Europe by train – My Inter-rail journey

Europe by train – My Inter-rail journey

For anyone looking for an alternative holiday this summer I would strongly advise on giving Inter-railing a go. Personally I didn’t have a clue what inter-railing was until my brother went five years ago with four of his mates. The photos and experiences he shared instantly made me want to give inter-railing a go.

Ever since then the idea of going inter-railing was regularly talked about within my friend groups but it wasn’t until this year that something materialised when me and two other friends from Omagh decided to set off on the 2 week long journey.

Choosing your ticket

When planning your trip there are a couple of different ticket options you can choose from, Deciding on your ticket really depends on your own personal preferences and circumstances, we however went for the cheapest ticket which allowed us to travel to 5 different countries in the space of 15 days which was perfect for us. With our ticket we were restricted to travelling on only 5 single days within the 15 day period, other tickets allow you to travel on 7 or 10 days with the most expensive ticket allowing you to travel continually for 1 whole month. Ticket prices can be found here.

 

Planning your itinerary

Personally one of the main spots I wanted to visit was Lake Bled, Slovenia ( which I for one can say is one of the most picturesque places I have ever visited, absolutely breath-taking scenes) while my mates wanted to visit Berlin and Krakow.

Prior to our departure we really did little to no planning or organising other than ordering our inter-rail ticket and booking our flights to our start location.  I know some people prefer to be a little more organised than we were, but we were three laid back, easy going lads to say the least (we pretty much winged the whole thing tbh).

On the contrary we met people that had their whole 2-4 weeks planned out ahead of themselves with train reservations, hostels, nightclubs, pub crawls and tours booked two months in advance. This organised and planned approach didn’t really appeal to any of us so we just booked our hostel and any other reservations for the next location the day before we arrived.

Our Route

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Our starting location was Venice, Italy. The reason for this was simple, it was the cheapest flight we could get in and around central Europe.

Venice was a really nice spot, although very expensive we were lucky enough to get booked into a cheap hostel chain (Generator Hostels – which I would highly recommend) where we spent most our time sampling some of Italy’s famous Aperol Spritz’ for only €2.

On our first night out in Venice we met two brothers from Canada who coincidentally were staying in the same hostel as us and who we actually got to know pretty well (thanks to a bottle of vodka and a drinking game) but I will talk about these guys later.

After our two night stay in Venice, it was time to move on to location No.2 : Lake Bled. I’m sure most of you have seen or at least heard of Lake Bled and I am nearly certain that most if not all reports about this place were astonishing, and rightly so. Slovenia was one of the cheapest destinations on our trip with our hostel costing a mere €7 each.

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From Lake Bled it was then off to Budapest, one of Europe’s most popular party hotspots. One of the best and worst part of Budapest was our hostel, which was located just above a bar which played live music up until 5am. A key highlight of the trip was when we visited the famous Budapest ‘Sparty’ (a must) which was a huge spa party in the Szechenyi thermal baths.  This is where we bumped into our Canadian friends we had met in Venice. I always thought it was so weird that out of 192 countries in the world, 50,000 odd cities and 7.5 billion people, we met the same people twice, in two different countries… what are the chances?

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After Budapest we travelled further east towards Krakow, Poland. Unfortunately, it rained for most of our stay there so we didn’t get out to see much. We did however get the chance to join the hostels pub crawl which is something I would highly recommend if you are travelling by yourself as it is a great way of meeting new and interesting people and also gives the chance to visit a variety of the city’s local ‘watering holes’.

Now it was time to make our way west in the direction of Berlin, this was our longest train journey of the whole trip which required a mammoth 10-hour commute. Some people are daunted by the long commuting hours involved with inter-railing but when you’re with your friends and in the right company the hours can really fly by.

Berlin is one of the most complete city’s you probably will ever visit in my opinion, the mixture between culture, nightlife and tourist attractions is magnificent and offers you plenty to do over your 2-3 days.

Berlin nightclubs are known for being the best in the world, So obviously we had to try them out. Before entering one of the clubs we were informed by the abnormally strict bouncers that cameras were prohibited inside and that we had to put a sticker over the cameras lens on our phone, this threw us a little and we really didn’t know what to expect when we got in but I can honestly say that it was one of the best nights out I have ever had, the best of it was the place didn’t close until 8am!

