When my husband first found out he was accepted into Notre Dame my first reaction was excitement. My second was worry. I was a fairly new mother and moving halfway across the country, leaving behind my friends and family was an incredibly scary thought. Being a mother can be so isolating and I had such a good support system and community for my son where I was that I was loathe to leave. I was afraid that when we moved, I wouldn’t be able to find any friends or community and I would be alone.
In an attempt to soothe my worries and prepare us for the move, my husband and I traveled to South Bend a few months before we were to move there. We spent the weeks leading up to our trip researching apartment complexes and felt we had a lot of off-campus options and wouldn’t need to look at on-campus housing.
When we arrived though, we were sorely disappointed. All we were looking for was an affordable apartment that we felt was safe. But complex after complex we were disappointed. Apartments that were at the top of our budget were barely safe and those that were more affordable were downright scary. One had bars on the window, one was so heavy with smoke we knew we could never bring an infant into the complex, and another my husband wouldn’t even let me out of the car, so instead I watched a drug deal go down while he talked to the manager. There never people outside and of all the complexes we looked at, only one had an outdoor space for children and it was covered in caution tape. We even found out that a murder had taken place on the same street as one of the apartments a couple years prior. I was beyond disheartened and was even more scared to move.
The Village changed all of that. It was different from the moment we drove up. Sure the apartments were old and a little run down, but there were children actually playing outside and until then we hadn’t even seen a single child. Neighbors were actually nice to each other and people waved and said hi to us, even though we weren’t residents at the time. There was a real sense of community and neighbors felt safe enough to actually go outside and talk to each other. We knew it was the place for our family.
We never once regretted our decision to live in the Village. The community here is unlike anywhere else, we’re truly a family. When we first arrived, my husband, son, and I all had a the worst case of the flu we had had in years and we were physically and emotionally spent from our three day drive. Moving into our apartment seemed like a daunting task. However, neighbors from all over the Village came and helped move everything in for us. My husband didn’t have to do any heavy lifting and our trailer got unpacked in record time. Our neighbors went above and beyond that though, they brought us water and fans to help us get more comfortable in our apartment. And immediately we were invited to play and go on outings.
This outpouring of love and neighborly kindness has continued from that first day. There’s always been a friend to talk to or a neighbor to borrow a cup of sugar from. We’ve had game nights and craft groups and pick-up football games to join in on. There’s always been someone to watch our son and when our second child was born for weeks not a day went by when someone offered to watch our toddler or bring us meals.
My biggest fear moving to Indiana was leaving behind my community, my support system, and my home. I never imagined that I would find something as good in Indiana, but I did. In fact I found something better. Now when we go and visit our families, we’re itching to get back to the Village, because it’s not just the place that we live while we attend school, it’s our home.
-Alyssa Felix, Current Resident