Top Tips on How to Have a Very Merry Christmas

Top Tips on How to Have a Very Merry Christmas

Let’s all just admit it, the festive season is undoubtedly the best time of the year! From mouth-watering hot toddies to crazy work parties, it sure is the most perfect time to really let your hair down! With Christmas only coming once a year, it is important to make the most of every minute and what better way than with these fabulous top tips? Have a look!

Go on a fun Winter City Break


A great way to kickstart the Christmas season is of course jetting off and enjoying a wonderful winter city break. Europe is renowned for its fun festive cities with bright lights, state of the art outdoor ice shrinks and cosy pubs offering every cocktail you could possibly think of. There are of course plenty of popular cities to choose from including Krakow, Rome, Amsterdam, Berlin and Prague to name but just a few! Or perhaps, you may decide to keep it rather local by visiting Irelands very own capital city which is Dublin where you are sure to enjoy a tasty mulled wine or two in no other than the amazing Temple Bar! Wherever you decide to go, it is sure to be a magical and fairylike experience before heading home for Christmas day!

Christmas Movie Night with your Besties


There are guaranteed to be plenty mad nights out where you and your friends will be celebrating the festive season a little too much, but be sure to also enjoy a fun night in consisting of a Christmas movie marathon! Yes, this means everything from Elf to Home Alone, Love Actually to Christmas with the Kranks! No movie night is complete without chilled bubbly, hot chocolate, pretzels and popcorn so be sure to stock up! It is a great way to enjoy a stress-free night with your nearest and dearest as well as a long overdue catch up!

Visit the Christmas Continental Markets


It goes without saying that visiting the Christmas markets is on basically everyone’s to do list! Whether it may be with your friends, other half or family, it can be a fun and spiritual experience brisking through the various stalls offering everything from scented candles to handcrafted decorations. Or perhaps, if you happen to have a sweet tooth, there are plenty of candy and pastry stalls that will really hit the spot including Nutella smothered crepes, cinnamon covered waffles, sugar coated churros and more! Or maybe, if you’re feeling a little spontaneous and hoping to try something a little bit different this festive season, the Christmas markets won’t disappoint whether you are looking to try out a kangaroo burger or a flammkuchen (flat German pizza). Now the best part, the beer tent! The beer tent is the most perfect place to enjoy a strawberry beer or four whilst also belting your heart out to old but gold tunes, what’s not to love?

Host a Wine and Cheese Tasting Night


If you’re trying to keep the Christmas celebrations super candid, hosting a wine and cheese tasting night is always a good idea! Here you will need a selection of both red and white wine as well as a fine platter of cheese and crackers! You may decide to go the extra mile and play some Christmas games to make the celebrations all the more enjoyable including charades or ‘Name that Christmas Carol!’ The tasting night will be a second to none experience for all who take part!

Make the Most of Family


Lastly, but most importantly, enjoy valuable time with family! This does not mean buying expensive extravagant presents but instead helping with the Christmas decorations, assisting to make the Christmas dinner, getting drunk on baileys and watching the Eastenders Christmas Special together! It’s not what’s under the tree that matters, but who’s gathered around it!

Wherever you go or whatever you decide to do this Christmas, be sure to enjoy every single minute of the season that keeps on giving! It is the one time you can fully let loose and make a complete shambles of yourself before the struggles of working life again! After all, it is the most wonderful time of the year!

Shannon Grogan is a final year BSc in Public Relations student at Ulster University. She can be found on LinkedIn on 

Top Tips to ace your placement interview

KL1Before I started looking for placement, I think I had one interview for a job as a waitress. Although I was a nervous wreck and didn’t have a clue how to make coffee, I somehow managed to get the job (and learnt how to make the best lattes ever). I remember asking my friends and family for tips on how to properly prepare for an interview, all of which was great advice and eventually got me a fantastic placement! So I thought I would share these interview tips with you all, hopefully they’ll be as useful to you.


Research the company – and make sure it’s the right company

I know this sounds obvious but it’s so easily done especially with smaller organisations. You Google the company, click on the first link and learn facts from the website to impress in the interview… except it’s actually the wrong company and the interviewer is as baffled as you are. The easiest way to avoid this is to check for a web link on any emails from the company or even just look out for their logo. Try and go the extra mile and check their social media accounts to see what projects they’re working on at the moment, they’ll be impressed that you’ve done more than just look at their website.

