Fancy an American Adventure?

One my more recent spontaneous decisions that I made was to apply to work at a summer camp in America. It was not something I had ever considered doing but one day at the beginning of May I decided it was what I wanted to do with my summer. Obviously with it being so late on in the year to be applying and with it being so close to the camps beginning for the summer, I had limited choice on how to go through the application process. I couldn’t go through the more well known agencies such as ‘Camp America’ and ‘Americamp’ as their applications had closed for 2017 but I managed to find a company called ‘BUNAC’ who I was able to apply through. I couldn’t have asked for a better service so would highly recommend them to anyone considering camp!

Within the next month I got my visa and found out I would be Lake Staff at Indian and Forest Acres Camp in Fryeburg, Maine. I jetted off to Boston on the 7th of June to begin my adventure! The first two weeks involved setting everything up, being trained, familiarising ourselves with the camps traditions and getting to know eachother before the children arrived. Throughout these induction weeks the Lovewell (lake) staff got to go to the lake everyday and do all the watersports ourselves. On the final day before the kids arrived we carried out a tradition that apparently happens every year. We rented 30 canoes (three people to a canoe) and used our life jackets to tie them all together and spent the day floating down the Saco River, stopping at numerous beaches on the way. We were prepared and developed a systematic approach to the drinking strategy for the day. 20% water, 80% bevs.RR13

Once the kids arrived they were assigned their cabin and the counsellors found out who we would be living with. Our job as counsellors was to essentially play the role of parents to the children for the next seven weeks. The age range at camp was 7-16 and I was placed in the junior unit so the girls in my cabin were among the youngest. It’s so strange how you can develop such a close bond with people you have never met and I can honestly say I felt like the girls were my children for the summer.

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Indian and Forest Acres is a very old camp, coming into its 95th year, which naturally means it is full of traditions. I thought some of these traditions were odd at first but by the end of the summer I had fully come to appreciate them. The links below give a taste of what life was like at camp.

https://vimeo.com/226311311                                                 https://vimeo.com/229915789

On a typical day my routine would be to go to the lake in the morning, drive the boats whilst teaching the children how to water-ski and wakeboard. We would go back for lunch and then in the afternoon we would be teaching the kids how to sail, kayaking and paddle board.

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We started off in Boston, Massachusetts, making our way down to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania then on to Washington D.C. After this we went to Miami, Florida. We then started to make our way back up North to Wayne, New Jersey, stopping off at Orlando for some fun at Universal Studios, eventually ending up in New York City to finish our trip.RR17

 

I cannot recommend considering going to America to work at a summer camp enough! It was such an amazing experience and as cliché as it sounds, you really do make friends for life!

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Rebecca Reid is a Final Year Communication Management and Public Relations Student at Ulster University. She can be contacted on Twitter @Rebecca12reid and on LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/rebecca-reid-64b580153/

Politics- Out of reach for generation Y?

Generation Y, also known as ‘millennial’s’ are those born between 1982 and 2004. Although the delineation of who the term millennial is referring to varies, Howe and Strauss (2000) are customarily credited with coining the term and they suggest that they are born within these particular dates.

This is the generation that are renowned for having the least amount of interest in politics. Of course there are young people who have a genuine interest and are politically engaged but this doesn’t equate to the mass proportion of political conversation that takes place in the public sphere between older generations. Since public opinion is formed in the public sphere and politics is renowned for not having a major part in generation Y’s public sphere.. how is opinion formed? What is the future for politics?

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A lot of people would argue that the reasoning behind little interest in politics for millennial’s is due to it being unrelatable a lot of the time as manifestos and policies rarely appeal to them, but, is this trend changing? Stats show that in 2015, 1 in 5 millennials had no interest whatsoever in politics but by 2017 this dropped to less than 1 in 10 stating they had no interest in politics. Could this be because of Brexit and the political agenda and personal appeal throughout the process? Many politicians across the globe are adopting mannerisms that make them more relatable to the young. Take Donald Trump; since his presidential campaign, there has been more interest in politics than ever before. Although a large factor for this is almost certainly due to his ludicrous statements and often outlandish behaviour, there has to be something said for his engagement through platforms such as twitter. If he didn’t make his opinions so public and abrupt, people would most likely not take as much of an interest in what was going on in American politics.

