Let’s address the elephant in the room. Finding student accommodation in Dublin has become pretty tough, and for a lot of people living close to college just isn’t an option. This year will see a large number of Irish students commute to university and what I want to tell you today is that it’s not the end of the world. Yes, it can be a hassle and yes, you probably will develop a slight coffee addiction. But commuting will not reduce your college experience. You can still be a *cough* dedicated student and have a busy social life all while commuting. You just need to be organised and follow these tips:
Join a society. One of the biggest concerns commuter students have is that not being based in Dublin city centre will make it more difficult for them to make friends and really feel part of the college community. Joining a society not only introduces you to a large group of people that all share a similar interest but a lot of society events are also held during the day so you can get involved without having to wait for the late-night bus home.
Get a light laptop. If you’ve yet to buy a laptop for university, I’d advise you to buy one that is light and easy to carry. Not only is it necessary for keeping up to date with lectures, assignments and additional online resources but it also reduces the amount of folders or notebooks you’ll need to carry around. The Asus Transformer Book T100 is a relatively cheap and light option.
Get a locker. Trinity offers students the option of renting a locker for the year and I cannot stress enough how useful they are to the college commuter. They’re priced at €40: €20 cost with a €20 deposit that will be returned once the locker key is returned at the end of the year. However, lockers sell out fast so be sure to get there early* on the morning they’re offered. They generally go on sale in the Arts Block during the first week of term so keep an eye out for posters telling you when and where to go.
*When I say early I mean really early. I’ve known people who’ve begun queuing at 6:30am. If you’re an Arts Block student you don’t want to arrive late and end up with a locker in the Lloyd Institute. It’ll be too far away to be of any use. Make the effort to get there early and reward yourself with a breakfast from Lemon afterwards. After you’ve secured it you can pack it full with the rest of your essentials.
Invest in a good thermos or travel mug. Make your early morning bus a bit more bearable with a hot drink to wake you up (or to help you to fall asleep again). Keeping a few coffee sachets or tea bags in your locker will also help cut down on the cost of paying for coffees on-the-go. Hot water from the campus cafés costs 70c, that’s about 60c cheaper than your average coffee order. For a student those 60c savings will add up fast. Keep a box of cereal bars in there too. As a money-conscious student you’re probably going to bring a packed lunch with you (pack lunch the night before, nobody should sacrifice those extra few minutes in bed for a couple of sandwiches) but having a back-up snack for unexpectedly long or tiring days will definitely come in handy at some point.
Keep your books and folders in your locker, rather than at home. This will also help ensure you get your work done in the library and avoid having to drag them home with you. After a long day at university, with an added commute, you’ll have little motivation to study once you get home. Get into the habit of studying in the library, doing some reading during your commute and keep your time at home for relaxing.
Pack an ‘emergency’ bag. Avoid missing out on last minute class nights out by having a bag with a standard pub/club outfit, a travel-sized kit of bathroom necessities and some extra clothes to wear the next day. You’ll also need a kind friend to offer a couch to sleep on, but that shouldn’t be too hard to find! (And if you’re really organised you could also store your gym bag there and take advantage of Trinity’s state of the art Sports Centre during long gaps in your day.)
Have I missed out on anything? What would be your commuting essentials?
Aoife is a recent Trinity graduate and intern with the Global Relations Office. She spent her third year abroad in Paris and is dedicated to making sure international students feel at home.