Student Life- With Your Own Spin On It

Beginning your journey at university can be an exciting but also a daunting experience, well, at least it was for me. When people think about the typical ‘Student Life’ they think about moving away from home, spending your entire student loan within the first week of Freshers, and living on Pot Noodles for eight months out of the year. Yes, I’ll agree that this does generally tend to be the case, but for many it can be completely different, which is absolutely fine!

I had originally planned to move to Belfast for my first year at university, but as the months leading up to beginning Semester 1 approached, I realised that this was a great deal of pressure for me personally. The idea of moving away from home, meeting new people, and completely stepping out of my comfort zone seemed terrifying. So, to make my transition from secondary school to university a little easier, I decided to stay at home and travel for my first year. This decision had both positives and negatives.

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When you decide to travel to university it can be difficult to have the social life of a student if you don’t live in Belfast. You have to arrange lifts, or attempt to park your car somewhere down University Avenue which believe me is not easy if you’re staying at a friends house. Trying to balance having a social life, maintaining decent grades, working 21 hours a week and travelling to university was becoming difficult. I found myself with less and less energy as the weeks went by. I realised that I needed to make university life work for me and not make myself feel pressured into doing it a certain way.

As a way of dealing with the pressures of student life, I turned to exercise. I joined my local gym, I was automatically impressed when I got my 20% student discount when joining which made it a little easier and prompted me to go. I was never a very athletic person, I always detested P.E. in school, so this was going to be interesting. I was a little lost at the beginning, but with the help of one of the gym’s instructors I found my way. After a few months of going to the gym I found a passion for running, a lot of people hear that and think to themselves ‘How could you enjoy running?’.  What I loved the most about exercise was not only did it improve my physical health, but it made me feel a great deal better about myself mentally. I’ve been a member of my local gym now for almost two years and it has been one of my biggest helps when it comes to dealing with the pressures of university.

When second year began I had found my feet and had made some great friends. I still chose to travel to university as this decision was best for me personally. I began to really enjoy university, I had finally got into a routine with managing university, exercise, working, and also having some time to just relax by myself and with friends, which we all need.

Now that final year is well under way, it feels slightly different from my previous two years at university, which is to be expected I suppose. You realise that this is it, this year will determine the result of your whole Degree. The thought of that alone is pretty scary for anyone. However, with the right frame of mind you can do anything.

So, if you are like me and decide that you want to travel to university here are some of my top tips for along the way:

  1. Buy a parking permit. Having to spend £60 in your first week of university is not appealing, but you will save yourself a lot of money in the long run if you do this.

2. Have a travel buddy if you can. In first and second year I car shared with friends   and my Boyfriend. This made life a little easier and really helps with travelling     expenses.

  1. Have a good travel playlist. If you’re travelling a long distance to get to university, it’s always good to have plenty of upbeat tunes to make the journey more appealing.

4. Meet up with friends. If you have friends staying in Belfast for their time at          university, maybe go to lunch with them after your lectures. Even something as        simple as going for coffee can be nice. This is a great way to keep in touch and it      will give you something to look forward to!

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  1. Enjoy your student experience. University is about exploring new paths and doing what you enjoy. If you feel that you’re not enjoying it, talk to a friend or family member and get their advice. Work out what it is that’s making you unhappy and work on it.

Hopefully you will find these tips as helpful as I did!


Anna Haughian is a final year Communication Management and Public Relations Student at Ulster University. She can be contacted on Twitter  @anna_haughian and on Linkedin: 

Ryanair- What Went Wrong?

It is no secret that Ryanair has come under scrutiny in the past, however, this tops them all. The budget airline giant has created a great deal of chaos with cancelling many of its flights. Thousands of passengers were left disappointed to not be going on their holidays, or worse, left stranded in foreign countries with no way home. You can understand why many of these affected consumers took to social media to voice their frustration. For Ryanair, this was disastrous. The morning after news of the scandal broke, every newspaper had it on their front covers, news stations across the UK and Europe had it as their main story. There was no way they could cover this up.

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Today, news spreads instantly and people knew within minutes of what had happened. Not only has this damaged Ryanair’s status as one of Europe’s most popular low-cost airlines, but it has also lost them the trust of many new and existing consumers. Having flown with Ryanair many times myself, I was deeply shocked at how they handled the situation.

Where Did Ryanair go Wrong?

Over 2000 flights were cancelled by Ryanair throughout Europe from September 2017, right through until the end of October 2017. Michael O’Leary (CEO of Ryanair) has said that they were completely at fault by stating: “It was our mess up”. Management at Ryanair failed to allocate holidays for the Airline’s pilots. For such a well-established organisation, their reason for this happening was quite shocking to many of us.

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How Could Ryanair Have Better Managed this Crisis?

When it comes to crisis management, Ryanair appeared to be completely lost. No solution was brought forward or communicated to affected consumers, people were left in the dark as to what was going on and how this issue was going to be addressed. Almost anyone who was due to fly with Ryanair in the coming weeks was left worried and anxious as no one knew which flights had been cancelled. If Ryanair had made this information available from the beginning, this may have avoided many of the issues they encountered.

