Media Studies student Aoife Nolan gives us a peek into life in NUI Maynooth. And it’s not all priests and countryside don’tcha know?
Introduce your university.
‘So…you’re thinking about Maynooth? You’ve decided to become a priest then? LOL JK, I know you’re not becoming a priest -or are you?’
This is just one of the many things that haters will throw at you if you tell them that you’re considering coming to Maynooth. The priest one is a favourite, as is ‘Maynooth? Isn’t that just for country kids?’ or ‘Maynooth? Could you not get the points for Trinity?’
I’m here to tell you what we all know already: haters gonna hate. NUI Maynooth is quite possibly the best University out there. Seriously.
There are a massive amount of courses available in the University and state of the art facilities. And the fact that it’s a small enough place means you have the added bonus of the comfort of familiar faces. Not to forget that Maynooth is Ireland’s ONLY University town, which means that everywhere you turn there are students.
What’s the best thing about your college/university?
The best thing about going to NUI Maynooth is the fact that you pretty much have the run of the entire town. Everything is within walking distance of the University. The longest you would ever have to walk from any of the major housing estates around town is about thirty minutes. This is REALLY handy on nights out, as if you DO decide to get a taxi you won’t be completely fleeced.
There is this myth that Maynooth is in the back arse of nowhere. WRONG. There are regular buses and trains into Dublin City centre, and while there are no midweek Nitelinks home it will only cost you about €50 for a taxi after a night out, should you chose to party in Dublin (between five people like)
It’s also a fairly commutable town too, with Bus Eireann running regular services to the West, and back to Dublin and beyond.
Like I mentioned earlier, although numbers are rising every year, Maynooth is still a relatively small University, and unless you’re a total hermit a bit of familiarity is nice when you’re walking through the campus or town, especially if you’ve just moved away from home for the first time and looking to make new friends.
What’s the worst?
The worst thing about going to Maynooth is the fact that the place is in a constant state of expansion. Essentially half of the campus at any given time is a construction site. It’s completely worth it when the building gets finished, but it’s a bit of a pain trying to manoeuvre around it all, and avoiding getting flattened by a construction truck.
Ironically, for the past year the library has been one of the loudest places on campus due to the ongoing construction work on it. On this front though, building is due to be finished soon, and you’ll have the benefit of a massive brand new library (all plans are on the University website if you’ve got a lot of time on your hands).
What’s the local area like?
The local area is pretty class. We’ve got Tesco, Dunnes, Aldi, and Lidl all within walking distance of each other, which means that if you can’t find cheap alcohol in one, you’ll surely find it in the next.
There are four major places to go out in in Maynooth town. O’ Neills, Mantra, Brady’s and The Roost (Save this one for a Thursday night, and you won’t be disappointed), as well as The S.U bar, and a few quieter places around the town.
Unfortunately, there is no cinema, or any other alternative to a pub for that matter in Maynooth town, but there is a bus that will have you in Liffey Valley in about a half hour.
There are also clubs and societies on campus that run regular activities and events that you can take part in.
The Maynooth locals are generally fairly friendly towards students, probably because they get most of their dollah from us, just bare in mind though that if you’re constantly noisy or causing trouble they MAY call your landlord on you, and that can never be a good thing.
What about accommodation? Is it expensive?
Accommodation around Maynooth is generally reasonable. Having said that though, there are landlords out there who are chancers.
Don’t be afraid to shop around, or even bargain the landlord down. Play hardball. Just remember; they’re a LOT more interested in you (more specifically your money) than you are in their wannabe crack den. (Even if you really like the aforementioned crack-den don’t let them know it).
There are LOADS of estates around the town chock full of students, so you really shouldn’t have trouble finding somewhere. Rent can range from between €60 to €120 a week, depending on the house.
I’d suggest that you start looking early though, as the later you leave it the less likely you are to find somewhere really decent. If you ever have any trouble with finding accommodation or if by some misfortune you’re being completely ripped off, or treated terribly by a landlord, the accommodation office in the University are really great with helping, and resolving issues.
I should also mention here too that there is campus accommodation available for students. It’s quite pricey for a room (€80-€105 per week depending on where you get), but you’re literally three minutes from the main lecture halls, and especially in first year, it’s a really great place to meet new people.
I will say this though, if you value silence, peace and quiet, avoid campus living like the smelly person nobody wants to sit beside. Students tend to get excited at the littlest things and drunk at pretty much every minor national, social or personal event – both of which lead to noise, which means no sleep for you.
What’s the cost of living like?
It’s quite cheap to live in Maynooth. Most things are geared towards students. There is a lot of choice supermarket wise for you to do your shopping, so it’s easy to shop around for the best offers.
You can easily have a good night out for less than €10. If you buy your drink before hand and walk in and out of town (not as difficult as it sounds) you’ll have enough money for chips on the way home.
