'I can't take up my UCD course because I have nowhere to live'
Rebecca Rees was "delighted and shocked" when she discovered that she had secured a place in her preferred course in UCD studying French and English.
"I would love to eventually live in France and teach English. That is the dream," the 17-year-old told the Sunday Independent.
Certain that she had failed biology in this summer's Leaving Cert, Rebecca had made a contingency plan of studying in Galway, but was delighted to cancel her accommodation there once her first choice arrived in the post.
But her dreams were crushed when she could not find somewhere to live in the capital.
"If I could get accommodation, I would be there in the morning but there is nothing available," the teenager said.
After failing to secure accommodation on campus, Rebecca desperately searched all of property websites in search of somewhere to live near UCD.
"I wanted to live in a house or preferably on campus so that I would get to know more people in Dublin. I was the only one in my school who got a place in UCD so I don't know anybody up there. I was calling so many places but once you tell them that you are a student they just hang up the phone. I am completely stereotyped because I am a 17-year-old girl."
Struggling to find a place to stay, Rebecca joined a community group on Facebook, where she was able to get in touch with students in the same predicament.
"The girls that I met during my search got to view a house in Blackrock but had to say that they were in fourth year and doing an internship before they were even considered. They have had viewings all week and have still not got a house. I would have had to lie to a landlord to get a house for six or seven months. It's mad."
Rebecca said that she had looked at digs online but felt that living there would make mixing with people her own age more difficult. "I need to make friends and get to know people up there and I would have preferred to have lived in a house full of people my own age. The moment that the waiting list for on-campus accommodation in UCD opens next year, I'll be on the ball."
She has been left with no option but to defer a course in the hope that she will be able to get somewhere to live next year.
The student is unsure about what she is going to do for the next 12 months.
She has considered getting a job, but is wary this could affect the grant she will need to help pay her tuition fees.
This "horrible situation" has forced Rebecca to consider the possibility of repeating the Leaving Cert, but she is understandably reluctant to do so.
"I am seriously considering repeating my Leaving Cert and going somewhere else. If I don't get accommodation next year I could be left commuting up and down from Clare everyday and that is just not possible," said Rebecca. "I don't want to be here in the same situation this time next year and it seems the only way to guarantee that is to do it all over again, but I really don't want to have to. The Leaving Cert was such a horrible year."