So why come to UCD? Well I loved it so much I came here twice! I mean there are so many choices out there it gets a little overwhelming, especially this time of year. However, I’m afraid the bad news is this doesn’t change when you’re coming to college for the first time or the second, as is the case for myself! Hopefully I can give you some personal experience.

I came to UCD all the way back in 2008 to study B.A Joint Honours in History and Politics and I thoroughly enjoyed my time in the University. Enjoyed being the operative word, it’s a blur now to be honest! However I never felt like I was done with my education and I never felt like I had found my niche or my career path, not at 18 or at 22 when I graduated. A feeling with which many I’m sure are familiar. I have always had a huge passion for science and animals so when I graduated I found myself drifting closer to the idea of Veterinary Medicine. I began researching, doing placement, checking my options and it all pointed back to UCD, I couldn’t escape the place!

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But why did I come to UCD originally? Well If I’m perfectly honest, my course was here and it was very far away from anywhere I was used to but I really did very little research, I just showed up one day and hoped for the best. Hardly a great start but something we’ve all done! But then again, the things that brought me here at 17 and at 26 are very different. So, up I came from Limerick to UCD. It’s huge, there’s a lot of people, it’s a big place, there’s a sensory overload in some ways and it’s easy to feel buried. That’s exactly how I felt at first to tell the truth.

Like a lot of people I was sinking a bit in my first year, I wasn’t sure if this was for me or how do find my place here. However, what seemed like a downside actually turned out to be an advantage. UCD is so big that there’s literally something for everyone in this place. No matter who you are or where you come from, there’s someone who is right there with you and some place where you can go and explore new avenues and lifestyles. That’s UCD’s greatest strength. I took a chance and joined some clubs and societies and never looked back. That’s my advice to anyone in UCD or any college, get stuck in! You get as much out of a university experience as you put into it. When I was nearing the end of my degree and felt that I perhaps wasn’t in the right career path I was able to call up the resources of the university, to help me figure out my next step. My student advisors, my lecturers, careers staff and faculty administration. They helped me explore my options and gave me the tools to choose the career that was right for me.

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So why UCD the second time around? Don’t get me wrong, I had looked elsewhere, Bristol, Edinburgh, London, all were on the cards when I was looking to do Veterinary Medicine. However none of these could hold a candle to what I already knew of UCD. When I was thinking of coming back I got in touch with the Vet school programme office and they gave me all the information I needed to know, they helped guide me through loan applications, fee payments, placement, preparation for the course. They put me in touch with mature students, vet clinics and graduates so I could find out how to transition into being a student again. All this was incredibly above and beyond help for someone who was admittedly anxious about coming back to college again at the tender age of 26.

Walking in the door, with a wholly unrelated degree under your belt and most of your class just out of their leaving cert, it’s extremely daunting! But UCD and its staff and students were there to help me every step of the way. Mature students offering their advice about coming back to college (It’s so much harder to study as you’re older!), lecturers discussing alternative learning techniques, veterinary societies organising events, trips, talks and nights out. It’s difficult to not find somewhere you belong and someone to help get you there. Especially in Veterinary medicine, which is a tight-knit community where each year helps those below and your lecturers are your clinicians. Besides you can’t help but bond with your class, animal handling and dissection has a way of doing that!

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So what can UCD offer you? It gave me a chance back in 2008 and I thrived and it welcomed me back in 2015 and it’s the best decision I’ve ever made. It was extremely comforting coming back to a university where a place was readily available for me and where every effort was made to make me feel home again. In short, UCD is the place to go if you’re not sure of what you want to do, if you are sure and everything in between! They have a way of helping you find where you need to go and they can help you get there. For me they helped me figure out what I really wanted to do with my life as I had no idea at 17! Along the way it was the place that allowed me to make friends for life, to try new things and learn new skills and to form professional relationships I’ll have throughout my career.

UCD is more than just an educational experience, it’s an experience of life, for life.

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