My Dad – The Strongest Man in the World.

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Growing up I always viewed my Dad as the strongest man in the world. There was nothing he couldn’t fix and he was always there to protect me. He worked away from home during the week as a stone mason so Friday nights were always my favourite time seeing his van pull up outside knowing he would have presents for me, my brother Daniel and my sister Sarah. After dinner he would take me out for ice cream and being in the van up high allowed us to drive down the country roads outside of Newcastle and see all the animals in the fields. Being a young girl I couldn’t have thought of any other better ways to spend my Friday nights.

A few years ago in 2016 my Dad started to struggle with headaches. He was coming home from work and going straight to bed because of the pain. As time went on and the pain of his headaches started to deteriorate my Mum booked him in with his GP who informed them that the pain he was experiencing was “nothing more than the common headache.” Relieved by this news Mum and Dad came home with a new set of painkillers hoping they would clear the headaches.

The next time my Dad had a headache he took 2 of his painkillers and waited for them to do their job… to kill the pain. As a few hours passed Dad realised the pain hadn’t eased at all and not being one to complain it was my Mum who decided to take him to A&E to see if they could help in ways a swift visit to the GP couldn’t. After a few scans and tests they were told again that the pain he was experiencing was no more than a common headache. However unlike their first visit to the Doctors this one was different as before they arrived home one of the nurses phoned my Mum and asked if they would be able to make their way back to the hospital. Then they were informed that it wasn’t just a headache but after taking closer looks at my Dad’s scans that they were sorry to tell him that he had a tumour growing on his optic nerve and across his pituitary gland.

The next few months insisted of frequent visits to the hospital and lots of medicine. After plenty of tests and scans Dad’s Neurologist decided that it was time for him to have surgery as his tumour had doubled in size over a small amount of time. Still working up until a few days before his scheduled surgery it was easy to see that the man I viewed as the strongest man in the world was terrified, and this scared me more than anything.

I’m not sure how to describe the day of his surgery other than it was strange. No one knew how to act but pretending to be normal didn’t feel right. As my parents were panicking we set off to the hospital a few hours early which made me feel more nervous. Waiting around for something is bad but having to wait in a quiet room in a hospital is worse.

A lovely nurse came out to get Dad ready for his surgery and informed us that it’s better if we go home as after the surgery we wouldn’t be able to see Dad for a few hours and that she would phone us when we were allowed to visit. The surgery was scheduled to last 2 hours as they thought it would be a simple procedure but after a lot of complications and 8 hours in surgery the Neurologist realised he couldn’t remove all of the tumour and the risks of having my Dad in surgery for any longer were too high.

Driving to the hospital we didn’t know what to expect as the Doctors didn’t tell my mum much over the phone. I remember standing beside my Dad’s hospital bed crying and praying that he would be okay. You never expect things like this to happen to you or your family and even though we had known for months about his surgery nothing could take the fact away that it was actually my Dad lying in the hospital bed and not someone else’s.

After a week in hospital post surgery it was time Dad could home which was the best feeling EVER. It honestly took a good few months for my Dad to get back into a routine. With the strong side effects off all his medication to prevent the remainder of his tumour from growing it was decided that instead of going back to work it was better for his health if he remained at home. I thought the hard part would be over now but it was really difficult to watch my Dad struggle with staying at home. He had worked his whole life ever since he was a young boy and being at home and feeling too weak to leave the house for more than an hour or so was really difficult for him.

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Like most stereotypical retired men Dad built a green house in the back garden which turned out to be a great distraction for my Dad and still is. It keeps him busy but in the comfort of our house so if he starts to feel unwell or needs to take a break he can easily do so.

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Even though I’ve always been a ‘Daddy’s Girl’ one positive thing that has come out of these emotional and stressful few years is that it has allowed me to realise how much can change in a short period of time. Being a teenager when this all started to happen I as always directing my attention to trivial things like nights out and social media etc. I feel so blessed every day to still have my Mum and Dad spoiling me and this crazy experience has only made me want to appreciate everything they do for me and my siblings even more.

