7 Mistakes I made in My First Semester

 

1. Signing up for all the societies (and paying for them all)

My first mistake was paying the membership fee for multiple societies on recruitment day. Put your name down for the emails but do not make any commitments until you have looked at all the societies and have found out what day(s) they meet, how many hours they expect you to commit etc. I ended up joining (and paying membership for) three societies which all met at 6 pm on a Wednesday! My second mistake was thinking that there were enough hours in the day to attend everything on my timetable, do the required readings & assignments, socialise and stay on top of six societies. Nope.

 

2. Not getting enough sleep

Between the late nights in the city, the late nights cramming assignments and the late nights spent binging Netflix with your flatmates, sleep can become an inconvenience quickly. A good night’s sleep means your body is less susceptible to illness, is shown to improve memory and can help you maintain a healthy weight. It might even save you money – no need for late-night pizzas and no need for a large coffee the next morning when you are struggling through your 9 am class.

 

3. Doing a month’s worth of grocery shopping

It all seems well and good buying a load of veggies and fruit with your parents on the first day, but it is a bad idea. Honestly. You will not even eat an eighth of them in the first few days and after that they will all be gone off. The amount of mouldy strawberries, black carrots and furry blueberries in my bin in those first few weeks made my heart cry.

 

4. Not emptying the bins until they’re full

Refer to point 3. Between gone off fruit and veg, those last two slices of pizza you cannot stomach at 2 am and that ready-made meal that tasted like cardboard… they’re going to STINK.

 

5. Sticking with the same five people you met on Orientation day

The wonderful thing about University is, in contrast to school, you are not stuck with the same few people in your class. Get to know people in all your lectures/labs/tutorials – and not just people who did their Leaving Cert last year. Talk to the mature students, the students you meet in the years above you, the Erasmus students and members of your clubs & societies. University is probably your first and maybe your best chance to meet people of all different ages, cultures, countries and interests – take advantage of that.

 

6. Leaving everything until the last minute

I am not sure how exactly I have managed to go from that girl in school who had everything done the day she got it, to the person starting their assignment an hour or two before it is due, but I have been told I am not alone. Look, I know that it is tempting to leave it all to the last minute but it is not a good idea. Firstly, you could get sick or find out something cool is on the night before the assignment is due and now you cannot go. Secondly, if you cram it, it will not be nearly as good. Just sayin’.

 

7. Buying all the books

When your lecturers give you a list of “required” readings and suggested readings and you dutifully head down to the University bookshop and purchase them all with such good intentions… The truth is, if you read the required readings you are doing well, and you can just borrow them from the library anyways. Save your cash for those late night spontaneous Supermacs trips instead.

€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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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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Lorna Horgan byline

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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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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