This meant that we could step out of the nightclub at 7am, grab our bags at the hostel and make our way to the train station for or final train journey to Amsterdam at 9am, fresh. as. a. daisy.JM1

Upon arrival to Amsterdam Central station, this concluded our inter-railing journey. Following 2 weeks of hectic travelling and partying, our energy along with our funds were quite depleted so we used the remaining two days to just chill out and reminisce on our eventful inter-railing experience.

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James McGirr is a final year BSc Public Relations & Communication Management student at Ulster University. He can be found on LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/james-mcgirr-247328143/

What To Expect When You’re Expecting

To anyone who has clicked on this post thinking that I’m pregnant or that I am offering pregnancy advice, I’m afraid you’re out of luck. But thanks for clicking. I’m actually writing about what to expect when you’re expecting a placement, so if this may help you, please stay tuned.

When I was applying to placement (after placement, after placement) I had the mindset that I would pick a few I liked, apply, they’d love me and I’d get the job. Well, it wasn’t as big-headed or far-fetched as that but you can understand how straightforward I expected it to be. You might be in a similar mindset so I’m here to give you more of a realistic expectation to how applying for placement really works and what you should expect.

 

  1. FEELING CLUELESS

Your placement year is something you’ve known about when choosing your course, starting your course, during your whole first year and yet when second year comes around and you realise that you need to get a placement you feel utterly offended that no one had mentioned this to you or helped you with this yet.SD1

So in your best attempt to overcome complete cluelessness, you should attend a class regarding placement guidelines or at least try to keep up to date with emails. If you’re still feeling clueless, don’t worry, everyone is. At this stage it’s important to ask for help. This could be with your CV, a meeting with your careers department or even just asking people in your class.

Understanding the whole equation of everything involved in a placement takes time. Do not worry. Your clueless hours of thinking “what?” on repeat will end and you will start to get your head around what is expected.

  1. INFORMATION OVERLOAD

When checking your emails and employability portal for placement opportunities, you will quickly come to realise the vast number of placements that are actually available. There are specific key months when every placement ever seems to be open at once and you could spend days reading about the job description, the company, etc. This is overwhelming. This is information overload.

My advice in this instance is this; in your attempt to filter through the never-ending list of placements, do not rule out placements just because you haven’t heard of the company. Take time to explore the company’s website, learn about their culture and research exactly what your role will be. The time taken will be worth it and you may even be at an advantage over the huge influx of people applying to the big names. Just because they’re bigger, doesn’t mean they’re better.

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  1. NO INVESTMENT, NO RETURN

From the above, you should now realise that applying for placements isn’t just a few clicks and uploads. In my opinion, it’s the applications that are the hardest part and after that it’s a matter of waiting for replies and then preparing for interviews. But you can only really relax and enjoy the latter if you actually put time and effort into each of your applications. Each application is different. Don’t use the same cover letter with a few different words changed (trust me, they’ll notice). It’s important to understand that no two roles are the same so your applications shouldn’t be.

If you don’t invest the effort, you are highly unlikely to get anything in return. It took me three hideous applications to realise this and looking back I can’t believe I questioned why employers weren’t tripping over each other to offer me an interview when in reality they probably blacklisted my CV.

  1. TIME, TIME, PRECIOUS TIME

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If you’re second year at university, the likelihood is that your time mostly revolves around sleeping, drinking, going out, being hungover, thinking about what will make you feel less hungover, thinking your hangover is over then realising it was just the start, eating, going to university, being on your phone and on occasion, doing work for university. And in this jam-packed schedule, where on earth is the time to apply for placements?! * The truth is you have to make time. There’s no cheats or fast routes, it takes time and you need to make the time no matter what other commitments you have, drinking included. Even if you try setting out two days in the week to focus specifically on research and applications for the placements you want, it will really help.

At the start, expect to be bewildered at how it took you two and a half hours to write your CV profile section and blown away at the fact that it still sounds like the first one you read off Google and did your best not to copy. The more time you put into it, the better it will be and you’ll be constantly tweaking and fixing bits to end up with an application you’re happy with. But please, don’t underestimate the time it takes. It’s probably the most important thing for you to take from this whole piece if you take anything at all.

*Apologies to anyone who does not have the student time-schedule as the one mentioned above. I’m sorry that I stereotypically profiled you under a student experience umbrella based on what I’m used to. Well done for being studious, the rest of us envy you a lot.