Anna Grant is a final year BSc in Communication Management and Public Relations student at Ulster University. She can be found on Instagram – annagrantx

A Career in PR …

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Public relations can offer me a challenging and rewarding career in which I will have the opportunity to work on tasks and projects that will have a diverse range of jobs to undertake. I am highly interested in current affairs such as politics and what’s going on in the business world. I find it fascinating to know what businesses, entrepreneurs and politicians/parties are doing well and what ones are on a downfall. Keeping up to date with political parties’ proposals and the likes of Brexit is an area which I am keen to be working with in my day to day jobs and tasks. To be a PR practitioner I would need to be aware of current trends and issues as it will be essential if I want to offer advice to clients or an organisation. No two days would ever be the same if I was working in PR. This spikes my interest as the same boring routine everyday would make me lose my motivation to work harder and would result in a negative impact on my productivity.

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Studying PR and communication for the past 2 years has allowed me to grow in confidence. Group projects that include us sharing presentations with our class has enabled me to be a better public speaker and to learn skills to help me when it comes to talking to a wide range of people. These skills are essential if I want to start a career in PR as it will involve speaking with clients or journalists and groups of people who may be important to an organisation or client. A job in PR would let me gain insight into the impact of communication and how it effects our day to day lives from our buying habits to who we vote for. It will allow me to have the opportunity to work in many different fields from politics, to airlines or even universities.

When I was in upper 6th in school I studied English Literature as one of A-levels. I realised I had a passion for writing and creativity but quickly learned that I had a preference towards the work I had to complete for my Business Studies class. In Business Studies we competed in a national competition which involved us creating and promoting a new cereal bar. During the task I completed a press release and a blog on the health benefits of cereal bars. It allowed me to be creative without the restraints of only analysing a book, poem or play.  As a result of this I was attracted to PR as I knew it would include creative communication. In school we also went on a trip to the Coca Cola factory where their PR practitioner met us, gave us a tour and answered all of our questions. I remember thinking it seemed like a really enjoyable job and she informed us off different tasks she would complete. She told us how she dealt with the press or the general public that had questions about Coca Cola which raised my interest. When I started to research what a job in public relations would entail communicating with colleagues, the media and the public interested me. I am extremely interested in organising events such as exhibitions, open days and press tours as it allows you to get out of the office and engage with key stakeholders. In school I was part of a debating team which allowed me to practise and sharpen my verbal communication skills and taught me how to clearly present my ideas and thinking’s. The creative aspects of PR are off interest to me as I enjoy making brochures, handouts, promotional videos and so on. Similar to most student’s social media interests me as it’s something I would feel comfortable working with. PR would include tasks such as managing and updating and engaging with an organisation or client’s social media site. Working in public relations can teach me how to create content on these platforms that will be useful and engaging to its audiences.

Writing assignments, speeches, blogs, press releases and so on interested me. I knew I had already developed writing skills in school that were essential for working in PR and I enjoyed sitting down to create a piece of work. I’m a very talkative person so the fact that PR is mainly focused on communication is a massive positive for me. I am really comfortable talking with new people, doing interviews and answering the phone. I would love to have a career that involved fostering community relations such as open days and tours that would include communicating with stakeholders. People who work in PR are expected to network and socialise which I find appealing. Dealing with clients, the media and colleagues and building and maintaining relationships with them significantly interests me as social and work life may become a little intertwined.

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One of the main benefits of working in PR I could find during my research was that PR can involve a lot of travelling depending on the organisation. This interests me as it can be exciting and motivating to be working in a new environment. It gives the opportunity to meet and learn from new people which in turn can increase your skill set and make you more employable for future jobs. Travelling with work would also allow you to visit and see places that you may not have seen before and would give the opportunity to experience new cultures, even if it is only for a short period.

I like that it mainly has a professional dress code and you will hold a lot of responsibility. Having a lot of responsibility in work helps motivate me to complete projects and be more creative with my thinking. A career in PR would open many doors for me and allow me to gain brilliant work experience which could lead to a massive variety of jobs.

 

Anna Grant is a final year BSc in Communication Management and Public Relations student at Ulster University. She can be found on Instagram – annagrantx

Anna’s Declassified University Survival Guide.

