Clemens Sedmak | January 15, 2021
One of the more beautiful aspects of moving to another place of the world is the acquisition of new words. Words are telling not only in what they say, but also by the fact of their existence. We find words for things that matter to us. Words are windows into forms of life. And these windows offer the outsider a glimpse of the inside, while at the same time bringing light and fresh air into a room as well.
The bubble of Notre Dame
Soon after coming to the University of Notre Dame I learned the word “the bubble of Notre Dame.” This should not have surprised me; during my first visit to this wonderful University in 1998, fellow Austrian Leopold Stubenberg, who taught in Notre Dame’s philosophy department for many years, told me about Notre Dame as a self-sufficient place, with its own power station, health care unit, post office, athletic facilities, lakes, restaurants, and shops. “It is like a medieval village,” he told me. It is to Notre Dame’s credit, I thought, that there are no walls surrounding the campus. A bubble without walls, so to speak.
It is true that campus life has its own dynamics and its own resources. For a person living on campus the idea of leaving campus is, to a certain extent, optional. You can choose to eat outside, but you do not have to. You can choose to attend mass elsewhere, but you do not need to. You can choose to go to South Bend’s public library, but you may find all the books you need on campus. Being self-sufficient with its own set of resources can lead to a sense of being self-contained.
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