Universities are places which you can’t wait to leave while you’re there, but you dearly miss once you’ve left. Universities are also places that remain beautifully similar no matter where you go in the world. Recently graduated, I’ve found myself sneaking onto college campuses for bad coffee and snippets of undergrad chit chat all across Europe - Dublin included. So without further ado, here is Trinity College through the eyes of a recent college graduate living vicariously through Dublin’s academic up n’ comers:
1. The tourism industry and the real world can exist as one. Trinity College is a testament to tourism done tastefully. Adjacent to College Green and the tourist mecca alternatively known as Grafton Street, the campus acts as the final resting place for the Book of Kells, a 9th century Latin manuscript of the four New Testament Gospels. If that doesn’t draw the tourists in droves, the #17 of 484 things to do in Dublin rating on Trip Advisor guarantees it. Despite all of the above, I found the campus to be a contradictory blend of lively and serene. Students were huddled in tight-knit circles on the quad, the lounge areas were littered with study partners nodding off in front of empty takeaway containers, a few early afternoon beer-drinkers looked out over College Park from the pavilion’s bar stools and the tourists stuck primarily to the Book of Kells queue.
2. Social activism is rampant. Thank goodness. Trinity students host an impressive number of discussion circles, debates, workshops and conspiciously-advertised pub crawls focussed on social activism. A double take at the colourful, overflowing flier board in the Arts Building had me yearning for a debate with a staunch men’s rights activist in a stuffy Humanities classroom.
3. Bicycle culture is real and it’s coming for ya. It could be the lack of snowfall post-October 1st or the lack of literally a single parking lot, but it seemed like every metal object for miles was fair game for bicycle lock-up. Trinity College is currently sequestered by major road reconstruction so I give kudos to all the students riding to class on the tourist-infested single lane sidewalks.
4. The students are smarter here because of all the exposed brick. This is a theory I’m testing so feel free to weigh in via social media or my contact page. Seems scientific, doesn’t it?
5. The grass is greener. Oh Ireland.
Finishing university and entering the world a free woman has proved to be a weightier transition than I had originally anticipated. The difficulty of this particular transition doesn’t lie in the moving out, the finding a job, or even in the freedom itself. For me, it lies in the loss of a world - albeit a miniature one - which I had come to know so wholly. I understood the rules of this world. I knew how to navigate the rules, following them and pushing against them when each served me. I resented the rules at times, but I also relied upon them. Entering the broader world, I have witnessed a bit of the opportunity and the diversity which this bigger world has to offer. It is a world which not one of us could hope to navigate completely in our short life. In this vaster world, there are simultaneously too many rules and none at all. It pays to be a bit lost. I still don't really get it.