Anna’s Declassified University Survival Guide.

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As the cliché goes, “university will be the best days of your life.” Now don’t get me wrong. Being a student is great. Most of us go to class a mere nine hours a week compared to 6 hours a day when we were in school. We get to live with our best friends (there for being able to borrow their clothes everyday), we have  independence for the first time, meeting new people is inevitable and getting to try new things is a must. It’s great. However, like everything else in the world it has its downsides.

When talking about university with friends or family what most people will never mention is the amount of stress and anxiety we as students face every day. Behind all the socialising and freedom we will encounter large amounts of university work, social anxiety, money problems and feeling like we have absolutely no idea what we’re doing. Don’t worry if you’re feeling over whelmed, you are not alone! A new report showed that a massive 82% of students at a university in the UK claimed to have suffered from stress and anxiety when starting their course. Out of these only 25% said they would ask for help as the others said they wouldn’t know where to find it or else they’re too embarrassed to ask for it.

I have came up with tips from my university experience that will help you unwind, relax and enjoy this experience as much as you can (and no they don’t all involve socialising and drinking.)

  1. Partying

I may as well start with most student’s favourite topic. Partying. Who doesn’t love having a night out with your friends, wearing your new favourite jeans, all for the night to end with you all in the pizza shops struggling to get a taxi home. Nights out can create some of our best university memories, however you don’t need to feel under pressure to go out every night, no one enjoys this.

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Alongside it being expensive, waking up with a hangover before going to class is one of the worst feelings ever. Rather than always picking a bar to socialise in invite friends down to watch a movie or go for food. It’s cheaper and saves you having a killer hangover the next day. If you want to get out of the house most cities have cinemas and crazy golf as well , both are social and will give you a chance to catch up with friends without having to shout over loud club music into each other’s ears.

  1. People

Our parents have always told us it’s important to always surround yourself with the right people, and guess what? They’ve been right all these years. When we’re in university, most of us have some type of idea of the person we are, and want to become. Surround yourself by like minded people. Focus on the good people in your life, the ones that motivate you and want you to achieve the best you can. Surround yourself with friends that will be happy for your success and are willing to spend countless hours in the library with you rather than people who will miss two classes a week so they can stay at home and catch upon their latest Netflix binge.

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3. Money

As soon as our student loans come into our accounts it feels like we are rich (if only for a few hours). We convince ourselves we deserve those new shoes after all the hard work we’ve been doing all year and now ordering dinner seems like the much more attractive option over pasta and a jar of Dolimo sauce. However, don’t be fooled! Yes it’s nice to treat yourself once in a while but this money will primarily be needed for university essentials- rent, textbooks and your cost of traveling to and from university.

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Over the past three years I’ve figured out what I spend the majority of my loan on and figured out how to minimise it. Firstly there’s rent, expensive and unfortunately unavoidable, so let’s move on. The second biggest cause of my painfully small bank balance is of course… drink and food. The best and easiest ways I deal with this is having a balance. You don’t need to eat less to save money on food, you just need to eat smart. If you’re feeling lazy and want a take away for dinner go onto google and search food places with discount codes for students. If it’s a Tuesday and you and your flat mate are big pizza lovers, Domion’s does “Two for two Tuesdays” where you get two pizzas for the price of one.

Similar to this, pick clubs and bars that do student offers such as “90p drinks.” It will save you a fortune. Give yourself a budget that you can afford to spend on a night out. Then take this money out, put it in your purse and leave the bank card at home. Your head and bank balance will be thankful for this tip in the morning, trust me.

So there we have it, my top three tips to help you survive university. Even though it sounds like I have a lot of bad things to say about university, I wouldn’t chance my experience for the world. Endless laughs everyday with your friends, being able to stay in your pj’s until 2pm and no one in your house will judge you if it’s 2am and you want to order a Chinese.

If you’re feeling over whelmed it’s okay to miss a night out and hop on the bus home. At the end of the day nothing will beat a home cooked meal and getting cosy up on the sofa catching up with your family and watching your favourite TV show.

Anna Grant is a final year BSc in Communication Management and Public Relations student at Ulster University. She can be found at: Instagram- @annagrantx.