Here comes the summer


As we all start to prematurely pack our summer bags, Ronan O’Kelly looks at the trips that Irish students are taking for summer 2011

With another academic year drawing to a close, the shadows of exams and essays loom large over the campus. For many students, the brightest light at the end of this proverbial tunnel will be the promise of sunnier shores, new experiences and general mischief that comes with the annual summer holiday. Therefore, The University Observer scoured the campus to find out how students plan to spend those long-awaited four months of freedom.

The Working Holiday

The student’s working holiday has become an Irish institution, with thousands of young people choosing to bid farewell to the familiar, and set up a new (albeit short-lived) life in far-flung corners of the globe. For many planning to make the move, finding employment can be the single most pressing issue upon which the success or failure of their trip rests. With work becoming increasingly scarce, more students are choosing their destinations based on how healthy the country’s job market is.

Arts student, Brian Mooney, is planning a move to the seemingly recession-proof Canada. Asked about the likelihood of him getting a job over there, he says: “Very, very likely. My brother’s over [in Vancouver] working, and he said there’re loads of jobs, especially for Irish people.”

A Fortnight in the Sun

While the working holiday continues to prove a popular choice, there are many who feel that after a backbreaking year of college, a relaxing summer holiday is the best way to recuperate. Certain European resorts have become infamous havens for students who seek to leave their inhibitions at home and blow off some steam by the beach.

For his first trip outside the British Isles, English student, John O’Reilly, is going to one of Europe’s most infamous resorts, Santa Ponsa, in search of two weeks of drunken revelry. “We were going to go to Oxegen, and we just said ‘fuck it, we’ll save our money instead and go away,’” he says. “It’s not really a shopping kind of place, more like drinking and relaxing, so, looking forward to it.”

Humanitarian and Aid Work

While booze and debauchery have a somewhat timeless appeal, many students feel that the most rewarding way to spend the summer months is by replenishing some karma and giving back to those less fortunate. One such individual is Third year Mechanical Engineering student, Gareth Kavanagh, who is currently fundraising for a trip to Haiti as part of UCD’s Volunteers Overseas programme.

“We’re working in a kid’s sports and literacy camp, and we’re planning to teach them throughout the day, and then do construction work during the afternoon,” he says. “Ever since the earthquake, there’s a lot of work that needs to be done.”

“It’s my last opportunity before I leave college, so it’s now or never, basically. You’ve got to just take life by the balls – get involved in everything, that’s what college is about,” he says. “You never realise how, in later life, you’ll regret not doing something.”

Law and Economics student, Niamh Kenneally, is planning a trip to India with friends to travel and do humanitarian work, but is aware of some of the hazards involved in undertaking such a journey without the aid of a programme. “We haven’t decided where we’re going to go (in India) yet, because apparently it’s not that safe to go there.

“It’s to do something completely different. It’s not Thailand, or not inter-railing or whatever, you can do some volunteering as well, so you don’t feel like you just drank your way through the summer.”

Irish summer

For those who feel that a summer abroad doesn’t appeal, or simply don’t have the funding for such costly undertakings, this year’s Irish summer itinerary is looking extremely promising. While large music festivals such as Oxegen and Electric Picnic remain the highlights of many students’ plans, a large number of smaller festivals have emerged over the past few years that are beginning to draw in sizeable crowds.

Arts student, Emma McKee, is attending the annual Sea Sessions Surf and Music Festival in Bundoran, which has seen a steady increase in ticket sales since it first outing in 2008, primarily thanks to word of mouth. “One of my friends is organising it,” she says. “She was there last year and said it was brilliant, so we’re going up”.

A student’s summer is a sacred thing. With each passing academic year comes the realisation that, for many students, these may be their final opportunities to explore the world without any ties to such adult matters as mortgages and careers. So, whether it is at home or abroad, carousing or volunteering, it is clear that UCD students consider it important to make the most of those precious few months.