Confessions of an Online Shopaholic.

Confessions of an Online Shopaholic.

‘Your order has been shipped’. If I had to choose five words which kept me going during during lockdown it would be these.

 In a world where every social media site or news source was flooded with the latest Covid-19 statistic or isolation horror story the home pages of my shopping apps felt like a safe haven with the only reminder of reality being a patterened face mask. My frequent shopping habit was problem enough as it was before lockdown but the pairing of hours spent scrolling through ASOS and Zara’s ‘New-In’ section along with increased disposable income now there was no outtings and you had yourself a dangerous combination.

What doesn’t help is that we live in a generation where looks and aesthetics are more important than ever before and especially among young women; being seen as fashionable can be viewed as a very valuable currency. A largely followed Instagram page for girls these days can be the goose that lays the golden egg, because along with clout comes opportunity and even more conveted is the seemingly endless stream of free stuff. While ‘OOTDs’ and ‘Look Books’ were previously confined to Instagram and Youtube the spillage onto TikTok was detrimental to my bank account. Every third video seemed to be a different variation of the same types of outfit, flared trousers with chucky trainers and an oversized jumper, a tennis skirt with a sweater vest and collar and then a strappy mini dress with a leather jacket and Doc Martins. Despite everyone seemingly having the same rotation of outfits, this new style seemed to require a lot more items and therefore more shopping. ‘Basic’ style is basically blasphemy in todays world of online fashion, long gone is the reign of the old faithful skinny jean and nice top combo, and the irony of it is, is that standing out has never looked more like fitting in. Unknowningly once again it seems, it is the same outfits just in different fonts.

There is comfort however in knowing that there’s many of us in the same boat, even if it is one that’s sinking. A common trend on twitter during lockdown did seem to be the on-going joke that many people started to get on first name basis with their delivery drivers. It’s hard not to love seeing them coming when it was one of the few things to look forward to during lockdown. While buying something physical instore is a rush, there has to be something said for the process of online shopping and how each stage provides its own release of satisfaction; ‘Your order has been processed’, ‘Your order has been shipped’, ‘Your order is out for delivery’ and then waiting feverishly for the driver to arrive only brings greater enjoyment to finally having the parcel in your hands.

One of the worst parts of online shopping however is how easy they make it to buy things you know you shouldn’t. Buy Now Pay Later is a cruel mistress and one not to be played with. Students are typically well used living beyond their means ‘loans in, wits out’ a phrase used far too often by people living large during freshers week and then scraping by until the next payment comes in, but now with the likes of Klarna this doesn’t apply to online shopping. Klarna is just one of many online financing services which allow you to pay in installments or at a later stage. While it’s well and good to use it once in a while when you’re short on cash and need something for an emergency it should be used with caution. All too often I have had friends become trigger happy with it and then been hit with reality when a hefty bill eventually comes through.

Unfortunately it seems that 2021 will mostly be a case of ‘all dressed up and got no where to go’ so here’s to hoping for the health of our finances that the fashion gurus won’t go changing up styles anytime soon.

Sophie Fox is studying BSc Hons Communication Management and Public Relations at Ulster University. You can contact her on Twitter and LinkedIn

The Rise of Veganism – Is Veganism Taking Over?

The Rise of Veganism – Is Veganism Taking Over?

We are seeing vegan options being added to the menus of most cafes and restaurants, and the introduction of vegan brands to nearly all supermarkets. Some examples include Wicked Kitchen in Tesco, Plant Pioneers in Sainsbury’s and Plant Kitchen in M&S. With over half a million people in the UK pledging to go vegan in January, let’s explore why veganism is taking over? 

First of all, let’s look at the trend of going vegan in January, also known as Veganuary, which has been growing in popularity in recent years. According to charity Veganuary, 582,538 people signed-up to take part in a challenge to go completely vegan in January 2021, compared to 400,000 in 2020 – exceeding the charity’s 2021 target of 500,000. Due to the rising popularity of the challenge, Veganuary drove supermarkets to increase their vegan range with most supermarkets now offering a full section dedicated to plant-based alternatives. For example, in Tesco, their meat alternative range is based at the end of one of their meat aisles to encourage meat eaters to have a nosey when they reach the end of the aisle and see the alternatives on offer.

But why are people turning vegan? The BBC reported on a survey carried out by Mintel of 1,040 British adults and asked the reasoning behind people eating less meat and I have included the results below:

49% of those interested in cutting down on their meat intake said they would for health reasons, with over 50% of those who are non-meat eaters stating their biggest reason is for animal welfare.

You can read more on this here: https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-44488051

In addition, a growing number of celebrities are announcing they’re vegan including Beyonce, Madonna, Ariana Grande and Zac Efron. There are also a number of YouTube stars and influencers are also vegan including Lucy Watson and Fearne Cotton. 

The popularity of video app TikTok has also encouraged increasing numbers of young people to make the change to veganism as there are plenty of videos of recipes to illustrate how easy it is to make that change. If you want to explore how TikTok is doing this then read this great article from the Independent explaining how vegan influencers are helping others to make that change: https://www.independent.co.uk/climate-change/sustainable-living/vegan-based-tik-tok-plantboiis-b1795724.html

So, is veganism taking over? Veganism is definitely gaining more popularity with over 580,000 people across the UK pledging to go vegan for at least a month this year. Furthermore, research on plant-based meat alternatives conducted by investment bank UBS found that the number of people who tried plant-based meat alternatives increased from 48% to 53% between March and November last year. Of those who tried plant-based alternatives, approximately half said that they would continue to eat them at least once a week.

The amount of people taking on the vegan lifestyle in the UK is increasing every year and exceeding expectations. Would you be interested in going vegan? With the growing number of vegan options, it’s probably easier than you think!

Niamh Deeny is currently on her work placement year for BSc Communication Management and Public Relations at Ulster University. She can be found on Twitter and LinkedIn.

The secrets to happiness, life, and love, according to my 95-year-old Granny

The secrets to happiness, life, and love, according to my 95-year-old Granny

Life is all about the choices we make and the chances we take. One of the most valuable things in life is the connections we make with other people. My Granny was originally from a small village in County Kerry and my Grandad was from a small village in County Derry. They both made the choice at a young age to go to work in England and that is where they eventually met. My Granny was married to my late Grandad for over 60 years.  On a rainy evening during lockdown, I decided I would ask my Granny a few questions about life, love, and happiness.

Perspective and gratitude are everything

My Granny lived with her nine siblings in a small house in Kerry. There were three bedrooms in the house; one for her parents, one for the boys and one for the girls. She never felt poor as she says, “there was food on the table”, and they ate together as a family, every evening. She never went on a family holiday, and rarely even got to the beach, but she enjoyed the Summer with her friends and neighbours. She never received any gifts from Santa, even though she knew of his existence. She did, however, love the time she spent visiting her aunt and Grandmother during the holidays and was grateful for the things she had and never compared it to anyone else.

Teamwork makes the dream work

My Granny said that their secret was to make decisions together, work as a team and never go to bed angry. “It was a joint effort and we had to work on it every day.” My Granny and Grandad were the perfect team; they even worked together when my Grandad was a bus driver and my Granny worked as the bus ticket collector. She loved my Grandad’s “kind nature” and her favourite thing about marriage was settling down and having children. 

My Granny and Grandad on their Wedding day and their 60th Wedding Annviersary

Take Chances

The more I was tormenting my Granny with my 101 different questions, the more I realised that she made hard decisions and took chances that became life changing. We laughed as she recalled sneaking out of the house when she was younger, but she also took chances leaving school early to work in a convent and she later took the chance to work in England. She was not the only one who took chances in her life. My Grandad was sent by his friend to tell Granny that he was not coming on their pre-arranged date. My Grandad then took a chance, walked her back to the bus and asked her out, after talking on the way there. Within a year, my Granny and Grandad were married.

Hard and Honest Work

My Granny told me how she started her job in the convent at 5am, every day, at just 15 years old. Since then, her lifestyle and mindset changed.  She believes that life’s rewards are all brought about through honesty and integrity. She worked hard in both her personal and professional life, from the multitude of jobs she worked, to raising her children.  “In everything you do, try your best and work hard.” My Granny faithfully follows a routine in her life – she shops on a Friday, goes to the hairdressers on a Thursday and even goes to bingo faithfully on a Tuesday. Although we laugh that she has such a set routine you need to book an appointment with her, she thinks that routines help you stay productive and busy. She likes to get the most out of every day, and after 95 years, she has made some great memories and still makes routines for herself (even if it is washing the floors twice a day in a national lockdown!).

And lastly, I asked her the secret to a long life. It’s a pretty simple concept but it is useful when baring the hard times:

 “Keep on keeping on, and when things get tougher just know that easier times are to come” ~ Johanna Lagan, 2021 (my lifelong inspiration).

Erin McKenna is a final year BSc in Communication, Advertising & Marketing student at Ulster University. She can be found at LinkedIn.

The Social dilemma – why am I scrolling more than I’m sleeping?

The Social dilemma – why am I scrolling more than I’m sleeping?

Scroll versus sleep? I recently watched The Social Dilemma and it left me feeling pretty hopeless. I thought I was pretty good at not being on my phone, putting it down at 11pm and trying not to lift it until 8am the next day. But the screen time reminder thinks otherwise. It likes to prod fun at me with jeering messages informing me my screen time is up 15% on the previous week for a grand total of 6 hr 17 mins a day. Six hours a day on my phone… how? Doing what? Achieving what? I claim that I don’t have time to read two books a week but I can do 6 hours A DAY of giving Zuckerberg more data to manipulate and sell. Scandalous. Six hours is the number of hours I sleep. More sleeping than scrolling is the healthier option here. So every week I look at my screen reports and vow that next week I will be better but better never seems to happen. Why?

