The other day, I mentioned to someone in the pub that I graduated from Trinity College Dublin back in 1998. His response? “Wow, I was ten then.”
Now, I quite like the grey in my stubble, and references to my advanced years rarely bother me. However, there was one difference with this comment: the guy I was talking to wasn’t just a stranger in a pub. He was a classmate.
That’s right: after a gap of fourteen years, I’m heading back to college. Specifically back to Trinity. My goal? To study for an MSc in Interactive Digital Media, a one-year, full-time course. It’s been a strange experience so far; nostalgia and novelty in equal measure.
My first four years in Trinity were a time of change. The college was getting wired up to the Internet and making the most of the nascent boom as it fundraised for new buildings. Over the course of my degree, I made lifelong friends, got my first email address, and found myself a new place to live. I settled in Dublin, got myself a job, and have never been away for long since then.
Even so, reentering education has offered up a lot that’s familiar. Freshers Week, with its host of society kiosks in Front Square, is much the same as ever. The Sports Centre is new since I was a student, but seeing as my fees paid for it and I’ve been using it as a graduate, it’s not exactly novel. All the strangeness, in fact, comes from the fact that I’m in a very different position to my former student life.
Let’s not mince words here: in my class, I’m the oldest, by a good few years. Most of the rest of the class are a few years at most from their graduation. They seem like a great crowd though, and there seems to be a common eagerness to develop an esprit de corps. Given that a lot of the work we’ll be doing is team-based, that can only be positive.
So I doubt I’m going to feel like an outsider here. Even so, most of my fellow postgrads still have the habits of education ingrained in their heads. How much of that has survived a decade and more of a working life? I’m about to find out.