Dress for success

Your appearance in interviews is important, you need to look professional and appropriate for the role you want. I’m not saying you have to wear the most sophisticated dress ever with your new stunning black high heels from Zara, wear whatever you feel most confident in. If you feel comfortable wearing heels every day at work then do that and fair play to you, I however wore heels once and complained about it for a solid month (so not worth the pain).

Be Punctual

Organisations can be quite strict in terms of employees’ time keeping, your interview is giving them an impression of what you’re going to be like as an employee so it only makes sense to be punctual. It’s good to get there a few minutes early and give yourself some time, although don’t be like me and turn up 30 minutes early for an interview, it’s a bit much if I do say so myself.


My housemates were really encouraging when I was preparing for my placement interviews and helped me practice. If you look up interview practice questions, spend a few minutes thinking about how your skills are relevant to the job and question being asked. I found this website really useful for sample questions . Even the smallest things you’ve done can be made relevant to an interview, don’t sell yourself short.

Show your personality

Interviews can be so nerve wrecking and intense, it can be hard to feel comfortable and confident in those situations. One thing I have been good at is showing my personality and hiding the nerves, although it doesn’t feel like I’m hiding them well. I tend to try and laugh the nerves off and apparently it works well. My manager told me that showing my personality in my interview really made the difference. Of course the company wants the best qualified person for their job, but they also want someone they can work with and feel they will get along with.

Stay Positive and relax 

Again this is definitely easier said than done. It’s understandable to be panicked and worrying because you really want the job, but it is important to remember that it is only an interview and not the end of the world. If the interview didn’t go to well, see it as a learning experience and finding out what to change for the next one. If the interview goes fantastic and you get the job, well then you’ll know these tips were the reason for it, obviously.


Good Luck!

Kellina Loughran is a final year student on the BSc in Public Relations at Ulster University. She can be found on LinkedIn: , Twitter: , and Instagram:

How to lose 7lbs in 10 days

How to lose 7lbs in 10 days

A few weeks ago a personal trainer named Tara Grimes, who is also a brand ambassador for Spar NI, asked would I trial her new “10 day kick-start” program. It was the second week of university, so my final ever ‘Freshers’ week had taken its toll on me. I was also recently back from Thailand (which meant eating out four times a day, and drinking beer from noon to night) and had put on the ‘placement pounds’… as sitting at a desk from 9-5 without eating some sort of chocolate is basically impossible. So I thought, sure why not?!


I play Gaelic football so train regularly, although my eating isn’t great and has never been. I eat out regularly and can’t go a day without bread! So when I read what the program consisted of, the Sunday night before I started it, I was really doubting myself.


On Monday 16th October I started the program. It was a calorie deficient program where you were only allowed 1400 calories daily. I know, it sounds terrible! On the first day for breakfast I had scrambled eggs, bacon, tomatoes and spinach WITHOUT bread and it was surprisingly lovely. Lunch consisted of a tuna salad and dinner was chicken and vegetables. The first day was awful as I found it so hard to not snack (especially when storm Ophelia was battering outside and everyone in my house was drinking hot chocolate).

On the first day I was also required to do a HIIT session, which is a high intensity interval training session where you do certain exercises and repeat them in sets of four, whilst taking a thirty second break in-between. I am not joking when I say, I could not walk for two days after. I hadn’t done proper training like this in months so this was definitely a shock to the system!

Days two-five continued on like this which a very regular routine of breakfast, lunch, dinner and a snack when it allowed for it on the plan. It was extremely difficult, especially being a student in Belfast when there is temptation everywhere. In saying that the meals were great with lots of options and choice to cater for everyone’s taste. There were ten different breakfasts, lunches and dinners however I found my favourites and stuck to them. The turkey mince curry was one of my favourites. There was also carbs on the program which was ideal!!

On the kick-start program, no alcohol was permitted. Not to sound like an alcoholic or anything, but I did my first ever sober night out in Belfast on day two, and it was fine – although there are only so many glasses of water you can drink!

Day six rolled around and I thought, I will weigh myself that morning to see if this is working at all. I could not believe it. I had lost four pounds in basically five days!! The HIIT session that morning was surprisingly easier than normal as weighing myself was the best motivation to keep going strong.

Tara wanted someone in their 20s, 30s, 40s and 50s to trial the program to see if it actually worked before she officially launched it to the public. We had a private Facebook group where we all posted in pictures of our food, any questions we had and really motivated each other throughout the process. Around day 6/7 other women had weighed themselves and also lost in and around 5 pounds too. So clearly, the “kickstart” program definitely works. The private Facebook group now has over 300 people all supporting each other.

By the time day ten had come around, I felt like I wasn’t as hungry in-between meals and that my body had started to get used to the normal routine of breakfast, lunch and dinner without eating any crap. On the tenth day I really couldn’t believe it when I had lost a total of 7 pounds. It is a crazy amount to loose in ten days but I never felt like I was totally starving myself, as the portions Tara planned were huge! It was an amazing feeling and clearly visible as my clothes were fitting better. I had tried a formal dress on two weeks before I started the program, which didn’t zip up. After the ten days it zipped and fitted perfectly!

Two sober nights out, no take-aways and no coffee was extremely hard. In saying that there are no juices, no powders or pills, it is just good food! However, when you realise that 10 days is only a third of a month, a small percentage of your year and a tiny part of your life – it is so worth it!

Tara has now launched her ten day “Kickstart program” on her website and the sales are rocketing! For the launch period she has a brilliant deal were you can buy the program for only £14 instead of £28. Get it here at

I can vouch for it – It is truly AMAZING!

TG - Logo

Helen McAleer is a final year BSc in Communication, Advertising and Marketing student at Ulster University. She can be found on LinkedIn on and on Twitter: @Helen_McAleer30



Top Tips for Travelling Thailand



After completing a year’s placement with Fold/Radius Housing I decided that I deserved a break before starting what was going to be the toughest educational year of my life so far, with deadlines coming at me left right and centre and no time to have a break in between.

For the past few years I had talked about and fantasised over travelling the beautiful country of Thailand but never had the money to allow me to do this. I worked hard for a full year and saved as much of my money as I possibly could and in January 2017 my best friend and I booked our flights to Bangkok.

Here are my top tips for travelling Thailand:

  1. Do NOT pre-book anything!

When we left Dublin on our flight to Bangkok the only thing we had planned was our very first night. At first I was a bit apprehensive about this as normally when I travel/go on holiday everything is prearranged. However, not planning our route or which island we were going to next turned out to be the best decision we made. We met amazing people in each destination and made our ‘next island’ decisions with each other, as we travelled to more islands and met more people we ended up travelling in a huge group, maybe about 25 of us, as you can imagine this was mighty craic and I can honestly say I’ve made friends for life!


  1. Bring an emergency cash fund!

Everyone will tell you about how ridiculously cheap Thailand is, this is true but very JM2deceiving! Some nights I was staying in Hostels for £3 a night, and more importantly I was drinking buckets for £2.50! (For anyone who doesn’t know, in Thailand they don’t drink from glasses but rather buckets, a quarter bottle of vodka and your mixer for £2.50. What more could a student ask for?) As well as the drink being cheap the food was also cheap! (Maybe this was because I lived on spring rolls and 7Eleven toasties since I was too afraid to eat anything for the fear of getting sick) However… The amount of travelling you do in Thailand, from flights to boats to buses and everything in between (TukTuks… you can’t go to Thailand and not ride in a Tuk Tuk) all of this money adds up and soon enough you know you’re left with zero money and contacting the bank of Mum and Dad.


  1. Be Careful and Be Safe

There are so many different aspects of Thailand that can be dangerous.

The Ping Pong Shows: before I go on to talk about ping pong shows I’d like to make it clear that I did not attend any of these shows- Before leaving to go to Thailand I was told that in some shows you pay the equivalent to £10 at the door and that includes all your drink for the rest of the night, which sounds like a pretty good deal, however when you go to leave; the doors are locked and you are forced to pay a sum of money before they let you out.

