The other side of Freshers’ Week

Freshers’ Week is billed as being the best week of a new student’s life; a time to reinvent yourself, buy a crumpled denim jacket and pretend you enjoy cans of Prazsky at the Pav – but what happens when the expectations don’t live up to what can be an overwhelming, nerve-wracking time?

As a lot of people know but probably wouldn’t admit, Freshers’ was not the best week of their lives. Front Square can be overwhelming at best, and slightly alarming at worst, with society heads proclaiming their society’s virtues and excited students darting from stall to stall, eager to get the free burritos before they’re all gone.

For flailing Freshers, do not lose hope. If everything hasn’t fallen into picture perfect place just yet, don’t worry – below are some handy tips and advice from students to help you stay afloat.

Charlotte Brosnan, Senior Freshman Psychology Student

“Having had friends starting college a few weeks before me, I got to see and hear about their incredible time during Freshers’. This, combined with hearing how much fun college and Freshers’ is, I assumed it would be as easy for me, which it wasn’t!”

Charlotte explains  that a main issue that got her Freshers’ off to a faltering start was the fact that she arrived two days late to Halls. “Everyone had already met lots of people, knew where everything in Halls was, had bonded with their flat mates and I didn’t have a clue what was going on,” she says. Adding to the problem was the fact that she had to arrive in an unfamiliar city, and deal with the expectation of going out with a people she had only met hours before. “I love going out, but for me it was a bit weird going knowing absolutely no one.”

Seeing groups of people who had made friends really quickly and easily within the first few weeks, made Charlotte “[have] to keep asking myself why I hadn’t found a solid friendship group yet.”  Feelings of homesickness combined with being out of her regular routine weren’t conducive to the fact that she was, “struggling to get used to Dublin as a brand new city that I had only visited once many years before.”

Suddenly, after three weeks, all hope was not lost for the picture-perfect College life she had envisioned for herself. “I found myself at a beer pong party in a flat in Halls with a group of people who turned out to be my best friends.” From that moment onwards, she “fell in love with College,” and had her solid group of friends to go out with, go into College with and explore their new city together.”

She adds that whilst College and first year will probably be the best time of your life, it definitely takes time and might not happen in the first day, or week or month – “but once you settle in, it will be incredible.”

Damien McClean, SU Welfare Officer

“There’s an expectation that you’ll have a fantastic time in College,” he says. “Whilst it’s great that Trinity has lots of societies and big events, it’s totally okay to not want to do any of it. If you are having difficulty making friends, it’s okay to admit that you’re not fitting into what that expectation is…by admitting this, you are able to deal with that.”

On the bright side, Damien points out that there are so many great support systems in Trinity to help anyone feeling that the start of College just isn’t going the way you planned. “It might be a thing that students think they’ve exhausted all the options and when you feel like that, get in touch with me, get in touch with the Counselling Service or Peer Supporters” who should be able to help you out.

If you’re having any sort of difficulty of any form, be it from struggling to make friends and joining societies hasn’t helped, to feeling overwhelmed or struggling with finances, Damien is here to help. “There are thousands upon thousands of reasons that you might not be having the idyllic experience and I am the person to direct you towards support.” If you need a chat, his door is always open and he will try to get to the stem of your problems.

There are more support systems that you may realise:“if you’re an international student, you have the likes of the Global Room who are very helpful.” Additionally, Damien points out the “some people may not want to go directly to staff, such as the Counselling Service or Disability Service to ask for help, but they can talk to people in Global, me, anyone in the SU or S2S – there are a lot of student mentors who will be able to help you.”

Regarding the stigma that may be attached to seeking out help, Damien notes that, “80% of students are using some form of support that is non-academic…You don’t need a diagnosis or a medical condition to seek help.” Even if you use them for “a little check up or regular support, the majority of students need support which is very fine and very understandable.”

To anyone coming into Trinity late, on a final-round CAO offer for instance, don’t stress. Whilst it may be intimidating to try and join in in the midst of the madness there are so many ways you can do it.

Freshers’ Week isn’t the only chance you’ll get to meet new people and settle in, and as Damien notes, “I suppose you feel like you missed the boat, but the great thing is that we have many ships in this shipyard.” Fourth Week in Trinity is a whole week dedicated to rejoining societies, “so don’t feel like you’ve missed out as a lot of societies are set up so you can turn up for one or go to every single one.”

To get in touch with Damien, you can contact him at [email protected]