From reading and listening to press releases and news reports on this scandal, it is clear that Ryanair tried to blame everyone and everything but themselves from the beginning. For e.g. apparently weather was an issue, then the French Air Traffic Control strike was the problem. This strike may have caused some of their problems, but not all of them. The number of flights being cancelled became so vast that people began to further question Ryanair’s excuses. Again, the constant change in reasons as to why peoples’ flights had been cancelled was another reason to cause uproar.

An organisation of Ryanair’s popularity and size is expected to be well equipped when it comes to managing this sort of issue. Having a clear crisis management plan set out would have been of great benefit to Ryanair as this would have allowed them to take a plan of action when it came to addressing this problem.  All organisations, especially those that when an issue arises will create a great deal of media attention, should have a clear crisis management plan set out that in the event if an issue does arise, they can handle it effectively.

 Will Ryanair Recover From This?

People choose to fly with Ryanair because they are extremely affordable. People love a good bargain and to think that such an affordable airline would lose a sizeable percentage of consumers due to this event seems unlikely. Ryanair will do everything in their power to ensure they do not lose consumers; therefore, more than likely making flights even cheaper to attract consumers again.

Generally, we would assume that something as chaotic as this will not happen again, which is why people may continue to book with Ryanair. However, for the consumers that have been affected, this may not be the case as this will have left a lasting impression on them. However, with the airline giant now facing legal action, it may be some time before these disadvantaged consumers receive the compensation they deserve.


Anna Haughian is a final year Communication Management and Public Relations student at Ulster University. She can be found on Twitter: @anna_haughian / Linkedin:


How PR is Changing our Perspective on Mental Health

Opening up about our mental health has always been considered a difficult topic. Up until recently, people were unaware of the meaning behind the term ‘Mental Health’ and what it involved. Understanding mental health and the issues that many people face is a relatively new concept. Thankfully, now in the 21st Century, people are becoming more accepting of mental health struggles; they are not as ignored as what they once were. According to public affairs expert and mental health advocate Katrina Gay, the stigma surrounding mental health is continuing to breakdown and the public relations sector has had a huge impact on this breakthrough.

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The public relations industry and the progression of mental health understanding work extremely well together. This is the case more so now than ever due to the digital advancements and the growing use of the Internet within the public relations sector. People do not want to be defined by their mental health issues; they want to be accepted for who they are as a person and valued for their personal qualities and skills. The Internet and particularly social media platforms, have provided people with a voice to express themselves with.

Creating campaigns to remove the stigma attached to mental health has become an increasingly popular method to achieve this goal. However, the way in which these campaigns are approached needs careful thought and attention. Mental health is a sensitive topic for many people to discuss, it can cause a great deal of discomfort and distress if approached in the wrong way. A fantastic campaign currently run by the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, and Prince Harry known as Heads Together, has made tremendous improvements to how mental health is viewed by society. These Royals used their statuses to their advantage to promote mental health awareness. The campaign reaches out to a range of audiences such as young people and people who have lost loved ones. A fantastic way in which they promoted their campaign was to get involved in the 2017 London Marathon. Each runner that took part in the London Marathon received a ‘Heads Together’ headband and a letter from the three Royals wishing them luck on their marathon, and to also show support for Heads Together. This went viral, journalists, bloggers and mental health advocates instantly began to talk about this and what the Heads Together campaign was all about.

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Social media platforms such as Facebook and Twitter are great tools to use for reaching out to people about mental health. This can be through campaign promotion, setting up a Facebook page where people can talk about their mental health struggles and how to seek help, or posting a Twitter blog on understanding mental health. A great Facebook page currently run by ‘The Mighty’  has a range of tips and advice on coping with mental health difficulties.

The CIPR (Chartered Institute of Public Relations) makes a huge effort to promote mental health care, particularly around certain times of the year such as Mental Health Awareness Week. They work alongside the mental health charity ‘AWARE’ and aim to reduce the stigma surrounding mental health. The CIPR also provides information for people working within the PR industry on how to manage stress and the struggles involved within this career. 59% of people working within the PR industry have experienced mental ill health. It can be a challenging career and the CIPR aim to make public relations professionals more aware of mental health. Also, how organisations within this sector can support employees who may be struggling.

People within the public relations profession have a knowledge on how to effectively communicate. By using their skills, they can help to continue to breakdown the stigma surrounding mental health. This can be through an effective campaign, working alongside mental health charities and advocates, sponsoring events such as Mental Health Awareness week, or simply by publishing reports on current speeches or events that have taken place regarding mental well-being.

It is vital that we continue to work on how we can change the way in which mental health is viewed and what can be done to create a positive energy surrounding discussion on this topic.


Anna Haughian is a final year Communication Management and Public Relations Student at Ulster University. She can be contacted on Twitter  @anna_haughian and on Linkedin: