Daniel O'Reilly - 4th Year Engineering
It’s week 3. The carnival of debauchery that is Freshers’ Week is over. Assignments have been handed out and handed in, and you’re beginning to accept the morning commute again. You’re a real college student now. But is that all there is to it? Oh no, my dear fresher friend. College is what you make of it, so let’s talk about making the most out of it.
Your Student’s Union
Your class reps have already been elected by now, and you might even be one. These guys are obviously gonna be one of your most direct connections to the union. Trinity College Student’s Union works for every student on college wide issues, but your class reps work on course specific things. Lecturers forgetting you take modules other than theirs and piling on assignments like no one’s business? The class reps can have a word with them and ask them to calm the ham. Professor forget to tell you where to submit assignments? Class reps will find out and tell the whole class. In desperate need of a social event involving only other Radio Therapists? Class reps got you covered.
If you didn’t run or lost out in the elections, you haven’t lost your chance to be involved in the SU. [Last] year, probably our most visible campaign [was] the campaign to Repeal the 8th, but just on tcdsu.org/campaignhub there’s 13 others you can get involved as well, with so much smaller ones popping up throughout the year. No experience necessary; all enthusiastic souls welcome.
Clubs and Societies
According to the latest report by the Central Societies committee and the Central Athletic Club, Trinity boasts an impressive 127 societies and 48 clubs (or 126 and 49, depending on your views on Quidditch). But if you didn’t make the classic Fresher mistake of joining literally all of them, how can you get involved with them now that the stands have been shooed out of Front Square? Easy: Just show up to an event and ask to join. But given that you more than likely did spend at least 30 euro on memberships you will never use back in September, how do you know which ones are right for you now?
My advice is follow your whims and don't get caught up on your dreams. Maybe when you came, you had aspirations of being a journalist and writing for the University Times, and by no means should you not do that. But if it doesn't turn out to be what you imagined then don't get downtrodden. Similarly, if you hear the Kayaking club are having a beginners evening and you're like "Aw I wonder if I’m any good at kayak polo" and you have the time free, go. Maybe you'll hate it. You wasted an evening, so what. But if you love it, you've just gained a hobby and a few friends along the way.
Also, once you’re a member most societies offer tons of free evening activities throughout the year. More than once in my Junior Freshman year did I skip a night out in Dicey’s for a panel talk in the arts bloc. And a number of my more shameless friends have used the free wine at Hist and Phil debates as prinks before a night on the town. If nothing else, it’s nice to get something back from the colossal amount of money you handed over to these people in a hungover, sleep deprived haze at the start of the year.
Dean’s Volunteer Awards
Volunteering with an external organisation is always cool, but if you don’t wanna stray too far from Front Gate, Trinity has more charities than I can count, all doing amazing work and always on the lookout for more volunteers. Do you like to volunteer? Yes? Fantastic. Are you prepared to volunteer 60 of your precious hours this year, split between no more than 2 organisations and doing something that develops you as a person? Well then you might just qualify for the Dean’s Volunteer Award!
There’s not a whole lot more to it. The Dean’s Award is different to the Gaisce award in that the Dean specifically expects you to grow as a person during it. Ideally, the volunteering you undertake should be a new, unique experience to you. It should be something that you can point to as a positive life experience after the fact, and your being there should have a positive impact on the organisation you volunteered with. For more information, just Google/Bing/DuckDuckGo “TCD Dean’s Volunteer Awards” and click the most recent link.
There’s also so much more lurking beneath the surface that I haven’t touched on here because even after thoroughly researching this piece, I still haven’t heard about it. At least once a week, I hear people talking about something going on around campus that never in my wildest dreams would I have thought was a thing (It’s been a few months now, and Knit Soc’s “Stitch & Bitch” events still astound me). If there’s something you want to do; there’s almost certainly already a group facilitating it or waiting for someone like you to come along and get the ball rolling. All you gotta do is keep an eye out.
Rory Codd - 4th Year English Studies
Coming to Trinity College for the first time is truly a life-changing experience. You’re going to meet new and interesting people, get to try things you would never imagine yourself doing, and you’ll finally get to enjoy the independence you were craving during your teenage years. Your time in college is going to fly by, and your first year at Trinity is bound to be a rollercoaster. With that in mind, there are a number of ways to ensure you make the most of time in college.
Making friends is possibly the most important aspect of coming to college. These are the people you’re going to go to class with, rely on for support during tough times, and potentially stay friends with for the rest of your life. Having a good circle of friends is essential, as they will help you to grow and flourish during your time in college. There are a number of ways to proactively meet new people in the college, such as societies and the Students’ Union.
Societies are a great way of introducing yourself to others, especially those outside of your course. There are 123 societies on offer in Trinity College, so something is bound to leap out at you. Don’t feel pressured to join what everyone else is joining, or whatever seems coolest. Go with what you’re most passionate about. Having something in common with others in the society is bound to lead to some great friendships, and will also allow you to develop some fantastic extracurricular interests.
Another great way of meeting new people is by getting involved with Trinity College Students’ Union. The SU has a variety of different roles and campaigns for students to busy themselves with, and it’s incredibly rewarding to be a part of the student movement both within Trinity and nationwide. The SU also runs fantastic events throughout the year, often accompanied by goodies and free pizza, so that’s another incentive to get active. If you’re interested in getting involved, just check out the “Get Involved” page on the TCDSU website.
Studying, despite sounding like a chore, is an incredibly important part of college. It’s essential to develop a good study regime in order to make the most of your college life. The only way to truly enjoy college is to remove as much stress as possible from the equation, and studying will help you do that. Preparing for essays and exams early will allow you to go out more and feel more relaxed towards the end of term, when everyone else is stressing out over deadlines. It’ll also give you more time to explore new hobbies and interests, a fundamental part of college life. Some great tips on how to study effectively are available from Trinity’s Student Learning Development website, so check it out!
In order to make the most out of college, it’s vital that you look after your health. If you are having physical or mental health issues, it may affect your academic performance and your ability to enjoy college life. If you need help, the college has a range of services available, such as the College Health Centre, Student Counselling Service, S2S Peer Support and more. Keeping fit and eating well is extremely important, so don’t be afraid to try out the college gym, and avoid ordering too much takeout during the year. Looking after yourself has to be a priority, especially if this is your first time away from home.
It’s important to know that everyone makes mistakes in their first year of college. Whether you’ve chosen the wrong module, written an essay that bombed, or had the hangover from hell, it’s happened to most of us, and it’s a normal part of student life. What you learn from your Junior Freshman year is what will make you a more confident and well-rounded student for your later years of study. Embrace everything new that first year throws at you, surround yourself with an amazing circle of friends, study to the best of your ability, and make sure to look after yourself throughout the year. If you do that, then you’ll have all the tools you need to make the most of college.
What is your personal Tutor?
Your Tutor is a member of the academic staff who looks after your general welfare and development while you are in College. Your Tutor may be one of your lecturers, but your Tutor looks after you, not your grades. If you need assistance in navigating College administration, or advice or support about academic or personal issues your Tutor is the person to talk to.Tutorial Service
How do I find out who my Tutor is?
When you log in to MyTCD you'll see your Tutor's name and contact email on your student record just under your own name! If there is no name there yet, you can contact the Senior Tutor's Office to find out who your Tutor is.
When should I meet my Tutor?
Hopefully, most of you will have met your Tutors in Freshers' Week at one of your Tutor's meeting times. If you haven't yet, drop them an email to let them know who you are and to ask to meet. Your Tutor can help you with a lot of things while you're in College so it's good for them to know who you are.
What can they help me with?
Whenever you have a question or are worried or concerned about any aspect of College life or your personal life, in particular if it is affecting your academic work. Everything you say to your Tutor is in strict confidence. Unless you give permission to do so, your Tutor will not give any information to anybody else, whether inside College or outside (to your parents/family for example). Your Tutor can only help you if they know you are facing difficulties, so if you are worried about anything go and see your Tutor before things get out of hand. Whilst your Tutor may not be in a position to solve the underlying problem, they can help you find the best way to limit the impact of your situation on your College work. Do consult your tutor. They can and often do make a difference.
