Patrick O’Dwyer (Semester 2 2019-20 and Semester 1 2020-21 exchange student from the University of New South Wales, Sydney, Australia)
When I arrived into Dublin in early January, I…(like almost everyone else) had no idea of the year that was in store for us. No idea of the scale of the global pandemic that was looming just around the corner. However, in the few short months of face to face classes that I could attend on campus, I was able to make friendships that have lasted throughout my whole year in Ireland (and will continue into the future, I’m sure). These friendships were essential to managing the tougher times of the lockdown.
Trinity pre-pandemic was an amazing experience. I got the chance to collaborate with some classmates in a creative film-making class, perform weekly music pieces in front of peers in my recital course, attend a roaring-20’s themed film ball and even jet off to Germany during a long weekend for the Berlinale Film Festival, all before the first lockdown commenced!
However, after the pandemic had hit, my exchange experience felt honestly just as enjoyable as before. I truly believe that under the circumstances, I got the absolute most out of my year abroad! My logic was pretty much everywhere in the world was in the same boat in March, so my plan was to just try to live it up as much as I could within the recommended guidelines… and I feel like I definitely achieved that!
During Hillary Term one of my assignments was to collaborate with a group and create a short film. However, due to the restrictions enforced at that time, we had to work remotely in creating this film. It made
for a very challenging but rewarding experience.
One person would film the background / ‘B-roll’ shots, another would film the principal photography, a third person worked on editing whilst the fourth member composed the score! We were all really proud of the
finished product, and it proved that we could still have a thoroughly immersive and enjoyable university experience, even with the pandemic. I also found the transition from in-person to online learning really interesting and a welcome change given the blow of the lockdown. I had fun creating my own online workspace, and I must admit there are some perks to rolling straight out of bed and into a 9am lecture! After the term ended, we were well and truly in the middle of the lockdown, so I decided to tick off some bucket list hobbies I’ve been wanting to try for a while
now…the first one being brewing my own beer! It was so interesting to learn about the science of brewing, and given our limited resources we resorted to some pretty interesting methods of brewing…like using a kiddy pool to cool the ‘wort’ (unfermented beer). This hobby has turned into a passion for me, and I’ve since brewed 4 more batches, each better than the last (if I do say so myself)!
Another fun activity I took on during the summer break was working on a short film near Bray, Co Wicklow. At this point the restrictions were starting to ease slightly, so thankfully we were allowed to work together
from the pre-production phase right through to the final shot. I was the 3rd Assistant Director, which meant I was in charge of locking down the set, making sure no film equipment or “nonnarrative” items could be seen in the background of any shots, and making sure we were running to the schedule as smoothly as possible. The filming took place entirely at night, starting at 6pm and finishing at 4am… but the experience I gained was invaluable and I felt so proud that we were all able to come together and make a professional short film, whilst still making sure everyone was keeping safe distances and following all the guidelines. And this diligence paid off, as not a single cast or crew member tested positive throughout the entire 1 month production period.
After shooting wrapped, I had about two months left before I’d be commencing my second semester at Trinity (I did Hillary Term first because it aligned with my university calendar back in Australia). So, now that the travel restrictions were completely lifted, my girlfriend and I decided to take a road trip around Ireland and try to see as much of the natural beauty and landmarks that this beautiful country has to offer. We ended up clocking up 5000km and were on the road for 5 weeks! We traced the entire coast of the island of Ireland, from the tumultuous seas off of West Cork, to the winding roads of the Wild Atlantic Way, to the fantastical Narnia-inspired forest in Co. Down. It was by far the best road trip I have ever been, and honestly…if it hadn’t been for Covid, I think our eyes would’ve been set on Europe, rather than looking at all the amazing experiences that were on offer right at our doorstep!