Creating an online community

Ria Walls talks to fellow Trinity students about their virtual endeavours

We all know how daunting it can be when moving to a new city; we have many questions and queries that sometimes Google just doesn’t have the answer for. Through talking to Trinity students who are part of a variety of online communities, the importance of creating local networks to answer these questions is evident. From “back to college” vlogs to “a day in the life” blog posts, engaging with this online content can help current as well as future students to delve deeper into college life and gain answers for their questions. 

I spoke to several Trinity students, each of whom are involved in creating their own online community, in order to gain insight into what they do and why they do it. 

Queen of Quirk

Jane Loughman, who is in her final year of English, is currently studying in Columbia, New York, as part of the Dual BA between Trinity and Columbia University. On YouTube and Instagram she is known as the Queen of Quirk. Loughman began making videos when she was 15, finding that she enjoyed documenting her life, which led to her continuing her passion for vlogging as she went to college. When speaking to Loughman, she detailed how several of her YouTube videos during her first two years of college became instant hits, with a clip entitled “A week in my life” gaining more than 30,000 views. Looking back at these videos, Loughman observes that “People want to see more of Trinity”. Through her footage, viewers are able to gain an authentic look at the inside of campus and what being a student at Trinity is truly like. 

After receiving a gush of positive feedback and questions, she created a vlog focusing on international students in order to answer some of the queries and comments from people interested in applying to Trinity. Loughman’s videos have been able to provide helpful advice on accommodation, studying abroad and general student life in Dublin. Having this advice come from a current student is helpful and relatable for those reaching out. By watching the videos created on Trinity, potential students worldwide could observe what university life is really like and make an informed decision without having to travel to see the university. This was especially useful as restrictions limited travel the previous few years. 

Loughman tells of how she was able to help students who are doing the same Dual BA programme as herself by giving them advice on writing their application essays and posting footage of what life is like in an American university in comparison to Ireland. Speaking about the motivation behind her videos, Loughman believes that “students want an authentic, honest opinion from other students it’s important to share these experiences online.” The accessibility of online videos helps to promote what college is really like. It is also useful to have this information, as “many people go into a college course they think they like but then they don’t, as they don’t have any information on it beforehand.”

Seeing footage of student life pre-pandemic has helped boost morale for new students, as they watch with eager anticipation and hope at what’s to come in the future. Loughman posted videos of Trinity before COVID-19 hit and we all dispersed home, which she describes as bizarre, as she has “content that represents a different era” of college. 

You can find Jane on Instagram as @queen.of.quirk and on YouTube as Queen of Quirk.

Fugitive Words

Linde Vergeylen, who is in her fourth year of English Studies, has created an online community through reviewing books on her Instagram account. Here, she posts book hauls, monthly reads and books to do with relevant, specific themes. 

When talking about her passion, Vergeylen said that she posts these virtual reviews with the hope that her viewers will be inspired and gain some book ideas to add to their reading lists. In order to help grow her platform, Vergeylen told us that she had recently “started participating in tags such as #Booklympics and #monthlyroundup to gain more organic traffic”.

A recurring theme when it comes to the online communities we have access to at college is the recent effects of the pandemic. When we were all stuck inside for all those months we were left with no other choice but to take up an activity to pass through the days, and many of us picked reading. Vergeylen puts the feeling we all experienced all too well into words: “During the pandemic it became an excuse to read the books I tell myself I don’t have time for during the academic year. As an English student, I spend most of my time reading already, so in a way this allows me to give some love to the books that are not required reading”. Reading has been and continues to be a healthy form of escape; Vergeylen believes that “when the world around you is scary, it makes sense to find solace in these places”. 

Creating an online community brings about many benefits for those involved, and this can especially be said for the close-knit peers within Trinity. As Vergeylen says, “the internet widens your reach and gives you accessible insight into books, genres, even languages in translation, which you might otherwise not have considered picking up”. “Bookstagram”, as Vergeylen refers to it as, shows that “book culture as we know it now and the internet are compatible and mutually enriching”.

For all things books and literature, you can find Linde on Instagram @fugitive_words.