Best Tips for Different Learning Styles – By Mark Maguire

Everybody learns differently. Be it at different paces, or in different ways, we all have a learning method that is as unique to us as our own fingerprints. What’s important to remember, especially for those of us who are just about to take their first step into a third-level education program, is how to best appeal to those unique learning quirks that we all have and develop positive study habits.

When I first made the transition from secondary school to university, it hit me immediately that adapting to the pace and style of university teaching isn’t a toe-dip; it’s a cannonball. University is a time of development, self-reflection, and growth. For a first-year student, that can be overwhelming. Your first few weeks are a constant slew of tempering your rapidly-developing adult identity with the social pressures and anxieties of the world around you. To add on to this already seemingly insurmountable mass of information and experiences, you must also very quickly adapt to a brand-new system of education and adjust to being lectured and not taught.

You now belong in a world of tutors and lecturers, each of whom has their own unique style and method of teaching. What you’ll inevitably find is that one style adopted by a particular lecturer may work wonders for you, allowing you to grasp the content of the course. Other styles, on the other hand, may push you further and further away. What we here at First Seven Weeks want to do is help you with tackling these different teaching styles and adopting positive study habits to find what learning style works best for you.

The logical jumping-off point here is to outline what different learning styles there are. There is a bit of debate around what constitutes a learning style and how many there are, but a generally accepted list is:

 

 

Verbal                         Visual                          Auditory                     Kinaesthetic

 

Logical                        Social                                   Solitary

However, for the purposes of this article (and our collective sanity), we’ll focus on just three: Auditory, Visual, and Kinaesthetic.

To put each of these simply:

Auditory learning is involved with verbal stimuli, such as verbal presentations and information-heavy lectures.

Visual learning is involved with visual stimuli, such as graphs and images.

Kinaesthetic learning is involved with the action, physicality, and hand-on interaction with the course material (note-taking).

By this point, especially considering the behemoth of exams and tests you’ve already had to face to be here, many of you likely have a good idea of what learning style(s) best suits you. If that’s the case, then that’s fantastic! And if you haven’t quite gotten that figured out yet, don’t sweat it at all. Sometimes these things take time and patience. All you really need is that one push to make everything fit into place.

So, let’s start with Auditory learners.

  • One of the best suggestions I can give to an auditory learner is to attend as many of their classes as they possibly can. Sure, this should be the golden rule for any university student, but for auditory learners, it is an absolute must. Your lectures and tutorials will undoubtedly be the best means for you to get the information handed to you in the most convenient way imaginable. All you have to do is be there and listen and you’ll be off to the races.
  • Try some Audiobooks. While it does certainly depend on what you’re studying, Audiobooks can be a fantastic way for auditory learners to digest something on their course reading list, while actually taking the information in. Throw in the added bonus of being able to do this type of studying while also going for a run or lifting some weights, which will do wonders for your mental and physical health (and by extension your study habits), and audiobooks are nothing to scoff at.
  • Re-listen to your lectures. Now, this requires a gigantic preface and warning. *Not every lecturer will be okay or comfortable with their lectures being recorded* It is very important that you’re open and honest with your lecturers and that you never record their lessons without their express permission. However, if you’re in a class that permits the lessons being recorded, this can be one of your most powerful aids in studying for EOY exams. Like I said, the lectures will be the most useful resource at your disposal as a student and having the ability to listen to them again and again will never fail you.
  • Finally, try to work in an environment that best suits you. There’s no point in trying to work in a busy café if you can’t handle being distracted by the plethora of loud noises and conversations happening all around you. Find somewhere where you can do your best work and stick with that. Get some headphones, stick on a white-noise 10-hour loop video on YouTube (Seriously, those things are a godsend for helping with concentration) and give yourself the best chance to study effectively and efficiently.