Even while watching the documentary which informed us of the heinous nature of social media and the power our smartphones have over us, I still found myself reaching for my phone every time it buzzed and sometimes even when it didn’t. Our phones have become an extension of us, an additional limb; tethered to us at all times. You would be shocked if you looked at the amount of times you pick up your phone on a daily basis. Mine exceeds 200 nearly everyday. Can you imagine doing anything else 200 plus times a day that isn’t a natural bodily function like blinking or breathing? Our phones have become so intrinsically linked to our person that we pick them up subconsciously and unwittingly immerse ourselves in the online sphere rather than engaging in the physical world around us.

According to an article by Harvard University researcher Trevor Haynes,  whenever you get a social media notification, your brain sends a chemical called dopamine along a reward pathway resulting in a feel good feeling. Therefore it is no wonder our phones are such a distraction; they have become a quick and easy way to get a dopamine hit by simply getting attention from your network in the form of likes, comments, retweets, all with just a few taps of your thumb. The constant chasing of this validation is an addiction and neurologically damaging. The documentary indicated the soaring levels of anxiety and depression amongst young people brought on directly by social media overload.

We are thus left in this social dilemma – we know the constant scrolling and constant use of social media is damaging yet it also has a wide range of positive aspects. We know that it allows us to connect with friends/family on different continents, to engage with educational content, lending a platform to marginalized voices and boosting social justice movements to name a few. This is even more imperative in 2020. Perhaps The Social Dilemma needs to be taken with a pinch of salt? There aren’t three men in a room who are carefully planning and controlling every aspect of our feeds but there is a carefully curated algorithm tailored to us. It manipulates features to make our devices as addictive as possible to keep us tipping those scales towards more scroll and less sleep. Thus with this in mind – it is no negative feat to try reduce our screen time. Is it too late for us to change our habits? I don’t think so. You can take control. You can have your own algorithm in real life. Several small changes can lead to a bigger overall shift in our relationship with our phones. I have been setting screen lock to kick in at 10.30pm-8.30am, turning off notifications for apps, leaving it at home when I go on a walk and charging it in a different room are all small but significant ways I have started trying to reduce my screen time. It’s actually becoming easier as time goes on. Hopefully in a few weeks I will be reading rather than refreshing, talking more than texting and most importantly sleeping more than scrolling.

Lucy Mullan is an Msc in PR and Communications at Ulster University, working part-time at Keys Premium Finance. She can be found at: https://www.linkedin.com/in/lucy-mullan-2b8309102/

When you can’t control the situation, control your reaction to it

I think everyone would agree that normality has been thrown out the window and a ‘self-isolating book for dummies’ would be greatly appreciated right now. But that’s not going to happen anytime soon so I have came to the conclusion that we have two options:

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  • We can let the situation take control of us
  • Or accept that we can’t control the situation but we can control our reaction to it.

 

The cliche is true: we really are all in this together. I am now 5 weeks into isolation and the version of me that you would have seen 4 weeks ago is extremely different to now.

The Meltdown

When isolation began I worked from home for a few weeks. Truth be told if not for work I would have lost my mind! It was the only thing filling these long and empty days (and I know a lot of people will relate). Next thing you know I am off work for 4  weeks and now what? This is the question I asked myself repeatedly. For the first time in so long I had no purpose and that was the most difficult thing. The next few days was a downward spiral of: anxiety, sleepless nights and mind draining bordem.

The Comeback

Looking back now I’m annoyed  that I wasted a week moping around feeling sorry for myself. Little by little, day by day I started doing things that I had been putting off because I was so busy. Then it occurred to me that I have been handed a huge opportunity! Think about it under normal circumstances if someone said to you: ‘take 4 weeks off work and do nothing or go try new things or spend time with your family’ YOU’D BE BUZZING! SO that’s exactly what I did!

A New Chapter

First steps: Write a list of things that you always said ‘I’d love to try that’. Now go and do it. It’s that simple. Read the book that you bought 6 months ago, try a 30 day online yoga class, bake a cake, start a blog.

(This actually is my list and I have now done all of the above!)

Doing all of these things was great and it distracted me for an hour everyday. But I knew that if I was to take back control I would have to be in control of my emotions and my mind.  After a lot of research and many podcasts later I learnt that journaling may be the answer to all of my problems. I have kept a journal on and off for many years but I’ve never committed to it, so after lots of research I realized that I definitely wasn’t doing it right before nor was I getting the many benefits out of it.

