Zora - Rodgers





Falls Church, Virginia


During the months preceding college, I was so excited to start my new life in South Bend that it was all that I could think about. I hated high school, and was elated to leave it behind. I watched countless Youtube videos, stalked ND’s social media daily, and even made a Spotify playlist for move-in day. 

Driving down Notre Dame Avenue, my face pressed against the window (in part because there was no space in the car given how much I had packed), I was bursting with anticipation. The warm, welcoming rays illuminating the Golden Dome, and my playlist blasting in my ears, I knew that I was home. I couldn’t wait to get out of the car and move into my humid, stuffy dorm. But, upon walking around campus, uncertainty began to creep in. I felt like an alien in the environment that I had idolized for almost a year. The next day, when it was time to bid our parents farewell at the Grotto, I got sick and missed Domerfest. I remember walking back from my parents’ hotel room that rainy night, seeing people already traveling in packs as if they were old friends, and feeling loneliness settle into my heart. Had I made a mistake? I spent the following morning in Urgent Care, missing the remainder of Welcome Weekend, my parents leaving shortly after taking me back to campus. Now I was sick and alone, at a new school, in a new city. 

Classes had begun, and my workload seemed like far more than I could manage. I was overwhelmed, felt guilty when I wasn’t doing homework, and consequently had a very restrained social life. As time progressed, I found the process of making quality friends to be frustratingly difficult, and thus, a permacloud of depression settled in. I resonate a lot with Emery Bergmann’s Advice From a Lonely College Student article, as I had gone from being a social butterfly to somehow burrowing back into my cocoon. Much to my dismay, the brokenness that I had encountered in high school had followed me to Notre Dame. 

This transitory period has been painfully slow, and feeling lonely while being thousands of miles from home is terrifying. But there is beauty in struggle, and I emerged from my first semester stronger and wiser. I learned that it is okay when things don’t work out the way you want them to. With pain comes growth, and I knew that my current disposition was temporary. Despite encountering brokenness, I embraced it, because this is what makes me human and it is a part of my story. I like to think of myself as a piece of Kintsugi Art, knowing that I, just like the pottery, am more beautiful for having been broken. It is our healed scars that define us, and I am excited for the person that I am becoming as I fully overcome these challenges and spread my wings here at Notre Dame.