Why volunteering is worthwhile.

Why volunteering is worthwhile.

I wanted my first blog to document my crazy travel experiences, however I’m boring and don’t go anywhere so it was back to the drawing board. I decided to do something else in my life that I truly enjoyed, so I thought what better than my volunteering experience at Superstar’s café, which can hopefully convince a few others to get involved in something similar. 

                                                              

I’ll be completely honest I didn’t initially join up due to my undying desire to help other people or to feel more fulfilled with my life. Like most people in fifth year, my school was on at me about starting to broaden my CV to improve possible job prospects and make me stand out. Simply to have something to talk about on the impending careers day I started to research activities I could get involved in and soon came across volunteering. However, I knew if this was something I was seriously going to partake in then it had to be something hands on that I would enjoy. I had heard of Superstars café as it was local in my area and thought I would find it more interesting than helping in say a charity shop, as I already had a part time job in retail which I HATED. It was a café which offered job opportunities for people with physical/learning difficulties as well as autism. It also offered a youth club with a range of activities on different nights such as bowling, drama and crafts.

In terms of getting started I was a bit worried in case it involved and interview or experience as interviews still made me nervous and I had next to no previous experience. Thankfully it was just a simple informal conversation over the phone, and I was ready to start immediately the following Tuesday. When Tuesday came around, I remember being so anxious not knowing what to expect. I started off helping with the bowling club at the local leisure centre and thankfully very quickly got into the swing of things. It was mostly about just being social which is something I would say I’m quite good at, I think? I had worried I wouldn’t know what to talk about as I was so ignorant to special needs and what it meant due to lack of experience. I soon realised like the young people of this club where more like me than I first thought and spent hours talking to the girls about music, TV shows and weekend plans. I found soon found it came very natural and more importantly was so much fun!

 

 

 

 

 

After a few months only doing one night a week at bowling with young people aged 16-24 with special needs, I decided I wanted to be involved in other activities with different people for even more experience. The members where constantly asking me was I coming to watch their production of ‘the lion king’ and I could finally say yes if I joined the drama club, so I did. My experience at this was probably one of my favourites from my time volunteering here. It was so refreshing sharing the company of people not afraid to put themselves out there and really go for it. Thankfully I was only responsible for helping in practice and didn’t have an actual part, otherwise I probably wouldn’t have enjoyed it quite so much. (I’m no where near as fearless as them) It was so rewarding when all the tickets at Burnavon theatre sold out and the production was complete, everyone had worked so hard and it clearly showed. I knew then id go to every show they put on whether I still worked there or not, a promise which I have so far kept might I add. Honestly, I can’t explain how much I would encourage someone to get involved in something like this if possible. It was the most rewarding and memorable experience and proves in my opinion, that volunteering can also be a bit of fun and light-hearted. Of course, there is also the benefit that made me join in the first place which is that it is favourable among employers, but you get so much more from it.

 

 

 

 

 

There is also loads more behind the scene stuff available to do if you didn’t think the more hands on activities where for you. For example, I also offered to help with money collection the odd Saturday morning outside shopping centres and in the town. Another highly anticipated within the club are the seasonal parties. They where always the talk of bowling nights, particularly the Halloween ones as everyone always loved the fancy dress parties the dress. The absolute scramble to find the best costume to win a prize. It was a great chance to meet up with the other volunteers and enjoy a three-course meal. I mean if the prospect of free food doesn’t convince you then I just don’t know.

There’s literally too much stuff to get involved with to list as they’re constantly creating new activities and opportunities. I could guarantee there is something that would appeal to everyone though, no matter your interests. If you’ve just skim read the rest of this blog due to lack of interest or you just don’t feel like reading right now at least take away one main point. Volunteering in any form is one of the most worthwhile experiences you could take part it. Although it can be hard with uni, a job and spending time with friends and family, trust me I know. However, if you ever get the opportunity then I say go for it!

Katie Doyle is a final year Bsc in Communication Management and Public Relations student at Ulster University. She can be found at: Instagram-@katiedoyle54 LinkedIn-https://www.linkedin.com/in/katie-doyle-9a0551195/ Twitter-https://twitter.com/ktdoyle6

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/

How The Tables Have Turned…

No turning back now, here we go, first of many. I’d like to start by apologising in advance as this might be the biggest load of rubbish you’ll ever read in your life but it’s my first blog and if I’m being honest I don’t really know what I’m doing or where this is going, so go easy on me.

