It’s a pretty sweet life…

Friday April 4th 2014

AOÍFE NÍ SHIADHÁIL- MÁRTA 2014

So yet another month has flown by and I’m more than three quarters of my way through 1st year! March has been a jam-packed month for me once more but le bheith ionraice I wouldn’t have it any other way. The challenges have hit me hard with coursework being piled on daily, marathon training breaking my heart and Lent meaning I have to find a substitute for my Milky Way fix. Idir seo agus sin áfach, there have been more memories made, a DCU Seachtain na Gaeilge den absolute scoth, a life-changing weekend with Youth 2000 in Galway and even a trip to Dublin zoo. It’s a pretty sweet life, caithfidh mé a rá ♥

At the beginning of March we at DCU SVP had our biggest fundraiser to date, the annual 24 Hour Sleepout. As well as attempting to raise as much money as possible to continue helping some of the most vulnerable in society, the Sleepout was a way for us to raise awareness. Chuidigh sé linn siúd a ghlac páirt to ‘understand homelessness from the inside out’ and it also reminded the wider DCU community that there are people sleeping on the streets Domhnach is dálach. We set up camp on the grounds of the campus from 11am on the Monday to 11am the following day and relied go huile is go hiomlán on the kindness of others for both food and donations. You truly cannot understand what a person is going through until you ‘walk in their shoes’ and taking part in the Sleepout emphasised for me personally that no one deserves to live in this way. It has made me even more determined to have an active role in the work of SVP to do my bit in helping those in need. Despite being siocaithe ó chraiceann go croí, the 24 hours we spent as homeless people were some of the most fun-filled and memorable of my time in DCU so far.

And so, I bring you…The 411 on what is needed to live like a homeless person for 24 hours:

  • Gold dust items: wooly hats, gloves, rain ponchos, onesies, HOT WATER BOTTLES.
  • The wisdom to know not to put all your layers on at once but to save some for the wee hours.
  • Friends who will come down to say hello, bring food, donate or just have a laugh at you.
  • A ‘my sleeping bag is better than yours’ competition.
  • A nearby Subway and/or Domino’s with very sound staff to donate your dinner.
  • Musical people to start a sing-song to lift the spirits. A banjo and some Irish dancers don’t go amiss either.
  • A DCU President to check in at midnight and bring food platters from his wife (it takes a woman) and someone to whisper ‘Who’s that?” when said President walks away.
  • A poor, innocent couple whose wedding you can plan out of sheer boredom.
  • Massive chalks, a lack of maturity and a competitive streak when it comes to making your own hopscotch.
  • That really enthusiastic person to start doing a ‘rock the boat’ at 3am.
  • 659734281 layers and someone to shout ‘Well guess who isn’t in Style Soc anyway!’
  • A real homeless man to join the party.
  • Snuggle trains and Nutella sandwiches at 5am.
  • People with good taste in cereal to bring you breakfast before you go off to lectures with zero hours of sleep.
  • An outstanding university community to donate over €1,000 for SVP!!!
  • A serious amount of naivety, a yolo mentality (cringe) and a general lack of cop-on.

Student drinking habits is an ábhar that has been talked, boasted or moaned about at length. As someone who became a pioneer at the age of 18, I guess you could say I’ve made a commitment to a certain type of lifestyle that could be considered as straying from the student stereotype. Mise, I simply see it as another way for me to live my saol gan teorainn. It’s not that I think I live a better life than people who drink or that I’m a stronger person than they are. People drink for different reasons, a lot of people manage to do it sensibly and I have no problem with that. Domhsa go pearsanta, I don’t feel I need alcohol to supplement my sense of fun or my nights out and I see that as a blessing. I embrace college life with the attitude that I can have the time of my life without indulging in alcohol or drugs. I have nights out that I’ll never forget and adventures to put me ar mhuin na muice the same as every other student. Hand on heart I can honestly say that it hasn’t held me back in the slightest during my time at DCU so far. I didn’t want to compromise my principles and my values when I came to college- I shouldn’t have to and buíochas le Dia I haven’t had to.

