Ireland, our cream has turned sour
Galway is a much nicer place to be in the summer months. It is on the west coast of Ireland, so it is not because of the weather, nor is it a result of the increase in cultural celebrations and events (although, it must be said, that does help). The reason is simple: the students have, for the most part, gone home. They have absconded back into the arms of their doting parents who will once again cater for their every need.
Now that September has rolled around once more though, the inhabitants of the city will again be forced to endure the naïve and idiotic actions of a group of adults who, equipped with loans, grants and their parents’ money, have granted themselves a license to lead a hedonistic, irresponsible and ludicrous lifestyle for the next nine months at least.
First come the ‘Freshers’. As the label suggests, these are the fresh-faced, wet-behind-the-ears kids that have left home for the first time with the noble aim of bringing their education to the next level. Or so it seems. It is an exciting time, no doubt, for those who do manage to fly the nest and into the world. But don’t be fooled – they are anything but noble. And while they may be fresh, they are certainly not refreshing, for each year, the wave of bodies that follows is as dull, stale and predictable as the last.
Then you have the rest. The second years, last year’s ‘Freshers’, who strut around campus unwilling to stifle the desire to re-live the ‘glory’ of the previous year, spurred on by the empty qualifier that “nothing matters until final year anyway”. The final years, who know that they should behave better for the sake of their degree, but find themselves drawn in by the allure of the craic and reassured by the 40 per cent safety net that ensures a pass.
Engorged on alcopops, spirits, cheap cider, and who knows what else, grown men and women stumble and stagger from their glorified chicken coops and into the heart of the city, so that they can treat their eardrums to an aural assault, while attempting to dance in a dimly lit room. People actually pay money to enter these darkened cattle markets. Don’t ever forget that.
Taxi drivers have the front row seat as the inebriated entities are hurriedly ushered from establishments and the regurgitated spectacle unfolds. Pavement bedecked in multicoloured bile and other bodily fluids, men attempt to impress the high-heeled ladies that struggle to string together so much as a pace. Fights break out, food and rubbish find their home next to the splattered puke and the police attempt to make their presence felt. “They’re out every night of the week,” an affable taxi driver assures me. “You’re thinking, ‘do you do any reading at all?’”
The truth is, they don’t have to. Their recklessness, their gung-ho partying and complete lack of studying does not matter, for university lecturers will hand them grades on a plate. No one likes to see those pass-rates dwindle, after all.
Naturally, this horrific binge culture is not confined to the halls of student residence. It is a widespread ailment that has (always?) gripped wider Irish society (see blog by finishedatlast ), but it cannot be denied that among students, going to college carries with it an expectation to party. Indeed it is viewed as a rite of passage.
This is the future of Ireland. The cream of our crop has turned sour.
Special thanks to Thom Wilcockson for his fine male modelling.