7 Tips for Freshers

1. Join Clubs and Societies!

This is even more important for those students coming to UL alone. Joining clubs is the single best way to meet like-minded people and make friends in university. UL has some of the best clubs and societies in the country and it is a sure fire way to meet great people and make some really good friends!

 

2. Register for Modules, Quickly!

Ok so not very exciting…but better than paying a 200 euro fine! If you are not sure how, ask a friend or call into the students union or library for some help.

 

3. Visit the library!

You may also not think this one is very exciting, but at least go for the good WiFi! Trust me though, you will definitely need to be familiar with the library, and you do not want to arrive for the first time on week 12 when it is a war zone. The library staff are great and can help you do lots of things like find the books that you need (duh), help with essays and referencing and just general tips that can enhance your time at UL.

 

4. Go to Class

If you do nothing else, just attend lectures and tutorials, the temptation to skip is high, but the payoff for attending is higher. Attending scheduled lectures and tutorials gives you the best chance at succeeding academically. It is very easy to fall behind and become overwhelmed after missing a few classes, so try your best to take full advantage of the resources provided!

 

5. Get some exercise

So you are about to start living on your own…that means no more healthy home cooked dinners and you are going to have to survive on your own. That does not mean cheap pizzas and noodles! Join a club (see part one) that you enjoy and get some exercise, even better, visit the gym/pool. UL has some of the best sporting facilities in Ireland, so use them!

 

6. Find Yourself

Ok I know that this is cheesy, I do. But you have just started a new chapter in life, for most of you, far from home and you have a chance to discover lots of things about yourself. What drives you in life? What makes you happy? For most this is the first real experience of freedom so it is very important to use the extra time and freedom to discover who you want to be in life.

 

7. Have Fun!

Try to follow these tips, but do not forget to have fun! You are just starting some of the best years of your life and that is especially true for first years! Make lots of new friends, do what makes you happy and take full advantage of this year which will undoubtedly be one of the best of your life so far!

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Your Mental Health – 7 Things to Keep In Mind

 

In late August 2015 I moved into on-campus accommodation in UL, with absolutely no idea of what college life would be like. The past two years have been an amazing adventure and I cannot stress enough the positive impact that UL has had on my life. That being said, college is a challenging environment; both academically and personally.

The transition from a leaving cert student to a first year college student is a drastic one and you may find certain aspects of your new life causing you to feel anxious, stressed and/or unhappy.

I do not mean to paint a pessimistic picture of UL or student life, in fact my outlook is quite the opposite, it is vital to be aware that maintaining your mental health throughout potentially stressful and harrowing situations is hugely important. Here are 7 tips that I feel would be of benefit to incoming first year students and current students in UL.

 

1. It is OK to be clueless.

You are not supposed to know everything straight away, college is more than likely completely unique to any experience you have ever had and it takes a while to adjust and learn the ropes.

I am not necessarily referring to the labyrinth that is the “main building” or the confusing codes for where your tutorial is (where is A051?), you might stress initially but you will get the hang of it pretty quickly. First Seven Weeks volunteers are situated throughout campus to help you locate your classes.

What can be far more stressful is the difference in coursework from secondary school, including researching sources and the process of learning how to cite them. You may have about a dozen questions regarding various things to ask and might not be sure where to direct them.

If you are experiencing any difficulty understanding something important such as your assignment, due fees etc. Use your provided student e-mail. Possibly the worst thing you could do is be too shy to ask or be afraid of looking stupid and end up just hoping everything is okay and stress yourself worrying that it is not. Your course director, lecturers, tutors, student president etc. are all readily available to help you with matters relevant to them (just remember to be formal).

 

2. Make the most of your living situation

You may be living on-campus in a student village with complete strangers, it is important to make an effort. The positive impact of living in a house where everyone gets on well together on both your mental health and college experience can be massive. For the first couple of weeks, initially it will be awkward. That is natural, but there is no point in being shy around people you are likely going to be living with for the entire year.

Unfortunately, in some instances housemates may not get along; personalities could clash or feuds may develop and divide a house; if you ever feel that the environment in your house is toxic and/or housemates cannot be civil to each other, you may be best off contacting your village manager and requesting a transfer, an unhealthy living environment is detrimental to your mental health.