 

Next, Visual learners:

  • Have an extensive amount of neat and tidy notes. Be it notes you took in class, or notes you took from your own research, it is imperative that you curate your notes in an easy-to-understand way to best improve your chances of acing your exams/assignments. Visual learners tend to respond best to notes which are laid out clearly, with important points clearly separate from each other. Get yourself a pack of highlights and a Bic Four-Colour pen and use them as much as you possibly can. Your notebook should resemble a freaking rainbow of knowledge which you can open any given page and get the key points from any subject at a glance.
  • Outline your work. I found this method especially helpful when working on assignments and presentations. Having what you plan to do with your next piece of work is unbelievably helpful in keeping yourself on the right track. Start your essay with listing out exactly what you want to say, and how much you want to say it. Having an outline available which you can use at a reference at any point in your assignment will be one of the best tools for keeping yourself on track and keeping your grades up.
  • Illustrations, diagrams, images, and visual learning guides. No matter what you study, you will benefit from utilizing images in one form or another. I’m sure we can all remember that one time in maths class when someone asked, “When am I ever going to use a Venn Diagram in real life?” The long and short of it is: now. Bar graphs, flow-charts, brainstorms charts, no matter the visual aid, it will be of use to you in one way or another. Being able to display your work in a visually-pleasing way is a skill, and if you learn how to master it you will have set off your third-level studies right.
  • Finally, flashcards. Flashcards are absolutely amazing for testing yourself and your peers. In my own experience, they tend to work best three or four hours before an exam takes place and you and your friends are desperate for some last-minute cramming, but I like to believe they work in other situations as well. Testing one another with flashcards is a perfect way to succinctly drill the information into your head. If you get an answer wrong the first time around, having that card with the answer on it flashed in front of your eyes will ensure that the next time you’ll stand a far greater chance of getting it right.

 

Lastly, Kinaesthetic learners:

  • Notes, notes, and notes. Kinaesthetic learners work best in action. You might find that if this is your preferred learning style, then simply looking at the information or hearing it just doesn’t do the trick. Kinaesthetic learners like to get their hands in the dirt and experience the work themselves. Keep yourself busy in lectures with your note-taking and try to develop a habit of re-writing the sections that are giving you a particularly hard time. It is a sure-fire way for you to overcome any confusing course material.
  • Add an activity. One of the best habits you can develop is pairing your studying with physical activity, such as running or cleaning your house. Not only will this integration of action keep your brain focused on the coursework, but if you’re lucky you’ll maybe develop a Pavlovian response between studying and working out/cleaning which will do wonders for keeping you in the best of health and on the cutting edge of your college work.
  • Teach others what you know. The all-time best study tactic I’ve ever used is trying to teach your friends the information that you’re all trying to learn. Teaching others is a magical method because it forces your brain to tailor this information for someone else and reorganises it in a way that is far easier to understand, benefiting both you and your student. As well as this, being able to teach someone something that they could not understand before can work as a huge morale boost for you and encourage you to keep up the good work.
  • Finally, give yourself breaks. If this is your brand of learning style, then you are dependent on action and movement to keep yourself focused. While it may sound counter-intuitive, giving yourself the chance to move away from your work and stretch your legs a bit can be the best way to ensure a successful study session. Having the opportunity to clear your head and come back to your work with a fresh perspective can do wonders for your studying, and maybe the one thing standing between you and that A.

 

And there we have it. I suppose all that’s left is to say is thanks for reading and good luck with this new chapter of your lives. If anything here was of any use to any of you, then I am absolutely delighted that I could help. You’re in for an absolutely wild ride for the next four years, and I hope you live your new life to the best of its potential. Just do your best to get through Fresher’s week, and maybe try to do some studying. You know. If there’s time.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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7 Tips for Succeeding in your Undergraduate Course – By Ashlyn Voorhout

How can I do well? How do I get top grades? How can I get a good QCA? What do I do if I don’t understand something? These are all questions you may be wondering as you start your first year of college and your undergraduate course. But not to worry because we have all been there at some stage in our lives. Below are 7 tips that we hope will allow you to thrive and excel in your first year in UL.

1. Attend Lectures

It may sound obvious but the most significant and beneficial thing you can do is attend your lectures. Reason being, lecturers will go into more detail than what is on the lecture slides on SULIS. These details may prove to be crucial for an exam question.

2. Make Notes

I think making notes truly saved me in my first year! Every day I would write notes from the lecture slides in a form that I found easier to understand. They also served to be extremely helpful during exam preparation at the end of the semester. It saved me valuable hours during a time crunching period and made my overall revision far more effective.

3. Do Tutorial Questions

You may come into your first year thinking the tutorial questions assigned by lecturers are a waste of time, but in reality, they are extremely helpful. Practise is often key when it comes to comprehending new concepts and topics. My advice is to do as many questions as you possibly can, especially for subjects such as math and physics. You will understand the content better and prepare yourself for the exams in the process too!

