One of the last stops on my NUIG campus tour was to the Quadrangle or the Aula Maxima. The building is the cornerstone of the university, founded in 1845 as part of the Education Act passed by Queen Victoria. During its formative years, the university was meant to be attended by 100 students, but its first attendees numbered 63. The Gothic style architecture of the building makes it impose itself on the viewer as its gray façade blends into the green foliage around it, wrapped round by growing green ivy. In honor of its patroness, the college was first called Queens College, Galway, 1845-1858, as mentioned in one of the university’s original archive documents housed in the Special Collection Section of the library. The document itself was accompanied by a brochure, originally written in Irish, but this brochure was later revised to be bilingual in 1960. The bilingualism of the document was a result of the university extension projects of that time, and the new building constructions were built to accommodate 6,000 students, over the stretch of 200 acres of land. The legacy of the expansionist vision of the university is present up to the present day. To date, the university is home to 17,000 students, of which over 2,000 are international representing 92 countries around the world. The extent of NUIG’s growth over the centuries has made it a hub for scientific, intellectual, and cultural exchange, which is at all times manifested in the vibrant student life of the campus. I’m glad to have the opportunity to be a part of this exchange and focus my time and energy on experiencing Ireland to the fullest. There is surely more excitement headed my way and I’m going headlong to meet it!
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