Coca Cola, The King Of Christmas Advertising

Holidays are coming!  We’ve all seen them, and around this time of year it’s almost impossible to avoid them.  Around this festive period every single business and company are fighting it out to try and create the top Christmas advertisement of the year. Companies throw thousands upon thousands into their advertising for the Christmas period in a bid to attract the most attention to their company or product. However, no matter how good the advertisement or how hard they try there is always one advertisement that sticks out at the top. That of course being the Coca Cola Christmas advertisement.

HD5

Many of us mainly associate the beginning of the festive period when the first Coca Cola Christmas Ad airs on the TV. For many people Coca Cola is the brand most associated with the Christmas period, this may be down to the fact they have been creating iconic Christmas advertisements since 1920.

The first ever Coca Cola Christmas campaign goes all the way back to 1920 when the red Santa clause first made an appearance in magazine advertisements. However this advertisement is very different from Christmas advertisements that Coca Cola are very famous for today. The famous Coca Cola Santa Claus we see later on in Coca Colas Christmas campaigns doesn’t resemble the one used way back in 1920.

HD8

In 1931 Coca Cola set out to re-invent their Christmas campaign, so they then approached the D’Arcy advertising agency where the Iconic red Santa we see today was born and was created by artist Haddon Sundblom for the 1931 ‘Thirst has No Season’ campaign. This was essentially the first influential Christmas ad by Coca Cola attracting a lot of attention turning it into a classic holiday brand. Haddon Sundbloms perception of the famous Santa Claus created the popularity surrounding the Coca Cola Christmas campaigns, increasing anticipation of their Christmas ads each year.

HD6

It is sometimes underestimated how influential coca cola have been over the years with their Christmas campaigns, their perception of the iconic red Santa Claus created by Sundblom very much painted a clear image of people’s perception of the Santa Claus that all children see today.

Sundblom created various advertisements of his iconic Santa Claus over several decades, establishing Coca Cola as one of the main festive brands. His last ever advertisement came in 1964. For decades after his last piece Coca Cola advertisements featured designs of the Santa Claus based on Sunbloms vision. Over the years Coca Cola have incorporated various other Christmas advertisements but in 1993 the Coca Cola polar bears made an appearance in their Christmas campaign.  The famous Coca Cola polar bears have been about for some time they first were seen in magazine advertisements in 1922.

HD7

In 1993 The Coca Cola polar bears were brought back to life for a Christmas campaign by Ken Stewart who got the idea for the polar bears from his Labrador puppy that resembled a polar bear. Stewart brought the idea of the campaign to the animation company Rhythm & Hues who brought the animation of the Polar bears into the world and now the Coca Cola polar bears are one of their most famous advertising campaigns used by Coca Cola. Although they have been used by Coca Cola for nearly a hundred years they never featured in their Christmas campaign until 1993. It took over 12 weeks for the ‘Northern Lights’ campaign to be created and drawn up, for the advertisement to first be aired. In 2013 the polar bears yet again made a return to the Christmas advert with the ‘Open Happiness’ Christmas campaign with a short film created by Ridley Scott showing the popularity of the famous Coca Cola Polar Bears.

It is pretty obvious that these famous campaigns by Coca Colas have really established them as one of the main seasonal brands around the Christmas period. The creativity of their campaigns and the art involved has essentially created a vision of the certain aspects of the holiday itself. The campaigns in the past have set in stone Coca Cola’s position as a holiday brand, leaving people with the excitement of waiting to see their campaigns each year, and it is no surprise that their current campaign of the ‘Holidays are Coming’ trucks are also such a success.

HD9

The bright red Coca Cola Christmas trucks were first introduced in 1995 as part of the first ‘Holidays are Coming’ TV advertisements created by George Lucas. To many when they first appear on our screens it marks the start of the festive period. The Holidays are Coming trucks are so popular they are broadcast to over 100 countries around the Christmas period making it the most widely used Christmas advertisement in history. In 2001 the trucks were used to bring back Sundbloms iconic Santa Claus imagine by having it featured in the 2001 advertisement on the side of the Coca Cola Christmas trucks incorporating the influence of the Santa Claus image created by Coca Cola. The holidays are coming campaign is such a massive success for Coca Cola that it is still the same campaign we see today. The advertisement is so popular to the Christmas period that they are even sent out to do tours of various countries attracting many visitors to go catch a glimpse and get pictures with the world famous trucks.  Once we see that advertisement with those red trucks, Christmas has well and truly begun.

