Eli is one of our US students who is in her fourth year in Trinity. Here she lets us know about her experience of moving to Ireland to study at Trinity.
The first time I ever set foot in Trinity was November of 2012. It was Thanksgiving break of my senior year in high school and I convinced my family to fly half way around the world with me for what I knew would be a very important college visit.
The moment I walked through the front gate of college I was sold. There’s something magical about strolling in from the loud bustling street into the dark tunnel of front gate. Those big wooden doors transport you into another world, a bright imposing and enduring oasis. After over 400 years of change, so much remains remarkably the same at Trinity. The history really drew me in.
We got a tour from an American girl with an Irish accent who had just started her third year here and spent the hour singing its praises. Her stories and reassurances really made me confident that if she could do it so could I.
I met for coffee with a member of the Global Relations Office and a lecturer from the Political Science Department. They both made me feel important, like I was welcome and wanted at Trinity. That feeling, I’m happy to say, has never gone away. As I was leaving campus I wondered if walking down those cobblestone paths between the old stone buildings would feel just as magical if I was there every day. Five years later the magic still hasn’t worn off.
Almost a year later, in September of 2013, I showed up for my first day of college. The whole first week was a blur. Meeting tons of new people with names I couldn’t pronounce. Joining a million clubs and societies unsure of what I even liked to do. Trying to translate Irish slang. Struggling to cook dinner for myself for the first time. Drinking gallons of tea with my new housemates in Trinity Halls and talking incessantly about what life in Ireland is really like. Everyone was friendly and amazingly welcoming. I can’t appreciate enough how kind and inclusive everyone in this country is. It’s so easy to feel at home here, even amongst strangers.
The entire first year I was so busy making friends, going to balls, trying to understand the weather, having dinner parties, traveling, and panicking over exams, before realising they weren’t really that bad, to stop and think about being homesick or scared. When I went home for the summer I couldn’t wait to come back.
Throughout the next two years I settled into life in Ireland and travelled a ton, taking advantage of Ireland’s amazing sites and proximity to Europe’s most iconic destinations.
I got a job in the Trinity Global Room giving tours and helping other international students. I moved out of Trinity Halls and rented a house with friends. I put my head down and studied more than ever before for the Schols exams and ended up spending my first Christmas away from home.
I became so much more independent, something I think a lot of American college students miss out on. One of the things I appreciate the most about Trinity is the fact that they don’t coddle you. It’s on you to study, to show up for classes, to find accommodation and to ask for help if you need it. The support services at Trinity are second to none, but at the end of the day it’s up to you to take advantage of them and to push yourself to succeed. While it was intimidating at the time, now that I’m finishing up my time here I feel so confident that I can go out into the real world and take initiative. I think this is a big reason so many entrepreneurs come out of Trinity. Going to Trinity taught me how to push myself and to earn everything I accomplish.
I’m in the second semester of my final year now, trying to decide what to do with the rest of my life. Only now looking back, I realise how much I’ve learned, both in and out of the classroom, in the years since I first set foot in Front Square. I’ve gained a global perspective, friends from all over the world, a masters level undergraduate degree, a new home and confidence in who I am. These four years have been the best years of my life. While there have definitely been hard times and some tears and homesickness along the way, I know I’ve grown so much from my time here. I’ve decided I want to stay in Ireland after college is over. I don’t know if I’ll ever be ready to leave. My experience here at Trinity has changed my life for the better and I wouldn’t give it up for the world.
In November of 2017, I’ll be walking through the front gates again, this time to graduate. Five years ago, going to college at Trinity was my dream. I’ve been so lucky that that dream became a reality. While it’ll be hard to say goodbye, I’m happy to know the time I’ve spent here will be a part of me forever.