4. Put Effort into Midterms and Assignments

Feeling the pressure at the end of the semester? It’s important to realise that you may have within term assessments that contribute to your final grade! If you put in the effort and study for your midterms that are worth 20%, submit your assignments, attend labs etc., you will put yourself in a good position for final exams and ease a lot of the stress!

5. Ask for Help

In order to succeed, you need to ask for help. You are not going to understand every question, concept or chemical reaction. Instead of suffering in silence,  go to one of the student support centres and ask for help!

6. Take Breaks

Studying 24/7 is certainly not good for your health and can be detrimental to your college experience. In order to succeed and enjoy what you are learning, you need to take frequent breaks; whether it be going to the gym, reading a book or watching a movie. By taking breaks it allows your brain to rest and process the information it has been given.

7. Enjoy Yourself

Most importantly, enjoy your course and whatever it is that you are studying. An undergrad is only four years long, which is not a lot of time considering you may also have to go on placement, Co-Op and/or Erasmus! As the great Albert Schweitzer once said “Happiness is the key to success. If you love what you are doing, you will be successful”. 

 

 

7 Ways to Keep Homesickness at Bay – By Ashlyn Voorhout

“I just want to be back home” is something you could be thinking in your first few weeks of university, but not to worry we’ve all been there or will be there at some stage. Like many first year students, last year was also my first year away from home, I am a 16 hour flight away and have no nearby family but never the less I found ways to persevere.

So not to worry because as difficult as it may be, you can use these 7 tips to survive and thrive!

1. Family First

The toughest part about a university for many is being away from family whether it is 2 hours, 16 hours or 30 minutes not having your family around can be tough. Therefore, my first coping mechanism I can recommend is a family Whatsapp chat where you can easily communicate with each other. You can share what you’ve done in the day, find out about their day or even simply say hello. Knowing you have a form of communication can make you feel like you are all together and aid you in not feeling left out.

2. Explore

 
The biggest mistake made by many students when homesick is locking them self away and hiding from people and the outside world. One way to keep away homesickness is exploring the new area you are living in, getting out and adventuring! Whiles doing this you may meet people who feel the same as you or even find a restaurant, shop or building that reminds you of home.

3. Speak up

 

Talk! The most important thing to do while homesick is to talk to someone. It may be a friend, lab partner or one of us First Seven Weeks peeps. When you express how you feel you will find others are in the same boat and feel just as lonely as you do. Together, you will be able to communicate and share your feelings with one another. Essentially you will be helping each other through tough times and building new relationships at the same time.

4. Set goals

 

It may sound cliche but setting yourself a goal to work towards, whether it be to run 5km, meet one new person a day, read a book or simply learn to cook a new dish. By setting yourself a new goal you will place your mind elsewhere instead of home. You will be keeping busy and distracting yourself from the feeling of loneliness and missing home.

5. Bring home comforts

 

Moving to university means a new room and a new location! This can be daunting and make you feel even more homesick. For example, I have a favourite food from South Africa called rusks which I can’t find in Ireland so I decided to bring some with me to university. If you bring along your favourite pillow, fairy lights, posters or medals it will make your new room feel more like home. Even if you bring your favourite coffee mug or biscuits it can prevent you from feeling homesick and aid you in feeling more at ease.

6. Join clubs and societies

 

Hands down the greatest thing I’ve done since being at university is joining a number of different clubs and societies. Through joining I’ve met new people (including my best friend), seen new places and most importantly haven’t thought about home as much as I did before. The clubs and their members become your family and make being away from home 10 times easier.

7. Focus on the positives

My final piece of advice is to focus on the positives whiles being away. View your university experience as a way of becoming more open-minded, cultured and even mature. Every day think of one good thing about your day and how it changed you as a person. Instead of focusing on being away from home and your homesickness focus on how you can grow and develop as a new person with a new start.

And that is my 7 tips on how to deal with homesickness!

