As I sit here tearfully jotting down my final reflections as a post graduate student, I look back fondly at what’s changed since we started together back in February.

Well firstly, we were teased with a mere three scant weeks in the Innovation Academy in UCD, with the abundance of campus resources only a few steps away only to be sent abruptly home…and I had only just managed to navigate my way to the O’Brien Centre from the N11 car park with absolute confidence. We won’t mention the fifty quid I had just forked out for said parking space. The benefits were short lived. 

We have endured three very unconventional modules together and were, to a point, encouraged to behave like children. We have been entertained and coached by various fireside chatters and permitted to ask all sorts of questions without any judgement being passed. With like minded people in similar situations, it was a safe space. Not to mention moving from the super cool Shackleton Lounge where one was surrounded by an infinity of post it notes in a variety of colours, white boards on wheels, felt tip pens in every shade (including pastels), super huge sticky notes and craft boxes filled with crepe paper, glue sticks and blu tak, to being launched in to the Brightspace virtual classroom. 

I can only speak for myself but I for one was sh*tting it. I can now confidently say that I am a master on zoom, brightspace breakout rooms, and all things screen sharing. However, eighteen weeks ago, I thought ‘zoom’ simply meant ‘brief’, ‘speedy’, ‘rapid’. As I cast a memory back to module one when I was nominated to contact our ‘host’ to glean some extra information from her for us to get moving on our project, she responded with glee, ‘it’ll have to be a zoom call’. I relayed to the team that it would be a brief/speedy/rapid phone call, at which, one of my pals kindly pulled me aside and discreetly imparted that zoom was actually a cloud conference calling platform. Eh morto! You have to remember too, my pal had only been my pal for two very short weeks at that point and also a tech wizard-doh! I laughed it off and relayed the story back to one of our facilitators. She responded, ‘Oh I thought a zoom call was a brief/speedy/rapid phone call. Ha! There was comfort in knowing that I wasn’t alone on that one! 

We have had virtual presentations both in groups and solo, (even presenting virtually doesn’t curb the nerves any more), each of which were recorded for anyone in the class to access and watch back. How about no thanks! Particularly after the last one, where my emotions got the better of me and I burst into a blubbering mess into my computer screen as my fellow students looked on with mirth from their little virtual boxes. I have since been referred to as ‘Gwyneth’ by more than one person in the class, which leads me to believe that it has been discussed somewhat. (If you haven’t seen Gywenth Paltrow accepting her Oscar back in 1999-ah FFS you’re too young again-Google it!) Anyway, I’d like to think that I didn’t quite reach that level of cringe. I did, however, win our ‘Endeavour Award’ for commitment, dedication and endeavour. I was still muted when my peers and I voted and the winner announced. So really, the proper blubbering didn’t start until after that! My, if the walls could talk. 

So, now we’ve been cast back out to the ‘real (not really real) world’ of our living rooms as we wait for the covid restrictions to ease so that we can finally go for that ice breaker pint we were all promised twenty weeks ago. Some of us will be exploring entrepreneurism, others, the jobs market, and many, both. Meanwhile we await the announcement of our forthcoming graduation…whichever form that takes. Ciao UCD, you’ve been swell!

Rachel Thornburgh – Opinion Writer

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