College Life

The Many Pressures Of Travel On The Average College Student

“If you haven’t done ‘The Holy Trinity’ by graduation, did you even go to UCD?”

For most of you reading this, it would be hard to find parallels between ‘The Holy Trinity’, as we know it, and University College Dublin, but for the common student, it’s a rite of passage – as I learned during on my early commute one morning on the 145.

When I heard this statement over the song playing through my headphones, I leaned a tiny bit closer to them to eavesdrop, and as per, I got a life lesson that challenges the six or so grand I pay in fees to UCD annually.

With an iPhone in one hand, a Starbuck’s Mocha-Choca-Ariana-Grande-Latte in the other, the ‘South Side Hun’ is a marvel of modern society. But that is not the topic of this debate- the subject of this argument is the onus on already cash-strapped students to eat away at their savings on costly holidays merely to avoid FOMO (the fear of missing out) – which is why I paused my music to listen in on their conversation.

“I mean, she hasn’t even been on a J1…Like, I know it shouldn’t be, but that’s just…weird.”

It took me a while to connect the dots – mainly because I didn’t know there was a set term for what can only be described as one of UCD’s many notions – but I got there eventually. This checklist of three if it were, had nothing to do with religion; it was the unwritten code of University College Dublin and was something I was actually quite familiar with. As acquainted as I was with it, however, I personally hadn’t managed to complete it. But they were not alone, at least half of the university shared the same theory.

‘The Holy Trinity’ was a set of life experiences that students were (allegedly) required to do in order to truly experience student life in UCD. Although I neither endorse nor agree with this idea that one’s college experience is incomplete if you have not spent thousands on fancy escapes – that surely risk total liver failure at the very least – I cannot deny their existence or influence on already poverty-stricken students. Furthermore, although it is not something that has ever been officially laid down or emphasised, ‘The Holy Trinity’ seems to be an underlying and inescapable attitude in Belfield.

Inter-railing across Europe after first year, doing a J1 in America after second year, and travelling South-East Asia after third/fourth year – depending on the length of your course and whether or not you need to do an unpaid internship – this bucket-list certainly isn’t cheap. Pairing this with the extortionate rent prices of South Dublin, university fees, transport, and general living costs – alongside an annual skiing holiday or class trip to Central Europe – it really is an expensive notion. However, it is one that exists nonetheless.

Having commuted between two and three hours a day (minimum) for the best part of three years, along with having worked weekends and summers to pay for college, this idea was certainly something that added to daily stress, and although I never entirely bought into it, it is something that I have seen quite regularly in my time in UCD.

It would be unfair and untrue to suggest that all students exist within this biosphere, as I’m sure there are many who manage to escape the influence and pressures of my well-to-do peers, but there are also many who do not. College days are indeed the best of your life, but this added pressure to be part of such expensive life experiences is not necessary. You can have just as much fun working fifty hours a week behind a deli in the drive-through town you call ‘home’ for minimum wage…right?

These pressures are unrivalled in most third level institutions around the country, where students spend the summer working full-time at home to save for the coming year. This seems unheard of for many within reach of UCD’s postcode, however – or at least that’s what the façade they have adopted indicates. More often than not, food is the opportunity cost of fun, and many students seriously suffer financially for that week away in Maga with the lads.

Naturally, I don’t agree with the girls on the 145, or the much larger group they represent, although I don’t condemn them for their experiences. Maybe it’s just jealousy, all I ask is for, however, is less snobbery over the issue. There is nothing wrong with having this lavish lifestyle of course, I’d probably be the same if I had it my way! Just please bear in mind that some choose not to complete the ‘Holy Trinity’, and are doing just fine, thank you very much.

Still here? Check this out: Work Experience In College