One year down - and looking forward the next three
My Story: In the first few weeks, people are friendly and open, says Maria
"College is the best time of your life." We've all heard these words lamented by graduates as they reminisce about the "good ol' days" in university.
Last year, I was one of the many students frazzled by the hardships of the Leaving Cert. In order to preserve my panic-stricken self as the state exams loomed, I sought solace in looking forward to the upcoming college glory years.
However, writing now, after the Leaving Cert, I know that the reality of beginning life as a third level student is not without difficulties of its own.
The first of July 2013 was a nerve-wracking day. It marked my last chance to edit my CAO course preferences, which I had spent months deliberating on... Psychology? Biomedical Science? No, no surely Physics seems like the best option... Oh but what about Biotechnology?
One year on from that decisive afternoon in early July, I now know that my last-minute, haphazard decision to list undenominated science in NUI Galway as my top preference was the best choice for me.
I can choose to study the areas of science that appeal to me most. It's essential that you are interested in what you are studying at university, as you'll have to be able to self-motivate.
There are no teachers dealing out detentions if you don't submit homework, no parents to haul you out from under the covers for class on a dreary Monday morning. It's challenging to motivate yourself, but at least now you're studying what you want to learn.
It's also difficult not to get overwhelmed when beginning college. My rural secondary school has a student population that is only 4pc of what NUIG caters for, so I was startled by the size of the college. The grounds, the buildings, even the lecture theatres seemed enormous to me.
It takes time to adjust from the familiar learning environment of 30 students in a classroom to the impersonality of a lecture hall that houses 200 people.
Making new friends in these immense venues is daunting, however in the first few weeks I found that people are friendly and open, wanting to make friends of their own starting off college.
Societies and clubs are another opportunity to encounter new people. They provide a sense of camaraderie that definitely adds to life at third level.
Starting third level can present some initial difficulties settling in, however overall, it's a hugely positive experience.
I've enjoyed my first year as a science student, and I look forward to three more years of meeting new people, interesting studies and good nights out!
University is an unforgettable time, maybe even "the time of your life"!
*Maria Regan is a past pupil of Holy Rosary College Mountbellew Co Galway