International Students: Socialising in the Era of Covid

By Liam Grugan / July 24, 2020

Early September nightlife in Dublin is typically marked by riotous crowds of first-years struggling to get through club doors. In the era of Covid, however, “Freshers Week” and other pivotal social events will be forced to adapt. Gone are the days of packed dance floors and “get to know you” parties. Gone, too, are the long lines caused by newcomers tagging onto the night’s last Luas for the first time. While Irish students may have the ability to return home for weekends, international students face a greater challenge. For international students, socialising in the era of Covid will likely be marked by virtual events and smaller, more intimate in-person settings. Specifically, they will be forced to take greater initiative than previously required to get to know their peers. After you’ve settled into your accommodation, here are a few things to consider that might make the process seem a little less burdensome:

1. You’re Not Alone

Everyone is adjusting to this in the same way you are. Sure, previously you would have been able to connect to your fellow students in a more organised way. But it’s important to keep in mind that all students are on an even playing field starting out. With the exception of some Irish students, not many people will have friends among their classmates going into college. Just be confident, put yourself out there, and you’re bound to find people to befriend.

2. Seek Out Opportunities

This may seem overly intuitive, but, just like you’re putting yourself out there, others are doing the same. They may be reaching out to you individually, saying hi in the stairwell, or posting into groups. Take these opportunities and respond openly: you may even find that others are facing the same hurdles as you are. Having even just one go-to friend can make an enormous impact on your general happiness.

3. Don’t Write People off

Everybody wants to be cool. As a result, the instinct to prioritize the more “popular” friends is very common and absolutely natural. But, as every student soon finds, it’s better to have one authentic friend than loads of artificial ones. Don’t cast aside people just because you want to social climb. Similarly, don’t fall into the trap of putting others down just to prop yourself up. You’ll get much further by being genuine with the people you meet than trying to be someone you’re not. 

4. Don’t Rush into the Dating Scene

Just about everyone has the daydream of finding an amazing relationship at the outset of college. I hate to tell you this, but it just doesn’t happen like that. Many students try to hurl themselves into the dating world and end up developing a negative reputation early on. Just be cool. Don’t push it if there’s nothing there. Prioritize being confident and comfortable in your own skin first. Go at a pace that’s right for you and I promise it will all work out.

5. The World Exists Outside of Clubs

If you still find yourself craving a bit of fun, there are ways to “party” in the absence of crowds. Learn a couple card games and have some friends over for a relaxed poker night. Buy a novelty drinking game and invite a few people from your floor to play. If you have access to a tv or projector, suggest a movie night with some kids from your course. Many tourist attractions in Dublin, such as the Guinness Storehouse and the Jameson Distillery, are opening back up for tours. Consider suggesting these, a day trip, or even just a walk around town to a couple fellow internationals. Head down to Sandycove and try a 99 from Teddy’s Ice Cream. Plan a picnic at St. Stephen’s Green. Take the Dart to Howth and spend your day walking by the water. Go on a food tour to find the city’s best spice bag. Reserve a table at one of Dublin’s reopened pubs. Even if you can’t dance the night away, the city has endless fun options for you to explore. Find some fellow adventurous spirits, get out there, and see what Dublin has to offer.

About the author

Liam Grugan

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