Serial NUIG-er and Oxygen contributor Jennifer Bannon reveals the secrets of Galway’s oldest institution…
What’s the local area like?
The best way to describe Galway as opposed to other cities in Ireland, is as very bohemian and chilled out. Walking down Shop Street is probably most people’s distinct memory of the city, if there is any kind of decent vibe in the air in terms of the elements, you will have at least 20 odd buskers and performers just playin away to their hearts’ content. If you meander down towards the Spanish Arch you will see loads of really cool little boutique shops and restaurants. It’s really not a city, it is a big town! But that makes it even better if you ask me!
What’s the story with accommodation? How expensive is it?
This is one thing you need to be careful with in Galway because you could potentially get screwed on rent. It’s not like Dublin, where the standard €100 rule applies for anywhere half decent, in Galway you can get a double room en-suite for the same price as a boxroom if you look around enough…
If you are in first year, Corrib Village has a good reputation and Gort and Cuirt na Coiribe are really nice (little bit far from town for going out though). Amhra House is really nice and it’s in town. Same goes for Dun Angeus. I wouldn’t knock living in a townhouse though, but watch the rents near college because landlords think they are smart and charge obscene amounts. Ten minutes out to Newcastle for 30e less is worth it!
What’s the cost of living like?
Surprisingly decent! I was completely broke in final year because I couldn’t work, and I lived off 50 quid a week. Free into clubs every night before 12, really good drink deals, college is not too expensive and there are loads of bargain clothes shops. Just don’t get mad when 200 other girls have the same Penney’s dress as you! You should cook at home if you want to save cash, there are loads of supermarkets so that shouldn’t be a problem.
What are campus facilities like? Computers / Library / Banking / Residential Accommodation?
I personally would not go to college without a laptop, you are going to spend half of your first year life lining up for the damn campus ones and it will drive you mad. Honestly. Mad. I think that buying a laptop should be a priority for you from the start.
Print credit is expensive too.. oh, if you need to print a lot, go to the library late in the evening, there are always loads of computers! Otherwise, try the engineering building or Aras Ui Chathaill.
The Library is decent, not amazing but better than Trinity in terms of being quiet, better than UCD in terms of computers, better than Limerick in terms of books.
People are actually kept relatively quiet in NUIG library, unlike the other ones I have studied in… The Reading Rooms are my favourite place on campus, but don’t go in there, because it’s only for serious study and usually first years aren’t that sort! Bank of Ireland are on campus in the arts block and AIB are just around the corner with a dedicated student branch.
What kind of sports facilities are there?
The Kingfisher gym on camps is definitely worth joining, it’s got a lovely pool and deadly classes at reduced rates! There are loads of clubs that will be fun to join if you are sporty!
What’s the deal with the college bar? Good atmosphere? Cheap drinks?
The College Bar is lovely. The vibes are really good and everyone is really friendly in there. I personally love it when it’s just a normal Wednesday Premiership night because there are loads of cool people around and cheap drink (€3 Wednesdays) and great Pizza. Mmmmm Pizza. Exam time is fun in there too and the morning after balls! Bar food during the day is the most popular on campus, with a great carvery dinner for around €7.
What’s the grub like? Good food? Variety?
In college the food is mostly not that good. The canteen is unimpressive and expensive. Smokies is really nice, it’s a sandwich bar upstairs on Concourse and they make great paninis and sausage rolls. The College Bar is by far the best food on campus though, they do a good selection of dinners and are well priced. Friars is good too, but most people don’t go that side of campus..
What kind of clubs and societies can students join?
Whatever you’re into! There is a society for love of chocolate, a society for archery, a society for drama, dance, juggling, there’s a great choir, a deadly musical society, there are societies for most of the degrees and there are loads of wine societies! Great way to eat for free! The college paper and radio station are great to get involved in, there is so much choice though and you have to join if you want to enjoy college.
What advice would you offer new students?
Try to strike a balance between work and play and not to sound patronising, but do figure out early on how well you want to do in your degree, because you won’t get a first by going out every night and watching Deal or no Deal.
What’s the “worst thing” a new student can do?
Watch Deal or no Deal. It makes me cry when I see students that conform to that horrible typecast of being lazy b*stards. Get it out of your system this summer and come to college ready to get involved!
What’s “the best”?
Make new friends. You will be shocked when you see how different you are to what you thought when you go to college. Try to be as open as possible to new people and experiences!
Any other useful stuff you would like to add?
One thing; Galway is SERIOUSLY small. Like… seriously small. Be careful what you say and who you… I mean what you do! It will get around!