Semester scary

Growing up in the absolute middle of nowhere for the past 18 years could have never prepared me for the transition from the country to the city, or school to uni. Garron tower was the castle on the hill, not just a school but a community and unfortunately in September, I learnt that Jerusalem Street was not exactly the same. For the duration of my upper 6th year, the stress of A-levels had made me that pupil who couldn’t wait to leave and move on to university. A few weeks into my first semester however, things took a turn, and I would have done anything to press rewind. The transition from primary to secondary school, at the innocent age of 11, seemed to be the biggest moment of my life (or so I thought). A big new building with 800 pupils and an oversized uniform that made me feel tinier than I already was. Fast-forward 7 years and Ulster University Jordanstown was unfortunately an even bigger step; one I didn’t think I could take.

Truthfully, I thought I had a fair idea of what ‘uni life’ had to offer when I left the house that Sunday evening, with an Asda bag full of the essentials and a huge grin on my face. My sister has been at uni for the past 2 years and the thrill of partying and staying with her in ‘the big smoke’ was the only real experience I had. Lying in bed, nursing a sore head, whilst she attempted to make herself presentable for class was exactly what I expected and couldn’t wait for. Unfortunately, reality soon became my enemy. Uni wasn’t what I had anticipated, and I soon became that girl. Struggling to get ready, panicking about missing the bus and not being able to find my class.

For me, first semester wasn’t all fun and games. I felt so out of my depth and frankly, quite stupid. I thought everyone around me was 10 times smarter than I was and that I would ultimately never be able to survive until graduation, drop out, become a sad and uneducated 40-year-old, who had been shamed the uni drop out, failure and disappointment of the family…phew. What about my aspirations to become a highly paid successful professional, with a just as successful husband, 3 kids, a dog and a huge house? Dramatic, I know, but honestly, I couldn’t see myself surviving until Christmas, never mind final year. Who would have thought when you came to uni you would actually have to do work?! Is it not all about the craic? After 3 assignments and 4 tests I’ve realised it’s not…BUT, that doesn’t mean you can’t have an absolute blast.

I know I’m making semester one out to be the worst thing in the world but it’s honestly how I felt. However, what I’ve came to realise with the aid of my new friends, who I had originally deemed the next Einstein’s, is that everyone is in the same boat, so don’t worry.  Uni is a scary place for a first year and no matter how clever you know you are you begin doubting yourself and your ability. You disregard the fact you got the grades and you’re fit for the degree, all you need is the motivation to work for it. Don’t let the fear of the unknown ruin your uni experience, especially first year. This is the time to let all the partying out of your system and discover more about who you are (as cliché as it sounds).  You need to remember you didn’t work your butt off at school to come this far and only this far. Embrace all the worries and wonders student life has to offer and take them in your stride. After all, your student days are the best days of your life; fact. No matter how many times you convince yourself you can’t do it, you can and you will.

In the wise words of Samantha Montgomery, “Don’t let the fear of striking out keep you from playing the game.”

Thanks for reading!

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Holly Gillan is a first year BSc in Communication, Advertising and Marketing student at Ulster University. She can be found on: Instagram – hollygillan987 ; Twitter – @Hollyg453

 

What has Christmas become?

I’d like to begin by saying I am by no means a ‘Christmas scrooge’. In fact, I would go as far as saying Christmas is my favourite time of the year, what’s not to like about getting time off university and celebrating with your family with a few drinks and lots and lots of food along the way? However, nowadays Christmas is all about presents and the stress that comes with buying presents, especially for those with young children. Although I doubt there are very many people that would change the idea of exchanging gifts at Christmas, including myself.

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I personally believe that Christmas has become far too commercial. Christmas is a religious holiday that celebrates the birth of Jesus, although I must admit I wouldn’t say I’d be the best Christian but I would always attend church on Christmas Day. However, this is becoming less and less common as years go on, kids now grow up thinking a man named Santa is generous enough to bring them gifts if they are well behaved while missing the real meaning of Christmas. People generally get more excited about the famous Coca Cola advert than the true meaning of Christmas and why we celebrate it.