  1. GETTING GHOSTED

This is probably the most infuriating thing that you should expect. And also very, very common. Expect long waits of thinking, “no I’ve definitely got this one, no point applying anywhere else, this is the one” and proceeding to find out someone else in your class got the role last week. As far as I was aware, there’s no procedures in place that say employers have to let you know if you’ve been rejected. And on the off chance that you are an employer and you’re reading this, please let a student know if they haven’t been successful in their applications, it’s polite and really helpful. So expect to be ghosted and my advice in this instance would be to set a realistic time limit before moving on and trying your best at your next application. It can be really disheartening but it’s just what you’ve got to do.

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Thank you if you’ve made it to the end and have actually read the full thing. I hope it helps you if you’re in the position of applying to placements or if you’re on placement/have been on placement, I hope you can relate to the struggle. Also, it’s not all doom and gloom and once you’ve gotten your placement you feel amazing and have such a massive opportunity ahead of you, but that’s all for another post!

 

Scout Dobbin is a third year BSc in Communication, Advertising and Marketing student at Ulster University, currently on placement as a Marketing Assistant. Scout can be found on Linkedin – Scout Dobbin ; Twitter – @scoutdobbin ; Instagram – @scoutdobbin

Business Owner at 18 : Promotion through Social Media

OM1At the tender age of 20 years old, one might ask what words of wisdom could a fresh-faced student have for a world of entrepreneurs? Well I can tell you that after turning 20 in June and going through a roller coaster of a year and seven months in business, that social media is your best friend!

After turning 18 in June 2016, I headed off to University, confident my life was on the right track. Prior to opening my business, I grew up making myself money. By selling my old clothes on eBay, cleaning anything I could around our house for extra money. I always enjoyed the idea of being my own boss. After completing 4 long years of GCSE & A-Level Art, I realised my passion was Make-Up. (queue many readers switching off).

I opened my own freelance makeup business in March 2017 at the rare age of 18 with possibly £200 to my name, a chair and a Facebook page. I had absolutely no clients and no clue how to get them. Now, over a year and a half on I have a big client base, my own premises and thankfully looking forward to the next few years, as well as being able to blog my thoughts on social media.

So firstly – 1. use Facebook as a promotional tool

I began posting up pictures of my work on my Facebook page to achieve higher engagement. In the first few months of business I done a lot of free work to get myself noticed in my area, to build a client base. I worked at a loss and I made so many mistakes. Facebook for me was a great client builder. I was able to post client photos, allow them to post reviews of my services and it formed a base for my business.

  1. Instagram is your best friend!

In 1 year, I gained over 6,500 followers on my Instagram page from posting content. Now I’m the first to say its not all about follows, likes etc. however in my business, I thrive from engagement. If you’re opening a business which focuses on visual aspects Instagram is where you need to be! Using Instagram as a marketing tool is one of the best and easiest ways to strengthen your business and interact freely with your audience. By using Hashtags to raise awareness & advertise your company.

For me many of my clients are young girls under between the ages of 13 and 20, so as you can imagine Instagram is the perfect place for me to grow my brand. Choosing a platform that connects with your target audience is the key to success.

  1. Post good quality pictures

Nobody wants to see blurry photos that look as if they’ve been taken on a toaster. Everyone on social media is upping their game which means you should too! Take a look at what your competition is posting as a way of bench marking. Studies show that users on Instagram decide whether to follow you or not based on the 3 most recent posts on your profile – so every post counts.

Try to take your pictures against plain (ish) backgrounds & make sure not to upload things nobody wants to see, try to link your uploads back to your business.

  1. Get Tagging

By tagging bigger brands, influencers etc. this encourages them to re-post your work which in turn gets your page more engagement, which is what counts. If your business creates products, posting pictures and tagging relevant Instagram accounts will help your account reach a larger audience.

  1. People want results!

For me as a makeup artist, I gain clients through posting pictures of my makeup on myself and others. As well as posting before and after pictures which shows your skills. This doesn’t just apply to businesses like me, consumers want to know that your product works / creates results before they’ll purchase. Sharing testimonials, reviews and pictures are a great way to show off your products/services on social media.

  1. Choose your social media according to your audience

For me, I want to target all ages. I post on Instagram, Facebook & Snapchat, each for different reasons. I find the older generation use Facebook more than Instagram and this is my method for advertising to an older clientele. Younger people follow me on Instagram and snapchat, therefore I market myself differently due to the difference in followers. With snapchat I feel I can be more open as its not as public as the likes of Instagram & Facebook, however I find snapchat to be the most effective in terms of selling power.

