The repeal of Net Neutrality – is America okay?

It’s not exactly new information that since Donald Trump became the 45th President of the United States, America hasn’t really improved as a nation, despite Trump’s presidential campaign slogan ‘make American great again.’ The majority of the decisions he’s made since winning the election has outraged most of the country, like his decision to ban transgender troops, or the travel ban he enforced just one week after his inauguration.

However, the most recent nation-wide dilemma, – the plan to repeal Obama-era net neutrality protections – even has Trump supporters up in arms, probably because this is the first major decision under Trump’s rule that is actually going to affect all of them.

Net neutrality demands that all Internet Service Providers (ISPs) should treat all web traffic the same, and should enable access to all content and applications, regardless of the source, and without favouring or blocking specific products or websites.

Without net neutrality, ISPs will no longer have to treat all internet traffic equally, and will be able to favour certain websites and services over others.

Think of Internet traffic like actual traffic, without net neutrality, ISPs like BT and Verizon can develop literal fast and slow lanes. One certain ISP could have the power to slow down its competitors’ content, or block specific political opinions or beliefs that it disagrees with, and in turn could charge extra fees to the very few content companies that could afford to pay for special treatment, which will degrade everyone else to a slower tier of service. The repeal of net neutrality would destroy the open internet.

On Thursday 14th December 2017, Trump’s Republican-led Federal Communications Commission voted 3-2 to approve this controversial plan of repealing net-neutrality.

Of course, no one, other than the FCC know what this repeal of net neutrality actually means for users of the Internet, although some people have made their predictions.

The most likely of outcomes, is that the prices the public pay for their Internet will go up, but variety and diversity of accessible web pages will go down and the largest, most well-known of Internet companies will gain a significant advantage over small, upstart companies. As a consumer, the end of net neutrality means your most-used and favourite websites are going to load a lot more slowly, and some of your favourite content may just go away, because your provider can’t pay the fee. The consumer will no longer be in control, the ISP will start to pick the winners and losers instead of the Internet user themselves.

Andrew Leonard used this example in an online article on “Let’s say you’re a regular user of Amazon, eBay and Etsy. Currently, you’ve got all those apps on your phone and laptop and they all work perfectly. The pages load fast, and orders go through right away. But you get your service through Verizon, and now, with no net neutrality, Verizon is capable of saying to all three online retailers: ‘hey, if you want to be in the fast lane of the Internet, you have to pay for our premium package’. Amazon and eBay, the two more established and larger online companies can afford to do this, but Esty, as a smaller upstarter company, unfortunately cannot, meaning Etsy will from now on, be in the slow lane, and the next time you want to search for a “Save Net Neutrality” t-shirt to wear to your next protest, the page takes absolutely forever to load.”

But that’s not all. Under the new rules, ISPs won’t just be free to charge more for faster access, they’ll be completely free to simply block access to whatever part of the Internet they feel serves their financial interest. Comcast, for example, may decide that it makes no sense to allow Netflix to compete with its own streaming service and stop allowing its users access to the site.

Right now, it seems to be the end of the Internet as Americans know it. But a legal effort to overturn the decision made by Trump’s FCC is expected to begin immediately. Congress has the power to pass legislation to restore net neutrality, and this could mean greater turn out in the 2018 midterm elections from millennials who care deeply about this issue. Around 18 states also plan on suing the FCC in order to defend net neutrality protections, including New York, California, North Carolina and Virginia.

Hollie Thomson is a final year BSc student in Communication Management and Public Relations. She can be found on Linkedin: or Facebook: Hollie Thomson

Holidays of a lifetime

For most people, myself included, holidays are the highlight of the year. A lot of time and money goes in to planning and paying for the perfect get away to create experiences we will never forget.

I’m extremely lucky that in the past couple of years I’ve had two of the best holidays I’ll probably have in my life.

 Vietnam and Thailand

Planning started about six months in advance when we gathered a crowd and planned the dates. Then it all became real when we finally booked our flights and had something to look forward to! We headed off to Bangkok for the start of our six week trip not really having a notion what to expect.