 

Hugh Dornan is a final year BSc in Communication Management & Public Relations student at Ulster University. He can be found at: LinkedIn – https://www.linkedin.com/in/hugh-dornan-60376a14b/

 

Happy Blogmas

It’s the most wonderful time of the year– well to me it is anyways. I’ve always been a fan of Xmas, I just love the smell that comes with it, and for some reason everyone is just always happier. With the lead up to Christmas, many of us attempt to lose a bit of weight, purely so we don’t feel as guilty for the endless amount of celebrations and quality street we consume for breakfast. For me, I’m already embracing the pig in a blanket look, whereby I’m masking my Xmas physique with many woolly layers of clothing. So, I thought a little ‘blogmas’ post would be fitting considering Christmas is pending.

CMF10

I’ve been watching Xmas movies since even before Halloween, so I guess you could say I’ve the Christmas movies well sussed out- here’s a few to keep use going over the crimbo hols!

Must watches:

1. ELF
2. The Grinch
3. The Night Before
4. Home Alone – Lost in NY
5. Fred Clause
6. Four Christmases
7. Deck the Halls
8. Jack Frost
9. Santa Clause (1,2 & 3)
10. Love Actually

You know Christmas is approaching fast, whenever the house is coming down with crates of Shloer and you lowkey have a bottle with dinner every night from now till Christmas, the tins of Quality street and Celebrations are stocked up and well out of site, so no one can get their hands on them, and the house has a constant scent of cinnamon from Christmas candles being burnt continually. Although in my family the chocolate stash is well raided before Christmas, hence why the body will be delayed this year yet again. Through a lot of debate and tastings from celebrations a well-rounded ranking has been established, which is presented below.

CMF11

 

 

 

*Note: Galaxy Caramel sadly didn’t make the cut in the ranking due to them all being inhaled before the positions were decided!

 

 

 

 

 

Que being a slight Bah humbug…

More than ever, Christmas has turned into a money racket as my mummy would say, acting like she is going to put an end to  going over board each Christmas. Even though our living room door is covered in Christmas wrapping paper for me and my sister to run through in the morning, as well as our presents being wrapped in 2 different colours, so we can tell who’s is whose of course , may I also add me and my sister are 20 and 22 (not complaining though). So I blame my mother for me being such a Christmas fanatic.

Christmas is also a busy period for all the festive activities which we have to attend, like the annual trip to the Christmas markets, staff do’s and the 12 pubs of Christmas, at this time of year they are basically compulsory to participate in. However, all these festivities do leave a hole in the pocket, and many people’s funds are low, especially the student loan (roll on Jan for a wee top up). However, with Christmas slowly but surely becoming so orientated around gifts and pressures to get the right present. It forces some people to spend money they don’t have, to try and meet the materialistic standards set by society. At this time of the year, if my mummy buys me a Chinese it’ll be part of the Xmas present too. In other words, we are all so infatuated in spending money to get the flashiest gifts for people, we often get too caught up in it, and forget what Christmas is actually about (As cheesy and cliché as it sounds), but we do. There’s no doubt that receiving and getting presents for people is satisfying, especially when you see their face gleam up whilst unravelling the paper.

CMF12

As I’ve kind of matured (slightly, not a lot), I’ve come to realise that yea presents are great at the time, but they don’t make up for everything. Many families dread Christmas, due to a loss of family member, whether it was recent or long ago, however that empty place at the dinner table on Christmas day is more obvious than ever. For me it’s my wee granny, Christmas has never been the same without her and I’m sure many can relate to how their Christmas experience has changed massively from losing that certain someone. What I’m trying to say is appreciate what you have around you, and it’s nice to be nice, especially around this time of year because no one knows what this festive period means to people. So, just remember ‘he who has not Christmas in his heart will never find it under a tree’.