It is not likely that things would be that bad, nor is it likely that everyone becomes best friends. The reality usually lies somewhere in between these two extremes but the important thing is that you are happy with your living environment.

 

3. Occupy Yourself – Hobbies, Sports, Clubs and Socs etc.

With all of your classes and assignments to keep on top of, you may be surprised to find how much free time you have on your hands; what you choose to do with this free time can have a big impact on your mental health.

UL’s club and societies offer you the chance to meet like-minded people in a friendly, relaxed environment. It is often in these clubs and societies that friendships are formed as it can be hard to both meet and talk to new people in college, lecture halls are not always the most ideal place to introduce yourself to a random stranger after all.

Whether you join a club/society or not, the main thing is to have a non-alcohol based activity to indulge in. This does not necessarily need to be a sport or some strenuous activity, any sort of hobby which you derive enjoyment from is fine.

 

4. Isolation, Responsibility & Big Changes

The transition from secondary school to college can be very much a “thrown in at the deep end” experience at times. Many students feel isolated at some point, as mentioned above it is not necessarily easy to make new friends in college if you do not know anyone. This plus the amount of free time you may have can often lead many students to feel isolated.

Isolation can make many of the new or bigger responsibilities you now have difficult to cope with. Some students struggle with simply getting up on time for their class (your mother will not be there to roar at you until you get up!), some may find not only struggling to eat healthily in college difficult but even preparing nutritional meals for themselves everyday a new responsibility. No matter how independent you were before attending college, it is likely that you will find at least one of your new responsibilities challenging, whether that be academic or personal; isolation and a subsequent lack of motivation can make these seem more daunting than they really are. This can lead to students not attending their classes and becoming “stuck in a rut” that can be hard to get out of, this is also why keeping active is important.

 

5. Financial Guilt, Exam Stress & Your Course

At the risk of stating the obvious, college can be very expensive. Even if you are working part-time, receiving a grant, or both; you are almost definitely relying heavily on your parents financially when it comes to college fees, accommodation fees, exam fees and pocket money while living in college. Many students carry a burden of guilt regarding the financial pressure their studies can have on their parents and these guilty feelings are often exacerbated ten-fold when exams are looming. Exams can be stressful enough without the added pressure students put on themselves to justify their parents’ financial sacrifices with good results.

Financial guilt can be even more stressful among students who are unsure whether or not they like their course or feel they would now prefer a different one. The decision to change course can often seem too drastic a move for students who are all too aware of the money their parents have already spent, students can often feel more and more trapped the longer they choose to stay in their course as the prospect of changing becomes more and more daunting.

Students who are already struggling with certain aspects of college life can find this added burden of guilt and uncertainty extremely difficult to cope with. It is important to keep in mind that you are almost certainly incapable of completely providing for yourself in college and that that responsibility is not yours to deal with. If you are in a situation where you feel you would be better suited to another course, you should talk to your student advisor and the relevant course directors who can provide the information you need to make your decision and discuss it with your parents. In the long run, you are much better off in a course that you enjoy doing rather than slogging through a course you dislike for a degree you will be reluctant to make use of.

 

6. UL offer a free counselling service – And it is quite popular

Now that we have outlined some of the potential pitfalls for your mental health in college, it is worth pointing out that UL offer a free counselling students to all of its students as well as workshops dealing with certain difficulties you may experience.

Demand to see a counsellor is high and often you may have to wait a month or two to start scheduling regular appointments but the wait involved is no excuse not to go through with it. If anything, the sheer volume of students making use of UL’s counselling service should serve as an important reminder; you are not alone.

Given the new challenges that you now face and the refreshing demise of the stigma surrounding mental health in recent years, you should not feel any shame whatsoever if you feel the need to talk someone, the counselling service can be found in CM073 in the main building.

 

7. Focus on You

So now that you have been informed of some of the more common personal struggles of college students and the importance of maintaining your mental health would be to focus on yourself. Studying at UL can be one of the greatest experiences of your life if you take full advantage of the opportunities available to you, you are granted new freedom and independence to be who you are and to do what you want to do.

You will have many important decisions to make, you may even decide that college is not for you or you may not view things the same way that I am portraying them. Regardless, you should always choose what will make you happiest and prioritise your mental health above all else.