At the Top Gear spot on the Hai Van Pass

Beforehand we had planned a route and had a rough plan as to how long we were staying in each place. First up was Hanoi. Hanoi was absolute mayhem. It is constant madness with so many motorbikes about that you could barely cross the street. While we were here we went to Ha Long Bay for the hyped up Castaway Tour which is a must do if your ever in that neck of the woods! From here the plan was to go to Hue and stay for a couple of days.

After arriving we quickly realised it wasn’t really our cup of tea, so found locals who ran a bike touring company. So we rented bikes and had a guided tour through the Hai Van Pass to our next stop Hoi An. The Hai Van Pass, which some might recognise from Top Gear, was hands down one of the best days of my life and will take a lot of beating!

Was quite proud of my handywork at bandaging

Next up was Nha Trang where we rented our own three story villa. For the equivalent of around £10 a night it really is true that you can live in luxury for the next to nothing! From there we planned another bike tour to Da Lat. Unfortunately for myself this one wasn’t as successful as the first for me as I ended up putting the bike into a ditch. I’m still maintaining that it was the bikes fault and not mine, but it sort of put a dampener on things! Pretty sure the place we ate that day also served us dog instead of pork, but the less said about that the better. From there we went to Mui Ne and then Ho Chi Minh and got ready to meet up with the other 10 of our group that were flying to meet us in Thailand.

We had 6 different stops in Thailand and so was a lot to squeeze in with a lot to do at each one. It consisted of a lot of boats and buses to get from island to island. Everything was planned around the full moon party in Koh Phangan, which I think should be on everyone’s bucket list. Absolute chaos.

My favourite place was probably Phi Phi, where you would think half of Ireland was there at the time. The elephant sanctuary and white water rafting in Chiang Mai and the Slip N Fly in Koh Phangan were probably the other highlights.


West Coast of the States

Never having been to America before I was absolutely buzzing to be heading off here for 3 weeks. The plan was to do San Francisco, Los Angeles, San Diego, Las Vegas and Yosemite.

Probably looking a wee bit too happy than I should have been after the incident

However, the bad luck from Vietnam seemed to follow me when I was held at knife point in a bar in San Francisco. It really wasn’t the way I wanted to spend my first night out in the states, but that’s what I got. Don’t think I put my mum’s mind at ease either writing “Lol some boy just put a knife to my throat” into the family Whatsapp. On the upside it’s a good story to tell (because I’m not dead) and was usually greeted with “Welcome to America” by anyone we told.

We also had to fork out twice for our rental car as, being as stupid as we are, we didn’t realise you needed a credit card to put on file. Eventually we got sorted with the company saying, “You’re lucky you’re Irish” as the reason they helped us out.

Not everything was all doom and gloom but. In fact everything else we did was unbelievable. We did the usual touristy stuff like the Golden Gate Bridge, Alcatraz and the San Diego Zoo.

The highlight for me was definitely Las Vegas. We were there the week before the McGregor Mayweather fight, and so the buzz around Vegas was unreal. We went to Wet Republic when DJ Tiesto was playing which is something I’d say everyone should go to if they get the chance. Seeing all the different hotels was absolutely mad and people really don’t lie about how hot it is (all the time) there. After Vegas, Yosemite was the perfect spot for a chill out, with the dogs at our AirBnB greatly assisting in our recovery.


All in all two absolutely once in a lifetime holidays (which have left me skint) that I don’t think will be topped. But I have learnt that you probably shouldn’t ever go on holiday with me as something bad is bound to happen!

Wonder what’s going to happen next year…

The car that our Irish charm got us… not much but did the job

Daniel McGrenaghan is a Final Year Public Relations student at the University of Ulster Jordanstown. He can be found on Twitter @danielmcg132

Road Tripping the West Coast of California

Travelling the West Coast of California was the most incredible experience I have had to date and I’m excited to share it all with you in the hope that it is on your bucket list by the time you finish reading this post.


First things first, when booking flights, accommodation and car hire set yourself a budget in advance and this will make it much easier to manage and save your money.

TIP: Book all accommodation through (cancellation up to 24 hours), look out for car hire deals on on a daily basis (if you are under 25 it will be more expensive), luckily, we got a deal which included the young driver fee.

On 28 August, we arrived in beautiful San Francisco or ‘Fog City’ as some prefer to call it, where you are surrounded by stunning architecture, parks, VERY steep streets and the gorgeous bay area.

 Three of my favourite days in San Francisco

  1. Hop-on-hop-off tour bus, I know what you’re thinking… tourist central, but it is honestly the best way to see the city and after all, you are a tourist!
  2. The Alcatraz Tour, this will take up most of the day and is worth every penny
  3. Fisherman’s Wharf and Pier 39 are beautiful areas to walk, eat and people watch

TIP: 5-7 days is enough time to explore the city, bring comfortable footwear, it is chilly so bring jeans and a jacket and I assure you, this is the only time you will need this attire on your trip!

During our time in San Francisco we allowed 2 days to travel to Yosemite National Park, where we reserved a camp space ($18) 5 months in advance. Yosemite gave us the full camping experience, from cooking dinner & breakfast on a campfire to having zero phone signal.

TIP: Hike to Nevada Falls, it was unbelievable. The route is ranked ‘difficult’ but is definitely doable and took us 4.5 hours.



Back in San Francisco, we picked up our little blue racer and headed for Highway 1, not before Cathal almost drove into the side of Walmart, the sound of the American woman’s voice is still ringing in my ears ‘WATCH WHERE YOU’RE GOING, DUMBASS.’

Our next stop was Avenue Inn and Suites in San Luis Obispo (SLO), a small ‘student’ sort of town, although we didn’t get to a sorority party it was the cutest town EVER. A one night stay was perfect!

TIP: Stop in Monterey on the way down for lunch at any restaurant on the pier. In SLO look out for ‘Bubble-gum Alley’ it is disgustingly cool.

Next up was Santa Barbara, the quirkiest town with beautiful houses, cobbled streets, unique shops and restaurants all within walking distance from our accommodation, the Orange Tree Inn.

TIP: There is a handy bus stop every 200 metres down the strip, the open bus comes every 10 mins, this will take you to the beach for ($1.50).

Hi View Inn & Suites in Manhattan Beach was by far the best accommodation of the whole trip. We chose to stay just outside LA and used Uber which was cheap and cheerful. Manhattan Beach is a relaxing area with very few tourists which we loved!

TIPS: Stop in Santa Monica before you reach Manhattan Beach, hire bikes and cycle the boardwalk to Venice Beach it is SO much fun!

Hike to the Hollywood sign, it takes about 2 hours and you will get amazing views of LA.

Visit Rodeo Drive, the more luxurious side of LA with a strip of designer shops.

Finally, have a coffee break at Alfred’s Coffee House (490 N Beverly Dr, Beverly Hills, CA 90210, USA).




San Clemente was our second last stop, this was really only to ‘rest our heads’ for one night. There isn’t much to do here except chill on the gorgeous beach which is walking distance from San Clemente Inn.

TIPS: Stop off at Laguna Beach before you reach San Clemente, parking is cheap, it is a beautiful place to have lunch and a walk around the town.

In San Clemente, dine at The Fisherman’s Restaurant and Bar with the sound of the waves crashing right below you.

Last but certainly not least of our West Coast (‘best coast’) experience was San Diego. We stayed in the amazing Kings Inn, it is 10 minutes out of the city centre but easily accessed from Highway 1, driving into the city was super easy (says me in the passenger seat) but Cathal agreed! It was comfortable, spacious and had a great pool and Jacuzzi.

TIP: Visit the zoo (we are children at heart), it is the rated the No.1 in the world and I couldn’t agree more!

Pay a visit to Fashion Valley outlet shopping mall for all the best deals

Dock the boat from downtown San Diego to Coronado Island for $5 and cycle around the 84.6km island, the 15-minute boat ride provides breath-taking views of San Diego’s skyline.

I mean… you can’t fly all the way to the states and not pay a visit to the big apple. New York was our very last stop before heading back to Dublin.

TIP: The trusty hop-on-hop-off tour bus, in just 4 days we were able to see the city under no pressure.

