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NUI Maynooth College Guide

Clare Herbert tells us why NUIM used to be the “social centre for wannabe priests” but is now the university for “atmosphere and friendliness”.

Introduce your College/University?
Once known as the social centre for wannabe priests and monk(ey)s, today NUI Maynooth is a vibrant centre of student life. An eclectic combination of modernity and history (our south campus is among the most beautiful places I have ever been), the 6,000 strong 'Nooth student population live together in one big village community. Close enough to Dublin for regular visits, the town itself provides any facility you may ever need as well as friendly locals and a relaxed, sociable atmosphere. Truly, it is a fantastic place to lay firm foundations for your life.

What’s the best thing about your college/university?
Undoubtedly it’s the atmosphere. Because of its size, after a few weeks in Nooth, you’re likely to at least recognise the majority of faces around campus. People are friendly, open and eager to get chatting to. Clubs, Societies and the Students’ Union offer great opportunities to form new friendships, although you shouldn’t discount that one sitting beside you in a deathly boring 9 O’clock lecture or a fellow reveller on the nightlink home.

 
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What’s the worst?
Wonderful as it is, Nooth ain’t for everyone. If you wanna blend into the masses in a conveyor belt college that offers only the academic side, don’t come to Nooth. If you don’t like socialising, or like the idea of spending nights in the bar over cheap student beer, entertaining yourself and solving the problems of the world, don’t come to Nooth. If the idea of a familiar, friendly face at every corner freaks you out, don’t come to Nooth. For current students though, the worst thing about Maynooth is that one day, you are gonna have to leave.

Are the facilities [computers, health services, ATMs etc] up to scratch?
Facilities on site are more than adequate, and the SU are active in persistently lobbying for improvements. Free, public computer rooms are dotted all around campus. At peak times (i.e. lunch, essay week) there may be queues, but these are generally pretty fast moving. Restrictions on Bebo.com have improved the service hugely. On campus, we have an ‘oh-so-lovely’ full-time nurse and a doctor who visits 2/3 days a week. Admittedly, waiting lists can be a little lengthy (talk to your local TDs about funding!!) but once you get in, the services are thorough, very friendly and completely confidential. On site counsellors can also deal with mental health issues, or are just there if you want to pop in for a chat! As are the chaplaincy team, who hail from a variety of different faiths. There are two shops on campus, which sell all the student staples (i.e. pot noodles, cheap chocolate and gallons of water), a bookshop (for both textbooks and lighter stuff) and an AIB branch. The ATM is generally well stocked, and plans to place another one in the bar are well advanced. Off campus, the recently opened shopping centre boasts a 24hr Dunnes (an absolute lifesaver) as well as chemists, Easons, acres of clothes shops and all the other usuals. Any problems that you may encounter during your college experience will see the various assistance departments tripping over themselves to help you. Truly, there are legions of people whose job it is to be ‘there for you’ and they’re eager to take on any problem.

 
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What’s the worst?
Wonderful as it is, Nooth ain’t for everyone. If you wanna blend into the masses in a conveyor belt college that offers only the academic side, don’t come to Nooth. If you don’t like socialising, or like the idea of spending nights in the bar over cheap student beer, entertaining yourself and solving the problems of the world, don’t come to Nooth. If the idea of a familiar, friendly face at every corner freaks you out, don’t come to Nooth. For current students though, the worst thing about Maynooth is that one day, you are gonna have to leave.

Are the facilities [computers, health services, ATMs etc] up to scratch? Facilities on site are more than adequate, and the SU are active in persistently lobbying for improvements. Free, public computer rooms are dotted all around campus. At peak times (i.e. lunch, essay week) there may be queues, but these are generally pretty fast moving. Restrictions on Bebo.com have improved the service hugely. On campus, we have an ‘oh-so-lovely’ full-time nurse and a doctor who visits 2/3 days a week. Admittedly, waiting lists can be a little lengthy (talk to your local TDs about funding!!) but once you get in, the services are thorough, very friendly and completely confidential. On site counsellors can also deal with mental health issues, or are just there if you want to pop in for a chat! As are the chaplaincy team, who hail from a variety of different faiths. There are two shops on campus, which sell all the student staples (i.e. pot noodles, cheap chocolate and gallons of water), a bookshop (for both textbooks and lighter stuff) and an AIB branch. The ATM is generally well stocked, and plans to place another one in the bar are well advanced. Off campus, the recently opened shopping centre boasts a 24hr Dunnes (an absolute lifesaver) as well as chemists, Easons, acres of clothes shops and all the other usuals. Any problems that you may encounter during your college experience will see the various assistance departments tripping over themselves to help you. Truly, there are legions of people whose job it is to be ‘there for you’ and they’re eager to take on any problem.

 
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What's the grub like on campus? Any good value places to eat nearby?
The canteen is generally pretty good! They tolerate any amount of weird combinations, and always have the regulars; chips, freshly made sandwiches, soup etc. Prices are OK, with veggie options for 3 quid and a full dinner for less than 6. The Juicee Lucie Café offers cheap sambos, and delish smoothies with a nice, smiley service. O’Briens holds the awards for best hot choccie and coffee as well as sambos and wraps-yummy! Outside of campus, students tend to rely on 24hr Dunnes for cravings and post bar trips! The Roost does good grub, although theirs are more pricey dinners, and there are enough little side cafes to address every nibble attack.

