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From California to Trinity and Back Again

Alice Gavin ChambersIn looking at colleges in high school, I was planning on going to Boston or a UC school when a Trinity representative came to my high school and told us about Trinity. I thought traveling during college sounded like a great idea. It’s the one time in your life you aren’t really tied down to family or career and being in Europe sounded fun. Not to mention that the education at Trinity is one of the best in the world.

Having Trinity be a mostly enclosed campus, it felt more like a community than I was expecting even though it’s in the middle of a busy city. I could always walk into Trinity and see someone I knew. Dublin is a wonderful city for a college student. There are so many young people and tons of things to do from pubs and clubs to museums, art galleries and theatre. Not to mention all the great places you can visit outside the city and in the rest of Europe. Traveling around during weekends and holidays was one of the best parts of going to Trinity. I wish I had done more!

I loved my course. I did Psychology at undergraduate level and then did a master in Neuroscience. Not only was the material interesting, it was really well taught. Both departments had wonderful professors who felt more like colleagues than teachers. I felt comfortable going to their offices to ask questions and they usually knew us all by name which is rare to find in a University.

Coming back to San Francisco after my Psychology BA and Neuroscience Masters, I found it easy to get a job with my degrees. Employers love to talk about Ireland. Everyone seems to have an Irish uncle, cousin, great grandmother twice removed or some kind of connection with Ireland and it was always a positive talking point in interviews. They also seemed impressed that I was well traveled by 22 years old. I’ve been working mostly in medical research and now I am a health and nutrition counselor working with patients in a medical office.

Alice Galvin Chambers is a Trinity graduate from California. She completed a BA (Hons) in Psychology in 2007 and an MSc in Neuroscience in 2008 at Trinity College Dublin.

Interning in India

Working in a distant country could be a daunting experience, but during my time with Crompton Greaves I was made feel exceptionally welcome and enjoyed the internship immensely. I was based in Mumbai, which is a very exciting, diverse city. The plant itself is in the suberbs of the city and incorporates a manufacturing facility, human resources offices and research and development facility, where I was working.

The project I was working on involved modelling the vibrations and noise emitted from an electrical transformer. By simplifying the geometry of an actual transformer I was able to determine how vibrations would affect a single steel plate, and later a number of plates connected together. Before I began the project I lacked extensive experience in the area but I succeeded in producing models which can be further built upon by those continuing the project. My supervisor was very easy to get on with and responsive to what I had to say. I also got to meet many other people at all levels in the company.

Crompton Greaves certainly treat their guests and those working for them very well. From the moment I got off the plane I was shown true Indian hospitality. I was collected from the airport by Akshay, who was always on hand during my time in Mumbai to help me in any way he could. My accommodation was in the company’s guesthouse which was a ten minute drive from the office. The guesthouse was a wonderful way to get to know lots of people from different parts of India. Many employees of the company who were visiting Mumbai would stay there so there were always new people to talk to over dinner.

During the weekends and holidays there was ample time to explore Mumbai. I frequently got the train to South Mumbai from a close by railway station. The trains themselves were an experience. They are very crowded at most times and definitely not for the claustrophobic. In south Mumbai there are lots of attractions to see from the Gateway of India to museums and art galleries. I especially liked Mani Bhavan which is where Gandhi stayed while he was in Mumbai. I also visited Dharavi which is a slum area and the most densely populated place on the planet. Wherever I went I found the people very friendly and welcoming.

Office life was quite similar to that in Ireland, though perhaps with better tea (or chai). The cafeteria provided very tasty food and was always a highlight of the day. There was also a festival called Gokul Ashtami celebrated while I was there and this was marked by festivities at Crompton Greaves. There were team competitions of various types like tug-of-war, improv acting and the main event, reaching a clay pot suspended above the ground by building a human pyramid. It was a really fun day a great insight into Indian culture.

I really enjoyed my time with Crompton Greaves and would definitely recommend it to anyone who wishes to work in a world-class company while also experiencing a culture very different from their own. They gave me a fantastic experience of Indian life and I also felt that the work I was doing was important and valued. I am only sorry that I was not able to stay longer.

Michael Cullinan is a Trinity graduate in Mechanical and Manufacturing Engineering and a first year PhD student in the School of Engineering. He recently completed a summer internship in Mumbai with Crompton Greaves, a major multinational company, as part of Trinity’s Global Relations internship programme.

Student Jobs in Dublin

Before you ask, unfortunately no, I am not hiring staff at this time. During my time in college, I have had a few part time jobs, ranging from hospital porter to Global Relations Student Ambassador and everything in between.