I’m not going to lie and say that being a pioneer at the age of 18 and 19 isn’t deacair at times. You do have to deal with the misconceptions that go hand in hand with being a non-drinker. Some people look at you and you just know that they think you’re gooseberry and not “up for the craic”. Worse still is when they tiptoe around you thinking you are judging them and the choices they make. I don’t believe in judging the decisions of others because I can’t know what is going on in their heads or where their roghanna are coming from. It goes without saying that it isn’t easy sometimes to stand out from the crowd. You see people around you losing their inhibitions and at first I felt like a bit of a vegetable and sort of apart from it all. But there comes a time when all of that doesn’t bother you anymore- you learn to move past what people think and your time partying is just as craiceáilte as everyone else’s. A lot of people respect you for it and there are a lot more students who don’t drink than society or the media leads us to think. Recently DCU’s newest society, Sober Soc, held its first AGM and I was elected onto the brand new committee. Following the AGM we had probably theee most entertaining movie night of all time (you had to be there) with some free pizza and Red Bull floating around too. The aim of the society is to promote responsibility and healthy habits when it comes to alcohol and to show students that taking a drink doesn’t have to be a necessity. We were buzzing with excitement at the great turn-out for the first event and the DCU student body’s blatant support for such a society. We can’t wait to get cracking with the great plans we have for future events! I also want to say a massive comhghairdeas to the lovely Sarah-Jane Maskey who joined the pioneer family a few weeks ago- I’m suuuuuper happy about this!

Le gairid we had Seachtain na Gaeilge in DCU and as the secretary of our Cumann Gaelach this meant an even busier week than usual for me. We had so many imeachtaí from a céilí to an open mic night as Gaeilge to a tie-dye ‘Labhair Gaeilge Liom’ t-shirt workshop to a complete Gaeilge take-over day on campus. It was so very worth all the running around to see people using their cúpla focail or their flúirse focail while having the craic ag an am céanna. We have elected a brand new coiste and we are incredibly tiománta to make an Ghaeilge a focal part of student life here in DCU. We want to tap into the wealth of Irish that we know is in so many of our mic léinn and to show everyone how bródúil we are to speak our beautiful language. This video was put together by some of our wonderful Cumann Gaelach team (big love to Barra, Bríd agus Eoin Lúc) le léiriú go soiléir how much Gaeilge there is in DCU. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dVPY39SiqDc

With only a month of lectures left I’ve put together a little (bad) poem reflecting on how things are going for me so far and on mo thaithí ag an choláiste go ginearálta. First year has been unforgettable for me and if you’ve read with me along with way, I thank you from the bottom of my heart.

So we’re almost there and life’s all good,

Everything’s changed like I knew it would.

My domesticity hasn’t improved much though,

Things like proper dinners are still a no-show.

Friday means home, all the way to the hills,

For a copper or two to pay the bills.

Clean clothes and a dishwasher are two other perks,

Along with food on the table with next to no work.

Mammy complains about no 5 a day,

Such luxuries cost money, is all I can say.

Palace, Dtwo, Diceys, Big Tree,

Coppers and Workmans, wherever there’s spraoi.

I’m starting to feel like this is my place,

And I’m running around with a smile on my face.

People always ask if I can read minds,

I could do madness of all sorts of kinds.

The truth is a chairde, I’m as clueless as you,

But it’s good to pretend I’m not just a fool.

I study psych and I’m meant to know stuff,

About how people think and why things get rough.

But I don’t know where I’m going or where I’ll end up,

Can’t stay forever a cheeky wee pup.

But God has a plan, that much I know,

I’m ready and waiting for whatever he may throw.

I’m not very poetic, I just like things that rhyme,

I hope you’ve gotten my message all in good time.

I just want to say how far I have come,

Since coming to college, a Donegal hun.

There have been ups and there have been downs,

Laughter and tears, doing the rounds.

But there’s been so much magic, that I can promise,

I’d do it again if I’m brutally honest.

I’m so very grateful for the chance I’ve been given,

To tell all the world about the life I am livin’.

It’s given me confidence, courage and faith,

To live life without limits at my very own pace.

Mar sin, a chairde, I hope all is well in your world and that God gives you a reason to smile each and every day. Here’s to making the most of college freedom before it’s back to the hills and no more cheeky takeaways!

Slán agus beannacht,

Aoífe