Our favourite places where Brooklyn Bridge, Top of the Rock (go during the day), Central Park, 230th Roof Top Bar on 5th Avenue, 911 memorial… I guess all of it was pretty amazing but those are the ‘must-dos’



  •  All accommodation SO easily accessed from Highway 1
  • Do not pay extra for a GPS from the car hire company, your iPhone is just as good
  • You’ll notice that there isn’t much negativity in this post, that is genuinely because everywhere we visited and stayed was amazing
  • If I have been successful in inspiring you to book a trip to palm tree paradise & spectacular New York City, I hope you enjoy every minute of it!


Laura Duffy is a final year Public Relations Student at Ulster University. She can be contacted on Instagram @laura_duffyy and on Linkedin: 

‘California Dreamin’ on such a Winter’s Day’

‘California Dreamin’ on such a Winter’s Day’

As I sit here on a gloomy afternoon thinking back to my amazing summer spent in California, I have never related to a song so much.

After spending six weeks working as a camp counsellor at a summer camp in Berkeley, just outside of San Francisco with weekend trips to Yosemite National Park, Lake Tahoe, Grand Canyon and a quick trip to cheer on The Notorious Conor McGregor in Viva Las Vegas, myself and seven other girls set off to explore what else the West Coast had to offer.

‘You stay classy San Diego’

San Diego bound on a dismal night bus, we finally arrived at those white sandy beaches which helped us all recover from singing “There is only one Conor McGregor” for four days straight. We stayed in an Air BnB in the Pacific Beach area of the city which I thoroughly recommend as there are loads of bars, restaurants and shops there. With San Diego being a short car journey from the Mexican border, the Mexican influence on the food, drink and culture here was evident. This was a welcomed change to experience authentic Mexican burritos and margaritas, I recommend the Baja Beach Café for amazing food and views of the Pacific Ocean. After a few days recovering on the beautiful beaches we explored Balboa Park in the scorching California sun, this is an urban culture park filled with green gardens, museums, theatres and the world-famous San Diego Zoo.  Our time in San Diego was completed with a ferry trip to Coronado, an island where you can take in the stunning city skyline.

We picked up the cars at the airport and got on the road, automatic cars are an absolute joy to drive, they are literally a large go- kart. We rented from Foxes Rent a car and I would highly recommend.

Traveller’s Tip: If you wish to rent a car in the US, you will need a credit card. However, some companies do let you use a debit card but they will charge you a very high deposit. ($400 instead of $100). Being a driver under 25, you will also be charged a daily young driver fee usually around $20 extra per day. On the plus side “gas” is exceptionally cheap!

‘Driving down the 101, California here we come’

The scenic two-hour drive along the famous Highway 1 was simply breath-taking, driving through famous towns such as Laguna Beach and Newport before stopping off for yet another beach day at Huntington Beach where we watched numerous surfing competitions in awe of their skills. That night we headed further north and stayed in a motel in downtown L.A.

‘City Of Stars, are you shining just for me?’

Having heard such mixed reviews about L.A, I was so glad we stopped as I absolutely loved it, however one day was enough. A quick visit to the Hollywood walk of fame and a tour of Beverly Hills to see where all the filthy rich and famous lived. Did you know that Leonardo DiCaprio and Kanye West are neighbours? Well according to our tour guide they are!

Travellers Tip: Bus tours can be very easily haggled down, especially by Irish charm. We got ours down from $50 to $15 each, this is when travelling in a large group has its perks.

Once we had visited all the “vibey” Instagram famous walls on Melrose Av, we then ventured on a hike to the Griffith Observatory. This is a must see in L.A as the views are simply breath-taking. I recommend heading up just before sunset as you get to see the city both in the day light and in the street lights.

Quick stops in Venice Beach, Santa Monica and Malibu; all beautiful seaside towns but an hour or two is plenty of time to explore. We stayed in the Kardashians home town of Calabasas but with no sightings we headed further north to Santa Barbara, yet another glorious seaside town.


‘If you’re going to San Francisco’

Now our last day travelling in California we were San Francisco bound, the city we called home for the summer. We travelled further up the Pacific Coastal Highway as far as we could as part of the road was closed due to high levels of winter rainfall resulting in a landslide and a broken bridge, so we took a detour via Monterey and headed in the direction of the Big Sur. Taking in the last of the rugged coastline and the soaring palm trees we parked up and finished our West Coast road trip. Now to finish up our state-side summer in style we headed for ‘New York, New York’.



Carla McCloskey is a final year CAM student at Ulster University. She can be contacted on LinkedIn at  and on Twitter @Carla_Mac12

Better (than I could ever imagine!)


In the summer of 2015, it’s not surprising that when you’re due to begin a placement in the industry you’ve been studying in and things don’t appear to be falling into their perfect place – panic begins to kick in.

Yes a placement year in CAM is optional, but when you’re as super unsure about what direction to steer your life in as I was, all practical experience is welcome.

Amidst floods of tears and feelings of failure I couldn’t help but hold on to the ounce of optimism I had when I chatted with friends and they encouraged me that perhaps it was because there was something better “just around the corner.”

However, that little glimmer of hope was immediately disseminated with my instant response of doubt and disbelief “It’s a pretty BIG darn corner!”


A little patience goes a long way.


Looking back, I’m sure being patient was the last thing I had in mind (and I’m sure my parents can vouch for that!) but looking back, I can now fully appreciate the process and time it took to fully prepare me for life a few thousand miles away from home in the Big Apple.

Little did I know, that for just under 8 months I would spend my time living in Brooklyn in Metro World Child headquarters, with Metro staff and interns from all around the world, endeavouring to serve God and be a small part of His big plan for reaching children and their families with the gospel in the darkest neighbourhoods of New York City, presenting them with the only source of hope that is found through the Lord Jesus Christ.

Having been involved with different aspects of ministry in my local church at home in Northern Ireland, I was super excited (and nervous!) to work alongside an organisation that was involved in a similar style of outreach in New York City (a place I had longed to visit!) and see how God was at work in another part of the world with people willing to be used by Him.

All things work together for good.


From a young age, when posed the question “Where’s your favourite place in the world?” I always had one answer, “New York City.” Having never been there I guess that’s a bit of an irrational statement, but nonetheless, it was a desire that I knew was put in my heart for a purpose.

It was about 5 or 6 years previous before I set off on my New York adventure when I sat in my youth group on a Sunday evening after the church service and listened to a young girl, Sarah Reynolds share about her experience with what was formerly known as Metro Ministries in New York City. As we listened to her share the first-hand stories about “Sidewalk Sunday School”, “Yogi Bear Kids” and hearing gunshots while teaching children from the Bible on the streets of the poorest areas in the city, it all seemed like an overwhelming mix of intense excitement and legitimate fear. Still, I’ll never forget whispering in agreement with my friends, “I want to do that someday!”

A promise from above.


When you live in a family of four children with a father who much prefers going to airports to have a picnic as you watch planes come and go every day of summer before he’d ever step foot on one – you can guess that foreign family holidays weren’t a thing in our house. So I’m sure you can imagine the horror of even suggesting I board a plane and cross an ocean by myself to a city full of strangers and streets rife with criminals.

Yea it took a while to get over that one.

I’ll be the first to admit I’m not the loudest, bravest, boldest person that exists and probably the last person you would want to send to the ghetto of any city, but when you’re in the centre of God’s will and He gives you a promise from the Bible like the one above from Acts to hold on to, stepping forward in faith is the best direction to go.

In every detail.

If I was to begin to tell about the kids I had the privilege to meet, the people I had the pleasure of serving alongside, or even the moments I saw God’s hand most evidently at work, well, we would be here for quite a while. So in an attempt to sum up my feelings on E V E R Y T H I N G that took place during my time with Metro World Child in New York City here’s a verse from the Bible, which even before I left for NYC could use to describe the amount of ways I have seen God at work in my life.


Of course, there were tearful moments, sleepless nights and pesky lice problems (to name but a few hurdles along the way!) but I wouldn’t exchange my experience and memories for the world.

