MUN has no borders - Semester abroad in Dublin, Ireland
I just woke up one day in a different city, a different country, at the other side of the world...
Born and raised in Mexico City, I have been involved with MUN since I started being a teen. MUN caught my heart not only because I found a passion of mine, but also because I found a family; a wonderful group of cool (but also kinda nerdy) kids who played being a diplomat once a week. When I started the University in Germany I decided it was time to try something new and was reluctant to go back to MUN… “A new era was starting”, that is what I used to say. However I might have also been afraid to go back to something I loved, but with different people, in a different, more professional atmosphere….and also at the other side of the world.
Time passed and at the end I could not resist the temptation and went back to MUN in Mannheim. I met wonderful people and I can honestly say it is a decision I will never regret. It was like having a bit of home in a completely new city for me. Two years passed, incredibly fast I should add, and soon I was exploring another city: DUBLIN
I decided to spend my semester abroad at an ancient, vibrant and magical college: Trinity College Dublin.
There are a lot...believe me A LOT of societies at Trinity...so was I about to spend another Semester surrounded by MUN people?
I was unsure at first...but when I realized that there was no “MUN” society, but a SOFIA one instead, I could not resist and approached the stand during Freshers Week; this is what I learned: SOFIA stands for Society For Foreign Affairs and is much more than MUN.
I talked with Alice Kearns, SOFIA´s current president and she gave me total insider’s info into this incredible society:
SOFIA started five years ago. Before that the Politics Society was the only one tackling political issues but since it did not have the international approach many students were looking for, SOFIA was born. Today SOFIA is known not only in Trinity but also all around Dublin!
Societies at Trinity get funding from the University but are also encouraged to be creative and find different ways to get more resources. Most societies have a member fee; most fees do not exceed the 5 euros, as is SOFIA’s case and you get a card proving you are now a member. SOFIA exceeds the expectations from the very beginning and gives you a “Passport card” with a lot of discounts (including Wagamamas!!) as well as a goodie bag with more discounts and surprises. SOFIA is also funded by the Irish Tourism Board, how cool is that? The money is then used for Guest Speaker reception which usually includes wine and food, the passport cards and TrinMUN of course (we will talk more about this later). However it is important to highlight, that SOFIA does not tend to use members fees to fund TRINMUN.
If you are part of this Society and like to attend MUN Conferences then you can end up going to OXIMUN, LIMUN, EIREMUN and Cambridge. In the past they have also visited Berlin, the conferences SOFIA attends pretty much depends on their members. A poll is posted on Facebook and if about six people decide to go, a group will be formed.
In order to prepare and motivate new members to go to MUN conferences (but also just for fun), a simulation is done every two weeks approaching different topics. There was even a Stars Wars Crisis Cabinet while I was there, which was organized with help of the Gamers Society.
Besides MUN, SOFIA also has a lot of guest speakers, from which at least 3 were ambassadors during my trimester in Dublin! A member of the committee either goes in person to the embassies or emails the ambassadors who then get back to SOFIA. But since SOFIA has already a very good reputation in Dublin, a lot of them know them already and it is getting a lot easier to get them come to Trinity.
SOFIA even organizes a wonderful event called: AMBASSADORS BALL!
It all started as “Networking Breakfast” about 3 years ago but it now developed into a black tie event. This year’s edition includes a wine reception, a 3 meal course in Trinity´s beautiful dining hall and party at one of Dublin's most chic venues! So you get to drink, eat and dance with ambassadors all over the world!
SOFIA also collaborates with many societies on campus, I already gave the Gamers example, which was new this year! They are BFF´s with the Political Society, they organized events like movies and milkshakes, but also parliamentary sessions on the future of Europe.
Debates with the Historical Society also take place and they approach topics like the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and the question of whether or not to negotiate with terroristst.
In order to catch up with so many events, SOFIA sends weekly informing about the events that are going to take place that week, they also have posters all over campus and a strong social media presence. But most importantly they recruit members during fresher’s week, in order to do this they prepare for MONTHS and have several events per day during that week: this is this years program:
For the very first time SOFIA organized a trip to Madrid during reading week to relax and stay away from debating and drafting. Members enjoyed the beautiful city with its museums, tapas and sangrias! They also went to the Spanish embassy, talked to the ambassador and had a reception there. A few tours were organized during the trip to do some sight-seeing and meet new friends! Another experiment this year is to go to Strasbourg together with University College Dublin and be part of the European Young Parliament Event!
Alice's favorite Event is TrinMUN, which she started last year!
She thought it was weird that Dublin, being an important capital in Europe, did not have its own conference. Together with the help of really engaged people last year, it finally happened and it was a success! Even the US Ambassador was there.
So get ready for this year's version!
As you have seen SOFIA deeply cares for its members, so it is no surprise that it won the Societies Choice Award, for the Best Society at College, CONGRATS!
I personally loved SOFA because of how open and friendly they are, I also met some of my best friends in Ireland there and went to the best parties thanks to this society. One more time it was like having a piece of home in an unknown city. Just close your eyes...and believe...MUN has no borders.