Since my relatives decided to go there, I wanted to go to University College Cork. Seeing them go through their time living in the city I always felt that I would never get to that stage. That it was always out of reach. This feeling amplified when I got into Leaving Cert when I feared that I’ll have to repeat because I wasn’t smart enough. Or that autistic people never go to college, purely because I didn’t know anyone who did. Although I loved my six years in secondary school, Leaving Cert was hell and I did things I am not proud of. As I was getting nearer graduation, I just wanted to fast forward to September because I would be anywhere else and I would be happy because it wasn’t the Leaving Cert. On October 12th 2012, I went on an open day to UCC. I considered doing Arts because I wanted to study English. Looking at the other arts subjects and the college itself, I saw myself there in the future and it felt right.
I also discovered the course Arts International. It was exactly like Arts, except everyone in the course could study abroad in third year, no matter what subject you did. My brother went to America when I was in Junior Cert and my sister went to Scotland when I was in Leaving Cert. They loved it and as my mother says “it was the makings of them”. I always wanted to travel and I knew I’d need more time to develop as a person (which is also why I did Transition Year when I was 17).
I finished my exams on June 13th 2013. Two months later, shortly after my 20th birthday, I got my results. I got 435 points, which I knew was enough to get into UCC. The following Monday, the CAO offers came out. Arts International in UCC was offered to me and I accepted. I checked the number of points the course on the paper: 430. That made my success even sweeter.
I picked my subjects in arts: English, Sociology, Philosophy and Greek & Roman Civilisation. I moved into my college house a week before classes started. I got registered on the orientation day and got my student card. I met new people at my house. We had an orientation party. I got advice from my sister. Things were looking great.
I started college on September 16th 2013. My first class was Greek & Roman Civilisation. Shortly after, I met a girl in the UCC gift shop (which I’ll call her Mrs Potter). She was the first friend I ever made in college that stuck. We talked about Harry Potter and Korean dramas that day. I sat next to her in Greek & Roman since then.
I was a little nervous of what I had to learn, especially English. The timetable was misleading. I wasn’t registered to Blackboard. I joined tae kwon do and several societies (perhaps too many). I watched Iron Man 3 with a boy I liked in the sci-fi society. There was the Freshers Ball which was amazing fun.
Week 2 was not fun because I had laryngitis, which was painful and made it harder to socialise with new people. That week, I discovered the Mythological Society. They talked about myths in Marvel Comics. It was interesting. A few weeks later, I accidentally became first year rep for myth soc.
By October, my one friend Mrs Potter, I could only meet her at Greek & Roman. The boy I liked stopped hanging out with me. I was so lonely. That changed on the open day. Myth Soc had to promote themselves and I was roped in with the OCM (who I’ll call Pony Boy). We set up the stall together. We chatted, struggled to steal tables and we became friends. The following Thursday, he introduced me to his friend (who I’ll call Happy). I discovered that the three of us did Philosophy and we became “The Philosophy Three”. Happy also became my friend and I also sat next to him in Greek & Roman.
Since late 2012, I wanted to be a journalist. I was encouraged to join Motley magazine by my mother. My first article was about selfies and Snapchat. When I saw it published for the first time, I was so happy. As the months went on, I did more articles, learned a few lessons and even got to interview Elyar Fox. The editor loved my work and even wanted me to apply for the editorial team. I fell in love with journalism and I want to do it for the rest of my life.
I took opportunities, talked to people through societies. I even rose up the ranks to OCM and Events & Equipment Officer in Myth Soc. I went to screenings regularly at Sci-fi. I attended two anime conventions: Eirtakon in November and Kaizoku Con in March. My small group of friends became even stronger after helping move in to my 2nd (and much nicer) flat. I had fun times, went to a few parties, watched animes, played Cards Against Humanity, hung out in McDonalds at 11pm, became a tae kwon do fighter, and worked hard when needed.
College even made love my family more than I already did. I became more grateful for what my parents did to help get me here. Nobody expected a screaming 3 year old with autism to become this person in 2014. On my month off, I studied with my sister every day in the library and sometimes during the year we would eat pizza together and watch Graham Norton at her house or my house.
So the question is this: what does college mean to me? It means EVERYTHING! It made me more confident, happier and smarter. it gave me friends, experience, and this is the best thing to ever happen to me and I am so grateful for it all.
One year down, three to go.