From those dreaded assignments to endless hours getting lost in the library, Laura-Ashley Ní Shuilléabháin explains the top things people forget to mention when you start college.
So we all know that college is one of those once in a lifetime opportunities, right? We know all about the late nights, the take-aways and the lie ins, but then there’s the things that nobody tells you about college.
I realise while going through this list that most of these things are bad, but just realise that for all the bad things about college, there are a hundred more good things about it.
1. Not everything revolves around takeout
Believe it or not, by the end of the first semester you’ll be craving a hot meal. Chances are that your culinary skills consist of beans on toast. After the first 3 months and having takeout and a hot chicken roll every time you’ve been hungry, you really just want something healthy.
The most depressing thing about college? Paying a euro for an apple just to remind yourself what fruit is.
2. Money doesn’t grow on trees
Everyone tells you about how tight money is in college, but you just don’t believe them. It can’t be that bad right? Well believe me when I tell you that it is that bad. When you have to decide between a night out and food for the week. then you know things are dire.
But seriously, try and balance your money. Budgets are a must and coupons can become your best friend. Keep a look out for all your local discounts and penny savers and you’ll make it through.
3. Not everyone will like you
You probably have that idealistic approach that once you act like yourself then everyone will love you. Don’t believe that.
Wherever you go in life you won’t get along with everyone. It could be one of your housemates, classmates or even a lecturer. Accept it and be the better person. Don’t let them get to you, and above all else, don’t stoop to their level.
Nobody tells you how important the first few weeks are, make the effort now and you won’t have to spend all your time and effort trying to involve yourself later on in the year.
Nobody tells you what type of clothes people in college wear, and unless you live near enough to a college like the one you want to attend, then you really don’t know the type of dress code. Believe me when I say there probably is none.
Sure you try for the first few weeks, but after a while the majority of people come in wearing a t-shirt and sweatpants and nobody thinks any different of them.
5. 'The Freshman 15'
You are going to gain weight by the end of the year. All the noodles, pizza and fish fingers will catch up with you. The only way to combat this? Try to eat healthy and workout.
But in reality you’ll probably buy a tub of Ben&Jerry’s and sit at home crying with your housemates about the dreaded Freshman 15.
6. The labyrinth in the library
Nobody tells you the reality of the library situation. You will never, ever figure out where your books are – at least that’s how it is for me in UL.
Unless you camp out in the library for a year, you’ll still not know where anything is and be forced to walk aimlessly around so that it looks like you know what you’re doing.
7. You have to do work here
Believe it or not, but tests actually matter. Maybe for the first semester you tell yourself that you’ll be fine, but once those grades are in for first semester you spend every second of every waking minute regretting your ‘I’ll do it tomorrow’ attitude.
You really have to get yourself in gear and do stuff, even just a little, if you want to continue with the lifestyle you have and love. I really feel that people underestimate the fact that college is hard.
It’s a full time job practically and whereas homework could be done in an hour, assignments can take hours, even days.
8. You’re going to get lost at least 10 times
Nobody told me about the logistics of classes and the likelihood of me actually getting there. For the first 6 weeks I relied heavily on ‘the first 6 weeks’ program to show me around the school and I would have been lost without them.
9. The Leaving Cert isn't the be-all or end-all
Not having any older siblings, I had no one to prepare me for the fact that the Leaving Cert is not the end of the world. You spend 5-6 years of your life thinking that this is the most important thing ever and it really isn’t.
The first thing I was told by our lecturer in college was that she didn’t care if we were a straight A student or barely passing in anything. It doesn’t matter if you got 250 or 600 points.
Nobody tells you that who you were before college doesn’t count and, you can make yourself into a totally different person. As the saying goes, start as you want to continue.
“My heart aches and a drowsy numbness pains my senses as thou of hemlock I had drunk.” The first line from a poem by John Keats called “Ode to a Nightingale” and that is exactly how I felt in the early months of 2010.
Having enjoyed a hugely successful career that saw her amass 85 international caps and captain her country to Six Nations glory and a World Cup semi-final, former Irish women's rugby team prop Fiona Coghlan decided to hang up her boots for good last August following the culmination of the then Philip Doyle managed side's Women's Rugby World Cup campaign.