Zahara Kagalwalla, originally from Mumbai, India, is majoring in business analytics with a supplementary major in gender studies. She shares her story as part of the International Student Reflection series from the class of 2021.
I remember watching my parent’s car disappear into the distance after they settled me into the University. My eyes brimmed with tears. I wanted to get into the car and go back home. Then I remember that Lexie and Caroline, two sophomores from my residence hall, came and embraced me in a big bear hug.
I will remember the dorm that I resided in for all four years at Notre Dame. I am and will always be a ‘wild woman’ of Walsh Hall. From the moment I entered this community, I was both literally and figuratively embraced by its warmth. I will remember the gossip sessions over late-night study snacks, how hall council was always filled with girls, a great opportunity to catch up with someone you hadn’t seen all week, and how if you had a fellow Walshie in your class, you automatically had someone to sit next to. They call residence halls your ‘home under the dome;’ Walsh certainly feels like home. I made some of my best friends in this community. I found some of the most supportive mentors in this hall. To quote our dorm prayer: “We love with abandon, we are outrageous in our generosity; there are no shackles on the passion with which we live life.”
Outside of Walsh, the thought of a few campus spots will always bring a smile to my face. The lakes are my favorite spot at Notre Dame. I formed countless memories on the long strolls I took around St Mary’s Lake. After a hard exam or a difficult conversation with a friend, the serenity of the lake would help me calm my thoughts. I went on “power walks” with my friends almost every night, as we tried to convince ourselves that our leisurely chattered-filled strolls were intense workout experiences. During my wanderings, I would always pause a few steps after Carroll Hall to take in the view. Across the expanse of the lake, I could see the Dome glisten in the distance. Summer, winter, fall, or spring, the Dome would never stop shining. I will remember this view.
I will remember my Notre Dame experiences which weren't geographically at Notre Dame. I spent the summer after my sophomore year with thirty Domers at Notre Dame’s Global Gateway in Ireland. I will remember the many tedious yet enthralling treks we did during the summer, our favorite burger joint for a late-night snack, and weekly sessions we used to have at the ND center. After Ireland, I studied for a semester in Notre Dame’s London Center. Even though the semester was cut short by COVID, it will be hard to forget our magnificent classroom building located right off Trafalgar Square in the very heart of London, and the laughter and stories we shared with Notre Dame alumni Kevin Connolly when he invited us to his home for a meal.
Notre Dame is a feeling that brings comfort. Memories of hugs, strolls, laughter, smiles, tears, meals, friends, family, and home. Love Thee Notre Dame.