Before ending my lil blog post, be sure and have yourself a very Merry Christmas!
CYA, Clodagh xx

Clodagh McFaul is a final year BSc in Communication Management & Public Relations student at Ulster University. She can be found at: Instagram – https://www.instagram.com/clodaghmcfaul/ ; Facebook – https://en-gb.facebook.com/clodagh.mcfaul ; LinkedIn – https://www.linkedin.com/in/clodagh-mcfaul-592381173/

 

10th October, 2018

The 10th October 2018, the day I realised a whole lot more than I originally thought I knew, the day I believe I can say confidently now that a lot more people than just myself came to a great amount of realisation and had their eyes opened. The day that was World Mental Health Day.

CK5

This is a topic I have never really spoken to anyone about in great detail, maybe because I didn’t think it was particularly relevant to my life or due to a lack of complete understanding of the topic even though obviously I was always aware of it. On this day, I realised how important the topic of mental health really is, from scrolling through all social media platforms, my phone was covered with the hashtag #WorldMentalHealthDay2018. It amazed me to see how many people were confident enough to come out about their struggles with mental health, no matter how big or how small these struggles were.

I think it really hit me the most and made it so real to me when I read a very brave post written by someone very close to me. I couldn’t help but feel slight guilt however, when I was reading it. I was always aware that this person had their struggles but never did I fully understand the extent of them and how much they affected her life. If you were to ask my friend group, or anyone that knows and loves this person what their personality traits were, you would’ve got answers such as care free, laid back, doesn’t give a s***, cool as a cucumber, easy-going, cheerful, enthusiastic, upbeat, I could go on all day but I’m sure you get the idea! This person was so good at hiding how she was really feeling and telling you that she’s OK and making sure that everyone else around her is OK.CK6

You never truly know what’s going on behind closed doors, this is why it is so important that we be kind every day, ask your friends, your family, your dog, your granny, anyone if they’re OK. A simple chat is all they might need to let them know you’re there.

This amazingly selfless person who has been my inspiration behind this blog, took the brave step on the 10th October 2018 to post about her struggles, not for attention, but for anyone else going through problems or issues similar to hers to let them know that it is absolutely OK to ask for help and to not try to battle your demons on your own. CK8

Our generation needs to stop letting social media platforms take over our lives in negative ways. Don’t get me wrong, I believe social media is so powerful and great for topics such as this to raise awareness and try to bring about change. I love how this year especially, I think that the stigma that comes along with mental health has been broken down that bit further due to the help of social media. However, unfortunately, as I said before, it can cause so many negative effects and has the potential to be so poisonous, especially on young adults and teenagers.

All of the famous bloggers and instagrammers with thousands of followers and seem to have the perfect life through these platforms that we all wish we could be like? FAKE NEWS!! People aren’t going to post the bad things that happen in their day to day lives, that’s why their instagrams, facebooks, snapchats etc look so perfect. They get to literally put a filter on their life.

CK7

We need to start trying to teach ourselves to stop comparing our lives and our looks to other people who we don’t even know. I need to take my own advice here because I am so guilty of doing this sometimes and letting it affect my mood, which I’m sure majority people reading this blog might be guilty of this also.

Let’s continue to break the stigma, live our own lives, stop living behind smartphone screens, be kind to everyone around us, realise that nobody is perfect and know that it is absolutely OK to not be OK.

Thanks for taking the time to read this post!

 

Claire Kearney is a final year student at Ulster University studying Communication Management and Public Relations. She can be found at: LinkedIn – https://www.linkedin.com/in/claire-kearney-835a68165/Instagram – @claire_kearney ; Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/claire.kearney.98?ref=bookmarksTwitter – @Claire_Kearney  

Boston Blues

Fáilte,
The title isn’t just about how I miss my time in Boston. It’s more than that. It tells the short story of the whole reason I was there in the first place. To play Gaelic football for the Shannon Blues of Boston.

