Dana Halliday has the low-down on everything you must know about starting college in Galway.
So, you're thinking of studying in Galway. Congratulations, you have made an excellent choice- the best choice. However, moving away from home and getting settled into somewhere new is always tough. So, I’m here to give you a helping hand. Here are 11 tips to help get you on your feet – from yours truly, a graduated Galwegian.
1. Finding accommodation is going to be the struggle of your life.
If you’re a person who likes to plan in advance, you've probably already considered student accommodation. Now, not to scare you off, but student accommodation comes with cons along with its pros. The rooms will be cramped, showering will be a constant battle between stubbing your toe and burning yourself alive, personal space will not always be an option, sockets will be in the most inaccessible of places, and most importantly – the wifi will be inconsistent.
Get hunting as soon as possible, as everybody will have the same idea – Eyre Square will be littered with young people, phone in one hand, the Galway Advertiser in the other.
Be prepared to haggle, plea and lie to your landlords. Make sure you view your house before you put money down – and do not forget to scout for mold.
A helpful hint: here's a link to a Facebook group you should join to help you with your house hunting. You're welcome. https://www.facebook.com/groups/385939841504195/
2. Orientation week may be less helpful than promised, but you should still go – and sit close to your mentor.
Orientation week is a great way to meet new people, get a taste for your lectures, and make alliances with mentors – who are really just students two or three years ahead of you, most likely a promoter for one nightclub or another and with any luck, be offering you discounts.
The only downside to orientation week is that your mentor will pretty much whisper everything they say – it seems to be an unwritten rule. And when they take you on tour of the campus, they'll run, and you'll see nothing. Again, an unwritten rule. So get up close and tie your laces tight if you don't want to be completely lost.
3. Nobody's going to help you keep your life on track.
Your timetable won't come handmade. You're going to have to put in some work, searching your individual classes, rooms and times on the university website. Write it down, make a spreadsheet, get an app. I personally have mine scrawled on some old McDonald's vouchers, but whatever works for you.
Just make sure you do it and do it right, otherwise you'll miss everything and fail the year. No pressure.
4. Find out where your lecture rooms are.
Campus can be unorganised and to be honest, nobody's going to help you - sorry. Not even the interactive map in the concourse (it's never working), not even from the internet. Take the time to roam around the college grounds and figure out where each class will be held. If you end up in one of the tower blocks, I pray for you, because you may never find your way out.
Your rooms will most likely change again in the second semester so you'll have to do this all over again so if you're planning on actually attending your lectures, this is the wisest move you'll ever make, trust me.
5. The college bar can be your best friend or your worst enemy.
Avail of the 3 euro pints wisely. Don't find yourself skulling down pitchers all seven days a week.
Or do. You're a first year. I'm in no position to lecture you on this. #PintQueen
6. Connect your student email to your current one.
You're going to get a new email address, and you're going to get a lot of emails that you probably won't even check unless you do this. There's nothing worse than dragging yourself out of bed to trek to a class in the snow just to find out that it's been cancelled. Except, maybe, missing an email with information on an essay deadline you're about to miss.
7. Generally not good advice, but perhaps just this once – talk to strangers.
It's common knowledge that Galway is single-handedly the friendliest city on earth. Don’t be afraid to approach the people around you. Trust me, no matter how shy you are, how anxious you're feeling, how much you just want to coop up at home and be a blanket burrito – everybody's in the same boat. Talk to people about your shared classes, where you've come from, how much you love pints, anything. You'll find like-minded people in no time.
8. Try out different paths to college. There's probably a shorter way.
Walking to and from college day in day out can be exhausting. Good news is getting from X to Y in Galway is always relatively quick, no more than 30 minutes. However, there's probably a shorter way than they way you're taking. Be savvy. Watch out for other students cutting corners and crossing fields. Maybe stay clear of the dark alleys, though.
9. Signing up for societies is all well and good. Now make sure you go to them.
It happens every year. Hundreds of students attend the Societies fair, hundreds of students sign up for hundreds of societies, and hundreds of students completely forget about each and every one of them the next day. From PotterSoc to BakingSoc to PhilSoc, there's something for everyone. But it can be overwhelming, and there’s no need. Most societies are small communities who welcome newcomers with open arms and soon become some of your closest friends.
10. And finally, pack appropriately.
You'll need everything from rain ponchos to sunscreen to hiking boots. You can experience the extremes of all 4 seasons by spending just one week in Galway. Snow and sun on the same day is not unheard of. It's a beautiful mess, and you’re going to love it.