Ok, working in first and second year is fine. It’s a bit of life experience on how to work in the professional world. . . well let’s face it, it’s good money for your “social” activities. While I won’t advise someone to not work during college, I would suggest not burning yourself out doing it. Between college and assignments and any club and society activity, work can drain your reserves fairly quickly.

Working in Dublin can be amazingly fun. I worked for a recruitment agency where I got assigned to a hospital as a porter for 3rd shift work. Now this doesn’t sound too appealing, but it was quite lucky for me. This was about a month before exams, I was working 6 days a week for 3 weeks. I know, I know, you’re thinking, where is the appeal? Well since it was 3rd shift, I literally had one job to do the entire night, and the Manager knew I had exams coming up, so she allowed me to bring my laptop and all my study material. Basically I got paid for 9 hours a night to study uninterrupted.

That was the nice job. The next year, I worked with Jurys Inn. Now, the folks were absolutely lovely, the job was interesting, but. . . yes, there is a “but”, the hours were crazy! I was in college 25 hours a week, study and assignments 20 hours a week and working anywhere from 20-40 hours a week. This was exhausting. I would be finished college at 5 and be in work for 6 to finish at 11. This amount of work caused my college work to slip a lot. It just was not sustainable.

Currently, I am working in the Trinity Global Room. This job has been the best job I have worked. Amazing people, incredible events, full of world culture and the boss is very conscious of our schedule and works around that for our hours. What more could you ask for?

If you must work, or if you want to work, the best piece of advice I can give you is to NOT take a job that will hurt your college work. Put college first and work second. Enjoy college life and try not to add any unnecessary stress to your experience.

Freshers’ Week: A Beginner’s Guide

Freshers’ Week is here! Offers have been accepted and students across Ireland have started preparing for university. Forms will have to be signed and returned, accommodation organised, there’ll be multiple trips to Ikea and basic cooking skills will need to be revised (edit: learned). Having just graduated I feel should be able to give some insight into how to prepare for your arrival at, or return to, Trinity. So here it goes!

  • Do your research. Join the Facebook pages – all of them. And the Twitter feeds, follow them too! Do what you can to stay informed about what will be happening on campus and keep up to date with tips and advice for incoming students. See if there are any societies or sports clubs you might be interested in joining and follow them on their social media, looking out for any activities or events they may have organised for the week. You don’t want to miss out!
  • Join the societies and sports clubs during Freshers’ Week – and then go to their events and meetings! So many people join as many groups as possible during Freshers’ Week and then never go to anything. Yes, you might feel slightly overwhelmed by your new student lifestyle. I get it, I do, I understand. But do it anyway and try something new. Throwing yourself in the deep end now makes it so much easier to acclimatise and feel comfortable at your new university.
  • Go to all your scheduled tours and meetings. Yes, I know a library tour isn’t the most exciting place to be when there’s a sumo fight happening on the Physics Lawn or free crepes in the GNB but please, go to the tours. Knowing how to research, find and then take-out a book from the warren-like BLU complex will be one last thing you have to think about during your first week of lectures. Same goes for the tour of the Sports Complex. Knowing how to work the machines, find the swimming pool and schedule a place with a fitness class will be invaluable information when four months later you’ve discovered that yes, the Freshman Fifteen is in fact a real thing and yes, you are that Freshman.
  • Pace yourself. I would say be careful with your budget but let’s not be unreasonable, I’m yet to hear of someone who has managed that during Freshers’ Week. But I will say pace yourself. If you don’t feel up for your 6th night out in a row, then don’t go. Don’t push yourself into a situation if you’re not sure you can handle it. Not going out doesn’t mean you have to spend the night stuck in your apartment. Societies host multiple evening events ranging from movie nights, to cook-offs, to karaoke, there is something for everyone. Don’t restrict yourself to the ‘Ultimate Student Experience’ that everyone is supposed to have because honestly, everyone’s experience is different. Do what feels right for you.
  • Just enjoy it. Freshers’ Week is the first week of your college life. It’s the beginning of something new and although you might be homesick or uncertain about finding your place here I promise you that it’ll work itself out in the end. Take advantage of the experience and make the most of it. There’ll be other Freshers’ Weeks to enjoy but you’ll only be a true Fresher once!

Aoife is a former Student Ambassador and current intern with the Global Relations Office.

The Cheat’s Guide to Commuting

Bus 140

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.