CL1

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Shannon Blues crest

It was mid June and I had been toying with the prospect of going for a while. It was a year of mixed emotions for me with a lot of ups and downs. Part of me thought getting away for the summer would help but for the most part I was scared that deep down I’m a real home bird and that I’d never be able to do It. The idea of leaving home properly for the first time was daunting. Making the journey across the big pond to the US. Alone. I at times asked myself if I was going crazy. Luckily I had Gaelic football which for many young Irish men is their ticket over to Boston or wider afield, and costs us little to nothing at all. Still, money was not the limiting factor rather it was whether or not I had the courage to go by myself.

On the 20th of June a few hours into the flight I diagnosed myself insane. Another three hours later I had arrived in Logan airport in Boston. Picked up by a man I didn’t know much about and brought to a house full of other young Irish lads at the same chapter in life as myself. A couple of days passed by and I was almost regretting the decision. By the third day, somehow and inexplicably over night the lads I had been staying with and the team that I had joined became my new family. A band of brothers is what we had become and our manager aka “Biscuits” had become a father to us all while we were there. We went about our day enjoying the sun and come night-time there was always a buzz around the city. When it came time to play football we did just that. The quality of football surprised a lot of us first timers that had made the journey over the Atlantic. Even more so the quality of home based players or actual Americans who adopted the sport was truly amazing to see. Although he wasn’t on my team, rubbing shoulders with the likes of Diarmuid Connolly the Dublin five time All Ireland winner; was a bit surreal. I’m sure for those who have been in in America their whole lives it was even more meaningful to have a living legend of the game like him come over and showcase his skills in their own backyard. At the end of the day we were all there to do the same thing. Enjoy our summers and do what we cherished, which was play ball.

I would like to speak for all the lads not just on my team but for all of the Irish lads who traveled to Boston to play football in the summer of 2018. We appreciate and thank everyone who was able to make it happen. We each joined a new family and hopefully we will see them again in the near future.

Some of the Shannon Blues and I

This being my first blog post is really just a quick insight into what I wanted to share with whoever was interested in reading. There is a lot more to tell and an interesting array of topics I could get into in the future. Let me know what you might like to hear about my travels through any of my contact details below. Thanks for reading folks.

Go raibh maith agat.

Connell Lemon is a final year BSc in Communication Management & Public Relations student at Ulster University. He can be found at: Instagram – connell_lemon97 ; Facebook – Connell  Lemon.

Shonda Rhimes, Thank You For Using Your Platform To Raise Feminist Issues

It is impossible in today’s society to not use TV as a form of escapism during this current political climate, where some argue that instead of taking steps forward for equality for all we are taking steps back. I believe therefore it is important that we are aware of social issues that are happening in the world around us and, instead of choosing to ignore them, that we should educate ourselves about them. One of the main problems we face at the moment is the inequality of how women are treated. Most recently we saw Brett Kavanaugh being appointed to The Supreme Court, even though he has multiple sexual assault allegations and, also, how Dr. Betsy Ford was treated in court when she testified against him.

Last year for placement year I studied abroad in America at East Stroudsberg University.  Living in America it was impossible to escape politics. After being able to ask many of my class mates and just listing to conversations, I found out that a lot of people felt that their voice was not heard. It became clear that women’s voices were not being heard. However, seeing the me-too movement taking off in America, with women coming forward with their stories of how they had been sexually assaulted, we saw women marching as a way to raise their voices to call out the inequality that they face.

What does this have to do with TV and even more Shonda Rhimes you might ask? Being away from home I had a lot more free time on my hands, so I found myself binge watching a lot of Netflix. One of the series I found myself totally addicted to was Greys Anatomy. Well luckily enough after a quick Google, I was able to find out that the creator of Greys Anatomy, Shonda Rhimes, also had an other amazing show called Scandal. I soon realised how Shonda Rhimes has used her platform as the creator of these shows to raise issues that are faced with women every day.