So, let’s begin. Hi my names Rachel Magee and I’m currently studying Communications Management and Public relations. Along with my degree I also work part time in the secondary school which I used to attend.

Let’s turn the clock back to September 2018, I just started back into my final year of university, I thought right head down get the degree and get out. My plans took a quick change when a placement I applied to a month previous got back to me offering me a job. I was ecstatic, but me being me I left it to the very last minute to start applying for placements so the idea that id actually get one was never really a thought, so I jumped at the first opportunity, silly Rachel.

As you can probably tell from the end of the lat paragraph my placement year went down like a lead balloon. I lasted two months. Don’t get me wrong there was no issue with the company it just wasn’t quite what I expected, and to be 100% honest I’m the only one to blame. I was so excited that a company had actually offered me a job, you can only imagine how gutted I was when two months in I had to call it quits, I felt like an absolute failure. From here I found myself taking a year out of university and unemployed. Not a great start to the year.  Back to square one, the job-hunt began. I decided in the off chance to ring my old principal to see if there were any job availabilities within the school. From there everything fell perfectly into place.

So, here we again new job take 2. I was offered a job as a learning support assistant in the first-year class and that suited me down to a tee, I was in my element. I have always loved children but never thought I’d be back in my old school working with them. Seeing all the familiar faces from when I was at school and not being able to shake the habit of calling the teachers miss or sir has gotten me a brave bit of slagging. I can honestly say, in my 21 years of life I’ve never had a job that I actually wanted to get out of bed for, until now.

It’s just over 5 years ago since I was a pupil here myself, and now there were people calling me ‘miss’! sorry what? Talk about roles reversed. Being able to see how things work when the tables are turned from the viewpoint of a member of staff is shocking. This was a real eye opener for me, the amount of time and effort the teachers invest into each pupil. Even though they may not appreciate it at the time.; speaking from experience here.

 

To be brutally honest this year had its ups and downs but more so a blessing in disguise. My year working in the school has pushed me in a career path that was not my initial intention,. My time here has yet again reshaped me in the best way possible. So, to finish I’d like to give a big shout out to my once principal and now boss for answering the phone and giving me the opportunity.     

 

Rachel Magee is a final year BSc in Communication Management & Public Relations student at Ulster University. She can be found at: Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/rachelmagee98 and LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/rachel-magee-52328016b/

How did I get here and where do I go next?

Hi, my name is Jamie Doran. I am a final year communication management and public relations student and any fifty shades of grey jokes will not be tolerated.

In all honesty, I’ve struggleJD5d to settle on something to talk about. I’ve read a good few blogs now with topic’s varying, which have been written by students in my year. I’ve decided to talk about some of my experiences before and during university and discuss where I want to go from here. In all honestly, I’m only writing this blog because I am required to, I’m a more keep myself to myself kind of guy. I know that the whole point of a blog is that people read it however, the thought that my peers may read my post sends my anxiety levels sky high. If you haven’t worked it out by now I’ll tell you the obvious, I have never written a blog. Taking this into account, please have patience as I try to write a post that makes sense and doesn’t waffle about nothing for the next six to seven hundred words.

Having completed art and design, religious education and travel and tourism for my A-Levels I didn’t really expect to be in the final year of this degree. Infact, when I left school in 2015 I thought I was the new Seth MacFarlane or Matt Groening and began an animation degree in Ulster University Belfast campus beforeswitching to communication management and public relations the following year.I have always been very keen to demonstrate creativity in whatever job I find myself in, animation seemed like a good idea at the time but after spending a full semester on this course I realised I am tremendously average at drawing, (I have included a drawing below so that you can judge yourself).JD4This sudden realisation was a slap in the face, I had always seen myself designing and creating and I believed at the time that this was the only route to follow. I decided to reapply through UCAS to Ulster University in January 2016, on this occasion I decided that artistic creativity may not be the best choice and I searched for another platform from which I could develop my own ideas and plans, CMPR was by the the best option.