 

So, I hope you might have gained some insight into the world of social media, for me social media has changed the way we are able to promote ourselves and business. It has enabled us to target different people in ways that are engaging to them.

Olivia McVeigh is a Final Year BSc in Communication Management & Public Relations student at Ulster University. She can be found at: Instagram – @oliviamcveigh_ ; Linkedin – Olivia McVeigh ; WordPress – https://oliviamcveigh.wordpress.com/blog/ ; Twitter – @McveighOlivia

 

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

Going for One, Plastic Bags & Counterculture

Going for One, Plastic Bags & Counterculture

Who’s to Blame in the Inebriation Game?

It’s becoming increasingly apparent that Ireland and the UK has a destructive drinking culture. And in an all but amicable fashion, I admit that I might have to include myself and many of my friends in this category, if only for a brief spell in life called University. I realise that such a statement could be potentially detrimental, but I’m ready to fight my corner. Additionally, if ten current university students in Belfast were to read this, my train of thought would be far from unique. What causes us to act and think in this way? Is it innate? Or possibly a byproduct of culture, influencers, support systems and media? As I sit and critique our drinking culture, I don’t want to come across as a hypocrite. Many times, I’ve met a housemate on their way to class, him strolling into Monday morning as I stumble my way out of Sunday night. Him shouting Pancake Tuesday at me and me hearing Sheffield Wednesday; most of us have been there or thereabouts. But this isn’t quite the problem. Long gone are the days of “Guinness is Good for You” but a culture where “FOMO” (or fear of missing out) is normalised to the point that we use it as an excuse to binge when we have more pressing things to consider, who’s to blame for our nonchalant attitude towards a significant societal issue?

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It’s often satirized that “sure we’ll go for one” is the biggest lie you and your mates will ever tell yourselves #SureWhatAmILike. While this may be true, the truth just might not be so funny. We as a culture, particularly the student culture, make light of our inability to limit ourselves to one pint at the pub, a solitary glass of wine or single measure for a change. Within popular culture and assisted by various social media platforms, this standpoint on how we drink is almost desirable. Interestingly, and something that students know all about, this has undergone a bit of a syntactical change in recent years. For some, “going for one” refers to the act of one single drink and returning home, often as there is something more important to deal with. That’s the gist at least- personal experiences may vary. But for many, going for one is a financial decision as the gradual ascent of the price of pints means many can’t participate for more than a round or two in their local. This may sound like this would be a step in the right direction for our drinking problem, but it’s not quite as simple as this- but more on that later. Returning to our initial definition of the phrase; Who causes us to view these actions in such a way? And is anyone talking about how much of a problem it is? Could it possibly be the same people?

As my Dad (The philosopher and king of the lightweights that he is) often reminds me “Your age can go nowhere without having a drink. You even drink before going drinking. I remember when we used to batter each other with sticks ’til some gave up. We lost the same amount of brain cells, but at least we were getting some fresh air!” Lost brain cells might explain a bit, but I feel there is more to this. Many of us feel lost for inspiration for things to do in the evenings or the weekends that doesn’t involve a drink. This is not the case for all, but I know many of you will have experienced the struggle at times. Returning to my earlier gripe, the problem with not being financially stable to go to a pub, I think my Dad has hit the nail on the head. Youth today drink to go drinking, and less affordable pubs means the notion of sitting and drinking in houses, often consuming much more at a quicker rate and occasionally enraging some neighbours, without even the silver lining of generating much for the economy (say the way they might at, a pub) has a genuine, unfaltering appeal. This reality mixed with the romanticised notion of pure inebriation in our culture can result in a downward spiral that many feel the effects of on an existential level.

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From an outside perspective, fingers are often pointed in the same directions. The popular Facebook page Humans of the Sesh is often criticized for promoting ideologies that are nothing more than fuel to fire of our mass consumption of alcohol. After all, the boys behind the notorious “Big Bag of Cans” craic are surely responsible for many livers looking like a punched jambon. This over-the-top machoism and love for mangling one’s self, unfortunately, seems to be taken a bit literally for some, but I feel it’s a tad naïve to pin such a societal issue on the satirical content of a few young guys caught up in the counterculture. Another common target is Blindboy from the infamous comedy duo The Rubber Bandits who found out that singing songs about fighting your father and claiming to be on drugs on live TV doesn’t necessarily provide job security as a lecturer in University of Limerick, nor does wearing a bag on your face all the time conceal your identity, apparently. Don’t worry about Blindboy though, he’s raking in 150,000 listeners a week with The Blindboy Podcast where he seems to articulate the ramblings of the common people time and time again, often touching on issues like the state of the modern economy, mental health and his own struggles. Yet interestingly, no Irish brands seem to show any interest in promoting his insights.

