Winner of Book Review Competition

All the Light We Cannot See

by Anthony Doerr

With an incredulous feeling I turn the last page of Anthony Doerr´s All the Light We Cannot See and find myself confronted with the fact that things have not happened as I had hoped they would. Where is the good old happy ending that leaves you without worries back in reality?

All the Light We Cannot See is a lovingly written, well-researched novel that takes you back to the dark times of Nazi Germany. It tells the story of blind Marie-Laure, who is forced by the war to leave her hometown Paris, and Werner, a boy with an extraordinary engineering talent who quickly becomes an important man in the “ever-quickening, ever-expanding machine that is Germany” (69). Even though both lives could not be more different, their paths are, curiously enough, meant to cross.

In his vivid, detail-oriented way of writing, Doerr lets his readers accompany Marie-Laure in her every day struggle and lets them feel with her when fate keeps testing her. He gives insights into Werner´s life in the Hitler Youth and how he slowly becomes a victim of the Nazi ideology. I was especially surprised by the many German terms used in the book, sometimes even without further explanation. They give the story a very original, authentic touch and made it, for me as a German, even more pleasant to read.

It is an interest in the fate of those two strong characters and the well-known imminent circumstances of the Second World War that make your eyes jump to the end of the next page in the hope of finding a name or a hint telling you if Marie-Laure´s father is finally coming back, if Werner and his comrade manage to survive another day without food, or if the risk of spreading secret codes is really worth it …

Even though I am not a big advocate of time warps, they and the short chapters give the story a lifelike and dramatic touch that makes it quite thrilling to follow. It is like a puzzle – you are trying to put the pieces together, to find connections, to understand incidents.

It has been a long time since I have read a novel that treats a serious topic in such a sensitive, but realistic way and that makes you hope, hope until the end. I realize that the story, which is the reflection of brutal and merciless oppression and terror, has found its own adequate end. According to the circumstances, it may somehow also be considered a happy one. It is unexpected, but reasonable.

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7 Jobs I’ve Had in UL

Getting involved in the university is a great opportunity. It allows you to give back to the university for all the opportunities it has offered you and it gives you a chance to develop as a person. Now in my 4th year in UL, looking back I am so glad that I got as involved as I did. Here’s a list of both paid and unpaid jobs I had in UL.

 

 

1. Department & Class Representative

classdepartment-repAs class rep. I am the link between my class and my lecturers. Why is this good? Because I get to build rapport with my fellow classmates and also with my lecturers. I make the lives of the students and the lecturers easier in terms of communication and deal with any potential issues that may occur during the academic year. It is important to be selfless as class rep. because you need to express the views of the class, even if your own views are not the same. There’s also the social side of it as I organise class hoodies and class parties. Having a sense of closeness within a course is really important. We’re in this together for four years, so we might as well have fun and support each other while we’re doing it! I was elected class rep in first year and have been re-elected for the three following years. As class rep you need to attend 2 meetings per semester.

As Department rep. I am the link between all of the class reps in my department, the school of Culture and Communication. If issues among students cannot be resolved by the class rep. then it is their duty to bring it to me. I sit on Student Council meetings every second week and bring issues forward there.

 

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Both of these jobs are unpaid but do count as voluntary work. Sound like these jobs would suit you? Then pick up a form in the SU!

 

 

2. Member of SU Campaign Team

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When I was in first year, I was an active member of the campaign team of a student who was running for the position of DP Welfare Officer. As an outgoing person, I LOVED getting the opportunity to get out on campus, proudly wearing the red T-Shirt of the student I was supporting and informing the campus community of the manifesto, while giving out sweets too of course. One day during campaign week, I was sitting in class and a student stood up before class started and gave a talk about my team’s opposition. I couldn’t sit there and let that slide, so at the break of class, with the permission of the lecturer, I gave a talk to students as to why they should vote for my team – completely off the cuff! I was so proud of myself for standing up in front of a lecture of over 100 students in my first year and felt that it went well too. I was then confident enough to address all the rest of my classes during the week. Most rewarding part? The team I was part of won!

 

 

3. University Guide

I’ve worked as an Open Day guide, Orientation guide and a First Seven Weeks guide. As an Open Day guide I was there for students and families there for the day, to answer any questions or just to help them in any way possible – while wearing a bright yellow T-shirt.

