Aine Kenny looks back at her experience in college this year and discusses everything she has realised about student living and college life.
The thing no one tells you about going to college and moving away from home is how free you become. 
 
Suddenly you find yourself escaped from the shackles of secondary school. No more 9-4 routine, military-style uniform and behavioural codes. College provides a nice contrast.
 
The lecturers actually care about what they are saying. They are enthusiastic. The tutorials are even better, we actually are allowed to talk and voice our opinions in class. 
 
In secondary school you got notes in journals for talking out of turn. Now, if you’re not talking, it’s seen as a bad thing. 
 
Even the sheer size of the lecture theatres are astounding. So much choice on who to sit beside. You could potentially meet someone new every single day. 
 
I must admit the seats are rather uncomfortable and the high-speed wifi is a hindrance to my work, not a help. 
 
Of course, there are days when I would rather stay in bed than go to lectures. But then I sit up straight in bed and think about how much I am paying in tuition fees. 
 
I manage to drag myself into college on time. The fact that I am sometimes slightly late to lectures is shameful, since this year I lived on campus in Corrib Village. 
 
I have saved some time in the mornings by developing my own uniform for college. I have about five outfits which I rotate to give the impression that I actually am making an effort, when really it’s just me being lazy in an organised fashion. 
 
Before I got to college, I was convinced I was going to look stylish and make a real effort with my clothes, hair and make-up. 
 
Now my hair is a wild mane of curls at all times and I’m lucky if I manage to fill in my eyebrows most days.
 
Student accommodation is another element of student living that takes some getting used to. 
 
One thing I’ll say about student living is the sheer cost of actually living. I did not appreciate dishwashers or washing machines enough and for that I apologise! 
 
Don’t get me started on the cost of frozen pizza. I know a victim of student over-pricing, a poor young woman who paid €5.50 for a Goodfella’s frozen pizza. This is extortion. 
 
You never truly understand the price of food until you go grocery shopping. You arrive at the doors of Aldi, two empty shopping bags in hand, wide-eyed at the prospect of buying whatever you want. 
 
There is a thrill associated with making the executive decision to buy Nutella and Cocopops. Why yes, I am a real adult making adult decisions about my dietary needs. Ooh, pop tarts! 
 
The nights out are something else. The pre-drinking at your friend’s houses with the songs blaring from speakers, then the walk into town across the Cathedral Bridge. 
 
Then it’s off to Shop Street where club promoters attack you with stamps like a flock of angry birds. 
 
Once you are in a nightclub, it’s a toss between either dancing the night away while bumping into people you’ve spoken to that one time during Fresher’s week or going on the pull. 
 
Suddenly, it’s 3am and you’ve wound up in Supermac’s, and the harsh lighting in the bathroom seems to make everyone look like a zombie. 
 
While looking in the mirror above the sinks, you begin to question the choices you’ve made in life that have made you end up in Smacs. 
 
The next morning the phrase “I’m never drinking again” is repeated like a mantra by various students waking up with sore heads. 
 
Another observation from a non-Galwegian, Galway and Buckfast Tonic wine seem to go hand in hand. Before I arrived here, I wasn’t even aware of its existence. 
 
Now having tried it, the only way in which I can describe it is an alcoholic, caffeinated calpol-like substance. 
 
By mid-October, you’ve practically developed scurvy because you haven’t been eating any fruit or vegetables, and your blood is two thirds Dolmio pasta sauce, one third vodka. 
 
This is the stage where you have an intervention for yourself. 
 
You begin making proper meals (using actual meat and vegetables) and cut down on going out so much, because assignments start getting in the way. 
 
The workload is something else. Writing academic essays is hard. Referencing is hard. When you get down to it, all you’re really doing is paraphrasing a bunch of other people’s work. 
 
Then exams start to loom, but you can’t study for the exams because you’ve assignments to do, but you can’t do the assignments because it’s your one’s birthday from Block F and you promised you’d go. It’s like a vicious cycle. 
 
People often say that it’s your school days that are the best of your life. I am here to confirm that it is your college days that are by far the best.
 
Finally, you are studying what you love (hopefully), and have made friends with people who just get you. I for one can safely say student living is the best kind of living.