7 Most Bingeable Netlix Shows – By Luke Hanley

1. Stranger Things
This is my pick for the “horror” series, this series isn’t terribly frightening but one of the
genres listed is horror so technically yes, this is horror. At this stage, everyone has
heard of Stranger things and its reputation is thoroughly deserved. It is one of the most
successful series that Netflix has ever produced and it is without a doubt one of the
most binge-able.
Stranger things is a sci-fi series about the adventures of a group of kids as they
encounter some supernatural events in their small town. This series is set in the 1980s
which gives it a nostalgia factor and pop culture are a constant feature of this
marvellous series. This is by far my favourite series on Netflix at the moment and I have
definitely binged this series once or twice.
->Binge-ability: 5/5 Couch Potatoes.
2. Rick and Morty
This is my choice for an “easy watching”. Rick and Morty is an animated series about a
teenage boy and his genius-like, dimension travelling grandfather. They both go on
ludicrous adventures to different planets and dimensions. This series is very easy to
watch and to binge as while watching this, you don’t have to follow any long ludicrous
plot. They are just very easy, 20 minute episodes.
The best feature of this series is probably the
comedy. The jokes in this series are very witty and can be very sarcastic at times and
this suits quite a lot of peoples senses of humour. This series has a bad reputation
because of a bit of a toxic fanbase but the series itself is well worth watching. Overall
this is a very binge-worthy series.
->Binge-ability: 4/5 Intergalactic Couch Potatoes.
3. The Final Table
I have chosen this entry for the “Foodie” series. The Final Table is a cooking
competition where different teams of chefs make signature dishes from a variety of
different countries in order to become the best chef and win the grand prize. The vast
difference in methods of cooking and the types of food being made keeps this series
very interesting.
The format of this competition is very different from the normal MasterChef type
show. This show has a theme country for each episode and are given an ingredient to
cook with which means that all of the chefs have to cook food that is out of their comfort
zone. This makes it even more interesting and definitely makes it a binge-able series.
->Binge-ability: 3.5/5 Boiled Couch Potatoes.
4. After Life
After Life is my choice for the series that is motivational. This series, created by Ricky
Gervais, follows the main protagonist as he battles with depression after losing his wife
to cancer. This series was created by Gervais to highlight his own battle with depression
and how to overcome depression. This series includes plenty of dark humour which
allows Gervais to give his own spin on battling depression.
This series is very motivational because, despite Gervais’ characters suicidal
thoughts and commentary, he is still kept going by various facets of his life like different
people and his dog. This series can definitely be a bit heavy to watch so it might not be
the easiest binge of your life but it is definitely a series well worth watching.
->Binge-ability: 4/5 Sad Couch Potatoes.
5. Brooklyn Nine-Nine
For the category of “Sitcom”, I chose Brooklyn Nine-Nine. This is a comedic series
which follows all of the shenanigans that happen in New Yorks 99th police precinct. This
series boasts a stellar cast who play a very diverse range of characters that all bring a
different aspect to the show. The different personalities and traits of each different
character compliment this show to make it one of the best sitcoms today.
This series is one of the most binge-able shows there is, with a runtime of
20 minutes per episode and plot lines that very rarely drag. You may find yourself going
to watch some Netflix in the evening, then you start this and suddenly its 4 am and
you’re halfway through season 3. Once you start this series, it is very hard to stop.
->Binge-ability: 4.5/5 Deep-fried Couch Potatoes.
6. Peaky Blinders
I have picked Peaky Blinders for the “Drama” section of this list. Peaky Blinders is a
period drama that follows a Birmingham gang who are setting up their own betting shop
and need to fend off the other gangs in Birmingham and elsewhere. This is another
show with an unbelievable cast with the likes of Cillian Murphy and Tom Hardy.
This series is so binge-able because of the
connections that are quickly made with characters and this series also boasts some of
the best cliff-hangers that I have ever seen. This series has an almost cult-like following
and it is clear to see why as the acting is second to none and the plot always keeps you
guessing.
->Binge-ability: 5/5 Gangster Couch Potatoes.
7. Love, Death and Robots
This show was my pick for the “a bit freaky but I kinda like it” category. This series is
sort of an animated version of Black Mirror. The reason I chose this over Black Mirror is
because the majority of the episodes are far shorter which makes it far more binge-able
in my opinion.each episode is also animated a different way so that it’s almost like a
collection of short films and this makes it even more intriguing to watch.
This is definitely a strange show and its not for everyone but the absurdity of
some of the plots and just the freakishness of the episodes make this series almost
impossible to drag yourself away from. It is definitely one of the easiest to binge shows
that I have ever seen.
->Binge-ability: 5/5 Cyborg Couch Potatoes.