What’s the social scene like around the campus? Decent college bars? Good atmosphere?
Undoubtedly the highlight of many a first year’s college experience, Maynooth offers a wide expanse of nightspots. The Union do regular EUR3 drink nights, as well as Bar extensions hosting bands such as The Revs, Republic of Loose, Aslan etc. Otherwise, there are table quizzes, theme nights, etc to keep you amused. The (newly renovated) bar is so lovely and cosy, and is a great place to meet up for chats before venturing out. The venue also allows for larger events to be hosted.

What kind of clubs and sports clubs/socs can you join?
The latest clubs and socs count numbered around 60, with everything from alternative health soc Chakras to Debating, Alt music, Amnesty, Media, dance and many political parties. And besides, if there isn’t a society to meet a particular niche, you can always establish one yourself! On the sports side, Noothian teams compete in many championships across soccer, gaelic, rugby and hurling for both the ladies and the gents. There are also opportunities to learn self-defence, yoga or take part in trampolining and outdoor pursuits.

 
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What about gym/sports facilities?
NUI Maynooth is proud to offer FREE gym member ship to all students. Membership of other campus gyms can be in excess of EUR300. In Nooth, it’s completely free, nada, nothing, zilch, saoire. Pretty cool, eh? The swimming pool is also newly renovated. Facilities are very modern, with a new full size, floodlit Astro-turf pitch, as well as 4 gaelic pitches, and one each for soccer and rugby. Changing rooms, a weights room and two indoor sports halls fully available for use by the students complete the NUIM sporting experience.

What's the story with accommodation?
As with most colleges, it varies between digs, on campus, or student houses and apartments. The Maynooth area is surrounded by estates and huge numbers of houses are available. Prices are generally competitive, although it’s important to also consider the additional costs of bills, utilities, food etc A certain proportion of on campus accommodation is set aside exclusively for first years. Failing this, Nooth is well served by Dublin Bus, Commuter Trains, Bus Eireann and nightlinks, making the commute a simple enough one. Given its central location, Maynooth is also easily accessed by road. While the commute to Maynooth is generally an easy one, if possible, the true college experience is best sampled living away from home. Given the choice between a commute and a house, the latter really should be encouraged.

 
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What’s the town/city like? Good atmosphere/nightlife? Any insider tips? Is there a lot to do there? Is it safe? Is it easy to get around?
Despite its size and status as a satellite town of Dublin, Maynooth has retained its own identity. The people are warm and quite welcoming, with the students making up a large portion of the population. Maynooth’s main street offers a long row of bars, ranging from quiet and cosy to mad dance floor, and somewhere in between. So whether it be The Roost, Brady’s, Caulfield’s, Fizz nightclub in the Glenroyal Hotel or the LA, there is a wide menu to choose from when heading out. There is also a strong likelihood that you’re gonna see someone you know, meaning that there’s always someone to walk you home or hold your hair out of your chips. Safety is not a major issue, although it is advisable to walk home in twos or more at night. However, the short cut to the train station, along the canal, is particularly badly lit, and has proved dangerous in the past.

What’s the cost of living? Is part-time work easy to come by?
Anywhere in particular that is known for hiring students?

Given its proximity and the good transport links to Dublin, there are many opportunities for part-time work. However, it’s crucial to get your applications in early. The cost of living is, I imagine, pretty much in line with the average, though Maynooth does offer huge savings on certain products in comparison with Dublin. Nightclub entry is generally free, and drinks can go for as little as EUR3 and shots for EUR2. Rent is reasonable, especially during the summer months when you can get a gorgeous room for just EUR35 a week. Living within a budget soon teaches you to re-assess your groceries list, with things like pasta, scones and milk proving cheap staples. Aldi and Lidl are also wonderful for cheap wine!

 
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What's the worst thing a new student can do?
A wonderful college experience awaits you in Maynooth and it could only be ruined by, a bad attitude. Three years will fly by, don’t go through it closed to new opportunities. You only, really, get one shot at the college experience, and the ones who, in my experience, have the most regrets are the ones who shyed away from new chances and challenges. The social scene is crazy, but thoroughly enjoyable and memories made will be long retained.

What's the best?
EMBRACE IT ALL WITH OPEN ARMS AND AN OPEN MIND

What advice would you offer new students?
Don’t forget why you’re there. Ultimately, you want to leave these few years with plenty of positives to top up your CV. That means Club and society involvement, travel, experimenting with new ideas and crazy decisions. But, it also means a good degree and decent prospects for future employment. You slaved and survived the leaving cert so you could enjoy these years, so don’t let yourself fall behind in your degree. Ensure that the academic side holds a high position in your list of priorities. But be warned, if you’ve chosen the right degree, ‘work’ is going to be a hell of a lot easier, more interesting and more accessible than ever before. Enjoy…

And finally. Any other useful stuff you would like to add?
GO ON THE GALWAY CYCLE! The biggest charity event of the year, in which almost EUR70,000 was raised for worthy causes last year. The cycle is a bit of an institution in Nooth, with past students coming back to resample the atmosphere. It is a totally unique event, in which a crew of very brave cyclists travel, through wind and rain, to Galway over 100 miles, and that’s only the first leg. Others accompany them as supporters, collectors and general flag-wavers, in what is usually the weekend of the year. Entertainment, madness and craic provided. Also, by way of encouraging the brains of the operation, NUIM offers a EUR1,000 scholarship, together with a place reserved on campus, for all students who achieve 500 points or more in the Leaving Cert. An interesting incentive for those aiming super high!

 
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