Boat Parties and one day island trips: mixing drinks with the ocean is never a good idea but in Thailand it’s all fun and games and no one really gives a s**t. Look out for yourself and your friends and always make sure you can be accounted for, there is no such thing as a life jacket in Thailand! Also on the ‘one day island trips’ you will most likely visit ‘Monkey beach’ – Do Not believe the myth ‘Monkeys can’t swim, stay in the water they won’t be able to bite you in the water’ This is not true! Monkeys may look cute and you might think they are lovely little animals- also Not True! They are vicious, nasty and dirty and they WILL bite you! Not one but two people on my boat got bitten and had to go to hospital (not before finishing to booze cruise of course)


  1. Finally, enjoy every single second!

I travelled around Thailand for 3 weeks, this was not even nearly enough time. I never stayed for longer for 3 nights at one destination and this is the only thing I would change about the holiday – Make it longer, make it last forever. Everything you see in Thailand is beautiful, take time to appreciate the views and the amazing things that you don’t get to do at home. From 1000m Ziplines, playing in mud baths with Elephants, playing beer pong on the beach, sleeping in some very questionable places, scuba diving with turtles, seeing the most beautiful temples and much much more I had the most amazing three weeks of my life with some of the most incredible people and I cannot wait to go back!


Jenny Martin is a final year BSc student in Communication, Advertising and Marketing at Ulster University, Jordanstown. You can follow her on Twitter @Jennymartin95 or on Facebook: /jenny.martin.12979431

My best investments of 2017 : Lock-It Foundation, by Kat Von D

My best investments of 2017 : Lock-It Foundation, by Kat Von D

Since Christmas and the new year are on the way, I wanted to do a reflective series of blogposts. These will be my first ever entries, so to introduce myself, I am going to base them around something that I would claim to exceptional at – spending money.

The first of the three best investments I have made in 2017 (in no particular order), is the Lock-It Foundation, by Kat Von D.

I wanted a high end and high coverage foundation that I could wear on nights out and special occasions. After hours of online research and various applications of different foundation samples (which any makeup counter in Debenhams and House of Fraser are sound about handing out), I finally made my decision, and I am yet to regret it.

So, here are the reasons why the Lock-It Foundation, by Kat Von D is the most worthy beauty investment I have made this year, and quite possibly my life.

• It only takes ONE PUMP. That’s right, ONE pump to achieve a full-face application with full coverage. I was cynical when I read this claim on the packaging, but I can safely say now that it proved to be true.

• The coverage is FLAWLESS, and it has never failed to hide any blemishes for the entire night. Kat Von D states that it is “so long-wear, you can go a full 24 hours without re-applying“. Now, I can’t speak for this claim, but I can say that it never fails to last me a full night out – from the pre, to the club, and even to the post-club McDonald’s visit. I never have to even so much as check if it is still in place.

“Technology must replace animal testing, and animal testing must be banned by governments worldwide” – Kat Von D

• Another huge advantage of the Lock-It Foundation (and all Kat Von D products), is that it is certified by PETA as being “cruelty free”.

• The Lock-It Foundation is OIL FREE, but also hydrates the skin – need I say more?

• There is no flashback in photographs. For once, I don’t have the face of a ghost beside my mates in nightclub photos anymore.

• The packaging is beautiful. If you are big on your aesthetics like I am, you will love the box that the bottle comes in – almost as much as the product itself.

• It is available in 32 shades, from “41 light – neutral undertone”, to “81 deep – cool undertone”.

• The bottle itself has been designed to prevent contamination and to preserve its rich consistency, with its “innovative, airless chamber”.

As you can, tell my experience with the Kat Von D Lock-It Foundation has been a great one. It genuinely is the best high-end foundation I have tried, and I have tried a LOT (e.g. Giorgio Armani – Luminous Silk Foundation and MAC – Studio Fix). I ordered mine from the Debenhams’ website, at £27. If you have been considering this foundation, I hope this post will act as that little push you might need to make the investment – which I promise, you will not regret.