As an Orientation guide, we had one day of training, then four days of taking around our assigned groups to each point on campus. I really loved being an orientation guide as for most students, you are the first representative of the university that they will converse with. It can be really daunting for some students, but  I really enjoyed getting to talk on a one-on-one basis to students while I was guiding them around campus. I really loved making them feel welcome while singing the praises of our wonderful university – while wearing a more tasteful maroon coloured T-shirt.

Prize if you can spot little-ole-Lorna here.

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As a First Seven Weeks guide, I was working for Week 1/Fresher’s week. We worked in 3 hour shifts, in slots (8.30-11.30am, 11.30am-2.30pm and 2.30-5.30pm) that we were available for that did not clash with our lectures. Each morning, we were assigned a building and a fellow First Seven Weeks guide to go and sit in the entrance and be available to show students how to get to their classrooms. This time, sporting a bright orange T-shirt. Yes, I now have a lot of T-shirts.

 

 

4. Transition to University Course Leader

Access students receive a Transition to University course the week before orientation. Access students in second year and above have the opportunity to apply for the position of a student leader for this and I was a leader in 2014. We had the most amazing week and it’s an incredible service to be there with fellow Access students. Access students were wiz-kids with their knowledge of the campus, even before orientation week. #InTheKnow #KnowledgeIsPower

For this I had the privilege of wearing a purple T-shirt .

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5. Promotional Worker

College Dinners is a company that was in function here in UL two years ago. They were a company that were already functioning in UCC but were new to UL, brought in by the DP Welfare Officer at the time (who I had been campaigning for). For €12 they delivered your meat and vegetables to make dinners for the week and had a website with step-by-step guidelines on how to prepare them.

Perks? I got to wear a white branded T-shirt and inform students on campus about the service and give them the chance to sign up. College Dinners then contacted me and gave me two weeks worth of ingredients for free (along with being paid) to give the dinners a go myself and blog about my experience. Check out my blog here.

 

 

6. Writing Tutor

The Regional Writing Centre here in UL offers a free and amazing service to students across all disciplines. There are 14 of us Writing Tutors in the Writing Centre and we are all equipped with the skills to help you with your writing assignments. How did I get this one? I actually completed my Co-Op in the Writing Centre as Administrative Assistant (9am-5pm Monday to Friday for 6 months) in semester 2 of second year. During this time I took on the module AW4006 Peer-Tutoring in Academic Writing. Because I got over a B1 in the module, I was eligible to become a Writing Tutor and began tutoring there in semester 2 of third year on my return from Erasmus.

These are pics from the National Secondary School Essay competition 2015 and 2016 where I got the chance to learn event management skills as I was in charge of the project.

For this post I didn’t have to wear a T-shirt but we do have lovely, navy Writing Centre hoodies!

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7. First Seven Weeks: Administrator, Student Support Staff and Editor of the First Seven Weeks Blog

(Okay so technically that’s three more jobs, but lets stick to the theme of seven).

So, from my experience in the Writing Centre, which is run by the department of the Centre for Teaching and Learning, I was hired to work every Friday (9am-5pm) as the Personal Assistant to the Dean of the department only works Monday-Thursday. On a Friday, I would be in charge of the Dean’s diary, manage bookings for the Graduate Attributes Hub and my biggest project was organising the All-Ireland Conference for Undergraduate Research (AICUR). I got to develop so many administrative and organisational skills on these jobs.

The department were pleased with my performance during the semester, and then offered me a full-time position  for the summer in preparation for the First Seven Weeks initiative. Once I had finished my 3rd year exams I went straight into a contracted position, 9am-5pm Monday to Friday, right up until I started fourth year. I was solely responsible for the merchandise and promotional material and I learned so much from all my colleagues in the department. I was given an office in the Millstream Building and the fact that it was a paid position meant I did not have to return to my job as a waitress at home in Cork.

captureAs I had so much knowledge about the campus based on my previous experience, I was offered a position as First Seven Weeks hub staff member. I was really honoured to be offered this as I was the first ever undergraduate staff member of the F7W hub. It was always only Masters and PhD students who worked here in the past. I can honestly say that I have had the most amazing experience here for the duration of the First Seven Weeks initiative. I dedicated every available hour I had to the F7W hub. The thrill I got from helping students and seeing their appreciation has been truly heart-warming.

With my background of New Media and as I had been working on preparing the First Seven Weeks over the summer, I was appointed editor of this website. Pretty self-explanatory as regards my role for this position. I do exactly as the name suggests. 🙂

I also got to wear a bright orange hoodie for this post! And got to make some handy pocket money …

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So, what has this got to do with week 7? In terms of long term planning, besides the perks of gaining T-shirts in red, yellow, maroon, orange, purple and white, and hoodies in navy and orange, I have gained an incredible amount of experience and made life-long friends from all my different jobs. Employers just swoon for graduates with so much experience.

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So, if I can offer any advice to you as students, it’s to get involved! Do not say no to any opportunity. You will reap the rewards.

 

 

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7 Basic Things To Know About Life In UL

1. The VocabULary

Brown Thomas is a statue, not a Kerryman who was left out in the sun too long, Black Dog is a black dog, Bun man no longer has a bun and Skinny Gaz isn’t skinny. The ski slopes are much more boring than they sound, the Stables doesn’t have any horses and the Living Bridge is inanimate. Most of this can be found on YikYak and will be continued on YikYak and there’ll be more notorious figures that rise and fall in popularity, but for now this should keep you up to speed.

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2. Clubs and Soc.s

UL has a lot of clubs and societies that you should join. Pick a few, try them out and fall in love. It’s something everyone should be a part of.  There’s drama, archery, karate, dance, games, skydive and tea appreciation.

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3. ULFM And An Focal

UL has a student run radio station and college newspaper. ULFM and An Focal, make sure to check them out.

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4. Student Nights

Student nights out are Tuesday and Thursday and international night is popular on a Friday.  Recently though, Monday club has become a big thing and the Stables is always hopping on a Wednesday night. Thursday is typically the big night out, it’s like mass in the 50’s but for young people; everyone gets dressed up and talks about each other behind their backs.

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5. D.I.E.

Student nights out are Tuesday and Thursday and international night is popular on a Friday.  Recently though, Monday club has become a big thing and the Stables is always hopping on a Wednesday night. Thursday is typically the big night out, it’s like mass in the 50’s but for young people; everyone gets dressed up and talks about each other behind their backs.

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6. Farmer’s Market

There’s a market on every Tuesday in the courtyard which has some great food and you’ll often see clubs or socs fundraising with a bake sale. Go over, treat yourself and help them out.

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7. Participate In Those Surveys!

Students will come up to you and bother you to take part in questionnaires, interviews and other random stuff, be helpful (you’ll likely be in their situation someday) and remember there’s often a free treat at the end or you could just rob a pen because they’re not expensive but I’m too lazy to go down to O’Mahony’s Book Shop on campus anyway.

 

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7 Differences Between University And Secondary School

1. Self-Motivation Is Essential

Remember in secondary school if you didn’t have your essay on Shakespeare done or didn’t hand in that history report? You may also remember your teachers harassing and hounding you for it until you did the work. That is not the reality here at UL or in any university. If you don’t do the project or don’t sit the exam on your own head be it, no one will come after you and make you work. You have to rely on yourself to get it done.

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2. Being Anonymous

In secondary school you were mostly likely a student in a class of about 20 other students or maybe a little less. You knew them and they knew you. This can make for a very comfy environment for students. So it’s a big shocker for freshers when they get to university and suddenly they’re just a lone student in a lecture hall of maybe 150-200 students whom they most likely have never met. This can be overwhelming and a little terrifying. But fear not! In this crowded room are perhaps some of the most wonderful people, who will become your best friends.

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3. “Fitting In” Means Something Very Different

I’m not even talking about cliques here although it applies to them too. In secondary school you may have been concerned about how you styled your hair or wore your uniform. Standing out was just not something you did there. Certainly secondary school is not the most ideal setting for self expression but university is! Here in UL there is something for everyone from sports, clubs and societies of which there are many. There is no “fitting in” in the conventional sense because it means something different for every student. So don’t worry if you didn’t “fit in” in secondary school because the same laws do not apply here.

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4. The Style Of Learning Changes

Apart from having to rely on yourself to get the work done, the whole way you actually learn the material and the way it is accessed changes too. Depending on which course you’re studying you may find that you have few or no exams. A lot of courses here in UL involve continuous assessment. This means that your overall grade in a particular module will be based on essays or group projects. This is a relief to some and a kick in the head to others.

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5. Socialising

For a lot of students every night is a night out. Whether it is a few drinks in the campus pub or a bender in the city, your nightlife is bound to change drastically. This is all fine and dandy as long as you don’t let it interfere with your classes too much.

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6. Bullying Is Non-Existent

Think about it, a lot of third level students are mature adults in their late twenties or older. Some of them have kids. They don’t have time for calling other people mean names or spreading nasty rumours. UL is a very friendly and supportive place so even if you do experience bullying there are many people you can go to for help.

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7. Realising You Love It Here

People often say that school days are the best of your life. I disagree. University years are the years where you make lifelong friends, discover new hobbies and find your place in the world. It can be tough but it is worth it. UL is a great place full of great people and you are one of them.

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Fitting In At University As A Non-Drinker

Sometimes It’s Easier Just To Agree

When most people think of their college years, one of the first things that will come to mind is the social scene. The nights out, the house parties and the sessions are what stick out for most people … even though they may not remember all of them! For me that is no different, even though I am a pioneer. Yes, you read that right, I am a final year student here in UL and I have never consumed alcohol, not a drop. I’ve never experienced a hangover and I sure as hell don’t want to either. It’s safe to say that I’m a rare breed, especially in this day and age, but I can honestly say that being a non-drinker in college hasn’t caused me any grief. Sure, you’ll always get the “are you on antibiotics?” lark or the “are you driving or what?” and sometimes it may be easier to just say yes.

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You Can Be A Non-Drinker For Many Reasons …

My not drinking isn’t for religious reasons or financial reasons or even health reasons – I just know no different. When I started to go out back home in Mullingar, sneaking into the nightclubs at the tender age of seventeen alongside my big brother and his friends, alcohol or getting drunk never enticed me … and still doesn’t. At that time he was playing county football and took it too seriously to even consider taking a drink.Mind you, he’s not county material anymore yet still doesn’t drink. But I don’t have that excuse as me and the word sports shouldn’t even be in the same sentence but I suppose he led by example and I followed in his footsteps.

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It Has Its Perks And Downfalls

I soon began to realise that the comfort of driving home after a night out was so much more appealing than waiting in the cold for any grumpy, old taxi man who would always over-charge. And on the plus side, the money I save, I spend on shoes and clothes, so it’s a win-win eh? I also struggle with my weight so I guess it’s a good thing I’m not a fan of the drink … actually scratch that, I probably make up for it with the amount of Pepsi that I consume! The most frustrating part for me – and most people would think it’s the pushing and shoving, but you become accustomed to that fairly quickly – is when the bartender automatically presumes you have a sneaky naggin when you only order a Coke. They are reluctant to serve and almost always make ordering a drink an unpleasant experience, but stand your ground. Another down side is when night clubs run promotional drink offers but fail to include soft drinks, it’s disheartening I know, I’ve been out with friends who’ve got vodka and red bull cheaper than my mineral!

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Be Brave And Step Up To The Challenge

At certain times like Fresher’s Week and let’s face it, it’s a very alcohol-orientated time of year, I find myself asking, is it time to start drinking yet? And every time I ask myself this question, which is once in a blue moon let me tell you, I always come to the same conclusion. And that is, as cliché as it sounds, that I don’t need alcohol to have a good time. I’m a confident person, sociable enough to enjoy a night out without being under the influence. I’m also quite stubborn and I like being in control too much. All of that aside, I have found it very easy to cling on to my sobriety, but the college transition was my biggest test to date.

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Be Your Own Person, You Don’t Need To Follow The Crowd

If you haven’t taken a drink before and don’t intend to, you probably know by now that in college it’s all about the pre-drinking and house parties and that can be difficult. Most students just want to get drunk before they leave the house and I’m not here to pass judgement, I mean it’s understandable when you consider the price of drink in pubs and clubs these days. But stick to your guns, if it’s not for you then it’s not for you. Be honest from the get go and hopefully, like in my case, your friends will understand and it will become second nature to them too. Believe me, they will stop trying to tempt you with a swig of their Kopparberg sooner rather than later, no matter how convinced they are that you will love it!

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People Will Respect You For It

Don’t get me wrong, I have nothing against those who drink. In fact, most, if not all of my nearest and dearest take a drink, and I’m not saying that I never will, but for now it’s way off the agenda. You just need to surround yourself with good people who acknowledge and accept your choice. You shouldn’t be subjected to any pressure or treated any differently. Trust your instincts, be confident in the person you are and everything will fall into place.

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And Embrace It!

Finally, if you’re anything like me then all you’ll need is some good music – you’ll be first on the dance floor and last to leave!

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