Who they are
The Students' Union is your place in Trinity, where your voice can be heard and where you can turn for help when you need it. They are an independent organisation, and run by the sabbatical officers, not the College. There are five full-time officers (President, Education, Welfare, Communications and Ents), and every class has at least one class rep so you have easy access to the SU when you need it.About TCDSU
What they do for you
Pretty much anything! If you're struggling to find somewhere to live the Accommodation Advisory Service will help you out, if you or your class are having trouble academically the Education Officer can help, if you've accidentally spent your gas bill money go talk to the Welfare Officer, if you're interested in student activism you can get involved in the campaigns, and let's not forget the biggest nights out of the year with Trinity Ents! The SU also advocate on your behalf to College to make sure the student voice is heard.Accommodation Advisory Service Education Welfare Ents
The SU run and are involved in a lot of campaigns, from fees and funding to mental health. Have a look at the current campaigns and get involved! You can canvas, march, make posters, raise awareness and, of course, make some like-minded friends.TCDSU Campaign Hub
Dropped your phone in the toilet? Spilled coffee all over your laptop? Downloaded a nefarious toolbar and now everything's broken?
Click can save the day!
You'll find them in House 6 and they repair phones and laptops, and you can rent a laptop short-term from them as well for the low price of €1 per day.Click services & prices
The SU Shops & Cafe
The SU run two shops and a cafe on campus. One shop in House 6 and one in the Hamilton where you'll get snacks, drinks and sandwiches as well as stationery, tea bags and Trinity hoodies. The SU shops will also generally be a bit gentler on your wallet than Spar or Centra so it's worth using them.
The SU Cafe is in Goldsmith Hall, so it's just off the main campus, next to Pearse Dart station. You'll get excellent value made-to-order sandwiches with great names in there, and there are couches and pool tables so you can stay and hang out thereSU Cafe Facebook
What they are
As the name implies, they are student sports clubs. If you already play a sport, then go sign up to the club and get out on the field/court/wall/water etc. If you don't, they are very welcoming places, who love having new members.
How to join
If you missed joining in Freshers' Week, not to worry. Just contact the club and enquire about joining or coming along to their next event to get a feel for it. You will usually have to pay a joining fee.List of Sports Clubs & contact information
What's in it for you
Better health, great friends, a chance to represent your College, leadership opportunities, and much more. Getting regular exercise is great for your overall health, both mind and body. Research also shows that students who dedicate 10-15 hours a week to extracurricular activities or part-time work perform better academically. That's 10-15 hours total across all of your non-academic activities, not per activity, so don't stretch yourself too thin. Sports clubs are also notoriously social, so they're a great place to go to make new friends while you are here in College.
I'm desperately unfit but I still want to play!
You can still join a club, regardless of your fitness levels. It might take a while before you compete for them, but you'll still be part of the team if you are training and participating. It might be worth looking at some of the less... vigorous sports too. Alternatively you can check out the social leagues to start with. You can do 5-a-side football, 3-a-side basketball, tag rugby, table tennis or learn hockey or GAASocial Leagues
What are they
Societies are organisations that are set up to pursue shared interests. That sounds a bit vague, but it makes more sense when you look at the list of societies on offer. Each one is run by students who are passionate about it, whatever 'it' may be - debating, acting, activism, music, academics, the list is endless. Well, not endless, the list is 126 societies long. But that's plenty to be getting started with, and if you have an interest that isn't represented, you can set up your own through the Central Societies Committee. You can see more information in the Societies HandbookList of Societies
How do you join
You probably parted with some joining fees during Freshers' Week, but you can join at any time during the year. Just contact the society (from the list above) and ask when their next event is. If you check out their Facebook pages or the Central Societies Committee Facebook page, they usually post details there too. You can also join during Fourth Week (more on that below). You will usually have to pay a joining fee.List of Societies CSC Facebook Page
What's in it for you
Great friends, lots of social events, leadership opportunities, a chance to improve your skills or develop brand new ones. Research also shows that students who dedicate 10-15 hours a week to extracurricular activities or part-time work perform better academically. That's 10-15 hours total across all of your non-academic activities, not per activity, so don't stretch yourself too thin.
