My First Year Adventure in Trinity College – by a blind student

My first year in Trinity College Dublin has been a learning curve for me as well as for the staff I have met. There is a very welcoming atmosphere in Trinity with each new student being invited into the community. This was a very nice way to start my year, feeling that I belonged before I had begun my course. Despite the warmth and pleasant people greeting me, my hands were still a bit clammy as I entered the office of the Head of my Department for my interview. He is a nice and quiet man who and was not at all frightening. The only question that throws me off was what I thought Specialised Teaching would involve, but I made up some manner of an answer and I was accepted on to the course I wanted. The course is Theology and Biblical Studies, which is fascinating and extremely important in today’s political, social and religious situation. It becomes slightly clearer why certain fights break out between various groups, but it showed me yet again how humans do not learn from history. If we looked in to our past and the similar fights that took place in days gone by, we could start to resolve differences.
There are two aspects to Theology; one is philosophical and the other sociological.

Both angles still confuse me, even after a year of studying them, and lecturers patiently answering questions. However, the Biblical side of the course deals with ancient history, this dates far back long before Christ. I never thought I would consider Jesus as an extremely modern person, but I do now.

With the new styles of learning at college and the interesting subjects, came new challenges. These included mobility, transport, making new friends, attempting to understand lectures and prescribed readings and generally getting used to a new life.
Before starting in college it is vital to note that it is not partying all the time, if one keeps up the work it makes it easer in the long run. I found getting materials a very difficult task, it would have been far too much to ask for all things in Braille, but a little here and there was important as that is my preferred way of lot of the time I got my materials sent on line after much pushing from me, my advice to anyone starting college is to keep asking and hold your ground. Because if you let up and stop asking, whoever is meant to look after you will think you are alright, you must shout loud for what you need.
I found that “to fail to plan is planning to fail”
Making friends is easy enough, but if you have a visual impairment you really have to make an extra effort. Everyone is nervous starting in college anyway, if they are unfamiliar with visual impairment they tend to hold back more, I think just because they do not know how to approach you. So try to make the first move, I turned around to someone on my first day waiting for a lecture, I told him my name and shook hands, we are now very great friends. You have to reach out, break through shyness, because that will leave you lonely in college.

Getting around college was very hard for me, and I was half tempted to give it all up by the third week, as I found the work far too hard. It still seems that way now, but if I had given up I would not have the nice friends I have now, we even study in groups to try and make the readings at least semi understandable.

Transport and independent mobility are my on-going battles; I want transport more accessible for all people with and without disabilities.
On the second night of my course we had to watch a film, which ended very late. I asked a friend to walk me to the Dart station where I caught the last Dart home. This Dart did not announce the station so I counted the stops to my station. When I had leapt off I rang my Mum to pick me up.
She said that she was on the station and could not see me anywhere. She went to the next station hoping that I had only gone one stop more, the station master put the cameras on around a couple of stations. I was not to be found.
It turned out after a long investigation that I was hidden behind the frame of a lift shaft being built! I eventually shouted
out and a man who heard me nearly died with the fright, but kindly took me to where Mum could find me. By the time I got home I had been rained on, it was midnight, and I had a nine o’clock lecture the next day.
Even if you start your college life off like this, do not give up it is all part of the learning.

I think the lessons for the year are …Always expect the unexpected……. And let’s get all stations announced on the Dart!