Kat Von D website:
Kat Von D @ Debenhams:
To sign PETA’s “Pledge to be Cruelty-Free”, follow the link:
Rachel Reilly is a 2nd year student on BSc in Communication, Advertising & Marketing at Ulster University. She can be found on LinkedIn at:

PR Student Survival Guide

I have just begun my final year of studies as a Communication, Advertising and Marketing student at the Jordanstown campus of Ulster University – scary! I’ve attached a link here for anyone interested in what the course entails. One of the modules in my final year is Critical Perspectives of PR. We have not done a PR module since first year so it all seems pretty new again and, like I’m sure many of you understand, it can be a bit daunting starting something new. Our first task was to write 3 blog posts around the subject of PR. As an avid blog reader, I was excited at the prospect but I wasn’t too sure what I should write about that would be helpful and interesting for you as a reader. So, I figured what better way to start than giving you some of my own (perhaps not all that useful or informative) advice on how to go about being a PR student. Halt all frantic “What am I doing with my life?!” searches on Google as this blog might just have the answers to all your university worries.

In our first PR lecture we were given the simple task of telling the room our name and an interesting fact about ourselves. Seemingly an easy task, especially for a room of people who are aspiring to be our next generation of PR specialists – but no, the dread set in. The first person started with their name and informed the class that they had swallowed a Barbie shoe as a child. One by one, each of my class mates started to tell us all brilliant facts about themselves. When it came to my turn I told the class my name, and the interesting fact I settled for was that over summer I hitchhiked from Slovenia to Italy with a Slovenian man whose only English was “Good music ya?” – but that is a different story for a completely different blog post.


So, this is where my first tip sets in;
Be confident – you are interesting and your voice matters! Don’t sweat the small stuff as the saying goes. It’s easy to hide in a lecture hall full of 100 people, but don’t! Stand out, contribute, challenge your lecturer on everything they tell you. I guarantee you they would rather you be interactive and in debate than sitting in the back-row blank faced thinking about what you’re going to have for lunch from the culinary masterpiece that is the Jordanstown Student Union… It may seem like you are the only clueless person in the room but believe me for 1) You are not as clueless as you think you are and 2) If you’re feeling like this I guarantee you that you are not the only one having these thoughts.

My second tip is one of those learn from your mistakes type scenarios – or rather learn from my mistakes! Start reading. All those articles and textbooks that your lecturers keep telling you to have a look at – start actually looking at them and reading them. Read them twice if you can. We’ve all been guilty of rolling our eyes and thinking ‘I’ll skim read the article just on the off chance my lecturer asks me a question in the seminar’. But start taking interest in the articles they are giving you. You may just surprise yourself at how interesting you will find a lot of them. Also use them to start writing reference lists for your assignments. I always find it far easier to tackle an essay or assignment if I have a list of references ready for me before I even start. Try swapping your Daily Mail updates for a read of a newspaper a few days a week. Understanding what a newspaper looks like and how an article is printed on paper is such a huge part of PR. My older sister currently works in a PR agency and the first thing she does every morning is read the newspapers printed that day – it’s her longest standing companion in the office!

Take breaks. It’s hard to see past the mountain of work and reading gradually piling up but it is so important to close the books, stretch, go for a walk, listen to some music, do whatever you find relaxes you. Clear your head for a few minutes when it all seems too much and come back with fresh eyes and a clear mind. Your education is important, but look after yourself, keep on top of your work and the rest will come. Here’s a link to my personal favourite ‘Study Break Song’ because if Marvin Gaye won’t cheer you up what will?C2

Finally – enjoy! Enjoy your time as a PR student. At the end of this journey you will more than likely be entering the big bad world of work which comes with a huge amount of great experiences but you will never have an experience like you will have at university. So, keep up with the work, read everything you can, make contacts in the industry, strive for that 2.1 or 1st class honours degree because you deserve it! But make time for your friends, take up a new hobby every week and drop it when you realise maybe learning Spanish on Duolingo just isn’t your forte and start learning French – Je m’appelle Claire (as you can see mine is coming along nicely). Find time for everything you want to do, go for a drink or two at the weekend, take time to travel and experience the world. Enjoy these years because they come and go quicker than you may realise and give you some of the best memories you will have in life.


So finally, all that’s left to say is good luck! And if all else fails here’s a link to a wiki how page on how to survive Uni – although, speaking from experience, it may not provide exactly the strategy you need to pass!

Claire Stinton is a final year BSc in Communication, Advertising & Marketing student at Ulster University. She can be contacted on Twitter @clairestintonn and Instagram @clairestinton.