If you know me from Twitter or Facebook, you’ll know that I come from a small town on the coast of Mayo. Because of this, a lot of people ask me why I chose to study here in UL; a five hour journey home isn’t the most encouraging thing in the world. As well as that, practically nobody from my hometown came here. I had planned on coming here alone, until one of my best friends fell in love with the place too (it was hard not to when I was talking about it 24/7!)
It was around this time last year when I decided that Limerick was the place for me. A friend of mine from Kerry was planning on studying here, and hearing her sing UL’s praises all the time I decided to look into it myself. I’d been researching it for all of two hours when I decided; UL was going from 5th on my CAO form to 1st. I hadn’t even been to an open day but right away I knew that Limerick was the place for me. The campus was gorgeous, the accommodation was cosy and convenient, and most importantly of all it would be a fresh start for me.
A lot of leaving cert students based their choice of college on two things; closeness to home and where their friends were going. I, however, rebelled against this norm. I’m a pretty independent person, so living far away from home wasn’t a huge issue for me. I thought I’d still manage to come home every weekend, but unfortunately it’s way too tiring. By the time I get home on a Friday night, all I want is to sleep, and I end up snoozing for half of Saturday after being reunited with my bed. Although it’s tough only getting to see my family every three weeks (hi Dad, I know you’re reading this), it’s something I’ve had to get used to. Home sickness really hit me around week six, but with Christmas to look forward to now, I’m feeling a lot better.
When I came to Limerick I literally knew of around three people coming here. Yes, three. But for some reason this really didn’t bother me, if anything it made it more appealing! I wanted college to be a fresh start, where nobody knew me and I could finally be myself. In the first few weeks I made so many amazing new friends, something I don’t think I’d have been bothered doing if I’d come here equipped with all my friends from home as a safety blanket. Of course not having these friends here is lonely at times, and I can easily end up spending €20 credit in one go ringing them for the gossip, but it’s made me appreciate them a lot more. I now realise who my true friends are by noticing who’s actually bothered to stay in contact with me, and I appreciate the time I do get to spend with them a lot more.
Living in the city has been a breath of fresh air for me. I’m not somebody who likes to follow the crowd, which can easily be seen by my piercings and love of weird coloured lipstick. When you live in a small area it can be difficult to be yourself, for constant fear of being judged. I’ve found that in Limerick people are more open to differences, and are willing to accept you for who you are as long as you’re a good person. This is one of my favourite things about the place, it’s nice not having to constantly worry about what people think of you. There’s no “what will the neighbours say?” here because well, they probably don’t even know your name.
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, college has been the best experience of my life so far. I love my course and I’ve made some life long friends, something that might not have happened if I’d gone to another university. I’m grateful for every day I get to spend here, and although it’s different from living in a small town, I wouldn’t have it any other way.