So, I moved on Friday. I am now a resident of Trinity Hall in leafy Rathgar. Me and 1,009 other people, of whom about 800 are first years.
It’s nothing as bad as you’d think. In fact, I quite like it. Yes, the kitchen floor is very, very sticky. Yes, the toilet is oh-so-very institutional. Yes, the corridor permanently smells of teenage boy, Lynx and beer.
But there’s a safe and solid quality to the place. The boys all seem very polite and well-reared, and their mothers, many of whom I met, seem like lovely ladies (and some are closer in age to me than their sons are). I was working last weekend, so I missed all the getting-to-know-you activities, but I will eventually sit down and get drunk with these boys. I’ll let you know how I get on. I’m just sure one of them will be my new best friend.
I love my room. It feels like a student bedroom, and is “just right” – like the littlest bear’s porridge.
On Friday, I went to two orientation sessions. The first was for postgraduates. It was in a bright and modern room. There was free wine and beer. There were snacks. A few words were said about where to get the bus and the location of the laundry. It was all very social. And “nice”.
When you walk around the grounds, there is a aura of youth and vigour. Not among the postgraduates. Pretty much every one of the postgrads in that room was either overweight or underweight. Few had skin that had seen much sunlight. The healthy young folk outside probably won’t do postgraduate degrees. They’ll probably go out into the real world of success after four years of Business and German, relatively unmarked by their years in college.The postgrads I met are unlikely to ever fully leave college.
After half-an-hour at this very civil reception for postgraduates, I went downstairs to the reception for my house. I am the only postgraduate out of 68 people in my house. There was a very different atmosphere downstairs. We were in a sports hall and the “warden” was standing on a dias, while we sat in rows in front of him. There was no free wine or beer here. There were no snacks. There was no socialising. We had an almost incomprehensible talk from a boy from Sligo who was in charge of social activities in the Halls. Then the “warden” gave us a speech. During the speech he moved from one side of the stage to the other. On one side of the stage, he was the “good cop”, on the other, he was the “bad cop”. While playing the good cop, he told us who we could talk to if/when we became pregnant or took too many drugs. While playing the bad cop, he told us about “respect” and “being reasonable”. I think he even got us to repeat things after him, but I’ve blanked that part out. Everyone around me giggled when he talked about overnight guests, they guffawed when he talked about vodka, they all turned bright purple when he mentioned condoms.
So far, the boys haven’t kept me awake. They’ve stolen none of my food. I haven’t had to queue for either the shower or the toilet. They have already built up an incredible supply of empty beer bottles. I think they may already have drunk more beer each in the past four days than I have drunk yet this year.
I’m reserving judgement, but optimistic. I’ll keep all of you informed.