 

 

€200 of JJ KAVANAGH & SONS Travel Credit to giveaway!

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JJ Kavanagh & Sons Smartcard is the new convenient way to pay for travel across 180 of their services. It saves you carrying or looking for change and Smartcard fares are 10% cheaper than cash sales!

Using their Smartcard is easy. Simply pick up a Smartcard from the Students’ Union or from their bus drivers. Then register your card online, top up with travel credit and away you go!

Register online here

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Now they are teaming up with us in the First Seven Weeks in order to give away LOADS of Smartcards with €20 Travel Credit, sure it doesn’t get sounder than that. It takes less than 60 seconds to enter, just click the banner below. Good luck.

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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 5th 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 was the link between my class and my lecturers. Why was this good? Because I got to build rapport with my fellow classmates and also with my lecturers. I made the lives of the students and the lecturers easier in terms of communication and dealt with any potential issues that occurred 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 organised 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 was re-elected for the three following years. As class rep you need to attend 2 meetings per semester.

As Department rep. I was 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 was their duty to bring it to me. I sat on Student Council meetings every second week and brought 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!

 

You can also log your voluntary hours on the PVA website – I received a silver award for my volunteering efforts during my 4th year of studies. Here’s a pic of the day with HUB staff member, Declan!

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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 (8:30-11.30 a.m., 11:30 a.m. – 2:30 p.m. and 2:30-5:30 p.m.) 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 three 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 Writing Tutors in the Writing Centre and 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 (9 a.m. – 5 p.m. 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: Coordinator, Administrator, Student Support Staff and Editor of the First Seven Weeks Blog

(Okay so technically that’s four 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 (9 a.m. -5 p.m.) 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, 9 a.m. – 5 p.m. 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 had the most amazing experience 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 was 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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Once I finished my studies in May, I started working as the Coordinator of the initiative in June. I graduated in August and was immediately fully immersed in the madness of Orientation week & Week 1 2017. Looking back now, I am overshadowed at how fast the whole initiative has gone by. I was honoured to have taken this post. I feel as a student who has just graduated, I have a deeper understanding of the challenges faced by new students in UL. I am going to miss the business of the HUB now that we’re finished!

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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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My 7 Favourite Things About Being A UL Student

1. The Cajun Chicken Rolls In The Stables

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There’s not a whole lot else to say really? I think every UL student knows the worth of The Stables’ most celebrated and delicious delicacy – the Cajun chicken roll, closely followed by the sweet waffle and Nutella mmm …

 

2. The Window Seats In The Library

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I don’t know about you but whenever I find myself with a window seat in the library (which is almost always) I never seem to get any work done. It must be the constant people-watching and trend spotting from the first floor!

 

3. The Tunes In Icon

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Lads is it just me or are the tunes on the bottom floor of Icon the best ever? Maybe it’s just because I’m stuck in the nineties and listen to Craig David and Westlife on a regular basis, but seriously. I hate even going to the ladies incase I miss a good song, they’re that good. I’m not usually much of a dancer but if you catch me in D’Icon on a Monday night you’d beg to differ!

 

4. Finding My Way Around The Main Building

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Four years later and I still haven’t mastered the main building. Even if I was here for another four years I still don’t think I’d manage. I was honesty glad of the First Seven Weeks orange T-shirt gang, never mind the first years. It’s great that getting lost in there is a valid excuse for being late for class.

 

5. Car Parking

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“UL students are so lucky, there’s so much student parking here”… said no student ever! Your best bet is to head over the living bridge to the pitches, plenty of parking there, if you don’t mind the trek back.

 

6. Talent At The PESS Building

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If you’re looking for a man, no better place to be than the PESS building. Yes the PESS is famously renowned for producing strapping young P.E. teachers. Let’s not forget that the Munster rugby team also train on campus gals, if you’re lucky enough to ‘em, maybe stumble across training some evening, you know, by chance? *coughs* Monday’s at 7pm *coughs*

 

7. Freebies

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Okay so who doesn’t love free stuff? Especially when you’re a broke ass student on a budget. It doesn’t matter whether it’s a cold slice of pizza, a 99 without the flake or even just a ball point pen, we still want it, and occasionally may fight over it!

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