This article was originally published by The Student Standard as part of their ‘My Maynooth’ featuring different accounts of people’s experiences studying at NUIM. As someone who spends a good fifth of her life on public transport these days, it was only fitting that I take to the soapbox to bitch about it. I am resident strident feminist and sassy critic with the standard and can be found here
I dream of trains every single night now.
That sounds very pretentious and ponderous, but it’s not as bad as you think: I actually mean that literally. There’s nothing symbolic about the trains in my dreams, or the stations. They’re usually not even the main subject of the dream – they’re just there as background and setting. My entire dreamscape takes place on an endless network of tracks and gently swaying carriages.
Now that may sound somewhat beautiful and poetic but trust me, it’s not. Last night I dreamed I was taking a train from Dublin to New York. So at Connolly Station there were Subway trains covered in NFL ads waiting at platform 7 and my mum was there along with Caitlin Moran and we had an HOUR TO SAVE THE PRESIDENT. My dreams are possibly even more stupid now because my subconscious feels the need to shoe horn in trains somewhere. ”She’s having an intense erotic sex dream about her friend that will confuse her in the morning? QUICK THROW A TRAIN STATION IN THE BACK!”
I am a commuter, which is an experience of college not often looked at. Oh sure, everyone talks about the romance of living alone for the first time, drinking until 6AM in your front room and then rolling into a 9AM lecture. If you want to ‘do the student thing’ as a commuter you have to earn it. Having a commute that involves catching two trains was always going to cause me a bit of a headache. After a year of doing this, I have the following things figured out:
- Maynooth has one train at a quarter to the hour during the day. So unless you get that train, you are fucked and will be getting the bus. ENJOY YOUR LATENESS FOOL.
- Don’t depend on friends on your commute. Every single one of my commuting buddies from first year has now moved to Maynooth and I am alone. So don’t make friends on the train. Look shifty and read Game of Thrones.
- Leading on from point 2, books are magical time vacuums in which everything moves faster. Time moves even faster for books that you’re not reading for coursework, so don’t tell yourself you’ll “do your readings for my modules”. You won’t. You’ll sit there and read A Clash Of Kings like all the other commuters. Behave.
- It isn’t that bad.
As for how it’s effected my experience of Maynooth, I think it’s given me good priorities. I spend very little of my time dicking around with different societies: I have had to choose exactly one thing to enjoy and go to and the rest of the time try to be home before 9 every night. It’s made my social life lean and purposeful, but in many ways that’s not exactly a bad thing. Having severely limited weekday dicking around time means that my time with friends is exactly the right amount of time to enjoy ourselves without lapsing into silence. Having to ask a person can they sleep on their floor is also a good way to bond – you know you have made good choices in friends when they don’t even wait for you to ask and just say “Yeah sleep on my sofa! Eat my food!”
My first experience at crash, I wore a nightie and I still have no idea if that is proper crash etiquette or not. Even if it is not proper etiquette I will continue to wear a nightie when I sleep on a friend’s sofa because sleeping in one’s clothes is horrific. I do have an uncle in Celbridge with a spare room where on a Tuesday evening I can go to, and sit with them watching Vincent Browne chanting “Vinnie, Vinnie, Vinnie” in the manner of the Jerry Springer audience. I am able to sleep in their impossibly comfy back bedroom with a hot cup of tea and a scalding hot radiator, in my Winnie the Pooh nightie and my auntie will not judge me. I’ll get a call at 8AM to have breakfast and then we’ll leave at TWENTY TO NINE to get me up to Maynooth for my early lecture. TWENTY TO NINE. That’s blasphemy. During the winter this was a godsend.
There are disadvantages. Nobody tells you the difficulty involved in finding a place to get laid when you and your prospective partner both live at home and both those family homes are in different counties, cities, planets etc. Maybe this is just me but I do not get to enjoy the ‘sexy bits’ of college. You do eventually reach a point where the faint smell of piss on a commuter train coming from the toilet because someone left the door open makes you want to cry. There is no good place to have a nap anywhere on either campus – the best place to try is the Common Room in a booth; lie down and put a coat over yourself. Even this fails a lot because then your friends start prodding you and checking for life signs. I would like to petition the Students’ Union, not for better gigs or a posh gym: please just get a nap room, like in a crèche. That would actually solve all my problems.
Essentially, commuting take a small but manageable hack out of my college experience. I’m pretty lucky, in that I can get any bus or train I like home at any time of the day or night so it’s very flexible. I don’t have to ask for crash every time I stay past six o’clock and sometimes my Mammy even drives out to pick me up – it’s only 40 minutes on a straight road. And now that the Sligo train has free WIFI it’s basically no time at all.
The Student Standard is NUI Maynooth’s new independent news source and can be found here: StudentStandard.ie
Niamh ‘what a scoop!’ Keoghan