One last hurdle

It all started 18 years ago, the first day of school and that was it. In a contract with education before I was old enough to understand. Here I am, many years of education later and this is it, final year! One last hurdle……

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When you were in your final year of primary school you listened to, ‘What secondary school do you want to go to?’
When you were trying to complete your GCSEs in 5th year all you heard was, ‘Are you doing A levels or leaving school to learn a trade?’ Errr….Hang on a little second I’m 16 – that’s a huge decision. (Oh and by the way, if you do choose to do A-levels the subjects you pick are really important, and you’re already supposed to know what ‘you want to be when you grow up.’)KC7

When you’re trying to complete your A levels you got, ‘What university are you going to?’ and ‘What course are you going to do?’ – Well, that’s another very big decision because you’ll need to know what kind of job you can get from that degree or you at least need to have an idea. If you’re blessed enough to know you’re going to be a teacher, or a doctor, or a nurse, then lucky you! But if not, then all you’ll hear from every single person you meet on the street is, ‘Where is that course going to take you?’ and ‘Will you get a good job out of that?’ (Shh I’m 18)
Then all of a sudden your half way through final year and the whole country are asking you: ‘What are you planning on doing when you finish your degree?’ (If I ever do)

Why do we always need to know what’s next? Whether it’s pressure that we add to ourselves or pressure that comes from people constantly asking ‘What’s next?’, I don’t know! But why are we expected to have it all figured out? There are people in their 40s who still don’t have it all figured out (I don’t think we ever will have it all figured out).

My advice to graduates…
Take time after final year if you need it. Do what’s right for you. If you’re ready for a well deserved break, take it because no-one’s going to give it to you. If you want to travel, do it. If you want to get the best job you possibly can, then go for it. Just don’t beat yourself up if it doesn’t work out. All you can do is try your best.

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To all my final year buds…
We all deserve a break after final year, just a little bit of time to appreciate how far you have come and all the work you’ve done (We can do it). A moment to reflect on all the meltdowns, deadlines and possibly stress-lines, who knows. Take a little bit of time to congratulate yourself for making it to the finish line!!

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My final note is for you to remember that you can only try your best and after that whatever is meant to be will not pass you by. If things don’t go to plan then there is probably a better plan in place for you.

Good luck and wish me luck xo

P.S Can someone remind me about this blog post in May x

Kerrieann Curran is a final year BSc in Communication Management and Public Relations student at Ulster University. She can be found at: Twitter – @KerrieannCurran ; Linkedin – http://linkedin.com/in/kerrieann-curran-765420137

 

Final Semester. Final Year. Final Stresses

The first semester of final year was a frantic, challenging yet worthwhile semester. For me it was a bumpy, bendy road fraught with many surprises and many late nights in the library with pressure levels heightened due to the fact that this really is our last chance at achieving the status quo in society “A degree”. Now in final semester, we can see university life ending and working life beginning. I’m starting to understand that stress is customary in final year; they go hand in hand like strawberries and chocolate. However, stress is necessary, if you weren’t stressing then you really should be asking yourself do I even really care? I decided for this blog to write about how I can plan to manage my stress over the next 3 months that involves just the simple things.

Here are three steps that I plan to implement in 2019 , in the hope that this will help my fellow final year student’s in putting an end their toxic relationship with Mr/Mrs Stress.

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Numero Uno:

Laugh.

So laugh, laugh, and laugh – no not in the library like some crazy lunatic if that’s what some of you are thinking and secondly no not in the lecturers face.  I mean laugh with friends, laugh on your own or laugh at some random funny videos on your phone. For me personally my go to app to really get me laughing is YouTube, from epic fails to the funniest news bloopers.  Laughing is by far the quickest and best stress reliever. It really is a workout, one study I found particularly interesting when I was scouring the internet found that laughing hard for one minute is the equivalent to the cardiovascular workout of running a mile- yes it does actually burn calories, unfortunately it won’t do anything for that beer belly! So next time you’re stressed out and someone tries to make you laugh don’t say “don’t make me laugh” just laugh and crack a smile.

Image result for laugh and stressNumero Dos:

Coffee.