So where do we stand in all of this finger pointing? Are we so emotionally inaccessible that arguably our biggest public speaker about mental health in youth comes from a satire artist with a bag for a face? Concerning, when you consider that our generation is thought to be significantly more in tune with our emotions than previous generations, and even more so when you consider that the average teenager today reports more anxiety than the average child in a psychiatric unit in the 1950’s. When 56% of teenagers in the country believe that anyone their age diagnosed with a mental illness would be treated differently, is it really so unusual to identify with the social outcast with the bag on his head? Long may his off-kilter delivery of the truth continue. Yes, I’ll take a bag for life, please.

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My interest really sparked when coming across a current campaign to Save the Local spearheaded by Havas. Upon watching the attached advert, it’s fair to say I felt quite upbeat, with emotionally persuasive phrases like “Our culture, our identity, the life of the village” really galvanising the idea of the pub. That’s where this thought began. What was the true purpose of this campaign? For an innocent minute, I considered that in a culture where our issues are often swept under the rug, an effort to help facilitate less excessive pre-drinking may be the purpose. Soon later, I landed on the charmless reality that this is no more than a gentle sales booster. More pints, more money, no real progress. The nine million pounds campaign over three years to help save “the local” comes as a result of the stats that three pubs a day close permanently across the UK. Unfortunately, asking for money that people don’t have doesn’t necessarily mean that people won’t hand it over, either. The campaign mentions that pubs are under “increasing tax pressures“. Sorry to tell you pubs, you’re not alone on that one.

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So, we’ve looked at our culture, we’ve considered our influencers and we’ve heard what the media has to say. Where else can we turn in search of an answer? How about the support that those in trouble really receive? To be frank, it’s nothing short of ridiculous to consider that increasing the price of cheap alcohol by a few cents is really going to help to irradiate a drinking problem. Here we have thousands of cases of people who have let go of their careers, their family, their lives all relinquished due to their issues with alcohol. Any notion that a pound more per tin might be the point of no return for these unfortunate cases is genuinely ludicrous. We as a society are taking a drinking problem and adding on a financial problem.  Lambasted by our aforementioned influencers, Humans of the Sesh, they summarize; “Unfortunately, the real reason people go on mad drinking sessions is that they probably feel unfulfilled in a society where it’s harder and harder to even get on the first rung of the ladder of what we culturally consider to be a success“.

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My argument is beginning to resonate with Homer Simpson’s “Alcohol; the cause of, and solution to, all of life’s problems” and being linked to the GOAT of animated Television is fine with me. I think a lot of us, students in particular, are stuck somewhere between “eat drink and be merry” and wondering if the drink takes more out of us than we take from it, and both are natural, healthy states of mind to have. The truth is, alcohol has the power to be a wonderful central convention. Be that a pint with the boys, wine night with the girls, or a hot whiskey with your significant other when they’re under the weather. It can evoke moments of unadulterated truth, accompany some of the finer times in life, and even open floodgates that were probably bursting at the seams for a bit too long. Giving my two cents; Remember to have fun, remember to be responsible and if it seems like somebody at the table isn’t managing either of them, remember to check how they’re really doing. And for all you might be going through; This Bud’s For You.

To good health; Sláinte

Eamon Daly is a final year BSc in Communication Management & Public Relations student at Ulster University. He can be found at: Twitter – @EamonDaly5 ; LinkedIn – linkedin.com/in/eamon-daly-608780137

I started waking up at 4am, it was interesting…

I know, some of the people that are reading this title will either be already doing something very similar or the opposite end of the spectrum, people that will think this is ridiculous. However let me explain.

 

Let’s be clear, I LOVE MY BED, way too much in fact. Ever since I gained the name in my household as a sloth and lazy it has latched on to my ankles like a ball and chain ever since, struggling to shake the ever-lasting name of LAZY that burdens me within my family to this day. Society has always pinned early risers as winners of life, people who are automatically successful, heck there is even sayings such as “The Early Bird Catches the worm”, you don’t hear people say “The late bird gets the worm” it just doesn’t happen. People whom like their bed not as much.  Image result for waking up early memes

 

So I decided once and for all to end the association of laziness with myself. I strolled into the kitchen and announced I am going to start getting up at 4am, 2 hours before my dad. To put it lightly it was laughed off, me? 4am, no way. But yes way, they just didn’t realise it yet.