My Experience with the President’s Volunteer Award

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I have been a student in UL since 2008, and have been volunteering with various student societies and with the SU since 2011. This year, however, I was a recipient of the President’s Volunteer Award for the first time.

The PVA is divided up into a number of categories, based on the number of hours spent volunteering and whether or not the volunteer was in UL for the full academic year. I was a recipient of the Gold PVA, which is for volunteering for 60 hours in the academic year. Gold is the highest you can go in terms of number of hours, but I can tell you I did a lot more than 60 hours that year!

The majority of my volunteering was split between ULFM and UL Science Society (I may be a history student, but I can design posters like nobody’s business). In ULFM, I spent the year co-hosting Crossing The Line, the station’s main current affairs show. Crossing The Line was shortlisted for an Oxygen.ie Student Media Award last April, and my co-host Rob and I got to travel to Dublin for a ceremony in the Aviva Stadium featuring journalists and writers such as Paul Howard A.K.A. Ross O’Carroll-Kelly. I was also involved in the committee for the year, helping to bring ULFM through a transitional period as we geared up to improve the studio and expand our activities. A promotional poster I designed for a Science Soc event was sent to the Board of Irish College Societies awards as UL’s entry for Best Poster. I also lent a helping hand to the Feminist Society and the Tea Appreciation Society.

Volunteering, for me, is about having fun while making a difference. I love getting to contribute to the campus community, and I focus on doing things that I’m passionate about. The journalistic and administrative experience I have gotten during my time in ULFM has been incredible, and as I type this I’m preparing to go into the Bank of Ireland to pitch for financial aid from their Enablement Fund in order to refurbish and improve our broadcasting studio.

The President’s Volunteer Award is a brilliant initiative, giving recognition to UL students in all faculties and at all levels for the contributions they make to the campus and wider Limerick communities. This year’s awards ceremony was the first time UL’s new President Dr Des Fitzgerald had been presenting the awards, and it was gratifying to see how impressed he was by the scale and scope of student volunteering and how much emphasis he placed on the further expansion of the volunteering initiatives on campus. After all, student volunteering can go on to have ripple-effect impacts beyond the limits of the volunteering itself. My volunteering as AHSS Rep and Faculties Rep for the Postgraduate Students’ Union led to me successfully running for Vice-President of the PSU. Closer to home in terms of this article, the history of the First Seven Weeks initiative is full of people from volunteering backgrounds. I wasn’t even the only familiar face from the HUB receiving a PVA this year; our Coordinator Lorna was also on stage getting a certificate from the President. The work that student volunteers do not only lays the groundwork for their future careers, but also contributes to the growth and development of the UL community.

By Declan Mills: F7W HUB Staff Member, outgoing Vice-President of ULPSU, President of ULFM and PhD candidate in history

Approaching Third Level – A Lecturer’s Perspective

The beginning of third level has that exciting mix of freedom, new friends, play, study and time. Mastering the freedom and time elements is essential in getting the best out of the other three.

 

How to achieve this? . . .

Consider time for a moment. Most fulltime programmes are made up of 5 modules of 3 hours each and therefore requiring 15 hours in class each week. Think of all of those after-class hours! Getting up at the crack of 11 a.m. some days is good! But everyday?

 

And here is the freedom bit – choose to live by the dictum Play when you play, Work when you work. This will make room for planning and the third level environment is ideal for acquiring and honing this skill. Buy yourself a diary or use the calendar facility on your phone.

 

How then to develop planning while in college?

Consider the student’s day as divided into 2 parts – in-class hours and out-of-class time.

 

The class or lecture hour: arrive on time at the lecture with the recommended pre-lecture materials and develop your notes sufficiently during the lecture so that you will get the most out of your study time later. Decide when this study time will be and stick to it. In this way your planning will encompass both in-class and out-of-class hours. You can go one step further and start planning for the following summer – ask yourself – what do I need to learn so that I might be considered for a summer internship?

Of course, right from day 1 – be mindful when final exams are scheduled.

