If I could sum up my first few weeks of college in one word, it would be anti‐climactic. As such, the difference between now and this time last year is palpable: last year’s feelings of apprehension, disappointment and eventual indifference have been replaced by excitement, interest and other warm, fuzzy feelings.
My first few weeks in college were like a really long intro to a film where the opening shot is the main character looking glum as rain pours around them. Firstly, I wasn’t particularly enamoured with my course choice. I had (have) absolutely no idea what I want to be when I grow up but really liked the idea of going to Trinity, mostly for aesthetic reasons. After very little thought I filled out four places on my CAO and hoped for the best. As luck would have it, I got my first choice, History and Political Science. It being a small course was an advantage at first as it meant that I knew almost all of my classmates straight away, but this was also a hindrance as it made it difficult to get to know lots of people. The course itself was also somewhat disappointing at first, as I realised somewhere between learning about the Capetian kings in the 11th century and the pros and cons of the E.U. as a dual executive that neither History nor Political Science were my “calling” in life.
While I languished in History and Political Science, I also found it difficult to make friends and, being from Waterford, knew very few people other than a handful from my school who all studied Science courses so I rarely bumped into them in the Arts Building. I was also far too shy to go to society events on my own so initially missed out on that part of college life. Staying in Trinity Hall was something of an advantage as there were more familiar faces but I never really got involved with the Halls community either. Halls also had its drawbacks: living away from home for the first time meant that I answered the siren call of pre‐drinks far too often, which although resulted in some good nights, actually left me at a disadvantage in terms of making friends as I was often too wrecked to be in any way pleasant or sociable in college the following day, if I made it in at all. Coupled with this was a complete inability to cook anything other than microwave‐in‐the‐bag rice, which meant that I lost over a stone in weight between the beginning of college and Christmas through sheer incompetence.
By Christmas, I returned to Waterford somewhat defeated. Chatting to the majority of my friends who had gone to UCC and were loving their college experience, as they were all in college together, made me feel even more disappointed in my own. However, just before the Christmas break two things had happened that made me feel slightly more excited about college than I had been before: firstly, I ran into a friend from Waterford who was studying a similar course in the year above who gave me a few pointers on how to navigate the eccentricities of Trinity, and secondly I went for coffee with a girl on my course, both of which resulted in me returning to college with a completely different and far more positive attitude.
As the following term progressed, I got involved with the Phil and TAF, both of which resulted in me making more friends than I could have imagined just a few months before. As I became more disciplined in my studies, I realised that History and Political Science were interesting after all. I also learned how to make potato and leek soup and how to make pasta without burning the bottom out of the saucepan. All of these little things culminated in making my experience of Hilary term the polar opposite of Michaelmas. By the time exam season came around, it was unrecognisable.
To conclude, I’d like to offer a few tips for incoming Freshers so that this article serves a purpose other than total self‐indulgence:
1. Go to society events. Even on your own. Nobody will laugh at you. You will have fun. You will make friends.
2. Before you make any judgements about your course, give it a fair chance. Go to lectures. Do at least some of the readings.
3. Talk to people in Halls, at events, in lectures, in tutorials. The only remedy for being shy is to get to know more people, which sounds paradoxical but pays off.
4. Don’t compare your experience at college to that of your friends who are studying elsewhere. Don’t assume that everyone else is having a great time because they were tagged in 17 photos from Thursday night and you’re in bed watching Reeling in the Years. Everyone’s experience is different and everyone settles in at a different pace.
5. And most importantly, if you leave pasta boiling in the pot for longer than 20 minutes, you will ruin your saucepan.