This is not a sales pitch. Or perhaps, in fact, it is, though for which society in particular I haven’t quite decided. As a fifty-hour-a-week medic, you wouldn’t find me still in university, let alone getting firsts, had I not become an active part of college societies from the very day I set foot in Front Square. From the small (Cancer Soc) to the huge (The Hist), the niche (Association of Medical Students Ireland) to the universal (French Soc), the passionate (SU Lobby Group) to the carefree (Q Soc), there will be a plethora of societies vying for your participation throughout Trinity.
Particularly relevant if you’re not from Dublin, Ireland, or even Europe, societies are a great excuse to get stuck into the capital’s culture and make the amazing mates that you’d never imagined you’d be so lucky to have. Some of my most important friendships were formed over several measures of Jameson’s after my seven minute veneration of capitalism at The Hist’s Derby of Rhetoric. This debating society also takes you all over the country, the UK, and around the world, but there are scores of other societies with so much to offer if public speaking is not for you.
Join a society to do something really crazy, something you won’t quite believe you’re doing in the moment and will seem like a fever dream afterwards. Last year I found myself starkers underneath the ominous Campanile at 9pm for Cancer Soc’s Naked Calendar, along with members of nine other societies and the lads from the rugby team, with all proceeds going to the Irish Cancer Society. This year’s main event has been turned up a notch and if you happen to find yourself filled with the desire to freefall in a skydive all for the sake of charity with your new companions, then Cancer Soc can make it happen.
If the prospect of extreme sports seems just a little too extreme to you then don’t worry, there are still undeniably unique society experiences waiting for you this year. From the opening of the new on-campus rifle range, to Marching for Education with the SU, attending London Fashion Week with Fashion Soc, meeting Kesha at The Phil, and rubbing shoulders with international diplomats at Sofia’s Ambassadors’ Ball, the possibilities are endless. Trinity really does have it all if you look hard enough. I urge you to go out and make your own adventures happen, because you won’t find them in the aseptic walls of the TBSI, or the concrete egg-carton-like building that is the Arts Block. If you do want to make long-lasting friends, have the chance to influence others, explore new places, and have slightly off-the-wall stories your grandkids won’t want to believe, societies are the place for you!
A Home Away from Home
Getting involved with a diverse range of societies allows you to make friends who will be there for you, whether you share the same lectures or not. It can be restrictive to only have friends within your course, especially if your course is that extra bit work-intensive. While you personally might up for a three day bender after smashing your exams, I guarantee some people will still be up to their necks in textbooks in the 24-hour library. There are innumerable mental health benefits to having a ‘wine and whine’ with your friends on the other end of campus as an alternative, and sometimes this a much better investment of your time. Finding a healthy balance between work and the sesh in your time at Trinity is key, so don’t allow yourself to get overly bogged down by group chats rife with discussion over Michaelmas past papers in only October. Instead, go out with Q Soc and have a great time worrying about “yer one” you shifted on Tuesday at Prhomo whose call you missed. The weekends are for textbooks – and in this case, hangovers.
A diverse circle of friends prompts you to think about the world from varying perspectives rather than just that of your degree or career, and encourages you to look for opportunities outside of your nine-to-five lectures. Even within your subjects, matching depth with breadth of knowledge may cause you stand out to examiners and also allows you to hone in on skills in your area of interest before others have made that leap. That is an invaluable asset in terms of future employment when you’ll no longer be hanging out with the same people from the same modules anymore. More importantly, there’s an invaluable lesson to be learned on when to keep your mouth shut and ears open for professional opportunities that you never may have expected to swing your way.
The Hard Sell
My parting words are on learning how to manage your time as opposed to hoarding it. Don’t let your lecturers, course, or classmates dictate how much or little you interact with college life. Wanting firsts, even in the most pressurising of courses, is no excuse for isolating yourself and potentially missing out on networking, personal development, and simply having fun with societies. Make the most of your time in Trinity and invest your time into learning about other cultures and sociopolitical progress, playing a new sport, or merely indulging in New Orleans Jazz over some wine and cheese as a breather from what will otherwise consume every other coherent moment of your life. Yes, your time at Trinity is going to include those long hard nights of work for that all-important piece of paper at the end of your few years. But if your society leads to long hard nights at the Czech Inn and the phone number of that “absolute ride” you’d been eyeing up for a while, that’s valuable life experience too. It’ll give you something to daydream about come exam season, if nothing else.