Ask the Trinity Collidge agony aunt

Trinity News’ agony aunt Michael McDermott, of Trinity Collidge fame, is here to help

One of the staff in The Buttery keeps winking at me when I buy my fish and chips. How do I tell her that I’m not interested?

Firstly, I’d recommend you determine whether or not she is genuinely flirting. I made this mistake months ago when I would go into the same Centra each afternoon for a fillet roll and thought the girl at the deli was winking at me, and I decided to let her down gently. It turns out she was actually wincing, as this was during my final year exams when I had bloodshot eyes, a thousand-yard stare, and the irregular facial hair of a particularly uncharismatic serial killer. So, when I eventually slurred “you am very nice but I girl a gotfriend”, she cringed slightly and asked if I wanted butter or mayo. I think about this at least twice a day, and can no longer go back to that Centra.

Try ordering a different meal to see if it’s you or the thrill of serving fish and chips that excites her. Also, observe her interactions with other customers. Cut two eye-holes in this paper and sit in the corner so you can see if she behaves this way with others , she may just be flirting for tips. If you ascertain that she really is interested in you in particular, and you want to put a stop to it, ask a friend to pose as your romantic partner and scream at her for being a homewrecker. This should put a stop to her advances.

I’m a first year and I just can’t seem to fit in especially since I don’t like going out to clubs too much! I feel like I get chatting to people at lectures and then either never see them again or they act like they don’t remember me the next time I see them when they’re with a bunch of people! I don’t know what’s wrong with me as it’s upsetting me so much, I’ve gone to a lot of society stuff but I haven’t really enjoyed the atmosphere too much and this has only lead to me getting more upset afterwards. I feel really desperate because although I’m really enjoying my lectures and tutorials I can’t help but be afraid that if I don’t make new friends now I will turn into a quiet bookworm who doesn’t talk to anyone for the rest of college. I know that I should force myself to keep going out and to society events because that’s the only way I’ll meet people but honestly at this point I’m only more upset and stressed about the situation after all my roommates are making friends at similar events and I’m not, even when I go with them. Is there something wrong with me? I normally never have an issue making friends and have lots of different groups of friends at home!  

Apart from the bit about enjoying lectures, this basically describes my first two to three years in college. I went from having a group of very close friends in Waterford to knowing absolutely nobody in Trinity. Worst of all, everyone in my apartment in Halls was very outgoing and seemed to have made dozens of friends already. It’s very easy to internalise this and think that there is something wrong with you specifically. The thing I wish I’d realised back then, and you have already recognised, is that I had made friends before so there wasn’t a problem with me that meant nobody wanted to be my friend.

The conclusion I’ve come to is that it’s just harder to make friends in college than in secondary school. Secondary school is a relatively closed environment where you spend many more hours with peers than in college, and there are fewer of them so you get more time with each of them. Basically, friendships take time to develop and the first few weeks of college are not conducive to that. It’s a hectic time, you will be introduced to hundreds of new people who are also being overwhelmed with other new people. Even if you meet someone who you are compatible with during Freshers’ Week, you may never run into them again and it’s all very frustrating.

Things do settle down though after the first few weeks. The people during Freshers’ Week who seem to have dozens of friends already, are noticeable because they are the loudest and most extroverted. As you settle into the routine of college, you will finally

start to notice the quieter people, the people in the same situation as you. Don’t go to events just because they have a lot of people at them, go to events that you will enjoy regardless of whether you make a friend. Join the societies that you have an interest in, no matter how small, and find the people with whom you have common ground.

It wasn’t until third year that I really started to come out of my shell and make friends outside of a really small group. It really is a marathon, not a sprint, and it’s definitely worth it.

Once you make at least ten friends, you will now have enough friends to get the required signatures to run for SU President. I recommend you do this, as it’s a great way to meet new people and you can even get a recurring column in one of the student newspapers out of it.

I find buying lunch on campus to be so expensive; surely there are cheaper options?

There are cheaper options, and don’t call me Shirley. Many societies offer afternoon tea and coffee events for members. You can get a year’s worth of free coffee and biscuits for a relatively small membership fee, but I understand that it may not be worth sitting around with a bunch of strangers for an hour pretending to give a shit about geography or politics or whatever.

I’m a big advocate of the good old-fashioned packed lunch. Buy a bunch of fruits and sandwiches supplied from Aldi at the start of the week and you’re eating a hearty lunch for under €2 a day.

For unrelated tax reasons, my flat is listed as a corner shop, which allows me to buy in bulk from a wholesaler at a massive discount. My room is so full of bread and deli meat that it makes Jesus feeding the multitudes look like a canapé.

How does one “relationship”?

Studies show that 72% of college lovers meet when one of them drops a bunch of their possessions on the floor and the other helps them pick up while they smile sheepishly at each other. This will always lead to romance. Wait until you see the object of your affection walking down the hallway carrying a bunch of books or folders and make your move.