A letter to my Fresher self

The first few weeks of college is a challenging time for students

Dear very idle, careless and younger Derv,

If you’re reading this, congratulations! I’m going to presume that you’re a Fresher and have overcome all the obstacles of the Leaving Cert and the CAO. Now that you’ve finally made it into Trinity, you’re probably thinking: “What the hell do I do now?” If I’m being honest, I feel really sorry for you, as you have a lot of hurdles ahead of you, but I’m also envious in a way that you can do it all again with the advice of older you, who feels like college has thrown her nearly everything it has to offer. Without further ado, I’m here to guide you through Freshers’ Week and beyond into the first few weeks of college.

You walk into Front Square and it’s hustling and bustling with tonnes of students and societies waiting for you. It’s all a bit overwhelming and that’s okay. You’re so eager to try everything and you have so many interests, but this does not mean you have to hand your wallet over to all of the 170 clubs and societies Trinity has to offer. Don’t be tempted by useless society merchandise. Don’t be coaxed by an acquaintance to join just because you know them. And don’t join just because you think you might go to the society event at some point in the year. You will have plenty of time to try out different societies during the year and during Refresher’s Week (Week four of Michaelmas term). Even worse, you will have lost a clean fortune if you join them all! At the same time, don’t shy away from involving yourself in the things that you’ve always loved, like reading, writing and radio. Don’t be afraid to like the things that you enjoy and in fact, throw yourself in! You’ll come to regret this in a few months and even years down the line when you reflect on how uninvolved you were in societies then.

You don’t realise now that you won’t always be able to act the maggot and show up to your 10AMs still half-cut in a tutorial of six.

Societies are a great way to make friends and you’re panicking since you didn’t get a place in Halls. Try to contact Halls’ admissions because people sometimes drop out or move to a different college – you could get a place there instead of a house. But if you still don’t, I am reassuring you it will all be fine. Don’t be afraid to reach out to other people in your course, especially in the Facebook Freshers’ group. That’s how you’ll meet Hannah. Remember that blonde bombshell you met from your course smoking several rollies under the oak trees of the cricket pitch? She is going to become one of the best reasons you ever came to Trinity and your best friend. You’ll never forget that moment. But honestly, skipping orientation for the craic with her will be one of the worst things you could do right now – you know absolutely nothing about the ins and outs of Trinity, so don’t be such an arrogant little brat and go!

For God’s sake, be more outgoing. Go to Hangar – while its doors are still open – and make a fool of yourself. You don’t realise now that you won’t always be able to act the maggot and show up to your 10AMs still half-cut in a tutorial of six. On that note – please go to more tutorials. Being in the depths of what you deem to be the worst hangover of your life, having not done the reading or running late for the tutorial are not valid reasons for not going, especially when it’s compulsory. Believe it or not, even in your state of smelling like last night’s catastrophe, you will learn something. More importantly, you’ll thank yourself at the end of the year when you have more of an idea what is going on when revising for your eight exams (the glorious times before TEP).

You can make a coconut meringue roulade with lemon curd cream, but can’t cook a decent meal for yourself? What are these notions?

You’ll also congratulate yourself when you learn to cook more than plain pasta with chicken and cheese. Where – WHERE – are the vegetables? There’s only so long you can sustain a diet of frozen pizza, pasta and cheese, and beans on toast before you become sick. Vegetables are your friends – remember that – and eat more of them. Please learn how to cook. You can make a coconut meringue roulade with lemon curd cream, but can’t cook a decent meal for yourself? What are these notions? Cop on to yourself. Similarly, step away from the painfully cheap Tesco vodka, Nikita. She will only bring you blackouts and the worst hangovers. Instead, learn how to drink Tesco’s other cheap alcohol like Revero and T-lag (Tesco lager). Even better yet, get a job! Then you’ll be able to fund a healthier alcohol habit (read: not Tesco’s alcohol) and go out whenever you want without having to ring home, embarrassed, asking for more cash.

Most importantly, don’t be afraid to be yourself. Everything is very new and a bit of a culture shock. Still hold doors open for people. Wave at people and say hello to them even if you barely know them. Hold the umbrella up for the duo getting soaked in Front Square; they’ll still remember you in years to come. The small quirks you have make you who you are and you should never forget this. You will still try to remind yourself of this down the years. College won’t always be easy and at times won’t always be fun, but it’s the journey that’s the most pleasurable. These are the years that will make the greatest impression on the person you will become, so discover all that they have to offer. Study, make lots of friends, lose them, make new ones, join societies (but not too many), have fun and go easy on yourself. Be yourself, unapologetically. Best of luck with the future, I’ll be thinking of you.

Lots of love,

Older, wiser Derv.

Dearbháil Kent

Dearbháil Kent is the Comment Editor of Trinity News, and a Senior Sophister student of Latin.