- 04 Oct 04
Barry Glendenning offers some tips to students about to become acquainted with the weird and wonderful world of tertiary education for the first time.
This being the annual student issue of Ireland’s most pervy pop periodical, I have been asked to reflect on my own lazy days in University College Dublin way back in the early 1990s for the benefit of those fresh-faced, wide-eyed innocents who currently find themselves tentatively dipping a toe into the murky waters of third level academia for the first time.
This is probably not such a great idea, considering I detested every minute of my mercifully brief time in university before leaving the soulless, ponce-ridden, hell-hole that is the Belfield Arts and Commerce block with no qualifications whatsoever, having cultivated little more than a withering contempt for braying, southside Dubliners who considered an ensemble comprised of deck shoes, rugby shirts and New York Yankees baseball caps to be the epitome of cool.
Quite how I’ve managed to survive the intervening years without that indispensable BA in Greek & Roman Civilisation and Philosophy is anyone’s guess, but as I don’t feel it’s my place to tell any young adult how best they should spend their time in college, I will stop short of advising you to jack in the whole academic jamboree straight away, and content myself with offering a few pointers instead. Armed with these insights, you can learn from my mistakes and make the most of what promises to be the most interesting, if not straitened, times of your thus far sorry lives. And so without further ado...
EVERYONE HATES STUDENTS …
This is not an issue for debate. You may well entertain some deluded fantasy that people respect you because you represent the future of Ireland, when in fact you are simply paying your dues and everyone thinks you’re a sponging cunt. People with jobs find you particularly loathsome because your dues are being paid with their tax Euros and they resent the fact that a large chunk of their hard-earned monthly income is used to buy the cans of Carlsberg Export you drink while watching Neighbours on a Wednesday afternoon. In Ireland’s social hierarchy, you occupy the lowly niche between flies that buzz around cow-dung and Burberry cap-wearing chavs from Limerick. Live with it.
… BUT STUDENTS HAVE THEIR OWN HIERARCHY
Considering the contempt which the rest of society reserves for students, you’d think these unloved, unwashed, under-nourished idlers would all pull together in an effort to make their sorry existences as painless as possible. Fat chance. The UCD Arts & Commerce Block has long been riven by a pissing contest between members of both faculties in an effort to discern whose course is the least worthless. As exercises in one-upmanship go, this is the equivalent of two one-legged pygmies staging an arse-kicking competition in order to decide once and for all who’s the tallest.
Having said that, there is a dizzying array of geeks you’ll need to avoid in college. These people can usually be spotted manning the Young Fine Gael and Sci-Fi Soc stands during Freshers’ Week. As an addendum it is highly advisable to befriend at least one nerd in your class as you will need to borrow and photocopy his or her lecture notes at the end of the year, when the time comes to cram for your exams.
YOU DON’T NEED THAT TRAFFIC CONE
At some point during your first few weeks in college you will find yourself lurching home from the student bar while drunk on cheap cider. You will encounter a solitary traffic cone which, for no apparent reason, you will feel compelled to steal, wear home on your head and place in your bedroom as some sort of weird totemic monument to your inherent “wackiness”. Resist this urge, because in the unlikely event of you ever lurching home from the student bar hand-in-hand with a member of the opposite sex, they will see this traffic cone, correctly deduce that you are a fuckwit then make their excuses and leave.
KNOW THE RIGHT PEOPLE
So you don’t have any money, you want to enjoy yourself but you’re not interested in getting part-time work. Not to worry. For regular sex, join the Drama Society. For regular sex, free admission to gigs, free booze and free pills, get involved with the college drug-dealers. Or the Ents Crew, as they are also known.
If your teeth are falling out, your back is covered in boils and people keep mistaking you for Michael Stipe, you’ve either got scurvy or some full-blown disease or other. Either way, splash out on a bag of oranges, suck on them and hope whatever it is that ails you goes away.
Blokes, always wear a condom. Even if you’re not having sex. Everyone likes an optimist.
AND THE REST
Never pretend to have cigarettes as some fucker will spend the next four years following you around scrounging them from you. The Libertines are trendy. The Thrills suck. Don’t waste the hard-earned money your parents send you every week on books. And most importantly in these coming years of profoundly unpleasant fiscal penury, domestic squalor and half-arsed academic underachievement that won’t be half as much fun as you were led to believe they’d be … enjoy yourselves.