 

MH1

Greys Anatomy

In Greys Anatomy a show about the daily lives of surgeons at Seattle Grace Hospital, you can easily see how Shonda Rhimes has used this series to give people a voice on social issues that women face. One of the main things is how it has helped raise awareness for these issues. This includes how they showed the pressure that was put on the women on the show to be great surgeons, but also the pressure they felt to be a mother. The main character Meredith Grey had to chose whether to perform surgery on a sick patient or sit with her daughter while she got stitches.MH2

In one of the most recent episodes where Arizona Robbins is fighting for custody of her daughter, it is brought up in court how she is unfit to have full custody of her daughter due to the fact she has a demanding job as a paediatric surgeon. It is soon pointed out by Arizona’s boss in the court room if you would be asking that same question if Arizona was a man.

We have Cristiana Yang who didn’t want kids and and even having an abortion throughout the series, showing women how it is okay to not want to have a family if you would rather focus on your career. We have women also being represented from the LBGTQ community such as the marriage between Callie and Arizona.

There is Miranda Baily who was nicknamed the “Nazi” due to how she bosses her team. We learn that at the start of her medical career she wasn’t taken seriously, so she had to become loud and bossy to be taken seriously. She isn’t afraid to use her voice to make seriously important medical decisions for the hospital leading to her to becoming chief of the whole hospital.

We see women not being taken seriously due to their gender being mistaken for a nurse instead of surgeon or being called “honey” – would you call a male doctor a pet name or mistake him for a

MH3nurse?  We see Meredith Grey becoming chief of general surgery but she soon finds she is getting paid less than other chiefs of surgery. Soon realizing the inequality demands to be paid the same.

 

 

Scandal

Olivia Pope, played by Kerry Washington, is a crisis manager who owns her own crisis management firm. Let’s look at how she is breaking barriers on TV when it comes to women as main characters. Shonda Rhimes made it clear that this part was to be played by an African American woman as that who she wrote the part and more so the character was based on Judy Smith who served as George W Bush’s deputy press secretary. Straight away with Scandal, Shonda Rhimes wanted the show to have a diverse cast and have a smart African American woman as the main character who is using her position of power and political connections to stand up for what she believes in. This I believe has lead to a change in how many TV shows have casted their characters – now we can see a rise in women from different ethnic backgrounds getting cast as the main part.

MH5

Throughout Scandal there are many examples of how Shonda Rhimes used it as a voice for women. Vice President Susan Ross spots that a young female officer’s wrist has been bruised – we soon find out that this young woman has been sexually assaulted by a military Admiral. Olivia Pope soon takes on the case and makes sure that the admiral will be caught for his actions. Olivia was able to leak footage of the admiral dragging the young navy officer into his office, forcing the admiral to confess.

MH4

 

Throughout Scandal we also see how women face many forms of assault, even in their own homes.  We learnt that one of Olivia Pope’s friends Abbey was a victim of domestic assault from her abusive husband.  Later on in the series we find that Abby’s ex husband could be running for senator of Virginia, leading Olivia Pope to convince Abby to come forward and share her story of domestic violence so this man wont be allowed to take up an important political position.

Another important story line in Scandal which is one of my favourites. Mellie Grant, the ex wife of the president, decides to run for office as she wanted to be so much more than just a first lady. We are surprised to see her and Olivia Pope becoming friends due to the fact that it was Olivia Pope who had an affair with Mellie’s ex-husband the President. Both women realised they had both one shared goal, in making sure that their political voices where heard. During the election race we hear one of the best feminist lines from Scandal that echoes into the environment today. When asked by her political opponent in a debate how Mellie will just be the same president as her husband, we see Mellie Grant turn round and say in the 21st century you can’t look at man and assume that his wife will share the same views – women are not their husband’s keepers and they are their own women, with their own beliefs.

MH7

 

I hope you can see the importance of having Shonda Rhimes as a show runner  to help raise awareness for social issues that we are facing today. To show young girls that you can be in charge, not afraid to use your voice to stand up for something you believe in. Someone who knows even you could be president one day no matter what your race or gender is. She has been so successful in her portrayal of strong women that she, along with her three main characters, were used as a campaign ad for Hilary Clinton’s 2016 presidential campaign.

