Dear Fresher Me Iseult O’Rourke

ANNA MORAN photographs six former freshers – all from varying backgrounds – and we talk to them about going from the very first week of college to succeeding in their own way.

Sinéad LoftusSenior Editor

Sitting where she considers her favourite place on campus – the Arts Block couches – Iseult O’Rourke speaks of her first-year experience with great excitement and, understandably, a little nostalgia. “I loved it,” she said, “probably because I really loved my course. Doing a TSM gives you the right balance between subjects, especially when they lead you to both sides of campus”.

Iseult, a final year maths and French student, says that the transition from her secondary school, Muckross, to college was “a pleasant one”. “I could meet all my school friends for lunch and then head to class with new people,” she says. “However, I made sure that I wasn’t confined to the Dublin bubble”, a phenomenon that sees the social grouping of Dublin students together when they attend college. It was Trinity’s international streak, Iseult says, that allowed her to break it: “Since I was doing a TSM, I was able to chat to people from different courses and get to know both sides of campus”. Iseult’s expectations of Trinity were met very easily, saying that since her brother attended Trinity, she had had plenty of experience with the place, often going there for lunch before graduating Muckross in 2012. She had always enjoyed exploring the place when she was younger so it was a natural decision to come here when the CAO application process opened up.

In terms of academics, Iseult, like many first-year students, and even higher years to this day, found her coursework to be completely different to that of what she was used to, especially when it came to studying. “It’s much less of a memory test than in school. The system is different and I did find it a challenge but I was lucky in that I enjoyed my subjects so it wasn’t as challenging as it could have been”. She said that she soon realised that she didn’t need to put in the amount of work that her lecturers said you needed to. “You don’t need to put four hours for every hour you do. No one does that. As long as you keep reading and go to your lectures, you should be OK”.

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Iseult is currently involved with S2S, the peer-mentoring service most notably known for their drop-in clinics, class mentoring schemes, and red hoodies. She says that S2S brings out the best in her and allows her to foster enthusiasm among the younger years: “I love having someone I can be positive about and inspire. I enjoy comforting first years who may be having a hard time. I’ve been through what they’re going through and I want to be there for them when things get tough”. Although, Iseult was not always involved in societies, something which she regrets, she did get involved “in little things around college” when she was a fresher, and that’s something she’d recommend first years to do. “You miss the boat if you try to get involved later because so many societies form cliques early on.”

When asked if Iseult had any advice for any stressed out freshers, she keeps her tips simple. “Don’t panic”, she says. “You think everyone else knows what is going on but they don’t. No-one has all the answers. No-one is on top of their work all the time. As long as you engage and keep up with your work, you will be fine. Just breathe, calm down, and remember to enjoy it”.


Sinéad Loftus is a final-year History & Politics student, is the Special Projects Editor of The University Times, and edited the Dear Fresher Me series.