Rarely will you see the words “drink more coffee” on a list of techniques for reducing stress. I know you’re wondering coffee why would I drink coffee if I want to relax?  I’m not saying drink loads of it. I’m saying drink it in moderation, like anything in our diet and lifestyle it’s all about moderation. I myself never believed in coffee, I was an anti-coffee evangelist, but it wasn’t long until I was converted and seen the light. Having one cup before or during studying, I found that it kept me alert and drastically reduced my feelings of stress, reading up on how coffee affected stress levels I found that studies show it can also affect neurotransmitters in the brain to help you fight of symptoms of stress.

Numero Tres:

Exercise.

Think about the last time you were stressed after a long day studying or working on coursework – did you exercise that day? If you haven’t, then you’re missing out. From my experience after spending the majority of my day in the library or in university completing work, I try to always go to the gym or fit in some form of exercise even if it is just 30 minutes. Fortunately for me I have housemates who motivate me to go and they too see the benefits of this. We learn and see about the physical benefits of exercise, but we rarely are told about the mental benefits of it. It is one of the best things you can do to develop a healthier brain and reduce stress levels. If you feel regularly stressed like most final year students (Unless your Einstein) and aren’t frequently exercising, a bit of physical activity might be just what you need. So in this final semester when coursework deadlines, exams and final dissertation drafts are approaching take one or two hours of your day to do a physical activity which you enjoy, because I know I will.

Don’t skip a chance to exercise; you’ll be doing yourself a favour.

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Travis Kelly is a final year BSc in Communication Management & Public Relations student at Ulster University. He can be found at LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/travis-kelly-509007150/

Anna’s Declassified University Survival Guide.

Anna’s Declassified University Survival Guide.

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As the cliché goes, “university will be the best days of your life.” Now don’t get me wrong. Being a student is great. Most of us go to class a mere nine hours a week compared to 6 hours a day when we were in school. We get to live with our best friends (there for being able to borrow their clothes everyday), we have  independence for the first time, meeting new people is inevitable and getting to try new things is a must. It’s great. However, like everything else in the world it has its downsides.

When talking about university with friends or family what most people will never mention is the amount of stress and anxiety we as students face every day. Behind all the socialising and freedom we will encounter large amounts of university work, social anxiety, money problems and feeling like we have absolutely no idea what we’re doing. Don’t worry if you’re feeling over whelmed, you are not alone! A new report showed that a massive 82% of students at a university in the UK claimed to have suffered from stress and anxiety when starting their course. Out of these only 25% said they would ask for help as the others said they wouldn’t know where to find it or else they’re too embarrassed to ask for it.

I have came up with tips from my university experience that will help you unwind, relax and enjoy this experience as much as you can (and no they don’t all involve socialising and drinking.)

  1. Partying

I may as well start with most student’s favourite topic. Partying. Who doesn’t love having a night out with your friends, wearing your new favourite jeans, all for the night to end with you all in the pizza shops struggling to get a taxi home. Nights out can create some of our best university memories, however you don’t need to feel under pressure to go out every night, no one enjoys this.

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Alongside it being expensive, waking up with a hangover before going to class is one of the worst feelings ever. Rather than always picking a bar to socialise in invite friends down to watch a movie or go for food. It’s cheaper and saves you having a killer hangover the next day. If you want to get out of the house most cities have cinemas and crazy golf as well , both are social and will give you a chance to catch up with friends without having to shout over loud club music into each other’s ears.

  1. People

Our parents have always told us it’s important to always surround yourself with the right people, and guess what? They’ve been right all these years. When we’re in university, most of us have some type of idea of the person we are, and want to become. Surround yourself by like minded people. Focus on the good people in your life, the ones that motivate you and want you to achieve the best you can. Surround yourself with friends that will be happy for your success and are willing to spend countless hours in the library with you rather than people who will miss two classes a week so they can stay at home and catch upon their latest Netflix binge.

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3. Money

As soon as our student loans come into our accounts it feels like we are rich (if only for a few hours). We convince ourselves we deserve those new shoes after all the hard work we’ve been doing all year and now ordering dinner seems like the much more attractive option over pasta and a jar of Dolimo sauce. However, don’t be fooled! Yes it’s nice to treat yourself once in a while but this money will primarily be needed for university essentials- rent, textbooks and your cost of traveling to and from university.