Journaling

“ What a comfort is this journal I tell myself to myself and throw the burden on my book and feel relieved.” Anne Lister.

After a few weeks I perfected the journaling technique that worked for me. This quotation is the best way that I can explain it. Usually we would open up to other people. But there is so much going on in the world right now that no one wants to hear my first world problems, so I open up to my journal.  I wanted something that would: add structure to my day, allow me to aim for goals, let me reflect on how I felt and visualise beyond this time in my life (creating a sense of hope). I can honestly say that the benefits that this process has had on my mental health has been mind blowing and for the first time in a long time I have control and I am happy. 

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Journaling pages pictured on my blog @mindtalkblog

I was always that person that bottled things up and kept myself to myself. I hid behind an insecure smile and I found it difficult to sleep because the conversation between me & my mind was so negative. I can not stress enough the positive impact this has had on my life and especially on the quality of my sleep. I now sleep like a BABY!

Tip: I have gotten into the habit of finishing my journal entry every night by writing down a few things that I am GRATEFUL for. Because no matter how tough the situation is, we all have at least one thing in our lives that we are grateful for.

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My Blog

The new me had so much energy and positivity that I wanted to share my thoughts about journaling with other people. I believed that everyone should have the chance to experience how I feel. So, on 15th April I set up my own blog on Instagram called mindtalkblog. It talks about all things journaling: what it is; how to do it; tips & techniques etc. and to my surprise the response has been amazing!

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https://www.instagram.com/mindtalkblog/ FOLLOW ME!!

I have wanted to create a blog for years but something in the back of my mind has always stopped me. Perhaps it was my confidence or perhaps I had to go through this experience first. But finally I ran out of excuses because all we have at the minute is time. Time to take chances, time to grow and time to flourish.

So I will say it one last time: When you can’t control the situation, control your reaction to it.

 

Kayleigh Tinney is a 3rd year BSc in Communication, Advertising & Marketing student at Ulster University, currently doing a placement year at The Irish News. She can be found on: Instagram – @Kayleightinney and LinkedIn – https://www.linkedin.com/in/kayleigh-tinney-76b240161/.

Life with Asthma

Most of you will know what Asthma is, but for those who don’t it is a chronic respiratory disease. Basically when your airways are branded as ‘sensitive’, meaning they easily become inflamed and are itching to react as soon as they come into contact with something they don’t like.

CL1My dad has it, my brother has it and of course I have it. I was diagnosed with Asthma before I was five, extremely young for such as serious disease. My Asthma as a child was awful verging on severe. In all honesty, I know so many people that underestimate the disease and how deadly it can be. But it only takes a quick look at the stats to change this.

‘In the UK every 10 seconds someone has a life threating Asthma attack with a death rate of 3 people per day.’

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Don’t get me wrong as a child I loved a wee spin in an ambulance every few months. Isn’t that every child’s dream to be speeding up the road with the flashing blue lights on and the serine blurring feeling like a VIP. Mummy not so much. The water works were on and the worry was through the roof. I knew it was bad when even the out of hour’s doctors knew my name.

Everyone has their own triggers and their own ways of dealing with it. Anything can really set it off. For me it ranges from the cold, winter air to damp, dusty carpets. Not ideal when you’re living in a student house. Even little things have me struggling, e.g. cleaning my room without the dust getting to me. Luckily, my mummy comes to the rescue here which is a big win as my room has seen some states. When I can feel an asthma attack coming on I always find that breathing through/into something helps me to focus on my breathing whether it is into a paper bag or an anti-allergy pillow. 

On the downside one of my triggers is hay. An absolute nightmare with my grandparents and 5 out of 7 of my uncles on my mum’s side being farmers. Having to stay out of sheds and not being able to go away up the farm with my cousins had me tortured as a child. You wouldn’t have wanted to see the tantrums I had, especially when they were feeding pet lambs. Worse yet, have you ever riden a horse? Because I haven’t.

Trust me plenty of people with Asthma smoke but it really depends on how bad you have it. Me? Well if I took one puff out of a cigarette I’d be wheezing for a month or two at least. Personally, other people smoking around me doesn’t bother me as long as the smoke isn’t blowing in my face but I think that’s a pet hate for a lot of people. Just a quick heads up, if you see me on a night out please don’t be that one annoying person that keeps offering me a fag. There’s only so many times I can say ‘no’ nicely.

But that’s not even the most annoying thing.

It’s that annual Asthma check-up. Oh how I dread it every year. Only because of the Peak Flow test. Yes, it looks simple. Yes, all you have to do is blow into a tube. And yes, I still suck at it. Leading to that endless row with the nurses about how I could never do it, for them to tell me that I should be scoring better and giving me the same rant as the years before. SO ANNOYING.