Everywhere is generally free (except for Mantra, but they sometimes have special deals on), and the S.U bar do a special offer on Mondays that all drinks are €3 all day. It’s easy enough to live the student life in Maynooth!
Is part-time work easy to come by?
This is the problem with having so many students in the same area; everyone is constantly on the lookout for work. Having said that though, there are a load of towns within a short bus distance of Maynooth, so if you can’t find something in the town, it wouldn’t be a bad idea to broaden your search a little bit!
What are the campus facilities like?
Campus facilities are generally good. There is one ATM on campus, which rarely breaks, and many more in the town (which is literally five minutes away), and a student bank linked to the A.I.B in town.
There are five public access computer rooms (PACR) in which computers are generally available, you’ve got to be quick though finding a computer at exam time though, and around major essay weeks, as they go fast. They’re free to use, and if you want to print stuff off you just buy printer card, and top it up as you go along.
There are also printing facilities in the foyer of the library, and a Student Union shop with printing and photocopying available at reasonable prices.
If you’re studying Media, Computer science, Physics or Maths, there are also designated Mac labs on campus that you can use too, free from Arts students.
The library is generally well equipped, but quite small, which means that it’s often quite difficult to find a seat. Generally a no- go area around exam time, unless you are feeling really guilty/dedicated and are there at 8am when it opens. There is free WiFi all over campus too for students.
What’s the food like? Is there a good variety? Is it expensive?
There are a lot of options for food on campus. The new canteen only opened this year and there is a lot of variety in food, and it’s generally well priced too.
Chill is a great place to go for a coffee, and they do the most AMAZING diabetes inducing crepes (Please note that this has not actually happened to anyone- yet). It’s very reasonably priced, and the people that run it are only lovely.
There’s also a Bewleys stand in the Arts block for coffee and cake, as well as vending machines, an O’Briens sandwich bar, and a brand new Costa coffee above the canteen, which is called Phoenix- as chosen by students.
I will warn you though, it has been known for students to spend HOURS people watching and generally procrastinating in the Costa/Phoenix area…you have been warned.
What kind of sports facilities are there?
There are two sports halls on campus, a fully equipped gym and weights room (free to all students), astro-turf, playing pitches, a swimming pool on South campus, and links to the golf club at the local Carton house.
If you’re one of those people who count pool as a sport there are also pool tables and possibly a dart board in the S.U bar.
The clubs and societies on campus (most notably dance, trampoline, badminton, fencing, yoga and Frisbee) have classes running fairly frequently at discounted rates, or quite often free if you’re a member. There is something for everyone.
Are there a broad range of clubs and societies?
Whatever you’re into, there is a club or society for you on campus.
From Harry Potter Soc, to Cuallact na Gaeilge, to Saint Vincent DePaul, Yoga, Ultimate Frisbee, Literary and Debating back to Juggling, TedSoc, FemSoc, MediaSoc, Disney society, Anthropology society, to the sports teams you will find something of interest (I could list off every society here, but I’ve to keep to a reasonable word count, I’m not trying to bulk up a college essay…)
I would strongly recommend getting involved. I made some of my best friends in college through societies; they’re a great way to meet like minded people in the massive sea of people that is University.
It can be a bit daunting at first, as it may seem a bit clique-y but seriously, stick with it and don’t be afraid to speak up and go to events.
What’s the story with the college/local bar? Is there a good atmosphere? Is it cheap?
I mentioned the bars in town earlier, so I’ll use this bit to speak about the S.U bar on campus. The bar is generally well priced and generally has good drinks specials on. Any sport (major or otherwise) can be seen in the bar, and there is frequently live music and events on here too. Interest in the S.U bar has dwindled over the last few years, but keep an eye out for the nights that there are bar-exs on… the place is usually hopping on these nights, not to be missed on Halloween, “Christmas day”, or the Beach Party at the end of the year. It’s a lovely spot to sit with a drink though on a nice day.
What advice would you offer to new students? For example, what’s the worst thing a new student can do? What’s the best?
For new students, the best advice that I could give would be to get involved.
Get involved with your class, don’t be afraid to stand for class rep, or speak to the person sitting beside you in that 9am lecture that nobody actually wants to be at.
Get involved with a club or society. You’ll meet the best people at this, and it will only do your social life a favour.
Join something that you’ve never thought of before, like juggling or fencing, you might be pleasantly surprised. Attend events, they’re a great way to bond with people, and if they’re run by a society the likelihood of free pizza and wine is quite high.
Get involved with student politics. Maybe leave this until second or third year, but again, it’s a great way to meet people and contribute to the way your college is run, be it as running for a position in the Students Union, or joining someone’s campaign team, DO IT.
Also, always return your library books on time. The fines are redonkulous, and sneak up on you like a ninja. Before you know it, your day loan book is three days overdue, and you owe about €8 in a fine (think of how much cheap alcohol that can get you and it puts it into perspective)