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Politics may start to feature in our generations conversation more due to it becoming less of a trivial subject with the likes of celebrities such as Georgia Toffolo claiming their interest in the subject.AA3

 

Politicians have began to make a point of talking about issues that directly affect the young. Topics such as tuition fees, housing, Brexit and immigration are all issues that were discussed and covered at great length throughout recent political events, such as the referendum and the general election. Young people relate to these issues as they directly impact them, whereas in previous years, factors were spoke about that were perhaps unrelatable to millennials.

With generation Y being the first generation to be less successful than our predecessors in terms of earning money, it’s important to get involved in politics and help mould the government that shapes the nation.

Rebecca Reid is a final year BSc in Communication Management and Public Relations student at Ulster University. She can be contacted on Twitter @Rebecca12reid and on Linkedin: https://www.linkedin.com/in/rebecca-reid-64b580153/

What Next?- How to survive final year

What are you doing next year? How many jobs have you applied for? Are you going to live at home or go away? These are some of the dreaded questions that I’m sure any final year student will agree they get asked at least ten times a week by family, friends and their old neighbour’s cousin’s auntie that they run into at the shop occasionally.

It seems that once you utter the words final year, people automatically assume you have it all figured out. Little do they know, you’re still trying to figure out how on earth you are in final year when it feels like only last week you discovered 90p shots in Villa on a Wednesday night during 1st year freshers. You’ve survived the first couple of years of one big party, with some coursework and exams thrown in along the way, but now you have final year problems galloping towards you.

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Up until this point in our lives, we have not really had to think about what lies ahead or what to do in the following year. Our lives have essentially been mapped out for us, we have drifted through year by year progressing in education. But what happens now? Now we don’t have someone telling us what our lives will behold in the forthcoming year and no longer have a path to follow. It is our decision from here on in.

 

Whilst certain career paths may be the ideal scenario for some, it most certainly isn’t for others.

 

If you have it all figured out and know what you want to do- then fab, but if you slightly stutter when asked about your careers prospects-don’t fret. A large portion of like-minded students, (including myself) share the same dilemmas. Doing a masters, taking a gap year, doing a ski season, doing a graduate scheme, joining officer training for the military, or moving to London and putting my vocational degree to use are just a few of the ideas I’m umming and ahhing with.

If finishing uni and taking time to reflect on what’s important to you and finding your passions to guide you to your next step then so be it. This course could help ensure that you make a decision that’s more suited for you, rather than making a rash one you may regret.

Studying for exams, doing lit reviews, going to training, giving your best friend advice you’re definitely not qualified to give, maintaining some sort of social life that allows for the odd, much needed blow out, getting relevant work experiences, holding down a part time job, to name a few, all whilst ensuring to fit in the weekly visit to the grandparents can be daunting and make it seem like there is little to no spare time for adventures.

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Whilst addressing these inescapable first world problems is inevitable, it is important to take a step back and enjoy what university life has to offer, even if it involves a hefty workload. I, like many others have already had phases of becoming so wrapped up in my studies that I have forgot to enjoy my final year. We are often in a whirlwind of stress with coursework to do and exams rapidly approaching that it leaves us in bereft of a social life. But from listening to advice from family and from friends who have already graduated, I have tried to adapt a different mind-set.

Tips I have learnt thus far for managing final year;

  • Set aside time for family as they really are the best support network, and who knows, this could be the last year that home is so close, where it’s possible to have a hearty meal made for you when you need it most
  • Make time for friends- it provides sanity and takes your mind off stress. Plus you don’t know if you will all be living in the same country again so this is prime time to make the most of having your best friends in close proximity
  • Make time for your hobbies and team commitments – don’t lose sight of your interests and passions
  • Invest in a diary and make to-do-lists for everyday. It ensures you know exactly what you have to do in advance and it’s oddly satisfying crossing off things as you complete them
  • Don’t work too many hours in your part time job- uni comes first
  • Make use of the careers advice in uni- they are a great help when it comes to tips on CV’s and job applications
  • Find a routine that suits you- give yourself a break at the weekend, discover where you work best and at what time, whether that be in the library or curled up on the sofa
  • Keep healthy- try to maintain a healthy(ish) diet and exercise regularly… release those endorphin’s!
  • if you’re reading this and you are not final year yet- be prepared to work hard and consider dissertation topics before beginning the year (this will benefit you in the long run, even if it’s just a rough idea)

