Life as a fresher has been challenging, exciting and downright weird.
Being a fresher feels like a being a first year all over again. You’re literally one of thousands of students. You’re responsible for everything you do from here on out.
The first few weeks presented many challenges. Many of those presented themselves as headaches on the days of a 9am lectures, learning how to use the printers and student cards, finding a seat in JH1, estimating what time South Campus’ gates closed at and figuring out how to survive on your financial rations until the end of the week.
I think that I’ve been a little bit luckier than some fresher’s to have come into college with a relatively good friend group. I came into college through HEAR and because of this I had a weekend long orientation with everyone else on the programme that forced us to mix with other first years. I’ve made some great friends and I don’t know how I would have fared without Launchpad during my first weeks. Sure, I’m a talkative and outgoing person but you don’t have that many opportunities to talk to your classmates. Even now, 7 weeks in, people still leave gaps in the lecture halls because they’re nervous, unsure or perhaps happy enough to sit by themselves. Who knows? I still do it. I’ve joined several societies and clubs and it’s exciting to meet and talk to people who have the same interests as I do.
Forget about being forced to do calculus or rhyme off Geibheann, thankfully that hell is now but a distant blur. I came into college having one compulsory subject, one definite subject that I would pick and no idea on my third. In the end, I chose Anthropology because it sounded interesting. It’s November now and I can wholeheartedly say that I’m enjoying them all. I wouldn’t have made it this far without my trusted pdf map of the campus. I’ve been lost so many times in Maynooth and that little file has kept me sane whilst navigating the campus.
Keeping on top of your work is probably the hardest part of college. It takes time to understand the program of your lectures, what’s important to note and how to work the mysterious Moodle but you’ll through it.
Even though I’ve moved away from home, I still live in a family environment. It’s great, I won’t lie. I get my meals included in my rent, I don’t have to worry about bills, there’s always hot water, there’s no curfew and I get a big double bed to myself home. Sure, I miss the luxury of driving to and from school but I had to leave my beloved car behind so my brother could “learn to drive” (not that he’s gotten very far since I started college) Overall it’s manageable as campus is only a 15-minute walk away.
Money plays an important role in all students lives not only that of a fresher’s. With six younger siblings that all attend some form of school without Susi, the support of the Access Office or my parents help, there would have been no way that I could have attended college. I know I put a lot of financial worry and stress on my parents but they try and hide it. It something I won’t ever be able to fully reciprocate; sure, I can financially reimburse them but I can’t reimburse their worry or stress. It’s expensive to go to college but I’ve learned to manage it, living on a budget becomes routine after a while.
All in all, life as a fresher in Maynooth has been an incredible experience so far. Sure, it’s been daunting and difficult at times but I’m working through it, we all are. University is a great place to explore all the others aspects of life that you were restricted to. Although it’s an intimidating challenge I’m looking forward to taking it on.