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In my eyes, Christmas has become all about getting the biggest, most expensive presents and having the best Christmas decorations in your street. It has almost turned into a competition – “I have better decorations than you do” or “I got better presents for my kids than you did” it’s becoming ridiculous. I had a conversation with a member of staff in my work last week and he told me he has been working 50-55 hours a week for the past month to save up money for his kids because they have written ‘Santa letters’ worth over £500 each. I thought to myself that it’s crazy that you’re working these long overtime hours because your kids live in a generation that Christmas is all about presents, which has resulted in putting yourself through all this stress to save money to buy these presents whenever you could settle for buying you kids less and instead spend more time with them coming up to the festive period rather than being stuck in Tesco, which I can guarantee they would appreciate more in the long run.

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Working in retail, I witness at first hand the mayhem that evolves around this time of the year. I see mums, dads, boyfriends and girlfriends running around in panic, spending as much money as they need to keep everyone content with their Christmas presents. People simply spend money at will without worrying how much they are spending in order to fit in with the commercial aspect of Christmas, rather than its true meaning. Having said this, I still agree that presents are a nice gesture at Christmas and they add to the celebrations, however I feel there would be a much more balanced spread between basing Christmas around presents and remembering the real meaning behind it.

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Although all that I’ve mentioned above isn’t always the case, there are still a small number, in fact a very small number of people that ignore all the hype and teach their children to live by the true meaning of Christmas rather than the modern commercialised version. In the 1950’s the average child would get up on Christmas day and go to church in full Christmas spirit, knowledgeable of what Christmas really meant. He or she then would have come home and perhaps received a few presents. However, in today’s world kids get up as early as 6am and open an entire stocking worth of presents that their parents have no doubt worked very hard to purchase. After opening all the presents some kids would be forced by their parents to attend church or in some cases the family would forget about church and enjoy the rest of their day. The excitement around Christmas is buying and receiving presents rather than celebrating the birth of Jesus, therefore I can conclude than Christmas has become extremely commercialised.

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Rory McAllister is a final year BSc in Communication, Management and Public Relations student at Ulster University. He can be found at: @R_McAllister14 on Twitter.

Happy Blogmas

It’s the most wonderful time of the year– well to me it is anyways. I’ve always been a fan of Xmas, I just love the smell that comes with it, and for some reason everyone is just always happier. With the lead up to Christmas, many of us attempt to lose a bit of weight, purely so we don’t feel as guilty for the endless amount of celebrations and quality street we consume for breakfast. For me, I’m already embracing the pig in a blanket look, whereby I’m masking my Xmas physique with many woolly layers of clothing. So, I thought a little ‘blogmas’ post would be fitting considering Christmas is pending.

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I’ve been watching Xmas movies since even before Halloween, so I guess you could say I’ve the Christmas movies well sussed out- here’s a few to keep use going over the crimbo hols!

Must watches:

1. ELF
2. The Grinch
3. The Night Before
4. Home Alone – Lost in NY
5. Fred Clause
6. Four Christmases
7. Deck the Halls
8. Jack Frost
9. Santa Clause (1,2 & 3)
10. Love Actually

You know Christmas is approaching fast, whenever the house is coming down with crates of Shloer and you lowkey have a bottle with dinner every night from now till Christmas, the tins of Quality street and Celebrations are stocked up and well out of site, so no one can get their hands on them, and the house has a constant scent of cinnamon from Christmas candles being burnt continually. Although in my family the chocolate stash is well raided before Christmas, hence why the body will be delayed this year yet again. Through a lot of debate and tastings from celebrations a well-rounded ranking has been established, which is presented below.

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*Note: Galaxy Caramel sadly didn’t make the cut in the ranking due to them all being inhaled before the positions were decided!

 

 

 

 

 

Que being a slight Bah humbug…

More than ever, Christmas has turned into a money racket as my mummy would say, acting like she is going to put an end to  going over board each Christmas. Even though our living room door is covered in Christmas wrapping paper for me and my sister to run through in the morning, as well as our presents being wrapped in 2 different colours, so we can tell who’s is whose of course , may I also add me and my sister are 20 and 22 (not complaining though). So I blame my mother for me being such a Christmas fanatic.

Christmas is also a busy period for all the festive activities which we have to attend, like the annual trip to the Christmas markets, staff do’s and the 12 pubs of Christmas, at this time of year they are basically compulsory to participate in. However, all these festivities do leave a hole in the pocket, and many people’s funds are low, especially the student loan (roll on Jan for a wee top up). However, with Christmas slowly but surely becoming so orientated around gifts and pressures to get the right present. It forces some people to spend money they don’t have, to try and meet the materialistic standards set by society. At this time of the year, if my mummy buys me a Chinese it’ll be part of the Xmas present too. In other words, we are all so infatuated in spending money to get the flashiest gifts for people, we often get too caught up in it, and forget what Christmas is actually about (As cheesy and cliché as it sounds), but we do. There’s no doubt that receiving and getting presents for people is satisfying, especially when you see their face gleam up whilst unravelling the paper.

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As I’ve kind of matured (slightly, not a lot), I’ve come to realise that yea presents are great at the time, but they don’t make up for everything. Many families dread Christmas, due to a loss of family member, whether it was recent or long ago, however that empty place at the dinner table on Christmas day is more obvious than ever. For me it’s my wee granny, Christmas has never been the same without her and I’m sure many can relate to how their Christmas experience has changed massively from losing that certain someone. What I’m trying to say is appreciate what you have around you, and it’s nice to be nice, especially around this time of year because no one knows what this festive period means to people. So, just remember ‘he who has not Christmas in his heart will never find it under a tree’.

Before ending my lil blog post, be sure and have yourself a very Merry Christmas!
CYA, Clodagh xx

Clodagh McFaul is a final year BSc in Communication Management & Public Relations student at Ulster University. She can be found at: Instagram – https://www.instagram.com/clodaghmcfaul/ ; Facebook – https://en-gb.facebook.com/clodagh.mcfaul ; LinkedIn – https://www.linkedin.com/in/clodagh-mcfaul-592381173/

 

Boston Blues

Fáilte,
The title isn’t just about how I miss my time in Boston. It’s more than that. It tells the short story of the whole reason I was there in the first place. To play Gaelic football for the Shannon Blues of Boston.

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Shannon Blues crest

It was mid June and I had been toying with the prospect of going for a while. It was a year of mixed emotions for me with a lot of ups and downs. Part of me thought getting away for the summer would help but for the most part I was scared that deep down I’m a real home bird and that I’d never be able to do It. The idea of leaving home properly for the first time was daunting. Making the journey across the big pond to the US. Alone. I at times asked myself if I was going crazy. Luckily I had Gaelic football which for many young Irish men is their ticket over to Boston or wider afield, and costs us little to nothing at all. Still, money was not the limiting factor rather it was whether or not I had the courage to go by myself.

On the 20th of June a few hours into the flight I diagnosed myself insane. Another three hours later I had arrived in Logan airport in Boston. Picked up by a man I didn’t know much about and brought to a house full of other young Irish lads at the same chapter in life as myself. A couple of days passed by and I was almost regretting the decision. By the third day, somehow and inexplicably over night the lads I had been staying with and the team that I had joined became my new family. A band of brothers is what we had become and our manager aka “Biscuits” had become a father to us all while we were there. We went about our day enjoying the sun and come night-time there was always a buzz around the city. When it came time to play football we did just that. The quality of football surprised a lot of us first timers that had made the journey over the Atlantic. Even more so the quality of home based players or actual Americans who adopted the sport was truly amazing to see. Although he wasn’t on my team, rubbing shoulders with the likes of Diarmuid Connolly the Dublin five time All Ireland winner; was a bit surreal. I’m sure for those who have been in in America their whole lives it was even more meaningful to have a living legend of the game like him come over and showcase his skills in their own backyard. At the end of the day we were all there to do the same thing. Enjoy our summers and do what we cherished, which was play ball.

I would like to speak for all the lads not just on my team but for all of the Irish lads who traveled to Boston to play football in the summer of 2018. We appreciate and thank everyone who was able to make it happen. We each joined a new family and hopefully we will see them again in the near future.

Some of the Shannon Blues and I

This being my first blog post is really just a quick insight into what I wanted to share with whoever was interested in reading. There is a lot more to tell and an interesting array of topics I could get into in the future. Let me know what you might like to hear about my travels through any of my contact details below. Thanks for reading folks.

Go raibh maith agat.

Connell Lemon is a final year BSc in Communication Management & Public Relations student at Ulster University. He can be found at: Instagram – connell_lemon97 ; Facebook – Connell  Lemon.

The surprisingly holy holy lands

Holy lands? Nothing holy about the place. With a name like ‘the holy lands’ and street names that consist of Palestine Street, Jerusalem Street and Damascus Street, you’d imagine this place to be a very quiet, religious area. But that’s where you’re mistaken. In the center of Belfast, this area is dominated by students who drink five nights a week and Romanians. Like every 18-year-old when going to university I was skeptical about living in the holy lands, as their life style focused more on partying and not enough on their academic studies. After deciding to live down with my friends as a student, my suspicions were confirmed. Despite blessing our house with holy water, some demons definitely got in. These are not the usual demons that you hear about at mass, these are the demons that are controlled and possessed by one too many jaeger bomb. Despite having holy water in our house, the only holy water we needed was a spar slush puppy to help cure our three-day hangover. This was my regular healing process each week.

However, it does seem that there are miracles happening in this area, as people be drinking to five o’clock in the morning and still manage to make their 9’oclock lectures looking like they’ve had their Weetabix and 8 hours sleep. I myself fell a victim of the late night drinking and the early lecture partaking. It seems like a great idea at the time, however, the next morning this was definitely not one of my good ideas.

Located in the heart of the holy lands, was our very own food shelter in the form of press 29. This is where most student could have a nice warm meal and discuss with their own Samaritans about which commandment they may have or have not broken the night before. I could honestly say there has been times, where I feel this place has truly saved me.

In addition, we do show our faith once a year, as we celebrate our dear St. Patrick on the 17th of March, for freeing Ireland from snakes. On this day we take to the streets with music and alcohol to show our appreciation for the patron saint of Ireland. When taking to the streets us student have our own rendition of Noah when he was in the ark with all the animals. It is otherwise known to us students as rock the boat. It’s basically the same thing.

The holy lands can be all fun and games, until everyone’s student loans start to wither away. This normally starts a month after returning for fresher’s. At this point we would be praying for Jesus himself to appear and perform the feeding of the 5000…students. I think every student at this point, would be well and truly grateful for a free feed, even if it is only fish and bread. As much as they would prefer it too be a Boojum. Beggars can’t be choosers!

I suppose the holy lands does show traits of being a holy place in its own way, as there does be a lot of praying, modern day student miracles and celebration of saints. In theory, it is a holy land however, it is an unorthodox fashion.

Finally, despite the flaws of going to Hatfield every Sabbath, Limelight every Monday, and back to the Hatfield on a Tuesday. I have still managed to secure my place in final year, and that is well and truly a miracle in itself. I would advise every student with the option to live nowhere else but the holy lands.

Chloe Toner is a final year BSc in Communication Management and Public Relations student at Ulster University. She can be found at: LinkedIn – linkedin.com/in/chloe-toner-937039153

A look into the world of ASMR

If you have been active on any major social media platform over the past 3 years you have probably seen an ASMR video of some kind on your feed. Weather this is in a satisfying slime unboxing, the calming whispers of a teen YouTuber or the oddly relaxing sounds of a soap cutting video, ASMR is everywhere. It’s the internet trend that no one could have predicted but everyone is very much here for.

If at this point you are feeling confused, don’t worry, we all were the first time we saw an ASMR videos. I am about to delve into this weird world and hopefully provide some clarity on how it has become one of the biggest internet trends of 2018.

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What is ASMR?

ASMR stands for Autonomous Sensory Meridian Response. This is just a fancy term used to describe our body’s response to being exposed to certain visual and auditory stimuli. People have called this response a “brain orgasm” (although ASMR is not sexual) and describe a unique tingling sensation that runs down the back of their head and spine. Others have described a feeling of deep relaxation, often causing them to fall asleep.

People’s responses to the stimuli can be completely different, with many people claiming to not feel anything at all. Currently there is no real scientific research into the phenomenon and so I don’t really have any explanation as to why people respond in these ways.

Triggers

To keep this in simple terms, an ASMR trigger is a stimuli that induces this tingling response in your head. There are many types of ASMR triggers and the response to each usually depends on the person. However, some triggers create a stronger ASMR experience when compared to others. Things like frequency, volume and intensity will also affect the ASMR experience.

Some common ASMR triggers include

  • Whispering
  • Tapping
  • Scratching
  • Crunching
  • Eating
  • Role playing

Hopefully at this point you are a little clearer on what ASMR is. However you are probably still wondering: how did they trend become so big? Why is a video of a women eating pickles into a microphone gaining 18 million views?

(This is personal favourite of mine)

The term ASMR was coined in 2010, and was originally circulated around a small niche community of people seeking a sensory response from videos posted on YouTube and within a small Facebook group. The more content that was posted, the more people who became interested and this small community grew quite steadily until 2015 when the ASMR trend really blew up.

How did it become so big?

Like all social media trends. Popular influencers saw this niche content growing and decided to try their hand at it. Popular Youtubers like Jeffree Star and Trisha Paytas introduced this phenomenon to their millions of followers with videos reading their hate comments in a deep whisper and kidnapping roleplays (Thank you for this iconic video Trisha).

Suddenly there is huge interest in ASMR, giving ASMR channels a gateway to increase their followings as they feed this new interest. Since 2015 ASMR has sky rocketed, with hundreds of hours of content being posted everyday across all social media platforms. In 2018 YouTube channels dedicated to ASMR now have millions of subscribers, Instagram slime video receive hundreds of thousands of likes and snapchat stories receive thousands of daily views. ASMR has well and truly blown up.

With human stress levels constantly on the rise people have a higher need for relaxation. More and more people are now turning to ASMR for this outlet of relaxation. ASMR is an incredible effective way to shut down your mind and relax. People who suffered from high levels of stress, anxiety and panic attacks have claimed that ASMR has helped then to reduce the effects of these issues.

There is clearly a need for ASMR within today’s society whether that is purely for entertainment purposes or for the relaxing sensation that many people have benefited from. And with constant technological improvements and new triggers being found every day I see this trend continuing to grow over the next few years.

 

 

Cathal McCaughey is a final year student on the BSc in Communication Management & Public Relations at Ulster University and a Study USA alumni of College of St. Benedict / St. John’s University MN. He can be contacted on: Instagram – @Cathal_10 / Twitter – @Cathal__10 / Linkedin – http://www.linkedin.com/in/cathalmccaughey
ASMR Snapchat Channel: OctoberASMR

A/W Fashion – Belfast Fashion Week 18-19

Those of you who know me, know that I’m a little fashion obsessed! So when I heard about the Ulster PR Student Blog, I couldn’t help but want to inject a few fashion and style posts into the blogosphere. I have previously enjoyed writing posts for my own blog & thought what better way to ignite the old writing flame inside me than to write a few posts for our own student blog!

I hope you enjoy! Dearbhail (@dervbrogan) xx

Belfast Fashion Week – The Runway Edit

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A/W Fashion Week in Belfast could not have come at a better time following the recent  fire at Belfast’s beloved Primark. The fire has produced a devastating impact on the footfall of shoppers in the surrounding area.

The fabulous spectacle that was ‘The Runway Edit’ took place in the beautiful St Anne’s Cathedral, right in the heart of Cathedral Quarter and showcased some beautiful on-trend pieces from both global and local retailers and was just what Belfast needed to encourage locals to ‘stay shopping’.

#OOTN (What I Wore):

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As it was my first Belfast Fashion Week you can imagine how hard it was for me to decide what to wear. Do I go ‘classic and chic’ or just plain ‘all out there’? I’ll let you decide on that one. My top, skirt and bag are all from Topshop, which I paired with with this AMAZING trucker jacket from Boohoo & these slick boots that I picked up on sale in Primark for £3 a few years back!

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What THEY (the gorgeous models) Wore:

The show, hosted by Cathy Martin (CMPR) & Tiffany Brien (Influencer), kicked off with a fabulous directors cut showcasing all of Cathy’s (@cathymartin10) top picks for this A/W season including pieces from River Island, M&S and one of my all time favourites Stradivarius.

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Left: Cathy Martin & Tiffany Brien host the Runway Edit

Right: Joy modelling Red Tartan Trench Coat – Stradivarius £69.99

 

 

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Left: Veronica modelling Topshop fuscia velvet suit jacket £49 & trousers £39

Right: Sophie modelling Lazy Oaf yellow fur coat £150 with ASOS yellow scarf

 

 

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Left: Rebecca modelling ASOS green puffa jacket, ASOS green scarf, Topshop tapered green trousers

Right: Nuala modelling ASOS lilac corduroy trousers £45, jacket £60, lilac pussy bow blouse

 

Some for the party girls (or boys, whatever tickles your fancy):

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Left: Joy modelling ASOS metallic pink trousers, Zara sequin top

Right: Ellen modelling Missi paillette body suit £26.99 DV8, River Island rose gold pencil skirt

 

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Left: Stefania modelling ASOS pink skirt, River Island pink faux fur jacket £85

Right: Maria modelling River Island floral pant suit

 

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Left: Thandi models ASOS fringe beaded sequin mini dress 3150, New Look faux fur jacket £49.99

Right: Rebecca models ASOS purple/silver paillette jumper and Topshop silver trouser

 

George @ Asda:

George at Asda surprised me so much this year as they are KILLING IT with their A/W pieces. Heres a round up of my favourites:

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Other retailers involved in the fabulous show included Debenhams, Oasis and New Look, along with pieces from local boutiques such as Blush (Lisburn Road), Serenity Ten (Maghera) and Lily Rose Boutique (Moria). If I could sum up what I’ve learnt about the coming A/W trends from this years BFW in three words, they would HAVE to be; blocks (colours), prints and sequins! 

I hope you’ve enjoyed my fashion favs from the show and hopefully it inspires you to  go and treat yourself (or that special someone) with something fresh and fabulous this season. So go on! Go out and support your local highstreet and boutiques this Christmas, it couldn’t be a better time to go shopping!

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Lots of love, Dearbhail (CAM Student UUJ / Wannabe Blogger) xoxo

P.S: If you love fashion as much as me, be sure to follow me on Instagram @dervbrogan where I post outfit photos daily!

 

Photo Credit: Brendan Gallagher (Photographer)

Event Credit: Cathy Martin (CMPR)

Dearbhail Brogan is a Second Year BSC in Communication, Advertising & Marketing student at Ulster University. She can be found on: Instagram – @dervbrogan ; Twitter – @dailydeeblog