BALLAGH, CO. WEXFORD – Karl O’Sullivan is just one of the tens of thousands of Irish students that will be starting college for the first time this month. But one thing sets Karl apart from the masses: he is a complete spa.

As I sit atop his twin-sized bed, adorned with Man City covers, Karl gleefully packs his bags, showing me some of the literature that he believes will soon make him the toast of the town. How to Make Friends and Influence People, History’s Greatest Conversationalists, and Your Guide to Getting a Girlfriend are just some of the titles entering his “book bag”, a collection so vast it could rival the library at Alexandria.

Karl explains that, despite his chequered history and the undesirable reputation he built for himself over the last six years, he firmly believes that now is his time to shine.

“Everyone has friends in college” he claims. “Think about it. I’ll be in lectures with up to 100 other people. Statistically speaking, somebody’s bound to me my friend”.

“But I’m no fool” he continues. “Don’t think I’ve put all my eggs in one basket. I’ve been researching a lot of the social activities clubs online. While I couldn’t find any that line up to my exact interests, I did notice a society for Dungeons & Dragons. I don’t play that personally, I’m into much more hardcore tabletop RPGs. But I figure I could go there, work the audience a little bit, and just see how things go. The last thing I want is to make too many friends too fast. That’s how people end up getting hurt”.

The aspiring arts student does not believe the fact that his 18th birthday is not until next May will be a hindrance on his social life. “There are so many fake IDs in college, my only concern is that I’ll turn into a big fake ID!” he quips. He then expands on the point of his age, explaining “I’ve always been a fan of older women, which is why I’ve never had a girlfriend. It’s also why I plan to volunteer for the mature students”.

At this point of the interview, I still haven’t said anything. Finally, his mom calls up and tells him it is time to go. She is taking him to the barber, followed by the local clothes shop, so that Karl can pick out his new “college” look.