The Bare Bones List of University Necessities

Let’s make this clear from the start. The things you bring with you at the start of your university life will not be the same things you take home at the end of your degree. They simply don’t survive. So when you’re buying for university it’s important to remember that you’re not this generation’s Martha Stewart furnishing your first home and to instead think in terms of ‘cheap and cheerful’ (i.e. replaceable). Keep in mind, you’ll be moving into student accommodation and you’re going to be short on space so this list covers only the minimum of what you’ll need.

Everything listed can be found in either Rathmines Swan Shopping Centre (Dunnes Stores) or Dublin city centre (Tiger, Penneys, Argos, TK Maxx). Ikea is also an option but is on the outskirts of the city making it a slightly inconvenient option. If you do want to make that journey the 140 bus will take you all the way out there from Dawson Street (students living in Trinity Hall can take it from their stop in Dartry).


  • Duvet – a double duvet rather than a single, it makes it easier to stay warm in a cold apartment!
  • Pillows
  • Bedsheets
  • Duvet covers and pillow cases
  • Bath towel and hand towel
  • Clothes wash basket/bag (one that can also be used to carry all of your laundry to the residence’s or local launderette)
  • Clothes hangers


  • Chopping knives
  • Chopping board (it may be a good idea to get a different one for meat, and for vegetables/bread to avoid cross-contamination)
  • Basic cutlery
  • Microwaveable, portable containers
  • Two saucepans (small and medium)
  • Wok or a small frying pan
  • Tea towels
  • Assortment of large spoons and spatulas (plastic ones are easier to clean than wooden ones)
  • Two large plates
  • Two small plates
  • Two large bowls
  • Two small bowls
  • Four mugs
  • Four glasses
  • Thermos/travel mug
  • Tin opener
  • Corkscrew/bottle opener
  • George Foreman Grill (Ok, I know I said cheap and cheerful but this really is worth the investment if you look after it properly)

Bathroom and First Aid Kit

  • Portable, plastic shower basket
  • Hairdryer
  • Painkillers
  • Antiseptic cream
  • Throat lozenges
  • Nail scissors
  • Tweezers
  • Plasters


  • Student planner – the Student’s Union offers one each year, they’ll be available in House 6 or in the Global Room
  • Laptop – get one that is light enough to carry around campus with you
  • Extension leads – surge protected ones
  • Socket converter (if you’re an international student)
  • USB memory sticks
  • Refill pads or notebooks
  • Highlighters
  • Pens

A Word on Books

You might feel it’s necessary to buy all of the books on your course reading list but this generally isn’t the case. Do your research and check which books will be available in the library (you’ll have to be prepared to borrow them in anticipation of when you’ll need them or risk finding that every copy you need is already gone). The Student’s Union also organises one or two second-hand book sales each year, so make sure to follow them on their Facebook and Twitter pages. It’s also a good idea to keep an eye on the Trinity College noticeboard for any older students that might be selling books they no longer need.

Did any of your bare essentials not make the list? What would you add?

Aoife is a Trinity College Dublin graduate, former Global Room ambassador and current intern in the Global Relations Office.


Settling Into Trinity

As our new students get ready to start their Trinity adventures, here are some insider tips:

1.   There is no need to ever pay for tea and coffee on campus if you don’t want to. Any number of societies on campus regularly hold coffee hours in either House 6, the GMB. The Chaplaincy also does a free lunch on Tuedays. There’s also plenty of people to meet and make friends with in these places as an added bonus.

2.   There are plenty of international students everywhere. Don’t hold off  joining a society because you’re worried you’ll be the only international student there. Trinity is full of international students, and this is reflected across almost all societies and clubs.

3.   Don’t be afraid of bureaucracy. Ireland is fairly easygoing as a country. If you’re coming from a US school, you may be used to forms/immigration etc needing to be completed very quickly after arriving and the consequences for not doing so are severe. Ask other people how they’re getting along with things, the likelihood is you’re all at the same point! As the Irish will tell you, “Keep calm, it’ll all be grand.”

4.   Join everything. There’s no point in the year where it’s too late to go to your first debate or society event!

5.   If you’ve made your first step of starting to hang out at coffee hours or clubs, try to keep an eye on what social media networks people around you are using. Some societies or clubs tend to cluster on certain sites and you could find out about lots of impromptu get-togethers over Twitter or a specific Facebook group that otherwise mightn’t be obvious.

Elaine is a Trinity Global Room Student Ambassador and runs the Airport Meet and Greet Service for new international students.