 

The out-of-class time: 3 elements make up this time:

  • Study time – the time dedicated to reading and completing exercises required to understand the subject matter.
  • Meeting with lecturers – particularly important when not grasping the material. This interaction will become in time the basis for a reference. So, get to know your lecturers.
  • Non-study time – the time to go and have fun! Join the clubs and societies. Have a few late nights! How about jogging, soccer or any form of exercise you prefer? Volunteer.

 

Using the diary – Plan the work and Work the plan. 

 

. . . and staying with non-study time for a moment – Consider its potential for doing something meaningful.

 

Virtually all third levels institutions are geared up to harness students’ abilities and goodwill for volunteerism. It is remarkable how the decision to help others develops the planning skill. Why is this? It’s very simple. Volunteering involves making a commitment of time and suddenly your time becomes precious. And of course you will make new friends, beyond those friendships developed in your classes.

 

And lastly, if something bothers you in that first year or any other year for that matter? Perhaps your chosen course is not for you. Think it through. Decide to discuss it with somebody. Most lecturers also act as advisors. Start with them.  Take time out if need be. Whatever you decide to do, at least you will have made a decision. Third level is about the art and practice of making choices. Enjoy it!

 

 

To summarise:

  1. The beginning of third level has that exciting mix of freedom, new friends, play, study and time. Master the freedom and time elements to get the best out of the other three.

 

  1. Choose to live by the dictum Play when you play, Work when you work.

 

  1. Consider the student’s day as divided into two parts – in-class hours and out-of-class time. Buy a diary or use the calendar facility on your phone and learn to plan.

 

  1. Attending class: – arrive on time and develop your notes to propel your study time later.

 

  1. Out-of-class time is made up of Study time, Meeting with lecturers, Non-study time

 

  1. Get to know your lecturers. Useful when seeking references.

 

  1.  Non-study time is to have fun! Join the clubs and societies, exercise, volunteer.

 

  1. Using your diary, Plan your work, Work your plan.

 

  1. Volunteering. All third levels institutions are geared up to harness students’ abilities and goodwill. Hones the planning skill. And great for making new friends.

 

  1. Something bothers you in that first year? Your chosen course is not for you? Decide to discuss it with somebody. Most lecturers also act as advisors. Start with them.

 

Third level is about the art and practice of making choices. Enjoy it!

 

Dr.  John Heneghan is a lecturer in Accounting and Corporate Governance in UL’s Kemmy Business School.

7 THINGS YOU CAN DO WITH THE WRITING CENTRE

RWC

The Regional Writing Centre is a free and friendly space open to all students (and staff!) who want to talk about their writing, or want a space to write productively. We believe that everyone can write. Students from all academic disciplines are encouraged to use the centre. We are here to share our writing tips, tricks and techniques and get you on the “write” track. We are located in C1-065 in the Main Building and are always happy to have callers!

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1. One-to-One Peer Tutoring

Our peer tutors are proven writers with good habits. They are available Monday to Friday to talk to you about any aspect of your assigned written work at any stage in its development – from ‘I haven’t written anything yet’ to ‘I’m about to submit it for a grade’. They can help you to better understand assignments, as well as looking at how you approach, plan and organise essays. They can provide you with strategies for more efficient citing, referencing, revising and editing of written assignments. Tutors are also available to talk about exam technique. They won’t proofread your work for you, but with their help you can learn how to do it yourself!

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Register and book online at ul.ie/rwc.

2. Quick Queries

Appointments with our tutors are usually a half-hour to an hour long. If you have a question that will take less than 15 minutes to discuss, you can send it to us online. You don’t even have to leave your bed! We will endeavor to respond to your query within 48 hours. If the question takes longer than 15 minutes to answer, we will advise you to make an appointment.

Queries can be sent from our website ul.mywconline.com.

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3. Writers’ Space

We have a dedicated Writers’ Space here in C1-065. It is a distraction-free room with no internet access. Drop in between classes or dedicate a morning to your work, the choice is yours. The Writers’ Space is open to all students from 9am to 1pm. Opening days vary each semester, and are advertised through email.

The Writers’ Space is also used to facilitate Writers’ Groups. Writers’ Groups give you the opportunity to get together with others who just want to write, but find it difficult to write alone. Groups meet once a week and are a semester-long commitment. Keep an eye on our social media platforms for your chance to register for this semester’s group(s)!

