There's a phenomenon we Christendomites refer to as "the Christendom 'Bubble'." For some (http://issuu.com/rambleronline/docs/vol_9_no_5), it's the fact that there is very little communication with the outside world, and very little ability to find out about "current events" and "foreign affairs" unless one uses his time on the Internet to read the news. Others (http://issuu.com/rambleronline/docs/vol_6_no_9) take other views. To some, the "Bubble" hinders Christendom alumni from fulfilling the College's mission, "instaurare omnia in Christo" (to restore all things in Christ); for others, the "Bubble" basically means that "one must find some sort of Catholic community wherever one goes" (James Tillman, "Everyone's Favorite Punching Bag: the Christendom Bubble").
For me, the Christendom Bubble was a good thing, a good transition from a high school that consisted of one student (me) and one teacher, my mother.
I tried community college for all of 2 weeks the August after graduation, and it didn't work out. For one thing, I didn't like my classes (my counselor decided that I would get a certificate in business something-or-other); one of the professors just made things worse when he said something derogatory about the Catholic Church in the middle of--get this--accounting class. I was not prepared for the foul language that seemed to crop up every 3 words a sentence; the immodest dress bothered me to no end, as did the music blaring in the middle of campus. Then there were the people. 11,000 of them. I fled after 2 weeks, and spent the next year at home, writing (most of which I've now lost, due to a stupid computer crash), reading, studying for the SAT, etc. I took the SAT the November after graduation, and started looking around at colleges.
I looked at the "Catholic" college in my hometown of Louisville, Kentucky, and said "no" to that when I saw that, in addition to the Catholic chaplain, they had Protestant ministers also serving as chaplains. I looked briefly at TAC (Thomas Aquinas College) in California, but the thought of not being able to choose a major was not appealing, plus when I saw the amount of money the college expected each student to take out in loans each year, it was definitely out of the question.
The only college for which I actually completed the application process was Christendom. I had heard about it through Seton, it was small, as opposed to community college, and it offered majors. Then I got accepted. I remember the excitement when I got a package in the mail from them, a very bulky package...it contained the Christendom t-shirt that I am currently wearing.
On the night of Thursday, August 21, 2008, I boarded a plane for my red-eye flight to Virginia. I know I cried when my mom and the friend that drove me to the airport drove away, but overall I was excited. I spent the flight reading the magazines and fiddling with the radio. I tried to sleep, but there was a baby on the plane, and the poor thing screamed for most of the flight.
I got to campus in the morning of August 22, the feast of the Immaculate Heart of Mary (pre-Vatican II calendar), and fell in love. The campus was beautiful, the chapel was beautiful, and my roommate and I hit it off instantly.
When my friends and I went on the van run after about a week of being on campus, it was weird to be "out in the 'real world,'" in a shopping center, surrounded by people that weren't Catholic to their core and air that definitely was not the Catholic Air we "breathed" on campus.
Post-Christendom Bubble, or, Reflections Now That I've Graduated and Left the "Bubble":
It was a good four years, a very good four years. I appreciate the Bubble in some ways: I appreciate the closed environment, not having to deal (at least too much) with foul language, immodesty, and everything else that St. John would call "the spirit of the world." (I know there is an appropriate Fulton Sheen quote to insert here, but I can't find it.)
Yet, there are other ways in which I feel that the Bubble experience did not prepare me for going out into the world. Yes, I avoided every public speaking opportunity that I could, except the mandatory ones (presentations in class, of which I did 5; I would've only done 4, but I failed one and had to do another), but outside of such extracurricular activities as the Chester-Belloc Debate Society, there were very few opportunities to encourage those of us who are shy to step out of that comfort zone. If you want me to speak out, to be able to engage in conversation about the Faith, you need to push me. And I didn't get enough of that pushing.
I've only had 6 days outside of the Bubble, and they've been very unusual days, not like (at least I hope not!) what the rest of college life is going to be like.
More on the Bubble later, after I've spent more time out of it. (Someone remind me to write my thoughts on the Bubble in August...according to our beloved Walter, that's when the reality of Life After Christendom sinks in).