MH6

So thank you Shonda Rhimes.

Muriosa Houston is a final year BSc in Communication Management & Public Relations student at Ulster University. She can be found at: Twitter – @MuriosaHouston ; Linkedin – http://www.linkedin.com/in/muriosa-houston-32b41413b

 

The High-Street Hustle

Success within a changeable industry

 

As reports of huge retailers filing for bankruptcy or closing a multitude of stores grow increasingly regular as the weeks fly by, it’s pretty hard not to think about what the future really holds for the High Street as we know it. As an Assistant Manager of a popular Belfast Retail Store (and frequent over-spender), I for one have struggled to keep up with the changes in Belfast City Centre over the last year with so many stores moving premises, rebranding, or ceasing trade entirely.

The world has gone online, and it’s more and more obvious by the day just how much of an impact the digital age is having on our High Streets. A recent report by The Office for National Statistics published in August 2018 states how online spending has “continued to increase to reach a new record proportion of all retailing at 18.2%.” With no doubt a strain is evident, what is the secret to achieving a steady turnover in a world dominated by Amazon Prime?

 

Brick and Mortar

The key to maintaining success in this increasingly competitive high street market is to focus on customer perception. Why may a customer choose to head into the City Centre for a bit of shopping on a Saturday afternoon, rather than snuggling up on the sofa with their iPad and a nice cuppa, scrolling through ASOS for hours on end.

The answer? Communication. That all important customer interaction is what keeps people coming back. This is something that you will not get online, and for many tends to categorise shopping as an enjoyable pastime rather than a necessity. How many times have you found yourself engaging in conversation with a Sales Assistant (usually surrounding a completely random topic), and left the store with a smile on your face. Equally, a less enjoyable encounter may reduce the likelihood you will rush back to that store.

NB2

 

Carrier bag 5p, Experience Priceless

Belief in your brand is vital. Customers do not want to be sold a product, but a lifestyle. Present your belief in the item, the company, and most importantly your genuine interest in the people who are giving you a reason to switch on the lights.

If you’ve ever worked in retail, you have undoubtedly heard the infamous comment that a particular item is cheaper online. Fast fashion is rapidly available, but isn’t everyone’s cup of tea. For this particular group of individuals, the price point will not be the pinnacle when contemplating a purchase (although I’m pretty sure there is a good percentage of Belfast’s population who’d happily switch to the online market just to get out of having to pay 5p for a carrier bag). A friendly, positive attitude and a soft-sell, non-scripted approach is best-practice. A customer should never feel as though you are pushing an item in exchange for an additional cocktail on Saturday night. Let’s just say Disneyland would not hire me pre-morning coffee, but the secret is simple… buy the Latte, pop on that retail smile and put your best self on the floor.

 

I can’t, but we can

The team. The word itself says it all. There is no ‘I’ in team, and the foundations for the successful running of a Retail Store will always come down to those representing the brand. A customer doesn’t know the Managing Director, they don’t know who runs the Warehouse or who manages Payroll (and probably don’t particularly care either). All they are interested in is the product, and respectively the individual selling it to them. A company can have an incredible hierarchical back-bone, but in most cases the customer will not see beyond the Sales Assistant.

Your team members are your forefront, the lead on your reputation, and act as the focal pull to the potential customer. Training is vital, and can make or break a retailer. Build a strong, dependable, enthusiastic team that will do all necessary to avoid providing a customer with reason to grow disengaged with the service implemented in-store.

Buy now or cry later

Visual Merchandising is your best friend. Creating a visual atmosphere that draws people in will change your life (well maybe not your life but your footfall counts at least). You may be surprised by how many people prefer to see an item in person before purchasing. The opportunity to touch it, feel it, and try it on… (spoiler alert: you’ll also save yourself the bother of repackaging an unwanted item and carting it to the Post Office).

