The theme of this blog post is “Campus Life”, which I thought I’d tackle by separating things into two categories: study and extracurricular. We’re talking study expectations, social opportunities; all the goods. Let’s do it!
Trinity as a university is predominantly research-based, and this is absolutely shown in its timetabling—even at the undergraduate level. The stages of undergraduate study are classified with Freshman and Sophister categories, and, within each, a Junior year and a Senior year (i.e. first year students take Junior Fresh modules, second year students take Senior Fresh ones, then third-years move into Junior Soph, etc.) The university is split into three main faculties or schools: Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences; Engineering, Mathematics and Science; and Health Sciences.
Freshman modules (read: papers, or courses, or whatever you want to call them) under the Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences umbrella typically meet once a week, with another one-hour tutorial for compulsory modules. This is markedly different to UoA, and you’ll find your in-class time decreased by at least half—even if you’re entered for the maximum five transferable-credit classes. You’ll therefore have way more time on your hands (I had three-day weeks), but with the lack of in-class time comes much higher expectations of student-led learning. I was expected to read a book—novel, poetry collection, play etc.—a week for each of my modules, plus secondary readings which could range from one five-page section to four twenty-page stints. I’ve actually found it easier to get through course content this way, despite there being more of it, and it’s also given me the opportunity to get out and explore more of the city when it wasn’t so busy.
Classes, like UoA, run for fifty minutes, beginning on the hour, and—unlike UoA—the Arts modules tend to all be taught in the same building, so you’re not dashing from the Engineering building to the Law school, or from OGGB to Commerce A. Just up and down a few flights of stairs! Another difference from UoA is assessment: where most UoA papers are run on continuous assessment—e.g. 50% exam, 25% essay, 15% test, and, like, 10% participation—modules at Trinity are often one-and-done. I had three essays this semester, all worth 100%, and two exams, also worth 100%. This is both good and frightful, but there’s no point in stressing—all you can do is your best, anyway, and at least once those assessments are over, you’re done for that module and you can breathe easy. (I did have three essays due on the same day, though, which I didn’t enjoy. But, on the bright side, I learned really good time management!)
Trinity, like UoA, has heaps of clubs on offer—virtually all the same ones you’d find at our Clubs Expo, a couple of our more niche sports and the legendary Meat Club notwithstanding. Personally, I joined the Literary Society (poetry readings, tea and coffee afternoons, Harry Potter-themed events galore) and the International Students Society. I’d really recommend the latter, as they do discounted trips to a bunch of must-see places; I went to Galway, the Aran Islands, and the Cliffs of Moher earlier in the semester. It was manic in terms of time—constantly go-go-go in between locations—but the peace and stillness on Inis Mór (Inish)more than made up for it. (I’ll see myself out.) I’d recommend joining a club or two, as it can be a great way to meet people if your living situation doesn’t supply you with a bunch of groovy new mates, and lectures themselves aren’t the most social places.
Because of its aforementioned focus on research, Trinity is also a hub for exciting workshops and lectures. If you’re a bit of a nerd like me, you’ll take advantage of the free—free!—talks that are on, literally every day. The subjects are so varied that you’ll easily find something suited to your tastes; a couple of highlights for me were a visit from an Italian sculptor who had had several run-ins with the mafia, and a celebration of Harry Potter’s enduring legacy. (You may be sensing a bit of a Potter theme here. And before you ask, yes, I caved and started playing the mobile game.)
Trinity’s really in the centre of town, too, so it’s only a short walk to the National Gallery, Merrion Square, and basically any other destination you could be after. A few different classes use Marsh’s Library—which is stunning, by the way—as a field trip, but you can go yourself for about €2. Definitely worth it for the history! (Speaking of: definitely use your Student ID to jump the queue, and the fees, for the Book of Kells and the Long Room at Trinity. I may have cried walking up the stairs to the Long Room. Sis luvs books, and all that.)