The 1st to the 7th of October is Fourth Week. It's the fourth week of teaching, hence the name, but more importantly, it's another chance for you to get involved in societies. Most societies will put on free events through the week to entice you onto their membership lists, so take full advantage. Pick up the schedule of events when it's ready on the Central Societies Committee website and dip your toes into all of the weird and wonderful things you can do while you're here in Trinity.Central Societies Committee
- It's good for you.
Volunteering provides physical and mental rewards. It:
- Reduces stress: Experts report that when you focus on someone other than yourself, it interrupts usual tension-producing patterns.
- Makes you healthier: Moods and emotions, like optimism, joy, and control over one's fate, strengthen the immune system.
- It saves resources.
Volunteering provides valuable community services so more money can be spent on local improvements.
- Volunteers gain professional experience.
You can test out a career.
- It brings people together.
As a volunteer you assist in:
- Uniting people from diverse backgrounds to work toward a common goal
- Building camaraderie and teamwork
- It promotes personal growth and self esteem.
Understanding community needs helps foster empathy and self-efficacy.
- Volunteering strengthens your community.
As a volunteer you help:
- Support families (daycare and eldercare)
- Improve schools (tutoring, literacy)
- Support youth (mentoring and after-school programs)
- Beautify the community (local area cleanups)
- You learn a lot.
Volunteers learn about:
- Self: Volunteers discover hidden talents that may change your view on your self worth.
- Government: Through working with local non-profit agencies, volunteers learn about the functions and operation of our government.
- Community: Volunteers gain knowledge of local resources available to solve community needs.
- You get a chance to give back.
People like to support community resources that they use themselves or that benefit people they care about.
- Volunteering encourages civic responsibility.
Community service and volunteerism are an investment in our community and the people who live in it.
- You make a difference.
Every person counts!
Who to volunteer with?
That depends on what you want to get out of the experience. If you are interested in helping youth, then look at mentoring and tutoring programmes. Maybe you're looking to help improve life in poverty-stricken areas or areas that have suffered natural disasters and you should look at charities that work overseas. Perhaps you would like to improve your local area, and there may be neighbourhood organisations you can join. Choose something that you are passionate about.
How to sign up
There are a large number of societies and organisations on campus you can get involved with easily, Have a look at the Central Societies Committee site to see what organisations have societies on campus
You should also look at StudentVolunteer.ie for details of opportunities oustide of the campus volunteer organisationsStudentVolunteer.ie
Keep an eye out for the Volunteer Fair this semester, where you'll be able to meet the societies and organisations you can volunteer with.
Dean's Awards for Volunteering
What are they?
The Dean of Students celebrates and recognises student volunteering in the community and in Trinity organisations such as the clubs, societies, SU, GSU and publications with the Dean's Awards for Volunteering. There are three possible awards, and each recognises a different level of engagement. The three awards are the Dean's List for Volunteering, the Dean's Leadership Award for Volunteering and the Trinity Legacy Award for Volunteering.
How do you get one?
You should carefully read the eligibility criteria for each award and if you believe you meet them, you can apply directly to the Civic Engagement Officer when applications open this year. You will need someone senior in the organisation to validate your application. If you are interested in applying for the Trinity Legacy Award, you will not be able to self-nominate, someone in your organisation must nominate you.
When can you apply?
The applications will open early in Hilary term (second semester), so keep an eye on the website to see when they are.
Gaisce - the President's Award is Ireland's national challenge award (the equivalent of the Duke of Edinburgh Award in the UK) and is the most prestigious and respected individual award programme in the country. It is a challenge from the President of Ireland, to young people between 15 and 25 years of age.
There are three separate and progressive levels of the Award- Bronze, Silver and Gold. Each award works on the basis of a personal challenge set by you. There are 3 different challenge areas: Community Involvement, Personal Skill and Physical Recreation. To earn an award you choose your own activities within each challenge area in consultation with a President's Award Leader (the Civic Engagement Officer in TCD) and complete your application online. Once you have applied, you can begin your challenge: a minimum of one hour per week of each activity for a set number of weeks (see below), an Adventure Journey and, if going for Gold, you will also need to undertake a Residential Project.
If you are considering taking up the Gaisce challenge, you should meet with the Civic Engagement Officer to have a chat about your activities, maybe get ideas about what to do if you are unsure about a particular area, and fill out your application.Gaisce Website