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4. Academic Workshops

We hold several workshops throughout the year addressing various forms of academic writing. Both discipline-specific and more generic workshops are offered on essay, report and FYP writing. They are a great way to learn more about writing for your discipline, and to pick up tips on your general writing style. Workshops are advertised on our social media accounts and through email.

Resources from workshops are available on our website at ulsites.ul.ie/rwc/writing-seminar-and-workshop-resources.

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5. One Campus, One Book

This initiative is run every year. Students and staff are encouraged to read the same book and talk to one another about it during the academic year. We provide the opportunity to attend presentations, readings, book signings and Q&A sessions with the authors.

Material from previous sessions can be viewed online at ulsites.ul.ie/rwc/one-campus-one-book.

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6. How I Write, Ireland

The Regional Writing Centre hosts interviews with good writers, both academic and creative, about their writing process and strategies. The focus is not on ‘what’ they write, but ‘how’ they go about it. We record these conversations in the hope that they may provide insights into what developing writers could do differently and what they are already doing well.

Listen in to how they approach writing situations, about how they deal with difficulties and about their approach to, and opinions on, various aspects of writing at ulsites.ul.ie/rwc/how-i-write-ireland.

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7. Writing-talk Advocates blog

Talking about writing is how the RWC helps students and staff to become better writers. We want you to join us in talking about writing by sharing your experiences of writing for academic assessment – your thoughts, your emotions, your strategies, your triumphs and your tribulations. Tell us what does, or indeed does not work for you when writing and learn from the experiences of others!

Check it out online at writingtalkul.wordpress.com.

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For more information on any of our resources contact us at writingcentre@ul.ie or call us on 061 202581. You can also visit our website ul.ie/rwc. Become a better writer, write here!

 

Aoife O'Sullivan By-line

 

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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Seven Ways You’re Already A Vegan

Week 4 is Health and Wellbeing week, and one of our Student Bloggers thinks that we should all become vegan. He thinks it is the best thing for your health the health of the planet and of course, the wellbeing of animals. Whether you agree with him or not, he thinks he can point out 7 ways you are ALREADY a vegan. Check it out and if you want to disagree (politely) feel free to comment.

 

1. You Love Animals

Veganism is just a fancy way of saying you are actively trying to stop harming animals.  Everyone loves animals, it’s an undeniable truth. We all care deeply about our pets, we find lions, tigers and elephants intriguing and for the most part people are against cock fighting, bull fights and fox hunting.  But for vegans they extend this love to animals that we eat, they don’t see much of a difference between bull fighting and a cow going to a slaughterhouse, to them both are cruel and completely unnecessary.

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2. You Eat Mostly Plants

A large portion of everyone’s diet doesn’t come from animals.  Potatoes, orange juice, rice, beans, Oreos, lots of pastas and breads and every single nut, bean, grain, seed, vegetable and fruit which is an awful lot of different food.  Even foods that aren’t vegan could easily be vegan, often they contain a small percentage of milk or egg or weird animal derived product like lanolin, whey or milk solids. The list of food groups that aren’t vegan is a lot smaller, meat, dairy and eggs.  Even better is there are one hundred and one milk alternatives for you to try and meat substitutes are getting better, tastier and cheaper every day. In other words your diet is already largely “vegan”.

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3. You Care About The Environment

Lots of vegans are vegan simply because of the impact meat, dairy and eggs have on the environment.  It sounds weird, right? How could eating meat have a bigger impact on the environment than eating plants?  But it’s true. A UN study from 2006 stated that animal agriculture contributed to 18% of climate change. To put that in perspective, transport including cars, trains, planes and ships was 13%. The problem lies within how much food you need to feed an animal before you kill it and eat it. On average it takes 11lbs of plant food to become 1lb of meat.  These numbers differ from country to country and animal to animal though. For example, beef takes a lot more water, land and food to make than chicken (or better yet, beans).  And the problem isn’t just the amount of food that you have to feed the animal, but the land that is taken up to grow that food, the water to grow that food and keep the animals alive, the waste created by the animal and even how much trees are cut down for free range animals to graze.  A 2005 study stated that 91% of deforestation since the 1970s in the Brazilian Amazon is because of cattle ranching including grazing land and feed crops.

