How to spend a semester at Saltburn

Jayna Rohslau interprets wholesome holiday classic Saltburn as a guide to making the most of this semester

The New Year’s resolution doesn’t have to be boring. We all know you won’t start working out or develop a new personality. I know I won’t. That’s why in 2024 I have resolved to steal someone else’s personality instead. My resolution is to live my last semester at College like I’m in Saltburn.

Reactions from friends have ranged from concerned to horrified. “Does this mean you’re going to drink someone’s bathwater?” one asked. My official answer to that question is ‘no’. In truth, I was disheartened by this reaction to my personal search for an Irish equivalent to Jacob Elordi. That said, it’s not like I don’t understand where they’re coming from. They’re coming from student accommodation that does not include convenient access to a clawfoot tub. 

Being overserious is far worse than drinking contaminated bathwater. Situations like a TA leaving an unkind comment on your essay or a friend going on a reading week trip with someone else invariably feel like you have been disinherited and stripped of your birthright. Even worse, the trait denotes passivity and a fear of inaction due to the failure. Saltburn is the wholesome antidote to such sentimentality. Accordingly, here are recommendations to ensure a deeply pleasurable term.

“Thrust yourself into the world like no one’s watching.”

You shouldn’t refrain from self-exposure. This may surprise people, but with time they will come to appreciate your candour. Being real means shedding your layers and giving yourself permission to do whatever embarrassing act your inner self has been holding back from. Befriend the Perch man. Speak in chamber. In one of the film’s most moving scenes, Barry Keoghan mourns his friend in an unconventional ritual. The haters might say he’s really weird for that, but it is imperative to ignore the haters. We all know someone at Trinity with delusional self-confidence, and we hate them precisely because whipping out their strong personality oftentimes guarantees success. Sometimes you have to trust your intuition and follow the call of the wild. Thrust yourself into the world like no one’s watching.

Be the person you aspire to become. College is all about reinventing yourself. Oliver Quick deserves our admiration for taking this message to heart. In a room full of people from South Dublin, talk about how you went to public school. In a room full of Americans, let them talk. If they discover your treachery, you’re better off without them anyway. The bad news is that this may mean you will soon be alone on campus. The good news is you will always be able to find a spot in the library. You won’t have to pay for rounds at the pub and in lectures, you won’t have to awkwardly slip through a cacophony of overachievers when entering late. Victoriously, you can dance through the prime real estate of the Arts Building.

“Know that trying new things means life could go horribly wrong. For instance, you could drown.”

Don’t be afraid of trying new things. It is easy as a final year to become settled in your ways, but relax knowing there’s no way you can afford the accompanying white picket fence in this economy, let alone a large brass gate. Launch yourself headfirst into new endeavours with full awareness that this may make things messy. Dive into messiness this term. Join a society like Surf Soc, go to your 9am, start leaping off small cliffs into the cold Irish sea. Other people will derive joy from your willingness to get your feet wet. Know that trying new things means life could go horribly wrong. For instance, you could drown. Still, Barry Keoghan adapted and overcame numerous obstacles in the name of novelty even as people doubted his ability to swim in a hostile environment. If at first you don’t succeed, go at it again. Believing in yourself means you will always be ready to sink your teeth into a new challenge whether it be a surfboard or your best friend’s sister.

It may come as news, but networking doesn’t have to be a burden. Don’t focus on impersonal goals when empathy is an underrated skill in today’s workplace. It centres around your inherent ability to connect with other people and bring out the best in them. As an empath, Oliver Quick understands that networking is not only beneficial for advancing your career but can help one achieve a real sense of personal fulfilment. He connects with Felix and his mother on a superficial level, but using compassion leads him to connect with Venetia and Farleigh on a more profound note. If you are confused how to properly emphasise, take notes. Don’t just send a request on LinkedIn, as it is difficult to communicate your meaningful desire in an online format. Instead, look someone in the eyes following workplace-sanctioned karaoke. Eye contact is essential for showing you really want to form a professional working relationship. Unlike Saltburn, plan ahead and make sure the other professional wants to network with you before you proposition them for a coffee meeting. It is an unconventional method, but we promise you will achieve enormous results. If the eyes are the windows to the soul, close the curtains. Aim to network with as many people as possible. 

“You may be surprised by what you see, but it is important to refrain from averting your eyes when exposed to personal truth.”

Along the same lines, try to relate to people through seeing them in different contexts. College unites people who come from very different backgrounds. At the heart of Saltburn is the answer that some people will never see eye to eye. But if you stop taking yourself too seriously, you will be able to see other people in a new light. There is often more to a person than what is apparent at first glance. Look at them from outside. Look at them inside. Look at them through windows and especially when they’re not watching. You may be surprised by what you see, but it is important to refrain from averting your eyes when exposed to personal truth. The reality is everyone has layers. Keep your eye on the prize and focus on what you share with everyone: humanity. Soon you will be able to understand that there is a beautiful and hidden side to everyone, even engineers and weird kids who lie about their family backgrounds. If you feel weird about watching someone for a prolonged period of time, be reassured by the fact that Barry Keoghan did the same thing. Know that if you follow this advice, you will find your rock in no time at all.

We all know that student travel is rewarding, but with your newfound sense of adventure, perhaps it makes sense to visit less popular destinations. Although you can romanticise your life into a movie, your life doesn’t have millions of dollars invested into it and nobody cares about your life, let alone whether your meticulously curated reading week dump is from the Louvre or New Jersey. Go to Eastern Europe, Iceland, or, for international students, what might be the furthest leap, the North of Ireland. Venture into uncharted territories with the knowledge that nobody is watching, and if they are, so much the better for the perfect networking opportunity.

“Saltburn shows that there are many ways to relieve stress, such as being yourself.”

College life can be challenging. The saying ‘Trinners for winners’ belies a dark culture that promotes unrealistic standards for working hard and playing hard in a way that is simply not sustainable for the average student’s stamina. Fortunately, Saltburn shows that there are many ways to relieve stress, such as being yourself. When you take everything too seriously, your grades may increase, but your discomfort will also grow when you could be frolicking in your friend’s English countryside mansion instead. Take a cue from Saltburn and remember that nothing is that deep.

Jayna Rohslau

Jayna Rohslau is the Arts and Culture Editor and is currently in her Senior Fresh year studying English in the Dual BA