MDI Students’ Union President Garry Corcoran reveals the shocking craicademic unravelling in MDI, and the eternal struggle to get your next chicken fillet roll. Introduce your college. Mater Dei Institute of Education is a College of Dublin City University and a designated higher education institution under the Higher Education Authority in Drumcondra. Essentially, it’s a teacher training college that offers a unique experience in the heart of Dublin. In our areas of undergraduate specialisation – Teacher Education, Religious Education/ Religious Studies and Theology, English, History, Music and Irish Studies, the college is recognised internationally for its quality. If you are considering coming to MDI, talk to your teachers – we have trained most of the Religion teachers in Ireland and many teachers of English, History and Music! What’s the best thing about your college/university? The best thing about our college is the friendly and intimate environment that is associated with Mater Dei Institute. We are a cosy college – about 500 undergraduate students and 150 post-graduates- which allows the students to maintain a personal relationship with both lectures and fellow undergraduates alike. The reason many students drop out in first year in other colleges is that they get lost in the system and become yet another number. At Mater Dei this will not happen. Our warm and friendly atmosphere ensures that your development on both a social and academic level is catered for. Rest assured, you won’t find yourself wandering around our campus on your own and even if you do there will always be a familiar face waiting to point you in the right direction. What’s the worst? The least appealing thing about Mater Dei is the fact we do not have a residential campus. However, the surrounding area of Drumcondra more than makes up for this with many of our students referring to it as ‘a home away from home’. Drumcondra is a vibrant hub of activity home to student’s, residents and young professionals. What’s the local area like? The area offers plenty by way of shops, cafes and restaurants, and if you fancy a night out, the local student social scene is very active! Drumcondra is incredibly well served by public transport with a local train station a stone’s throw from our college serving the Dublin/Maynooth commuter line. Connolly Station Dublin is also accessible from Drumcondra station bringing you into the heart of the city. If you’re travelling from the city centre to MDI, the following bus routes will take you to Drumcondra – bus numbers 3, 11, 11A, 11B 13, 13A, 16,16A, 33, 41, and 41A from O’Connell Street. What about accommodation? Is it expensive? Many of the houses in the immediate area surrounding MDI are student occupied, with rent being quite affordable by Dublin standards – varying between 75-115 euro per week. What’s the cost of living like? By national standards the cost of living in Dublin does seem to be above average in comparison with other major cities containing universities such as Cork, Limerick, and Galway etc. Shops and café’s usually recognise the financial burden that comes with being a full time student (let’s face it some days we struggle to find the next fiver for the chicken fillet roll at lunch!) allowing for many deals on food and other essentials, around the area. Tesco is located 10 minutes from the college and is usually the first place to be sold out of pasta on a Monday evening! Is part-time work easy to come by? Part time work is available with an array of opportunities in Dublin’s city centre and around Drumcondra itself. What are the campus facilities like? Our Information, communication and technology services are of a very high standard given the size of our college. We have two ICT labs containing all the essentials with over 50 computers, printers, and scanning machines. We are also very fortunate to have interactive whiteboards which are hugely beneficial in our preparation for teaching practice, one of the most nerve-wrecking yet simultaneously exhilarating experiences you will have at MDI. MDI has a state-of-the-art library situated at the heart of the Institute’s facilities. The Library delivers a high quality, personal and friendly service in a student-centred and attractive environment. It includes seating for over 120 students, wireless broadband for laptops, 3 student rooms equipped with plasma screen display televisions, and a photocopying room. The full library catalogue is also available on our own Intranet. What’s the food like? Is there a good variety? Is it expensive? We have a fully equipped canteen which is the hub of student life in Mater Dei. Paula and her team are always on hand providing affordable breakfasts lunches and snacks. The food is reasonably priced and there is always a variety of food. What kind of sports facilities are there? Our college also contains numerous sports teams that enjoyed contrasting degrees of success last year. Our pitch is located on campus and has become known locally as ‘the Cauldron’ due to the continued success our sports teams enjoy on home soil. Over the past few years, the men’s Gaelic football team has been one of the most successful of the college teams. In 2011, the team played in the final of the Ulster Bank ‘Corn na Mac Léinn’ but lost out narrowly to IT Blanchardstown, losing again in the final in 2012 to Colaiste Marino. The men’s hurling team play together with our neighbours St. Pats College Drumcondra. Our men’s soccer team play in the North Dublin League and Cup each year. MDI also field teams in women’s soccer and Gaelic football. Rugby was introduced in 2010 and the team has gone from strength to strength each year. As a sister college of DCU our students may also enjoy the facilities allowed to all DCU students, including a state of the art gym and 25metre Olympic swimming pool. Are there a broad range of clubs and societies? If sport is not your forte there are many other clubs and societies that will cater for your interests at MDI. Our drama society is an immensely talented group of students who put on two shows annually and compete in national competitions. The shows are hugely enjoyable and are held on campus each year. The music society is also a hugely active group, performing several concerts throughout the year. One of our most enjoyable weeks is Music Week, with each day having a different theme and a talent show on the final night of the week, including guest judges. Some of our other clubs and societies include: History Society, American Football Society, Gig Society, Writers Society, St. Vincent De Paul Society, Fitness Society, and MDI Misfits. Each September there is a ‘Clubs and Societies Day’ held in the canteen. Here students can meet representatives of the different clubs and societies and find out the different activities taking place for the year and sign up to the ones that take their fancy. Once you have signed up, you can go along to their meetings and get involved in their activities and events. What’s the story with the college/local bar? Is there a good atmosphere? Is it cheap? The Students Union in Mater Dei also hold many events and nights out throughout the year. We have our own Freshers’ Week to help students integrate into the college and not only get to know one another, but also many of the other students in different years. We have our annual parties at Christmas and Halloween, which are always brilliant craic with spot prizes and live entertainment on the night. Our annual end of year ball is our formal event and again is always a great night for all involved with the end of year awards taking place. We ensure that ‘craicademic’ is maintained throughout the whole year with other events such as ‘Mater Date’ (our blind date event), Mister Mater Dei, and Take Me Out. Our Students’ Union are also involved in many other events in the college such as Justice week, Music week and Compassion week. The student nightlife is an undoubted attraction in the general Dublin area. Dublin is the type of city where you could go out any night of the week and have an unforgettable night! Drumcondra itself is home to pubs which have long become institutions for students in the area such as Quinn’s and The Big Tree, both affordable nights considering the locality and cost of entry, a mere 5 euro. Usual drinks promotions apply with shots from 2 euro, pints from 3 euro and vodka and dash from 3.50 (3 for 10). Dublin city itself is a short trip in a taxi with famous nightclubs such as Copper Face Jacks, The Village, Dicey Riley’s, and DTWO all facilitating student nights at different points during the week. The best thing about Drumcondra’s nightlife is that you are never short of a familiar face to share a few sociable drinks with (or even a few too many!) given that the area has such a friendly atmosphere. What advice would you offer to new students? For example, what’s the worst thing a new student can do? What’s the best? If I can leave you with one final tip as you begin your journey through third level education let it be this: take everything in moderation and maintain a balance. Above all else, get involved in your college. It’s important to enjoy yourself at third level, so do enjoy the social aspect but do your best not to ignore the academic side of things. It might be too late before you regret it. Finally, make sure you enjoy the experience. Those who say your school days are the best of your life obviously never went to college, so cherish the time you have, don’t let it pass you by. It will be over before you know it!