 

So on the Monday it began, my alarm went off at 4am, it was a rainy morning as I could hear the rain bouncing of the window and I got that warm feeling when your just toasty in the bed, my head softly supported by the pillow life was good, but I knew I had to, I had to do it at least once? Surely? So I did.

 

I walked through the house into kitchen where I was met by my dog who was still asleep and woke to see me, I’m pretty sure he thought it was morning as he didn’t even think I would be awake at this time, but I was. I made myself tea and sat down at the computer to sort out emails for work. I worked away not really passing any remarks on the time. It was just the dog, the rain and I.

 

I heard the door open slowly, it was dad he nearly dropped when he seen me, I told him I have been awake since 4. I showed him the work that I had done and while showing him what I had done it hit me. I had done everything for that day. I had sent every email, sent out every order and organised my week. It was almost as if I had found a cheat code in life. I had done my work before the world woke up. The day was less stressful, I somehow felt less tired, and I could think more clearly and had more time in the evenings. I felt like Steve Jobs, Bill Gates or Elon Musk.

 

I think what I’m trying to say is that although it seems outrageous to begin with, and in all honesty stupid. It somehow manages to hack life, I can get work done before work is done, and before anyone else starts his or her day I have half of the work done for my day. It a life hack, I’m not saying this can work for anyone, but If I can gather myself from my bed in the early hours of the mornings. Anyone Can, Literally anyone can.

Stephen Daly is a final year BSc in Communication Management & Public Relations student at Ulster University. 

The good, the bad and the ugly of student life.

From the moment I decided that I wanted to go to university in 6th year, I suppose you could say it was all I could think about. The independence, partying and of course the student loan. Coming to the end of my uni experience I decided now is the perfect time to reminisce on the good memories and of course the bad… I suppose those preparing for University and those that have just started are wondering what the downside of this life could possibly be. In my experience, I did only have good memories of student life minus the landlords I have encountered with over the past three years.

From the moment you first get that student loan into your bank you feel like you’re the richest person on this planet, until its 4 months down the line and you’re ringing your bank begging for an overdraft. If I was to give one piece of advice when it comes to your loan, it would be pay your rent up front and then you won’t feel as half as rich anymore. However, in saying that I don’t think I ever learnt from my own mistakes, so don’t feel bad if you’re only a month into your loan and you have half of it spent already.

When it comes it choosing the house that you’re going to live in for most of the year, do it wisely. My experience when it comes to student houses hasn’t been great, from the ceiling near caving in in my first-year house to my bedroom ceiling actually caving in in my second-year house. The luxury house that we viewed at the start turned into a living nightmare was the only way to sum up this house. We thought it was the best house within the holylands until we had realised a month in and we were living in an Ikea showroom and not a real house.

From the moment it had click with us that this house only looked nice but didn’t perform like the way you expect a house to, that’s whenever it went downhill for us. When you realise the house that you’re meant to live in is the worst place in the world, what else do you think of doing as a student apart from using it as a house for drinking. The house slowly dwindled in condition which eventually when it came to May time we couldn’t even bare the smell of the amount of drink that had been split over our living room. In fact, the living room was a complete and utter eyesore.

However, another reason for turning what was meant to be our home into an eyesore was the landlord. The experience that we had with our landlord was the worst encounter you would ever wish to have. Our house was falling apart, and they wouldn’t answer the phone to us, the only ever contact we would have with them was whenever it was the first of the month and they were looking their £250. There was actually one time whenever they eventually came to fix a leak that we had for about a month and the ‘builders’ were throwing bricks off our roof and we were told “do not go out your back or you will die”. I’m not too sure but I don’t think it was in anyway safe or legal what they were doing. Anyone we had told about our landlord, knew of him and knew what he was like, so if you ever go to rent a house in the holylands, I would advise you to use a legal property agent.

In saying all this, I can’t recommend student life enough so enjoy it while you can but just don’t pick the worst house and landlord in the holylands.

Kacie O’Connor is a final year BSc in Communication Management and Public Relations student at Ulster University. She can be found on Twitter: @kacieoconnor