TOP TIP: If you want to infuriate a person with Asthma then here’s an easy way to do it. Tell them that you had it or your sister had it and it was cured. Yes, sometimes Asthma can disappear in children or settle down for adolescences but there is NO cure for Asthma. So, we really don’t want to hear it.

Lucky for me my Asthma has settled down over the past few years. I no longer have to constantly worry about the activities I’m doing or where I’m going and I’ve had no recent spins in an ambulance. But I still do keep my inhalers close just in case that changes. On that note I’ll leave you here with a photo of my younger self, how cute was I?

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Claire Loughran is a final year Bsc Communication Management and Public Relations student at Ulster University. She can be found on Linkedin – https://www.linkedin.com/in/claire-loughran-959871169/

Successful Way to Binge Watch Netflix

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Firstly, to binge watch Netflix successfully you must know the good series so I will let you all in on what I think is good now and what I recommend before letting you in on my trick of binge watching, I tend to binge watch some series multiple times. And I will let you all in on a few Netflix top tips… Unless you already know that is.

  • Friends

This is an all-time favourite for a lot of individuals because of the relatable characters like Joey, Rachel, Monica, Ross, Chandler and Phoebe who have real life problems. Friends fanatics tend to find it one of the most quotable shows making it very exciting to rewatch with sayings from Ross like  “Pivot” and “We were on a break” or creative songs by Phoebe “Smelly Cat” being one of many. Google have recently celebrated the anniversary of Friends with quirky reminders of the show – if you google the characters you’ll understand. Friends founded itself in the middle of the rising New York media in the ’90s. When watching Friends at some points in the last few seasons you might feel, why am I still watching this? The series finale is a near- perfect end to the show we continuously wish we had new episodes to watch. And it’s rumoured we might get to!

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  • Stranger Things

Like Friends the young, constantly growing cast can be relatable but new at the same time. New characters that have been introduced to our screens included Billy, Bob Newby, Max and numerous other characters, these new characters help to create a new but developed narrative in each season which will make us as the audience more likely to watch on and see how the new relationships develop. Stranger Things has its advantage of young characters there is a lot of humour especially in the sci-fi/ 90’s aspect to it. ‘Stranger Things’ is meant to include tension, but the constant humour creates a friendly nature, the adults present a perspective for other potential audiences. The interesting characters within the show is the best reason to binge watch this show it is based in a fictional town but tends to have distorted views of non-fiction within, it is a great watch and season 4 will hopefully be out soon to do some more binge watching.

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  • Peaky Blinders

Peaky Blinders is one of my top picks and was released on BBC in 2013 and has been expanding to audiences since then – it is about a small family run gang in the Streets of Birmingham after the great war – it is run by the Shelby Family with they key character being Tommy Shelby who is also one of the most hated characters. (who is my personal fave). Even though the Peaky Blinders have 6 episodes in each season, it gives viewers a lot of action in a short space of time than any other period dramas, constantly keeping your heart in your hands. With the number of episodes Peaky Blinders is easy to binge watch over a weekend. As soon as you start to grow to love the characters the show wastes no time putting them in danger putting your body in full adrenaline mode keeping you on edge. With characters like Tommy and John Shelby you will be dying for more episodes, the Shelby men are easy on the eye.

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  • Gossip Girl

There are so many reasons to watch Gossip Girl, the New York fashion scene – since majority of characters are wealthy, they have a lot of high-end clothes. With the ladies wearing high heels and Blair Waldorf’s fashionable headband the men also know how to strut their stuff. The cast are also very likeable characters with relatable characters having problems in their personal lives. It takes place in New York, Manhattan, Brooklyn and the Upper East Side – you can visit some of the places in Gossip Girl which is exciting for any fanatics. The key phrase in this show has to be *key the music* “You know you love me XO XO GOSSIP GIRL.” However, the second last episode the characters realise who Gossip Girl was the whole time, which is the penultimate moment of the drama, then finding out other characters who have known already. (I am currently rewatching so felt that this was a necessary one).

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OK, so getting into binge watching there is a lot of Netflix hacks to know – there is a latest tab which will keep you into seeing new and upcoming shows and you can click into them – you can also get reminded of when they come out on Netflix by getting notified when they arrive! Another tip is the preview section, you can watch a clip that will show you a good preview and understanding, you can add shows to your watchlist after watching the previews by pressing the plus sign or play and watch the whole thing there and then. You can get recommendations by getting ratings, so give something a thumbs up if you really love it.

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Step 1:

Clear your schedule:

  • You need to make sure that you have no priorities when starting to binge watch, when several episodes deep you’ll not want to do what you might have planned to do later on.
  • You need to review your show before starting as some shows don’t have that many episodes and may be binge watched in a few hours but some a few weeks. This may make you choose between a night out with the pals or a night in with Netflix and chocolate.
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Step 2:

Find somewhere cosy:

  • Since you’re going to be chilling in the one spot you might as well make yourself comfortable. So, try binge watching on a recliner or on your sofa, try watching on a TV and avoid watching on a computer or mobile phone because it can cause eye strain.
  • Only problem with watching TV in bed is it can lead to insomnia, this can be seen through studies that have concluded the blue light from screens trick your brains and making you feel more awake. Screen time affects sleep through its effect on pre-sleep arousal.

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Step 3:

Stock up on treats:

  • Nourish yourself so you don’t have to get up mid-season, if you like healthy snacks, don’t forget to stock up on them.
  • Try to portion out your snacks so you don’t make yourself sick by eating too much at the one time.
  • You might as well have a few treats do give you a bit of energy.

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Step 4

Use a binge-watching session as an opportunity to hydrate. (This step is optional)

  • Keep your water handy to yourself and refill between episodes.
  • Feel free to twist it up with some of your healthy snacks (berries/ orlemons) to give it a bit of flavour.

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You can sign up for free trials on Netflix if you’ve never tried it before – the 7-day free trial is one of the best inventions for binge watching because it is a free way of watching without paying and there’s a time limit so you’re more likely to binge. Make sure to cancel to avoid any charges as Netflix normally ask for credit card numbers (this is their way to catch you).

Watch with a friend it may be free for you and is also more fun watching with someone else because you can get opinions afterwards. Try to avoid watching the show with someone who has seen it as they could potentially spoil it on you.

Finally, if you are binge watching before bed turn off 30 minutes before you go so you can get a good night’s sleep, you must give your brain some time to unwind like I said earlier.

There are no real necessary steps these are just a guidance.

I tend to constantly binge-watch series both inside and outside Netflix so hopefully these steps will help you. Another few amazing shows to watch that aren’t on Netflix are “How to Get Away with Murder”, “One Tree Hill” and “Grey’s Anatomy.”

For more popular reviews on TV shows go to websites like Rotten Tomatoes.

 

Caithlen Loughran is a final year BSc in Communication Management & Public Relations student at Ulster University. She can be found at: Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/caithlenloughran.x , LinkedIn – Caithlen Loughran and Instagram – caithlenloughran

When One Door Closes, Another Door…Closes??

That’s what it felt like for a few years anyway. Things just weren’t what I anticipated when I left school and threw myself into University life, that I was sceptical of going to in the first place (I’ll get to that in a bit).

‘What’s for you won’t go past you,’ as my ma liked to remind me every so often, when something went wrong or didn’t work out the way I wanted… Usually to my own accord mind you. Being too laid back, going with the flow and thinking everything would work out eventually. Or, was I just being too lazy and not taking life into my own hands? Lazy probably being the obvious answer.

They say things happen for a reason, and everybody is on a different path in life. Perhaps my path was just a little different than usual? I’ve often asked myself this question. Quite simply, I’ve learned a lot from my experiences and journey so far. It has allowed me to become more mature (very debatable) and understand ‘me’ a little better. So here it is.

In school, my degree of choice, at that time, was available to study at either Ulster University Coleraine or Queens Belfast. Queens being the more desirable choice of the two as I was enticed by the reputation of being a ‘Queens student’ but, I didn’t get the grades; Shock…

After multiple meetings with the VP of our school, he convinced me to take on the challenge of going somewhere other than Belfast and the Rose & Crown, thinking it would be the best for me. For me, a gap year was off the cards. Even if it was Coleraine, I just wanted to get to Uni and experience the student lifestyle. So I bought into it.

I had it all planned out in my head, new adventure, living away from home, house parties, maybe go to class the odd time, go for runs on the beach on my days off and hopefully in the end of it all get my degree. Absolutely, none of these things happened. After a month into the course I realised I hated it. I was staying in halls, living with two other lads that were, to say the least, not the most social of people; so the house parties were soon knocked on the head. Living away from home was not great, as I soon came to realise. Living on microwavable meals every day, it was fair to say I missed my mas cooking. And for the runs on the beach, it was f*@King freezing. The picture I had in my head, Uni life turned out to be everything but that.

To no surprise, shortly after February I dropped out. From then I took on my first full-time job. Having no degree or trade, my choices were limited. It’s true what they say, beggars really can’t be choosers. But could factory work really be that bad? The full-time pay did sound good after all. The following March, I started on the factory floor. A normal day-to-day in the factory consisted of; packaging eggs, standing at the same spot looking at the same assembly line and the same people for 10 hours a day, 6 sometimes 7 days a week. Before swiftly getting ‘pRoMoTeD’ to dispatch. Here was just a slight upgrade from hell, were I loaded deliveries onto Lorries to be distributed to local supermarkets. As EGGxiting as this all sounds, it wasn’t.

I spent 9 months there, before getting fed up with the long hours and I can assure you, my hate for eggs was very REAL. I don’t think I ate an egg for a month or 2 after I quit, the bad memories just weren’t worth it.

My next move didn’t get much better. I went and done sparking for a few months travelling throughout the UK spending a lot of my time away from home, working 12 days at a time. I was 19, homesick and had hated the thought of missing out with the lads, the craic back home and feeling the football season just passing me by. Life just wasn’t the same. Yet another job that wasn’t what I wanted or could picture myself doing all my life.

Lo and behold the prodigal son has returned!!!

Yes, I was back in the egg business, something I thought I’d never see again (never say never). People need their eggs, and no better man to get the job done and provide that service than myself. . . . . However, I knew this wasn’t my path. At least I hoped not.

I lasted another 6 months before getting a job in engineering which I actually liked, but I think that was more to do with the craic with the men more so the work. I wasn’t getting a break with the right jobs. It really did feel like once one door closed, the right door was firmly closed shut and wasn’t for opening anytime soon. The only doors I seemed to unlock were dead end jobs.

As they like to remind us, mums are always right. This is leading me onto ‘what’s for you won’t go past you’ paragraph. At work, the men would have kindly nominated myself to do the weekly run to the local deli to get them a fry on a Friday morning. A treat for us at the end of a hard weeks work – few of them could definitely have done with a salad instead, which I liked to remind them of. One morning, I bumped into an old teacher of mine. As we got chatting, I told him I had an idea of going back to university but had no idea what field to go down. Without hesitation, he arranged a date for us to meet up. I agreed to go, in hope for inspiration and to start a new path in life. A clean slate.

Finally, a door worth opening.

There’s a silver lining to every story, including this one. Who knew a run in with my old teacher would give me the push I needed to make another attempt at Uni. This time it was different, I knew this because of what I had come through in comparison to when I started in Coleraine, 3 years previous. Here I am, in my final year studies writing my first blog. Who would have guessed with my track record? So if you’re struggling like I was, keep banging on them doors, hoping the right one will open and if not, put it through.

Shea Hamill is a final year BSc in Communication Management and Public Relations student at Ulster University. He can be found at LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/shea-hamill-66026a180/

Top 10 Tips For Surviving Disney World

If you’ve never been or never waned to go to Disney World please put it right at the top of your bucket list as a must. Honestly, it’s one of the best experiences ever. However, if you’re one for lounging about chillin’ by a pool then Disney World probably isn’t for you.

I’ve decided to be the good samaritan and jot down my top 10 tips for surviving the famous Walt Disney World.

1.Plan it out – This is tip number one because hand on heart this will make your Disney experience 1000000x better. No joke. Disney World is a big place (fun fact: it’s the same size as San Francisco. Crazy right?). Plan when you’re going to go and what park you are going to do on what day. To do it right, take a park each day. Trust me, it’ll help you in the long run.

2. Take Rain Attire – If you are planning to go during the Summer months be prepared for rain. A lot of it. Hate to be bearer of bad news but it normally rains or a tropical storm happens every day in Florida so bring your wet gear. Don’t let this put you off though because you don’t even think about that when you’re there. Plus it’ll only rain for an hour or two. So either buy a poncho before you go or get one at the park. They cost like 15 bucks but they have a cute Disney logo on the back of it so its acceptable. I bought it and still don’t regret it. Side note: take it home with you and use it for festivals or outdoorsy things, it’s a lifesaver. Bring flip flops in your bag too. Nobody wants wet, squidgy feet.

3. FastPasses – Best thing about buying package tickets online is the fact that you normally get FastPasses included in your price. With Disney you get 3 FastPasses per day to use. So if your staying at a Disney Resort you get 60 days in advance to make your FastPasses and if you’re staying anywhere else it’s 30 days. Use this to your advantage. It saves you so much time when standing in lines because if you don’t be prepared to stand in a 40 minute queue. It’s your own fault though. You set these up through the MyDisney Experience app.

4. To Do Rides: Okay these are my top attractions in Disney World. 10/10 would recommend.

  • Flight of Passage
  • Tower of Terror
  • Test Track
  • Soarin’
  • Expedition Everest
  • Big Thunder Mountain Railroad
  • Frozen
  • Haunted Mansion
  • Mission: Space
  • Peter Pans Flight
  • Rock N’ Roller Coaster
  • Space Mountain

5. Mobile Quick Service Food – You can find this on the MyDisney Experience App. Go onto the app and order your food from a quick service near you. You’ll pay through the app so all you have to do is go pick it up.  It’ll save you from standing in even more queues.

6. Shows– If you are going to choose a closing show at night to go see make Happily Ever After in Magic Kingdom your number one. So good. So magical. You won’t be disappointed. To be honest, you won’t be disappointed in anything Disney but this is just insane. Side note no.2: instead of getting the monorail to the transport center after the fireworks because its queue galore get it to the Grand Floridian and get an Uber there – you’ll save a load of time.

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7. Get a Magic Band  – A Magic Band is a band around your wrist that links to your Disney Ticket. You have to buy them but they’re a cute accessory. If you get irritated easily with having to go in and out of your bag for your ticket because you need to scan it to get onto your FastPass rides buy one of these.

8. Single Riders Line – If you don’t mind being separated from who your with whilst on an attraction at Disney then make use of this. The length of time that you would have spent in a normal queue is nonexistent in a single rider queue.

9. Toy Story Land in the evening or cloudy day – Please don’t make the mistake of going to Toy Story Land during the day or you’ll prolly end up looking like a squashie if you know what I mean. There is no shelter whatsoever so go on a cloudy day or during the evening when it’s all lit up nice and that.

10. Be a child for the day. – Don’t be a party pooper. Enjoy yourself because everyone else is. Disney brings out the inner child in everyone (or so I think). So if you wanna go on a flying elephant Dumbo ride and wear Mickey Mouse ears, you do you boo. After all you’re at the happiest place on earth.

So now you can go home and live Happily Ever After that you did Disney right.

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Courtney O’Neill is a final year BSc in Communication Management and Public Relations student at Ulster University. She can be found on Twitter: @Courtneyon21 and Linkedin: @courtneyoneill

The Fears of Social Media

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I have always been interested in social media and how it has influenced every aspect of our lives. People are obsessed with their image, likes and how they present themselves on various platforms, and as the years have went on our social skills and social anxiety have plummeted. We feel the need to be constantly connected to what people are doing, what they are wearing or how many likes they get on a photo of themselves on a Saturday night sitting on the swing at ‘Ollies’, which has manifested the term ‘FOMO’. ‘FOMO’ is simply defined as the ‘Fear of missing out’ or otherwise known as fear of regret.

It can lead to a ‘compulsive concern that one might miss an opportunity for a social interaction, a novel experience, a profitable investment, or other satisfying events’. It essentially puts a fear in us that we are not spending our time wisely and makes us imagine how different our day would have gone if we had of just said the simple word ‘Yes’. It is alarming how this affects our psychological wellbeing, and can so easily add to a person’s negative mindset and depressed feelings. If we type in the ‘Fear of missing out’ the first thing that comes up is a definition, which was helpful for me as I used it in this blog, but further down there are pages upon pages of psychological websites on how to ‘deal with it’. This is not just some relatable quote a person posted on Instagram to try and get a trend going, it is real for a lot of people whether they realise it or not.

Personally, and although I hate to admit it as I got older my FOMO has only gotten worse, and that applies to my generation as we grew up with social media and it is everything we know. On that note, this vulnerability has subjected us to be an interesting market to target, as marketers are able to tap into the powerful emotional effects that are associated with this fear. On a realistic level regardless of the situation FOMO may affect people differently, whether it’s not being able to make it to dinner with your friends, not seeing the latest movie when it comes out, missing that hyped up holiday, or not attending your weekly/monthly group night out. But for many it is the sense of knowing that all your friends are out ‘living their best lives’ and you missed it due to something coming up or you just didn’t feel like it. Sometimes you may seem to find yourself checking your group chat for updates, snooping at Snapchat stories to see where your drunk friend has passed out next, or going into work the next day to find out any gossip from the night before. Without realising it you have tricked yourself into thinking that what you were doing was boring, and started to imagine how your day would have gone differently.

Whether we like it or not, we always seem to have those people on Instagram who we jump at the chance to view their stories or latest post because they go on 36 holidays a year, never wear the same thing twice, drive a brand-new Audi, have the best hair extensions, Russian lashes, fillers and around 3 different pairs of Alexander McQueen trainers. By looking at these types of people it tricks us into thinking we are not progressing in life and triggers that tiny voice in your head saying, ‘why can’t I have all that’. But if you think about it these types of people are probably so anxiety riddled and obsessed with keeping up their ‘image’ and social media status that their life is not actually so perfect after all and as the saying goes ‘you don’t know what happens behind closed doors’.

Although this topic you could say is quite sensitive, people including myself need to remember that it is not the end of the world, and someone out there could be looking at everything we do and thinking the exact same. It is nice that we don’t all have the same goals, want the same things, or live a certain lifestyle otherwise life would be dull, and moments would never be unexpected. We need to stop focusing on the what ifs and start focusing on the here and now, forget FOMO and remember JOMO (‘acronym for joy of missing out and describes the pleasure of taking a break from social activity- especially social media to enjoy personal time’).

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Chloe Light is a final year BSc in Communication Management and Public Relations student at Ulster University.  She can be found on LinkedIn at https://www.linkedin.com/in/chloe-light-358421172/ and Instagram @Chloe_lightbulb