At the time of writing, I’ve a dissertation due in less than two weeks, a month till exams, another summer spent in Dublin and then I’ll take up editorship of this paper. After three years spent meandering around Trinity and a first year in Maynooth, my college experience will be over. In that time I’ve been on the committee for four different societies, written for four different newspapers and a magazine, and tried my hand at debating, mentoring, poetry and photography. It doesn’t feel like long enough though, and I don’t think it could ever feel like enough.
My friends have mostly carried over from that year in Kildare, staying with me as I transferred university and made roots elsewhere. They were the older, cynical final-year students I buzzed around as a fresher and who left Maynooth at the same time I did, seemingly ready to start their new lives and new adventures, degree in hand and smiles blazing across their faces. But after a while the degree finds its way down the back of the sofa, the smiles fade and adventure becomes hard graft in a city with skyrocketing rents and an almost chokingly small atmosphere.
Their headstart on me, though, has taught me what will come next. Dinner parties replace going out to clubs, and the half an hour you used to lose dry heaving on the curb gives way to feeling satisfied and tipsy after a few cans. You can get up and make something, find the brilliant, lonely, post-Tiger spaces being taken over by other young people and join together to tell your stories and experiences. Watching the evolution of the Dublin art and performance scene from the safety of College Green can make you realise just how much of a distance there is between you and them, between the people you wasted hours in the SU bar with and those whose faces you see on stage at festivals.
The marriage equality referendum will take place in less than two months and there too I see people making a name for themselves in a new Ireland that mightn’t have even been imaginable when I started college. Young politicians getting elected and young people fighting to fix the situations they’ve been left with by the people who sold us everything. There’s an excitement and a sense of change on the horizon. NCAD students are revolting and our own SU has just elected a mother of two as their president.
When I look around at classmates and acquaintances, I hear talk of what summer will bring with internship opportunities and travelling for master’s interviews. A friend I spent Thursday nights with in first year recently got accepted to a prestigious writing course in the States. It’s a far cry from the trepidation and nevers we all feel when we start off on our journey. However long ago it was, it led to something which is happening now. And when I think of what will happen in the next few days, months and year I know I’ll still be here, in Dublin and maybe still doing the same old thing I have been for the last while. But being here is a thousand miles away from where we first started, and that’s the change that means the most.