 

What stands between you and graduation are several all-nighters in the library, a few mental breakdowns, a tea spillage ruining a new laptop with all your unsaved work (if you’re as unlucky as I am) and an unhealthy consumption of red bull, but all in all, this is the last year of it being acceptable to sleep in on a weekday, go out on a random Tuesday night and have the free time to go on those trips away.

 

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So although stress levels may be sky rocketing, rather than burying your head in the sand, enjoy the final year of being a university student, we will never have this much free time or as many of our mates around us again. Rather than being all work no play, by managing time more efficiently and taking a step back, we can enjoy the year. Take it one step at a time and if you don’t know what you want to do for the rest of your life at this particular moment in time, that’s okay too.

Rebecca Reid is a Final Year Communication Management and Public Relations Student at Ulster University. She can be contacted on twitter @Rebecca12reid and on Linkedin: https://www.linkedin.com/in/rebecca-reid-64b580153/

 

A different approach to Thai travel

As appealing as the full moon parties appear, I did Thailand slightly differently. I ventured on a three week expedition that would promise adventure and an unforgettable cultural experience.

After completing the application process and being successful at the interview stage, it was a countdown until I jetted off to Thailand with World Challenge.

World challenge is an organisation that provides exhibitions for students who want to step outside of their comfort zone and explore the world. Their exhibitions offer trekking, culture highlights, a community volunteering project and adrenaline activities.

When accepted onto the programme, a condition of World Challenge was that I had to fundraise money before going on the trip. This was challenging and it was achieved through holding various coffee mornings, selling cakes and other treats at my sporting matches on a Saturday morning, pub quizzes, partnering with numerous local business to produce a hamper gift set for a raffle and doing sponsored events, such as abseiling.

I could not be prepared for the trip I was about to embark upon. It was truly an eye opening experience that provided me with the thirst to want to explore the world and help those in need and less fortunate than us. The exhibition was divided into 3 sections, adrenaline activities, R+R and cultural immersion, trekking in the rain-forests for 7 days and undertaking a volunteering project.

Thailand is an amazing country with so much culture to offer. We immersed ourselves in the way of living and paid visits to temples and shrines, great abandoned temples, met monks, excited our taste buds with the vibrant street food and explored up and down the country by travelling on night trains.

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We visited beautiful waterfalls, elephant sanctuaries and hot springs and completed adventure activities such as white water rafting.

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The trekking phase of the exhibition was challenging both mentally and physically. We were trekking in extremely humid conditions for 8 hours a day in the jungle, off the beaten track. We were led by 2 Thai men, who, at night would teach us the authentic Thai way of cooking.

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During this phase we stayed in hill tribes, made hammocks that swung between two trees and found shelter along the way. We encountered tarantulas, elephants and plenty more wild animals. It was a real Bear Grylls experience as I found myself snacking on insects (gross I know- but when everyone around you is doing it, it becomes the norm.)

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The final phase of the exhibition allowed us to yet again live alongside a local community in need, and being involved in powerful initiatives to collaborate with the community to make a difference. During the volunteering project our group helped to finish building a house for a family to live in. We also worked at a local farm for a number of days, packaging produce, feeding and taking care of the animals and helping them become more efficient in their technique and improve sanitation. We visited a local school and got to spend time with the underprivileged children and we were introduced to a woman who designer clothes in the area to try and support her family.

This trip definitely fed my desire for adventure and left me wanting more! If you thrive off of adventure, trying new things and helping people then an exhibition style trip is exactly what you need to do.. You won’t regret it!

Rebecca Reid is a Final Year Communication Management and Public Relations Student at Ulster University. She can be contacted on twitter @Rebecca12reid and on Linkedin: https://www.linkedin.com/in/rebecca-reid-64b580153/