LAST WEEK WE were reminiscing about college life in the ‘real capital’, and we’ve already discussed glorious days spent in DCU and Trinity, so it only seems fitting that our next port of call is the largest university in Ireland.
University College Dublin began life in the city centre, before moving to a sprawling south Dublin campus about 50 years ago.
Hold on to your hard hats because we’re heading to Belfield, where memories, myths and legends lie beneath every single concrete slab.
1. Contrary to popular belief, UCD students don’t all walk straight out of the pages of a Ross O’Carroll-Kelly book.
There are over 30,000 students. They don’t all rock dubes and chinos.
2. Getting to class can prove more challenging than getting your degree.
The bus or DART is the best option for those who don’t live locally, but woe betide you if you’re tying to get to college during rush hour.
Nothing says Monday morning 9am lectures like being sandwiched between secondary school kids’ on a packed bus, in tail-to-tail gridlock on the Stillorgan dual carriageway.
3. For some, getting home is no picnic either.
If you haven’t squeezed on to a 6 o’clock bus home from Belfield then you haven’t lived.
Of course, that’s provided the bus actually shows up (we’re looking at you number 17) or the driver is willing to stop on the flyover for you after 10pm.
Bonus points for those who can remember the days when the number 10 bus reigned supreme.
4. Campus Accommodation is the Holy Grail.
You don’t need to worry about buses or cars when you actually live in Belfield. Living on res isn’t as much fun since they put the gates up, but campus accommodation is still a precious commodity.
Belgrove was cherished for its proximity to the Student Bar, while Merville was THE place to be for wine and chicken fillet rolls.
Glenomena = Postgrad/serious student palace and Roebuck?
5. There’s a Blackrock Campus.
You’ll never really go there unless you’re doing a course at the Smurfit School or sitting Applied Language exams though.
6. You WILL need a map to find things at some stage.
Strategic meeting points are key and you’ll definitely spend time trying to work out the best routes for lecture to lecture sprints.
Nobody wants to run from a tutorial in Roebuck and arrive late to a crowded lecture in the utterly cavernous Theatre L.
7. One of the most famous landmarks is basically a giant egg.
It’s not your average egg though. It’s a mammal’s egg, covered with little ‘swimmers’. And there was panic when they temporarily removed it.
8. Swimming in the lake is NOT advisable.
That doesn’t mean it hasn’t been done though. Sure some lad even went skinny dipping. In broad daylight. In front of a whole host of students.
The lake is a great spot to meet friends during the summer or eat your lunch on a lovely day though, provided the seagulls behave themselves.
9. The secret spots aren’t quite so secret.
The ‘Secret Lakes’ behind the veterinary buildings are probably the worst-kept secret on campus and the ‘Secret Tunnels’ aren’t so secret either.
Students have ventured behind the grate near the trees opposite what is now the old student centre and one even documented their experience for The University Observer.
10. Freshers Week is spent in a giant white tent.
You’ll join millions of societies inside that white cave of wonders, but only head to events where famous faces are guaranteed to appear.
11. There are as many urban legends as there are students.
The most commonly accepted one is that the whole campus is designed to be riot proof.
Once you’ve made an eejit of yourself trying to run down those widely spaced steps you’ll probably start to believe it too.
12. The Student Bar used to look like this.
And you spent many a glorious wasted afternoon drinking Beamish or Fosters in there. Black Monday? You genuinely don’t remember.
13. The bar was one of the best places to eat along with Elements, Cafe Brava, Centra at Merville and O’Brien’s in the Conway Institute.
Not to mention the good old Forum Bar.
Between this and The Pit the modern day students don’t know what they’re missing, eh?
And that Apache in Elements. That was awesome.
14. You have wonderful memories of afternoons spent in the bowels of the Newman Building.
Sure who didn’t spend at least ONE afternoon shooting pool in The Trap?
15. Electives will make or break you.
You’ll do ANYTHING for an easy 5 credits and woe betide anyone who gets in your way.
16. And lecturers who don’t use Blackboard are the devil incarnate.
17. The Vice President for Students sends the BEST emails.
18. Walking around Belfield in nothing but your jocks and a lab coat is the most amusing way to raise money for charity.
19. There’s always something being built. ALWAYS.
If it isn’t a new Student Centre it’s a new Science Block, a new car park or a new Law School. Is it any wonder no two buildings EVER look the same?
20. The James Joyce Library is where good intentions go to die.
You can never find a plug for your laptop or end up being ridiculously distracted while sitting at one of those desks that looks out over the lake. As a result, you spend more time taking coffee breaks with friends in the Student Shop than studying.
Sure everybody knows that anyone who REALLY wants to study heads down to Health Sciences anyway.
21. This man should be feared and loved in equal measure.
22. Exams = Bi-annual pilgrimage to Ballsbridge.
If you’re lucky you’ll spend Christmas in the luxury of the main hall of the RDS. If you aren’t, it’ll be off to Industries with you.
Summer days are spent in the utterly enormous Simmonscourt, where some insist there is a lingering scent of horse show hay.
The most amusing invigilator in Ireland more than makes up for it though.
23. When it comes to Trinity College, keep your friends close but your ‘enemies’ closer.
Cultural norms dictate that you should have an inexplicable distaste for Pearse Street Polytechnic/Pearse Street IT or whatever other jovial nickname you’ve got for the old rival.
However, you still need tickets to the Trinity Ball and enjoy the option of drinking in The Pav, so having friends in TCD is actually a bit of a bonus.