When people ask about my placement year and the reason for two years out of my studies I often jump to the most logical explanation I think they’ll understand for why I didn’t choose the ‘normal’ placement path. This range of excuses include: “I couldn’t get a placement”, I don’t think I tried hard enough”, “I didn’t apply for enough companies.” When in reality, perhaps it was just because God had something better in mind.

*Insert most commonly asked question*

Would you go back? To visit, for sure! Forever? We’ll have to talk to God about that one.

For now and until graduation, I’m just going to enjoy good old Northern Ireland.

Rachel H

Rachel Henry is a final year BSc in Communication, Advertising and Marketing student at Ulster University. She can be found on LinkedIn at: Rachel Henry

5 things you need to know before starting Study USA


It’s strange to think that this time two years ago I was deciding between the Study USA experience or the year in work placement. I mean, do you choose to have a year of fun or a year that directly helps you get closer to your dream career? I chose the study USA path – fun or work… It was a no brainer really! To give you more of an idea of what it is truly like I’ve comprised a list of 5 things everyone needs to know before starting Study USA.

1.The workload is continuous

You are warned about the workload before you begin but it was still a shock having piles of homework every night after being in class most of the day. It almost feels like you’re back in school but you will soon realise that everyone there is on the same page and everyone has this homework so you find ways to make it more social. Group studying was really popular and often, after class, we would go to Starbucks or Newark’s and do our homework together, which was a much less serious atmosphere. Frappuccino’s make most things better… Right?

2.Don’t pre-judge your college

Another big one! If your successful in the application process, try your best to be really open-minded about your college. I am guilty of pre-judging. After finding out what college I was going to I immediately decided Study USA was no longer for me. Iwas placed at an all-women’s college in South Carolina – who knew these even existed? However, looking back, I couldn’t be happier and I wish I hadn’t spent so much time stressing about Columbia college. It is all part of the experience and the team at study USA matched me up brilliantly. I quickly realised that my new-found friends were the ones who were going to make this experience for me.


3.The ‘freshman fifteen’ is real

This is one of the American terms that I picked up and it refers to freshman (what we call first year students) putting on 15lbs after starting college life and it couldn’t be more real. Between the constant streams of beer and the huge portion sizes if you don’t keep up some form of exercise you will be lucky if it’s only 15lbs you put on. Also with Study USA you get a meal plan which entitles you to three meals a day (all paid for), so surely you shouldn’t waste this… Right? Well, that’s the approach I took anyway.

4.Fraternities and sororities really do exist.

Well, obviously fraternities didn’t exist in my college, and they were only introducing sororities the year I left. But most of my friends went to University of South Carolina (USC), which is a massive college right beside mine which had every type of frat and sorority you could possibly imagine. Our friends were in TKE and I was lucky enough to get to a few of their events. One of which was a mountain weekend, this is where all the members of TKE bring a date and the fraternity rents log cabins up in the Georgia mountains for a weekend. With this invitation, there was the obligation to paint your date an ice cooler to store your drinks in for the weekend (Something I was not aware at the time). Photos of my cooler are featured below, most stressful experience of my life, it took two months to complete!





5.Just go with it

My final and most important point is simply just go with it all. Yes, you will feel uncomfortable to begin with and things might seem a bit odd but I promise it’s all very fun if you just embrace it. I remember my first weekend I was out in the car with the girls heading to my first frat event – a ‘darty’ which is a day party where all drink and food is provided by the frat. The playlist for the car journey involved every rap song under the sun, I had never heard any before in my life, but they knew every word. Shazam (the app which listens to the song and then tells you the name of it) was my answer to this problem, discretely using this on my phone to store the songs being played so I could listen to them in my dorm later. I laugh so much just thinking about doing this, so ridiculous now! But, it’s just how I adjusted. It really was an incredible year and for me it was completely worth every moment. In my eyes, I took the stance that you will be working for the rest of your life so why not take an opportunity to do something different? Below is a short video of my year – see for yourself all the fun and opportunities I had.

Niamh Webb is a final year BSc in Communication, Advertising & Marketing student at Ulster University. She can be contacted on Twitter @1234niamh, and on LinkedIn: