The First Year Experience: Settling In


A couple of weeks into term, Lucy Montague-Moffat is surprised to find herself enjoying UCD life, despite a late offer of her preferred course

I came out of my first lecture feeling excited. It was my first hour-long lecture theatre experience in four years and I didn’t fall asleep. I must say the sense of achievement was mighty. Granted it was an introductory lecture and I hadn’t learned anything new, except for the valuable information that I should never sit at the far side of the room as the lecturer becomes inaudible when turned to face the other way.

I was pleased that I had found the half of the lecture I had heard interesting and, to put it geekily, fun. As I joined the bustling crowds of the Newman Building, I turned on my phone to find I had a voicemail, which is weird because I didn’t even know I had an answering machine. I lost my Blackberry whist in blackout mode a few weeks ago in Workman’s and my replacement phone comes from a time when most things were made out of stone.

It was a voice message from Ballyfermot College of Further Education informing me that there was a space for me on the one year degree programme that they had told me previously I didn’t get in to. You see my plan was to go to Ballyfermot, even though the course didn’t really appeal to me, cause it is the only place in the country I can finish my Journalism degree in only one year, since I’ve already finished two years of it.

My plan after that was to run off to New Zealand to find the Flight of the Conchords (I don’t know what I’d do after I found them but there’s no point worrying about that) or try to become the next Tina Fey in Chicago. Both are obviously very achievable dreams. So when I found out I didn’t get into the course I had to draw up some new plans.

I was in Bulgaria on holidays when I found out so my initial plan was to go get very drunk, and once I had got that out of my system I wrote many lists. Some lists consisted of just ‘RUN AWAY’ written in large letters on A4 pages and other options included ‘find rich husband’ or ‘somehow join Little Mix’. I may have still been drunk. Eventually I decided going to UCD was the best idea. It would take three years but I figured The Flight of the Conchords would wait for me.

Now there I was again, back in a decision blur, which you’ve probably guessed isn’t the best place for me to be. On one hand I had this opportunity to finally get a degree and only have to do one year of a course I didn’t particularly like, and in my other hand was the €70 Geography book I had just purchased from the campus bookshop. Yes, €70, it must have been made by very special trees. I think I was always going to choose to stay in UCD but the €70 book was the extra little pushing factor I needed. I mean, I may be adding a few more years on to my college life but at least I haven’t wasted any money.

So my first few weeks at UCD were a real test to see if I had made the right decision. Obviously after I let the place go at Ballyfermot I couldn’t go back on it. I mean, I could probably try sitting outside the college weeping and wailing for one more chance but if I have learned anything from X Factor, it’s that that isn’t the best way to get people to take you seriously.

When I came back to UCD after dropping out four years ago, I didn’t really know what to expect. To be honest, I was mostly thinking about where I’d like to go on a J1 and which subjects I could pick so I’d have Fridays off. Last time I was here I had just turned 18 and I didn’t like UCD at all. I didn’t talk to anyone, and no one talked to me. I felt like a spare tool as I tried to find my way around and spent most of my time sitting outside Newman smoking. I don’t smoke anymore because I’m not as cool as I was back then.

It must have something to do with the new peer mentor scheme because there is such a difference in 1st year Arts. I think getting put into a peer group from day one has given people a confidence boost because everyone is talking to each other in lectures, to people they’ve never talked to before. It’s crazy. So many people have just sat beside me and started chatting, which surprises me so much that I have started most of these conversations acting very bemused and frankly a bit weird. I don’t think I am very good at first impressions.

At first I thought they were just talking to me because I have a trendy backpack. I am not even exaggerating. It is super trendy. It doesn’t fit anything but boy is it trendy. But I think it must be that people feel much less lost and alone in Arts now so they’re comfortable enough to spark up conversation with classmates. Although I still think the bag does help a bit.

When I was in UCD four years ago I decided in the first few weeks to get completely engrossed in the Harry Potter books and not read any course material at all. It spelled the beginning of the end as I fell far behind in all my subjects as I became more and more absorbed in the magical world of Hogwarts. I think I had gone a little insane.

In the last few weeks I have become unexpectedly addicted to X Factor Australia, which is the most ridiculous sentence I have possibly ever typed. I am now hoping Ronan Keating’s charms won’t keep me away from getting important work done and repeating old mistakes again. I don’t think he will though because I feel as though I am actually going to like UCD this time around, especially the fantastic beans and chips college combo that I enjoy way too much.

And the quote the great man, life is a rollercoaster, you just gotta ride it. And I am planning on riding UCD to the end. No wait, that doesn’t sound great, does it? I mean in a non-slutty way. In a metaphorical way. Yes? Great.

Read: The First Year Experience: UCD First Week