I personally find myself more likely to develop an attachment to an item that I have held in my hand, as opposed to the multitude of items on my Topshop ‘online WishList’. We have the ability to view short catwalk snippets, and even spin online images 360 degrees to view the item from all angles, but is this really the same as viewing the item in person and physically touching it? A glimpse at how the item looks partnered with your style, how it feels, does it look the same as advertised… (pretty much all of the guess-work involved in an online haul).

NB7

 

Sink or Swim

I am sure Brexit alongside other factors will bring more ups and downs to our Economy, our High-Street and our Retailers. This is a bridge we will cross when we come to it. The present is our priority, and we are more than capable of continuing to thrive (and even grow). Do we give in to the online market? Or do we present an experience that will make the customer want to return to the store. Online retailers are here to stay, but I believe in the importance of brick and mortar and believe that many others do too. Know your competition, monitor KPIs, set targets and aim to exceed them. Provide unmatchable customer service and respect the sales team (they are the face of your brand). Sell an experience over a product, reiterate the importance of a consistent Brand Identity and implement Consumer-led Strategy. Take every chance you have to thrive.

To remain competitive and relevant in a constantly evolving industry may be a challenge, but remind yourself that impossible is only an opinion. If your work isn’t fun, you’re not playing for the right team.

Nora xx

 

Nora Brennan is a final year BSc in Communication Management & Public Relations student at Ulster University. She can be contacted on: Instagram – @noraellenb / Twitter – @noraellenb / LinkedIn- Nora Ellen Brennan.

The surprisingly holy holy lands

Holy lands? Nothing holy about the place. With a name like ‘the holy lands’ and street names that consist of Palestine Street, Jerusalem Street and Damascus Street, you’d imagine this place to be a very quiet, religious area. But that’s where you’re mistaken. In the center of Belfast, this area is dominated by students who drink five nights a week and Romanians. Like every 18-year-old when going to university I was skeptical about living in the holy lands, as their life style focused more on partying and not enough on their academic studies. After deciding to live down with my friends as a student, my suspicions were confirmed. Despite blessing our house with holy water, some demons definitely got in. These are not the usual demons that you hear about at mass, these are the demons that are controlled and possessed by one too many jaeger bomb. Despite having holy water in our house, the only holy water we needed was a spar slush puppy to help cure our three-day hangover. This was my regular healing process each week.

However, it does seem that there are miracles happening in this area, as people be drinking to five o’clock in the morning and still manage to make their 9’oclock lectures looking like they’ve had their Weetabix and 8 hours sleep. I myself fell a victim of the late night drinking and the early lecture partaking. It seems like a great idea at the time, however, the next morning this was definitely not one of my good ideas.

Located in the heart of the holy lands, was our very own food shelter in the form of press 29. This is where most student could have a nice warm meal and discuss with their own Samaritans about which commandment they may have or have not broken the night before. I could honestly say there has been times, where I feel this place has truly saved me.

In addition, we do show our faith once a year, as we celebrate our dear St. Patrick on the 17th of March, for freeing Ireland from snakes. On this day we take to the streets with music and alcohol to show our appreciation for the patron saint of Ireland. When taking to the streets us student have our own rendition of Noah when he was in the ark with all the animals. It is otherwise known to us students as rock the boat. It’s basically the same thing.

The holy lands can be all fun and games, until everyone’s student loans start to wither away. This normally starts a month after returning for fresher’s. At this point we would be praying for Jesus himself to appear and perform the feeding of the 5000…students. I think every student at this point, would be well and truly grateful for a free feed, even if it is only fish and bread. As much as they would prefer it too be a Boojum. Beggars can’t be choosers!

I suppose the holy lands does show traits of being a holy place in its own way, as there does be a lot of praying, modern day student miracles and celebration of saints. In theory, it is a holy land however, it is an unorthodox fashion.

Finally, despite the flaws of going to Hatfield every Sabbath, Limelight every Monday, and back to the Hatfield on a Tuesday. I have still managed to secure my place in final year, and that is well and truly a miracle in itself. I would advise every student with the option to live nowhere else but the holy lands.

Chloe Toner is a final year BSc in Communication Management and Public Relations student at Ulster University. She can be found at: LinkedIn – linkedin.com/in/chloe-toner-937039153