My first two years in Communication management and public relations don’t count towards my final grade which I cannot be more thankful for as the most valuable piece of information I picked up over this time was tuck your wing mirrors in when parking in the Holylands… Ok so that’s not entirely true, I have learned so much in my first two years in CMPR which I plan to put to use throughout final year and of course carry these new skills on into my JD3future career. When I say my career though, I have no idea what I’m talking about, in my own head I still feel like a first year, I still have no clue what I want to do with my life and I don’t feel like I’m getting any closer to an answer. At this point I can’t see myself jumping straight into a graduate job. I still have relatively no idea what the world is really like outside this Northern Irish bubble, therefore I do not want to commit myself to staying here whenever I have no idea what the rest of the world has to offer.

I’m not scared of maturing so don’t let the last paragraph fool you. I didn’t complete work experience between second year and final year; however, I have had several positions within large organisations. In the past number of years, during my breaks from university I have had full time positions working for RBS bank, Vodafone, Cisco, the Library board and the Northern Ireland Civil Service. These experiences have proved to be extremely valuable because this semester I am completing a module called ‘organisational communication’. Having experienced working life in so many organisations, I have been able to closely examine how they operate internally – using this module alongside my experiences should prove very effective when completing my coursework. All of the positions that I have mentioned have required me to speak to both customers and other members of staff throughout my shifts, helping to educate me in how to correctly present myself in a professional workplace.

Without taking up too much more of your day, I’ll just let you know what I plan to do in order to find the correct career path for me. Personally, I believe that travJD1eling the world for a few months or years would be as much of a benefit to me as a work placement is for others. My hope is that I will be able to find that one ‘life calling’ and using the skills that I have picked throughout my years in Ulster University, base a career around it.

Some people want a good career for the money, others want it for the lifestyle, I want my career to be fulfilling and fun.

5 days a week for the next 52 years is a long time to not enjoy something, so I’m going to make sure I pick the correct path and take my time in doing so!

Jamie Doran is a final year BSc in Communication Management and Public Relations student at Ulster University. He can be found on Twitter and Instagram – @jamiedoran96

A Former Couch Potatoes’ Guide to the Fitness Influx

I feel like in recent years, the fitness industry has been able to reach many people both online and in circles around me. As someone who dreaded PE at school and just about exercised once a week I wondered if this was due to the fact that our metabolisms all begin to slow so we might not be able to take as much advantage of Dominos ‘Two for Tuesday’ or if there was more to it?

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At the start of my placement year I decided to try a personal training gym that happened to be on the end of the street I had moved to. I booked a consultation and signed up for four weeks with the intention of quitting after because I would probably hate it. Thirteen months on I continue to train three to four times a week and love it.

So, here’s what I’ve learnt.

You can do more than you ever thought you could. I found that I was surprised that I could lift weights that I never would have imagined I could. I will never be the strongest or most athletic person in the gym but that doesn’t matter because you will only get better as time goes on. Exercising teaches you to have a little more self-belief. This then spills over into your everyday life where you challenged yourself a little more, even if it’s just with small things, and you achieve more than you were expecting. I only go for 30 minute sessions so I don’t let myself make the excuse that ‘I don’t have time.’

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Exercising makes you feel good, it’s a fact! It releases endorphins which improve your mood, so even on your worst days just going for a walk helps to clear your head and regather your thoughts. I found this especially helpful when I was stressed during placement or had assignments due. It’s important to remember that sometimes taking a step away from something that you’re working on, even for 20 minutes, can help you look at it from a whole new perspective. In general, exercising helps me to have a more positive outlook on whatever I’m doing.  It’s also nice to be able to take a break from your phone for 30 minutes in the day.

It helps you meet new people. From going to the gym I’ve met so many people I never would have come across in my daily life from a range of different backgrounds. I’ve been trained by people of all ages who are cheering you on to be the best you can be while learning about each other’s lives at the same time.

Nobody is judging you. Some people fear that others are watching you while you exercise, especially if you’re only starting out, but I’ve found that this really isn’t the case. If everyone is working hard, they are generally more focused about what they’re doing rather than what you’re doing.  I have found that it is important to not get caught up with comparing yourself with others, especially online. What I’ve found works for me is following accounts in Instagram that actually inspire me rather than accounts that are simply just skinny girls. Some of my favourites include – @faisalpmafitness who promotes having a positive mental attitude and @whitneyysimmons who tries to see the good in every day along with posting short gym workout videos.

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Even though going to the gym is what I enjoy I understand that it’s not for everyone. You can do anything from going for a walk with friends to ice skating, as long as you’re moving in some way, you’ll feel the benefits of it.

