You emerge from the pokey classroom, leaving the TA in your wake. You just about made it through the tutorial, despite not having read the text ‒ God bless SparkNotes. You breathe a sigh of relief, but the exertion has taken it out of you. You couldn’t possibly comprehend a trip to the library after such a stressful experience. No, what you need is to relax…
The life of a STEM student is taxing. They’re up bright and early in the morning, making their way on the Luas or bus, while I’m treating myself to just “five more minutes” with another silencing of the alarm. Their days are long. The labs are lengthy, laborious, and leave no opportunity for lethargy. Lucky for them, the Hamilton building was designed with all this is mind. Benches by the bio labs for a quick moment to gather your thoughts.
Rows of conjoined seats that would not look out of place in Dublin airport. Past the security guard and up the stairs and you’ve made it to the student zone. The couches are comfy, and there’s always a spare copy of Trinity News lying around. Venture outside the main campus and head for the SU café, situated in the Goldsmith, which is usually packed to the rafters. However, there are beds in the back room so you can get a bit of shut-eye between lectures. Oh, the luxury.
Despite what some may lead you to believe, Arts students are also deserving of a break from time to time. During peak hours, the cappuccinos are flying off the counter at the Perch, and you’ll struggle to find a spare seat outside the Ed Burke. They say nothing worth having comes easy, so if you really want to rest your weary legs, your next option is an expedition all the way to the fourth floor to the student room.
It’s vibrant and colourful. Chopped, Yum Thai and Subway consumers are ubiquitous. Approximately 73% of an Arts degree is spent waiting outside a classroom. Thankfully, the floor is carpeted, so while we don’t look as sophisticated as we might like, at least we’re comfortable. The benches outside are reserved specifically for students of the art, and when the weather’s good, the area is pleasant, as long as the clouds of cigarette smoke aren’t impeding the view.
Aras an Phiarsaigh has a different vibe to the other spots on campus. Small, detached, and with shiny aluminium seats, rickety tables are something of an issue. That’s the least of your worries though, because it’s probably issues with the Wi-Fi that have brought you here in the first place. Get something from the vending machine and relax. You’ll be back up and running in no time.
If you’re willing to endure the burn in your legs, take the seemingly never-ending stairs to the top floor of the GMB. There’s a hidden gem of a room up there, not well known to everyone in Trinity. All the doors look the same, and they’re always shut, so you need to be in the know. If you know, you know. Take a time-out and play a few games of pool with your mates. Just make sure you have a bit of change, and let your inner Ronnie O’Sullivan flourish.
The kitchen on the first floor of House 6 contains a rare, highly sought-after commodity on campus: that elusive microwave. Hot pasta is far superior to cold. Sink low into the couches or opt for the rocking chair. The area is cramped, but the atmosphere is tranquil and intimate, conversations gentle and hushed. No need to clamour to be heard; the real debates are happening around the corner.
And so it’s true that a new year has rolled around again. That arbitrary digit change in the calendar has provided a wonderful opportunity for reinvention, for a fresh start. The tutorial has finished and you have a two-hour gap in which to be productive. You could go to the library. You could go to the gym. You could do both of those things. But you just realised that, owing to your loyalty to the Perch, you’re due a free coffee. And you’ve just spotted your friend… Don’t feel bad. It’s important to treat yourself to a break every now and then.