Fall Break! I had my last class at 9:35 this morning, and now I have nothing to do but relax for a week.

As you may or may not know, Notre Dame football is pretty solid this year. In fact, Notre Dame football has a 5-0 record, so Notre Dame football is actually pretty awesome this year. Here are some other interesting and cool facts about the Irish this season: they are the only team in the nation that hasn't trailed in a game, they have allowed the fewest touchdowns of any team all season (that would be 3) and haven't allowed a touchdown for the last three (THREE) games, and they have allowed an average of only 7.8 points per game. ESPN obviously recognized the awesomeness that is this season, so they decided to send College GameDay to Notre Dame for tomorrow's showdown against Stanford. Campus has been abuzz with anticipation since the announcement last Sunday, and people are already camping out on Library Quad to get a good spot in the pit (and hence be on national TV). Not coincidentally, I strolled over to Library Quad before class today to catch Mike and Mike in the Morning, who were broadcasting live from Notre Dame. I could only stay a few minutes, but I did catch my man Brian Kelly and also Doug Flutie, which was cool.

Mike and Mike in the Morning on Library Quad, with
Notre Dame Stadium in the background
Indeed, I can hardly contain my anticipation to watch our lucky #7 Irish take on the #17 Cardinal. Tonight, I'll be attending the pep rally in the JACC, and I'll hit up Midnight Drummers Circle at, well, midnight. (If you don't know what Midnight Drummers Circle is, I can't really explain it very well. But I will say that it's my second-favorite event of football weekends. I LOVE IT.)

I plan to be up bright and early tomorrow to try and get on College GameDay (because who knows if they'll come back while I'm a student?! This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity!), I'll probably hit a tailgate or two and score some delicious tailgate food, and then I'll head over to the stadium for, of course, my favorite event of the weekend - the game. I CAN'T WAIT! Games are so fun and exciting and great and I love them.

So that's pretty much all that's been happening here in South Bend. Yep. One last and unrelated thing: I wrote my first article for the Notre Dame/Saint Mary's College newspaper, the Observer, which you can check out right here!