Colleges around the country have largely sat silent for the last year due to Covid-19 restrictions. Zoom became the lecture hall, the society HQ and the pub all in one for most of 2020 and thus far in 2021.
With the vaccine rollout continuing apace, the sound of chatter in the corridors and catch-ups in the canteen is more than likely to return this year.
For some students, it will be their first taste of the authentic college experience. For many, they will move away from home for the first time having been confined to desk chairs in bedrooms for classes, course work, tutorials and those dreaded essay writing sessions. It will be a culture shock but there are ways to prepare.
Cooking crash course
Whether it's a Donal Skehan binge or a how-to session with mammy in the kitchen, learning the basics of cooking will make your college life so much more enjoyable if you're moving away. Toast and beans is grand every now and then but if you're having it a few times a week, you'll be sick to death of it by the fourth week, never mind fourth year.
Bolognese is easy and tasty and should be on your recipe list but learn the basics so you can change it up. Know when different types of meat are cooked, how to cook them, as well as vegetables, pasta, rice, etc. Don't try to fry and then chew your way a roasting joint, for example.
Research the societies
People often make the mistake of thinking their interests won't be catered for at college. I'm not into sport or drama, so there won't be anything there for me. This just isn't true. If you can think of it, there will be a group of like-minded people to meet and talk about it. Whether it's rowing, debating, writing, bird watching, comic books, sci-fi films, obscure books from the 1930s, even Quidditch; there will be a society for you. Get onto the student social media forums and the college's website to check it all out so you can get involved from the beginning. If nothing else, this is a great way to meet friends if you're new to a town or city.
Don't fall through the 'craic'
Let's be honest; college is a time to let loose a little bit and enjoy yourself. From college concerts, rag week or even just heading for a few drinks to a friend's apartment, you should enjoy yourself if that's what you're interested in.
First of all, never feel pressured to do anything you don't want, even if 'everyone' is doing it. Trust us, everyone is not doing it and as your mother says, 'if little Johnny jumped off a cliff, would you do the same?'
The key to college is finding a balance. That night out may seem worth it at the time but if you miss a tutorial the next day or an assignment deadline, your playing catch-up for the rest of the year. It's not about choosing one over the other; success or the craic. Get the balance right and you'll love every minute of it and you'll get out the door with a great qualification too.
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