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4. You Wouldn’t Wear Fur

If you wouldn’t wear fur that is basically the whole idea behind veganism, you boycott the unnecessary cruelty of animals by refusing to purchase goods which caused harm to animals. It’s you taking responsibility for the consequences of your purchases. If you wouldn’t have an animal killed so you can have a nice purse why have one killed for your burger. You can buy a different purse and you can get a different burger.

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5. You Rooted For Babe The Pig

When I was a kid, when I was a teen and even now I rooted for Babe, I didn’t want to see him become dinner.  That has been true for all the years I was vegan and all the years I was not. I understood that he shouldn’t die, but only now am I acting on it, I know now that I can get protein, I can be completely healthy as a vegan and that whether it is Babe or Peppa the pig or Wilbur in Charlotte’s Web, no pig deserves to die. In fact there are studies showing that they are smarter than dogs. So here’s some information on pig intelligence.

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6. You Love Your Dog

If you love your dog and would hate for anyone to ever harm it, then you already understand the vegan perspective.  Vegans don’t see much of a difference, if any, between your pet dog and an innocent cow. As much as you would hate to see that dog go to a slaughterhouse, vegans don’t want to see any animal meet their fate in such a gruesome place. Animal loving is not shoving them in the oven!

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7. You Can’t Watch Slaughterhouse Footage

If you can’t watch it then why should you consume the by-product of it? If you don’t agree with the cruelty the majority of farm animals face in factory farms and slaughterhouses then there’s only one way to stop it.  Get off your seat and don’t eat the meat.

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So what do you think? Are you going to go the full way and become vegan? Let us know.

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7 Ways To Get Fit In UL

1. Sign Up To The UL Arena

With great facilities including an Olympic sized swimming pool, the 25m dive pool coming soon, basketball courts, running tracks and a gym with both cardio and weight training equipment, the arena has just about everything you could want. While it will set you back a few quid it’s got a student/staff discount and you’ll be in full control to start taking your fitness seriously.  With new space now that the Munster rugby team are moving out there should be enough room to swing a barbell, not that that’s an effective training method.

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2. Enjoy Walks Along The River Bank

If you just want to lose a bit of weight, get more active and have an easy time doing it, stick on a pair of headphones and walk along the river bank, across the living bridge and the rest of UL’s stunning campus.  If it’s a nice day and you need to get to the city you can walk, save your €2.10 for the bus and enjoy the nature. It’ll take about 45 to 55 minutes but it’ll be relaxing and good for you.

(Shouts to Holly for this amazing pic of UL river bank)

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3. Join A Club Or Society

UL has over 70 clubs and societies and those range from American Football to Tea Appreciation, DJ to Trampoline.  You can find just about anything here so find something you like, sign up and go have fun, get fit and make some friends.  They are the best way to have fun in UL and make the most of your time here.  You won’t be sorry, I promise.

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4. Do A Run

Sign up for Darkness Into Light, the Great Limerick Run and other 10 km runs.  It will give you something to train for and you may raise money for charity doing yourself and others some good.

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5. Buy Gym Equipment With Your Housemates

Dividing up the cost of a pull up bar, some dumbbells, a skipping rope and resistance bands means you’ll have spent a fraction of the price for your very own home gym. Use it whenever you want, have a house scoreboard and get a little competitive and all for the fraction of a price.  Be warned though most landlords won’t be happy if you install a power rack into the kitchen.

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6. The Alternative Route … 

Disregard sound nutrition and exercise and live like a reckless student, your exercise routine is now dancing in Costellos, running to 9 a.m. tutorials and disappointing strangers you met at international night, your diet is rice, beans and whatever else is cheapest in Lidl supplemented by boiled and distilled fermented potatoes or wheat.  Do not go down this route, there’s no career there, disappointing people will never be in the Olympics, you’ll never win gold.  All jokes aside go back to number 4 and take good care of yourself.

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7. Exercise Your Mind

Play some chess, make some friends and stay mentally fit, take a break from study stress and refresh your mind with a walk, mental health is important too and never believe someone telling you that you won’t win gold.

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P.S. I know some people say mental fitness isn’t “a thing” but people really need to be reminded it’s important to take care of both their body and mind. If you’re having problems always feel free to call into the SU and talk to the Welfare Officer or avail of the UL counselling departments relaxation sessions or daily workshops, that’s what they’re there for.

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