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Over the past three years I’ve figured out what I spend the majority of my loan on and figured out how to minimise it. Firstly there’s rent, expensive and unfortunately unavoidable, so let’s move on. The second biggest cause of my painfully small bank balance is of course… drink and food. The best and easiest ways I deal with this is having a balance. You don’t need to eat less to save money on food, you just need to eat smart. If you’re feeling lazy and want a take away for dinner go onto google and search food places with discount codes for students. If it’s a Tuesday and you and your flat mate are big pizza lovers, Domion’s does “Two for two Tuesdays” where you get two pizzas for the price of one.

Similar to this, pick clubs and bars that do student offers such as “90p drinks.” It will save you a fortune. Give yourself a budget that you can afford to spend on a night out. Then take this money out, put it in your purse and leave the bank card at home. Your head and bank balance will be thankful for this tip in the morning, trust me.

So there we have it, my top three tips to help you survive university. Even though it sounds like I have a lot of bad things to say about university, I wouldn’t chance my experience for the world. Endless laughs everyday with your friends, being able to stay in your pj’s until 2pm and no one in your house will judge you if it’s 2am and you want to order a Chinese.

If you’re feeling over whelmed it’s okay to miss a night out and hop on the bus home. At the end of the day nothing will beat a home cooked meal and getting cosy up on the sofa catching up with your family and watching your favourite TV show.

Anna Grant is a final year BSc in Communication Management and Public Relations student at Ulster University. She can be found at: Instagram- @annagrantx.

 

Semester scary

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

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

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

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

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

Thanks for reading!

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

 

The surprisingly holy holy lands

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Moody Mondays

It’s a cold, damp Monday morning in the middle of October and I woke up feeling not myself. I know what your thinking he had a “mad one” the night before and is nursing a hangover (shockingly this was not the case this time I assure you all). I’ve never been a Monday person like so many others, it was just me feeling a little unmotivated and maybe because I knew I had the daunting task of writing a blog which I have never done before. The joys of university. More to the point, I was feeling the pressure of meeting the ever-growing amounts of coursework deadlines and to be honest life in general. As the famous saying goes, “when it rains its pours”which it most certainly does. So as any young adult in this technological age, instead of going to someone I went online for some inspiration and came across a powerful motivational speech which has now inspired this blog that you are hopefully still reading. My aim now writing this as you read is to motivate myself and also motivate others who endure their fair share of “Moody Mondays”.

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The speech I am talking about took place in the University of Texas at Austin, it was a 2014 government address by Admiral William H. McRaven. If you haven’t seen it please watch the video below. This retiring Admiral and Navy Seal trainer delivers one of the most inspiring and uplifting speeches you will ever hear.

 

FAILURE? What do you define as failure? The English dictionary description of failure is, “the state of not meeting a desirable objective.” Sure the dictionary is correct, but for me failure is an ambiguous word with several meanings that any given individual can take from it. For many it can mean the end of the road, an impassible brick wall that can not be broken but for others failure is merely the stepping stone for success, if we don’t fail then how do we know what is feels like to succeed truly?

For the majority of us it is hard-wired into us to judge our success on whether or not we achieved the result we set out to achieve. You will read and you will hear that failure is not an option. That is ridiculous, failure is always an option. Failure is the most readily available option at all times. But it comes down to choice. You can choose to fail or you can choose to succeed. Failure in anything whether it is losing in a county championship final or in something so simple like losing a game of Rock, Paper, Scissors with your housemate, to which the loser has to clean those dreaded dishes (we have all been there), it can be a hard pill to swallow. For those of you blessed with a dishwasher, I envy you.

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On a more serious note. Anyone who has achieved anything great, anyone who has changed their life has at some point willingly made a choice to embrace failure instead of fighting it. So when failure smacks you in the face, take a step back, appreciate all that is great in your life. We are in a constant uphill battle living in a society that is driven by results, driven by numbers, driven by what a computer screen tells you, whether you have enough money to squeeze in a “Cheeky Nando’s” or a McDonald’s, its a society driven by us. We are the drivers, so take your foot off that accelerator, slow down and breath. When failure comes knocking (which it probably will), answer, except it and start again. As Thomas Edison famously quoted, “I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that don’t work”.

Without ramming too much of this motivational talk down your throats, I hope that this blog has in some shape or form motivated you, even it was just one person then I’ve accomplished what I set out to get from this blog.

The moral of the story is I’m still not a Monday person and may the coffee be strong and the Mondays be short. 

Travis Kelly is a final year BSc in Communication Management & Public Relations student at Ulster University. He can be found at LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/travis-kelly-509007150/

 

 

Fears of Final Year

Fears of Final Year

I was told to write a blog, so here I am, writing my blog…

Not having a clue what to write about, I decided to write about what is on my mind most at the moment, FINAL YEAR and the uncertainties that go with it.

As many students would agree, entering final year of University is extremely daunting but yet quite exciting. Now that I’m already four weeks into potentially my last year of education, the doubt is getting the better of the excitement. With workloads starting to build and deadlines looming; the stress levels are beginning to rise. So, for anyone who may be in the same position, reading this may give you some peace of mind.

Now with only eight months left of my life as a CMPR student at Ulster University here are my five fears for final year:

1. Adapting back into the University life

I successfully secured a placement post at Invest Northern Ireland as a Communication Assistant. I spent 12-months there and it was a tremendous experience and I learned so much.

For me I found it quite easy to adjust to the 9-5 life; having a structure; knowing what most days entail; and the bonus of getting paid monthly, I found myself at ease. Although I was still living in the Holylands, and still enjoying the odd Wednesday night in Bot, I had the best of both worlds of having the benefits and of working full time, and still being able to enjoy the student life of living with my friends.

I finished my placement year in August, I then went Island Hopping in Greece for three weeks and was back to University five days after I came home. So, I never really had much time to mentally prepare myself for final year. I just sort of, fell back into it.

Now that I only have class two days week, I find myself with way too much free time and not knowing what to do with it (watching way too much Netflix). However, I don’t think this will be the case in a few weeks’ time when I’m rushing to finish a 3,000-word essay and wishing I used my time more wisely.

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2. Dissertation

The dreaded ‘D’ word! To say I’m dreading writing a dissertation would be an understatement. Apart from it being 10,000 words and worth a huge chunk of my final degree mark, I’m still not that entirely sure what a dissertation is – although my dissertation lectures are starting to make a bit more sense as the weeks go on.

I have a few ideas on what I want to focus my research on (consumer behaviour or influencer marketing), I’m still yet to settle on a topic.

3. What to do after I graduate

This is probably the one I’m fearing the most – what to do next?

After doing my A-Levels and getting accepted into Ulster University, I had the next four years planned out. I don’t have a plan for the next four.

I have a number of options; get a job in Belfast, Dublin or even round home in Fermanagh; Apply to a grad-scheme; Move to somewhere big like London or New York; or just book a one-way flight somewhere exotic and travel for a year.

I’m already getting email notifications that grad-schemes have opened their application process, however this is giving me flashbacks of applying for a placement job and the stress that comes with it, or there is the opinion of applying to an entry level PR job when the right opportunity comes up.

I’ve always seen myself moving to London after I graduate, with my two sisters and my nieces all living there, it makes a lot more sense for me to relocate.

However, the thought of working for the next 60+ years is quite frightening, and I don’t know if I’m quite ready for that yet. But whatever happens, happens.

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4. Money Worries

Prior to now, money problems never crossed my mind. I’ve worked part time from the age of 16 and was always able to buy what I liked without asking my parent for help.

Last year I got used to having a full-time wage and I gave up my part time job when I began my placement year. Now than I back in final year, and for the moment living off my student loan – that is rapidly disappearing, and with most of my savings spent on €15 cocktails in Mykonos, money worries are always at the back of my mind.

And with still not knowing what I want to do after I graduate, I need to have some money set aside to pursue whatever I decide to do – whether that be move away, travel or just blow It on another holiday.

5. The end of an era

So, I’ve only eight months left to make the most of (hopefully) my last year in Belfast. Is it time to make the most of it? Or just settle down and hibernate in the library?

For a girl that made (too much) the most of first and second year. My week usually consisted of: Sundays – Hatfield; Monday – the Fly; Tuesday – Thompsons; Wednesday – Bot; and countless all-day rips in the Rose and Crown. It’s quite sad to think that it’s all coming to an end, and after this I won’t be getting many more opportunities to do that again.

However, first and second year didn’t count towards my degree, so…there’s a lot more at stake this year! So, for the next eight months, I plan to put the effort in, while also enjoying regular night out as well.

Wish me Luck x

 

Ruth Leonard is a final year BSc in Communication Management and Public Relations student at Ulster University. She can be found on Instagram – @ruthleonard_ / Twitter – @RuthLeonard_ / LinkedIn – www.linkedin.com/in/ruth-leonard-057860129/