 

Benita Brown is a Final Year Bsc Communication Management and Public Relations (CMPR) student at Ulster University. She can be found at: Instagram – @benitabrown96 and LinkedIn – https://www.linkedin.com/in/benita-brown-929911194/

Budget like a Boss

“Living the dream, sure you know yourself.”

My automatic reply for the obligatory office pleasantries had worn thin. Was I really living the dream – working 9 to 5, living off ready meals and returning to a freezing cold student house every evening? It was time to put my money where my mouth was. I booked 6 holidays over 6 months (7 over 7 if you count a budget weekend in Donegal).

March – mates weekend away in an Airbnb in a village-off-a-village-off-Falcarragh

April – 8 day combined 21st and 60th birthday blowout with my mum in New York and Pennsylvania

May – 4 days in Paris with placement pals

June/July – 2 week long road trip around the Southern states of America with a handily placed Study USA friend

August – 9 day trip to visit another handily placed friend on placement in Toronto

August/September – 6 days by the French Alps flowing onto 6 days in Split and Dubrovnik

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Why the sudden bragging? Because it was at this point I promptly remembered that while my term time address is in BT9, my bank account hadn’t caught up with my Malone Road travel mentality. Luckily, my inner East Belfast scrounger was here to save the day. This, readers, is how I budgeted like a boss.

Unleash your inner accountant

Set your monetary goals (in my case, holidaying without getting into debt) realistically in relation to your income and outgoings. Scan through your current account and note what you regularly spend money on, such as running a car, groceries, eating out and subscriptions. Take a few minutes to reminisce about your biggest childhood expense being a LipSmacker set from Claire’s Accessories, then sort all these expenses into an Excel sheet to find out what you will need to earn to cover these expenses and meet your financial goals.

So close, yet so far

The thrill of my final Excel formula coming together was caught short when the number it produced was well into the quadruple figures – quite a stretch if I wanted to eat more than Pot Noodles for the rest of the year. Therefore, like many a millennial before, I adopted the side hustle.

While not sustainable as a main income source for many, part time casual work is the perfect option for the cash hungry. Outside placement hours, I picked up shifts in promotional work for a local radio station, however there are several companies specialising in casual work in events and hospitality. Grafton Recruitment and Eventsec allow recruits to work when suits them whilst earning above minimum wage.

Make like Brangelina and split

Newly motivated, my next step was to translate these lofty goals into smaller monthly segments. With the help of a *free* Monzo account, I split my monthly income into separate ‘pots’ for different purposes. My standing orders for bills came out of one pot, whilst my contributions toward holiday money went in another. The current account tracked my day to day spend against my personalised monthly budget, with reminders if I needed to slow down on my usage of its iconic ‘hot coral’ card.

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https://twitter.com/monzo/status/1057922509486678017?lang=en

I ❤ cheap thrills

A reduced disposable income doesn’t necessarily mean a reduced standard of living. Here’s some quickfire ways to make your money go further:

TREAT YO SELF – in two weeks. That must have item? Hit add to basket and come back in 14 days. If you’re still day-dreaming about it, and your monthly budget permits, let that be your reward for staying on track.

FOOD – Youtube is a great resource for cheap meal inspiration (my breakfast for the year was sorted here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_XSVK_LliQM). From the gluttony of recipes online, I had my breakfast and lunches down to less than £8 per week. Sound extreme? Watch me enjoy meals out guilt free (after asking for student discount of course).

STOCKPILE – Running the risk of sounding like a crazy coupon hunter, bulk buying items you use regularly while they’re on offer saves money and hassle of running to the shops last minute. (Just don’t mention the 5 litres of apple juice clogging the kitchen cupboard to my housemates)

GET THRIFTY – The social media shame of outfit repeating has done wonders for the stock levels of charity shops. Big ticket items like formal and wedding guest dresses, often designer, fill the rails of shops dedicated to worthy causes.

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Smiling smugly in my £8 dress – thank you Oxfam x

SOCIAL MEDIA – If you were on a diet, you’d swiftly unfollow BuzzFeed Food in case their latest brownie-cookie-cheesecake-ice cream-taco derailed your good intentions. Why should budgeting be any different? Unfollow whichever sites get you reaching for your card (does anyone ever remember their CVV number?) and curate your feed to motivate your saving, be it an influencer renovating their first house or hashtags of upcoming holiday locations. Instagram accounts @thefinancialdiet and @clevergirlfinance gave realistic financial hacks tailored to millennial living, a far cry from your granda bragging about how he bought his family home for a price of a Freddo.

