By Rachel Loftus, Grad. Dip./M.A. Journalism, UL
Walking into my introductory lecture I couldn’t help it. Despite the fact that I was a Big Bad Post Grad, I felt my knees quaking just as they did on my first day of being an undergraduate. Sure, this was a new college, but what of it? I was older now, far more mature, with four years of study in NUIG done, dusted and under my belt. I was a post Erasmus student for goodness sake! This should be a piece of cake. And yet, here I was, tongue stuck to the top of my mouth, afraid to say boo to a goose and desperate to get back to the safety and familiarity of my house.
Despite our expectations and despite our rationality, there’ll always be an aspect of fear and an aspect of hesitancy about putting our first foot into the unfamiliar. It can range from starting school, to starting college, to starting a new job, to moving country, to moving to the next town even. We could be as prepared as we like, and yet, place any single one of us in a situation in which we are out of our comfort zone and we shrink. We take a step back. We take a step back until somebody reaches a hand forward to help us through.
I’ll concede, that very morning of post-graduated introductions, the very first day I sat in the Concert Hall? I wanted to leave. I wanted to give up before I had even began because I was so outside my realms of comfort. To my dismay, before I could make my great escape we had been ushered into our various classes for a tour of the college. And what a blessing in disguise that was. As our 4th year guide brought us around the Main Building and became increasingly puzzled as to which way we should have been going and eventually had to ask for directions, a thought struck my mind. Nobody really knows it all. You can be prepared as you might like and you’ll still be thrown a curve ball. You’ll still need help.
Awkward and meek conversation grew into awkward and hesitant laughter which grew into earnest laughter amongst our group as the day progressed. The fear that was initially there evaporated. We were all new. We were all just as lost. We were all on the same page. And despite what various educational courses and backgrounds we had come from, we all needed to accept the help that was on offer to us. Help from other UL students when we became lost. Help to access the library. Help on where the best places to eat were. Help on where the best coffee was located. And yes, in the melee of corners and crevices in the Main Building, even help to the nearest bathroom (Which FYI, was obviously built by someone who wanted to trap a person in its confines for eternity.)
So, here I am, the Big Bad Post Grad, who is anything but. First year, Erasmus student, Masters student, Ph.D student, new lecturer. We are all equal in that we all need that little bit of help on our first day. We all need that helping hand. And despite our best efforts, despite our preparations, it’s ok to be absolutely terrified out of your wits. Because each and every person before us has been in the exact same position. Every single person in UL was once there on their first day, and you can bet your socks they were once just as out of their comfort zone as you were. I’m even looking at you Dr. Fitzgerald.