First impressions of life in Trinity can be a little overwhelming, and for Maya, a foreign student from California, she started out in halls meeting the people she would live with for the next year. She got to know her Irish roommates in the way that is culturally traditional here – going out and getting plastered. Maya recalls the surreal experience of drinking with these people who were practically strangers in a country where she knew almost no-one with a sense of anticipation. She describes the intensity of Freshers’ Week as a rush of new people, things and experiences – the longest series of first impressions you’ll make in such a short space of time. “You feel like these impressions will last a lifetime until Freshers’ Week ends and you begin to discern your ‘freshers friends’ from the people who’ll be an everyday part of your life at college”.
Maya would argue, to an extent, that how you embrace Freshers’ Week can define your overall experience at Trinity. How much you get involved and explore during the week can help you to find your places, your people and even yourself. “Trinity is small enough that you can meet huge numbers of future friends and acquaintances in this one week alone”. One of the Freshers’ Week experiences that helped shape Maya’s time in Trinity was when she was pounced on by a penguin at a Halls fair, a penguin who pushed her to audition for the VDP, panto saying it would be ‘one of the best things she ever did’. After an audition, she found herself involved – not just in the show, but in many other aspects of VDP’s work from the homework club to eventually taking the reins of the panto herself a few years later. She says that the penguin was right, because if she hadn’t auditioned, she might never have met some of the “truly amazing and generous people [she] has got to know through the society”.
What words of warning does a veteran of Freshers’ Week have for this year’s incoming students? Reflecting on her first few weeks in college, Maya recalls writing a note to herself to forever stay away from Tesco Value vodka (our connoisseur recommends you rather opt for a trusty McGuire’s naggin if you are in need). A certain accident involving this beverage led to her waking up in an unknown room with a chipped tooth and a swollen lip and having to make a hungover trip to a tourists office to ask where the nearest dentist was located.
Another rule she adopted early on was “the two block rule”. “Trinity’s campus is tiny, so don’t ever talk about someone unless you know they’re at least two ‘blocks’ away – because they might just overhear otherwise!” Other sage advice that she gives to those about to embark on the freshers journey is to not be afraid to “put yourself out there”. She says: “Trinity is like ‘a lawn full of mole holes (societies), some you’ll fall right into, others you might just get your foot stuck in for a little while. You can learn so much by exploring the societies, whether you’re a foreign student or Dublin born and bred and they really are one of the best aspects of life at Trinity.”
At the end of our chat, I asked Maya what are some final reflections she has on her first year or if there was anything she would recommend doing. “The Phil or Hist cable-tie pub crawls” she says, “are a great way to meet new people.”
“Don’t be afraid to use any of the services Trinity offers because they’re there to help you make the most of your experience, from the counselling service to the health centre to IS Services, if Trinity can try to help you, it will”. Maya’s final words of advice are certainly ones to consider living by. “You will make mistakes, but try not to let them be regrets. Most of the things you feel like you never would have or should have done will, in years to come, make up and define your good memories of Trinity.”
Kat Clinch is a third-year European Studies student, and is a Staff Writer of The University Times.