And finally, don’t get blindsided by unforeseen expenses. I learnt this the hard way from driving a 15 year old car! A chunk of money set aside for a rainy day really does leave you with peace of mind. That way, you can crack on with #livingthedream.

Georgia Galway is a final year Bsc Communication Management and Public Relations student at Ulster University. She can be found at: LinkedIn – Georgia Galway and Instagram – @imthatgalwaygirl

 

Was University For Me?

First blog with no idea where to start, but here we go.

Growing up, there was no pressure on me at all to go to university as nobody else in my family had decided to do it, and they all turned out OK (well, as far as OK can go).In school I was SET for going to university, but then again, I done no work for my school work, probably not the best idea when I actually wanted to be a nurse. I know what your thinking, ‘if she wanted to be a nurse, how the hell is she a final year student in CMPR?’

Lets go back to the start, firstly, I would highly advise anyone who wants to do what they want to do for the rest of your lives, pick A-level subjects you actually enjoy, that was my BIGGEST regret. That’s just the start, I chose to study biology, home economics and sport for my A-Level subjects, understandable that you don’t care about that. But how long did I actually last at them subjects? Actually the whole year, I know, SHOCK!! But did I do well? Absolutely not. This set me back a whole year, making me doubt whether or not I wanted to attend university as all of my friends were going to be there one year longer than me.

Believe it or not, because of this reason I considered continuing doing the subjects id hated and failed just to keep up with my friends. Idiotic idea, I know. The only perk of going back to repeat the year for me was that I would be able to go visit my friends all the time and get a few days in the Holylands like a legend!

Thankfully with the persuasion of my mum and the fact I wasn’t the only one going back and changing my subjects, I decided to go back and repeat. After the two years, I was completely motivated to pursue my dream career as a children’s nurse. Then came the interviews. Wow. Them interviews really was the end of that dream for me.

Believe me, I was more than disappointed in myself for not getting past the interview stage as in my eyes I had done everything I could. This completely knocked my confidence. I had convinced myself I wasn’t good enough. Not just for nursing but for every course.

After school ended and I got my results (good results they were), I decided it was best to take a year out from education. I expected to do so many things in that year out, go travelling, get a job that id get good experience from, maybe even move away. But did I do any of the things I wanted to do? No. I was working in a dead-end part time job, didn’t leave Ireland, (apart from going on a two-week girl’s holiday – would not recommend.) But did I want to apply for university again? Definitely not, and this was all because I wasn’t accepted into what I wanted to do first time round. The only good thing to come out of that year out, was the new friends I had made, friends for life (cringe)!

But one night, (two nights before UCAS deadline, I know, panic time) my friends mum (shoutout to Christina McCann), persuaded me to apply to CMPR because she knew how I felt about advertising and the way companies go about marketing.

Along came the day, I got accepted into the course. The joy I felt was crazy!! All I could think of was getting a house with the girls and freshers, just as every fresher student would think of! (Coming from a 22 year old final year student, who has been attending freshers from a young age, they get boring. Sorry to disappoint).

As months went on, semester merged into semester, I was really just going to university to keep up my attendance, every lecture was going in one ear and out the other. I left every assignment to the last minute and decided to start revising the night before each exam. I thought this was normal, all my friends done it too. It was not normal.

Doing this put me in the horrors of all horrors. I’ve always said I work really well under pressure. But doing a university assignment the night before its due really is pressure I’ve never experienced. (I swear I’m not writing this the night before.) Bare in mind I got through the first two years doing this and here I am sitting in final year trying to figure out what to do my dissertation on..

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This blog isn’t just my story on my experience on my university life. I will swiftly move on to living that amazing student life that everyone dreams off, including myself. I thought moving out of my home house during the week would be the most amazing thing. That me and my friends were going to be living our best lives in Belfast, going out every night of the week. But I never thought far enough into it. I never thought about the bills id have to pay, the rent I had to pay monthly, that it would get really, really cold in the Holylands when it snows or the fact that I would had to feed myself.

Within the first month of first year my little bubble popped. I had spent most of my student loan from going out, eating out and continued to block out the fact that I had debts of rent to pay. Finally, first semester ended, and I could go home for Christmas, bare in mind I didn’t drive in first year so I had to stay down until one of my friends were driving home each week even if I didn’t have class.

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Me and the girls living our best lives!! **NOTE – Hole in the roof, oops**

Felt like years before second semester ended and I couldn’t have been happier.  Especially after having a rough encounter with mice in our house and living in the library before exams.

Second year came, and I don’t know why I thought it would be any different to first year. In first semester, I done exactly what I done first year. Partied my life away the same way any normal student would. After this, the friends I lived with began to one by one drop out of living in the house. There I was all alone. I had never experienced anything like this in my life. I hated living in Belfast this way without anyone in the house and having the fear of god in me every-time I heard a noise in the back yard. February came and I took the plunge to move out of the house. It was the best thing I have ever done. I finally started to actually focus on my university work for the first time in the two years.

I thought I was ready to do the student life as I was always up for a night out at home, but it gets boring after a while when your doing it every night every week for 24 weeks of the year.

Was I ready for University? Yes.

Was I ready for the student life? No.

Do I regret any of it? Absolutely not! It was a learning curve if anything.

Anyway, back to the dissertation I go…

Emma Murphy is a final year Bsc in Communication Management and Public Relations student at Ulster University. She can be found at: LinkedIn – https://www.linkedin.com/in/emma-murphy-bbb628196/  , and Twitter – @EmmaMurphy97

7 Stages Of Realising You’re A Shopaholic

I would like to think that everyone has seen the classic movie, Confessions of a Shopaholic.

Here are my 7 Stages Of Realising You’re a Shopaholic.

1 – No I DON’T have too many shoes.

This is the most classic line of denial, for me anyway. I will continuously justify a new pair of shoes over any other item of clothing. No matter how similar it may be to another pair I will always need it. You will constantly be telling yourself that you need them, and whatever happens you will ALWAYS get them, no matter how long you wait to do it. You will wait until there’s a sale, either way, they will be yours at a stage.

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2 – One more won’t hurt.

You will always say that one more won’t hurt you.. but really, do you need it? Even though your wardrobe wont close, or your shoe cupboard is bursting open, there will always be a valid reason for buying more. KLARNA, you think its your best friend at the time until you have £150 worth of clothes and shoes in your basket that you know you will never send back. Believe me, it’s a risky business, maybe because someone decided to use mine for a bigger shopping spree than I usually do..

3 – If I pretend I had this for a while nobody will know.

Ah, this is a clear sign yo’re a shopaholic. Hiding the bags in your car until there’s nobody home and sneaking them in and ripping the labels off without anyone seeing them. Or even getting parcels delivered to another address so you wont have to listen to your parents hitting you with the ‘Another parcel came for you today’ or ‘would you ever stop ordering online’. It can’t just be my parents who are like that!!

4 – It’s a present TO me FROM me.

This is a  good way to justify buying things for yourself. Yes, everyone deserves a treat once and a while, but do they really deserve several treats in one week? (This is not a personal attack!!) I will always use ‘I’ve had a long day at work’ as an excuse to go ‘window shopping’ online **Spoiler – there is no such thing as window shopping online** This obviously results in me buying everything I like on every website I visit, and do I ever wear it all? No. But will I return it? Of course I won’t.

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5 – Starting to wonder where your moneys going to.

The dreaded moment. You check your bank account. There is barely anything left and its only half way through first semester. You start to wonder was your account hacked and checking your bank statements your starting to realise, no, that was all you. The worst of it is, all the clothes and shoes are for going out and you will always wear the same thing during the day.

6 – I really should have returned those clothes I will never wear.

Everyone has that one chair in their room. Yes, I am talking about THE CHAIR!! Whether its piled with clean clothes, clothes you wore for a wee while that isn’t clean but definitely isn’t dirty enough for the wash or else it is parcels upon parcels that you will never ever wear, but will never return. I’ve said it once and ill say it again..KLARNA is not your friend. All them orders where you thought you wouldn’t like anything, and you didn’t, but ‘forgot’ to return, they still come out of your bank account. I know, shock!

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7 – OK, I have too many shoes.

The Final Stage. You open the cupboard to put them new shoes in, the new coat, jeans or tops. It’s the end. There is literally no more room for anymore clothes in that wardrobe. You think to yourself, ‘I have far too much stuff, I should really clean out what I don’t wear.’ But, will you ever do that? Of course not. Do you keep buying more? Absolutely.

I’m sure many of you reading this can relate, but don’t worry. You are not alone.

 

Emma Murphy is a final year BSC in Communication Management and Public Relations student at Ulster University. She can be found at – Instagram: @emmamurf ; Facebook: Emma Murphy ; LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/emma-murphy-bbb628196/ 

No Direction

‘Write about something you’re interested in’!

That statement along with the likes of , ‘tell the class something interesting about yourself’ (thanks Conor for covering that one)  or ‘what does that degree get you…you know what do you do with that?’, should come with trigger warnings.

So, just write a blog post about a passionate of yours, ok! Umm, (thinks , thinks, gets distracted ..thinks…) For God sake, why can’t you just give me a topic?

 

This might make me sound completely mental or hopefully, be slightly relatable to at least one other person. I, genuinely, don’t have a passion, an interest, a hobby or the faintest idea of what I want / should be doing. I’ve battled with this for ages but now, in final year, it seems like I’m really going to have to face it and deal with it head on. Not only do I have to think of something that I can withstand writing 10,000 words about for dissertation but after that, this escape from the ‘real world’ we call uni is over and it’s every woman/man for themselves.…

 

After a failed attempt to think of my passion, I literally Goggled (and not for the first time) ‘how to find your passion?’ Alas, ‘8 ways to find your passion’. Brilliant! There it is, when this load, I’ll have it. Ok …off to a good start, I suppose I’m not the only own to fill a little lost or unmotivated, but none of these articles, forums or blogs are providing me with what I need. It’s all about how to quit your job and fulfil your passion, but I’m looking for how to find it. Anyway, after reading and scrolling through comments – I couldn’t help but roll my eyes a little when ‘tash83xo’ told us that ‘waking up at 6am for a 45-minute run and an expresso/vanilla protein shake before the kids got up changed her life’. I needed more depth, more meaning and insight… Audible!

Dusting of that old app paused in the middle of ‘The Wisdom of Sundays: Life-Changing Insights from Super Soul Conversations’ by Oprah I began listening again and fell in love with it. Honestly, it’s such a great listen and I’d recommend to anyone, even if you’re not going through some sort of quarter life crisis, which is what I’m calling it at this point. Philosophers, phycologists, monks, ex-criminals take on different chapters and talk about everything from food, loneliness, road rage to life’s purpose.

Inspiration comes in waves when listening to it in the car driving to and from work, Oprah calls these ‘ah-ha’ moments. When something is said and it resonates, hits you in the gut or you get little butterflies and I think ‘I do that’, ‘I get that’.  I write notes on my phone, saving quotes which provide momentary relief or revelations.

One of them, probably the most relevant when it comes to uni or going out into the world of work, would be from Alan Watts “If you say that getting the money is the most important thing, you’ll spend your life completely wasting your time. You’ll be doing things you don’t like doing in order to go on living, that is to go on doing thing you don’t like doing, which is stupid.” Very Pinterest but Agreed! Ah-ha moment alert!

Image result for alan watts getting the money

I remember walking into placement on a Friday morning, Frappe Fridays to be specific, and me and the two other girls in the office began one of many Friday morning ‘deep chats’. What’s the point if everyone hates their job?’ ‘We literally live to work so shouldn’t we at least enjoy it’ ‘I think you should travel, and you’ll just figure it out’. After being so inspired on the way into work, I’m stuck again. Coffees finished, wisdom running out we contradicted everything we said and got back to the mundane tasks we didn’t care about until 5pm.

Now, I understand that nobody loves every aspect of their job and that not a single person has a perfect life where everyday is all sunshine and lollipops, but I also reject this idea that everyone completely hates their job and that’s just life because that’s bloody depressing. I want to have a job I’m passionate about. I refuse to be part of a ‘eat, sleep, work, live unconsciously, repeat’ society, at least, not forever . I want to at least be working towards a life that I feel my skills and attributes contribute to. To make a tiniest bit of difference to something would be quite cool.

So, I’m left still searching for what I love. For what I care enough about to dedicate a quite huge chunk of my life to. And, if it’s not going to come to me in an ‘That’s so Raven’ like vision, I’m going to need to figure it out and fast .. there’s another blog to write!

 

Megan Gillespie,  final year BSc in Communication Management & Public Relations at Ulster University. She can be found on: InstagramFacebookLinkedIn