7 Mistakes Every First-Year Makes – Luke Hanley

When starting anything new, you are going to make mistakes. That is a
given and it’s not a bad thing as long as you learn from the mistakes you
make. I am making a list of mistakes that I have experienced myself and I
know other people have too but if you inevitably make one of these
mistakes, just know that you are not the first to do it and won’t be the last.

1. Getting Lost
UL is quite a large campus with many buildings and many lecture halls and
rooms inside those many buildings. So it is quite natural for new people to
get lost and don’t worry if you do because it may seem daunting at the start
but after a few weeks you will get the hang of where everything is on
campus. In the meantime, I would highly recommend the maps of the
campus and the main building that you can download from the UL website
as they are very detailed and easy to read.

2. Misreading Timetables
Timetables can be very difficult to read if you are not experienced with the
layout. It is very easy to mistakenly go to a lecture that isn’t actually on or to
miss a lecture or lab that you should have attended. It is very important that
when you are issued your timetable that you make sure that you know exactly
when and where you have your lectures and what weeks of the semester
they are on. If you find it too confusing, just ask someone to explain it to
you and in time you will get used to it.

3. Not Getting Involved
One of the biggest mistakes made by first years is not getting involved in
the UL community. What I mean by that is not joining any clubs or societies
or not volunteering for anything. One of the best aspects of UL is the sense
of community and togetherness. People look out for each other and there is
so much going on all around the campus. The massive amount of variety of
activities and experiences UL provides really leaves no excuse not to get
involved with a few of them. It is a great way to get to know more people
and to get to know the college better.

4. Not Asking For Help
I cannot stress enough how important it is to ask for help if you need it.
Majority of people think that they can figure things out for themselves and
are too proud to ask for help but if you are struggling then you 100% need
to ask for help. It doesn’t matter whether it is struggling with your studies,
with work, with your mental health. If you are struggling in any way at all
then it is perfectly alright to ask for help. It can be anyone; staff, lecturers,
other students or the F7W staff, we are all here to help.

5. Not Gradually Studying
Coming into college, the majority of people are used to the secondary
school style exams where you can doss for most of the term and then cram
for exams. This is a much less effective method in college. It is far easier if
you go over the material done in lectures gradually over the semester as
this will allow you to understand the lectures being taught better. It will also
serve you better when it comes to exam time as the less you have to
stress, the more likely you will have success ( or some stupid rhyme like

6. Not Making Time For Yourself
Making time for yourself is one of the most important things you should do
in life as a general rule. Making time for yourself is doing something that
you want to do purely because you enjoy doing it. That might be watching a
movie, playing sport, going for a walk. These things that you do just for you
will keep you motivated throughout the semester and will keep you in a
healthy state of mind. This is key for exam time because of the stress, it’s important that you have something to get you away from the study and the stress of it all even if only for a little while.

7. SLEEP!!!!!
Sleep is one of the most vital parts of keeping us healthy and happy. Quite
a lot of college students are sleep deprived and this is because they
sacrifice sleep for a variety of different things. In an ideal world, sleep
should never be sacrificed for anything but that can’t always happen. That
is why it is extremely important to get good sleep when you can, and I’m
not talking about a couple of hours on your mates’ couch, I’m talking about
a solid 8 or 9 in a good bed. Without sleep it is very difficult to function as a
person, so please get some rest.

These mistakes will no doubt all be made again but if a few people can
learn from their predecessors’ mistakes, then my job here is complete!


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.








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
->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.

Winner of Book Review 2017

Managing Oneself – Peter F. Drucker

At first sight, Peter F. Drucker’s book “Managing oneself” seems to be another exemplar of the numerous business guidebooks of a self-proclaimed expert. If you have a look at his biography and achievements, however, this impression will change quickly. As a successful consultant, teacher and writer, whose books were translated in over seventy languages and who is nowadays called the “creator and inventor of modern management”, there might be some truth in his words.

This impression was confirmed when I read the first few pages of “Managing oneself”. In general, it is a guide how to find out more about your personality and abilities and how to use them in the most efficient way. It goes beyond the typical recommendations of bad examples of the genre of self-help books, which advise you to stop being so shy if you want to improve your self-confidence or to work hard if you want to be successful. Drucker has a refreshing and instructive way to explain why you should do something and in which way.

A lot of his own experiences, ranging from failed attempts of companies to put a highly competent person in the wrong position to examples from history and economy, make it an entertaining and easily understandable book. Besides, he includes numerous insights in the changes of the work environment in the course of time and why we have to adjust to the altered workplaces and demands in business.

Drucker starts with a quite disillusioning statement: great achievers like Napoléon or Mozart, who were able to manage themselves without any effort, are rare. But the good news is: according to him, everyone can learn that and this guidebook provides you with the necessary tools.

In the first part of this booklet, he concentrates on a simple, but, at the same time, really effective method of figuring out where your strengths and weaknesses lie: the feedback analysis. Before you make any major decision you should write down your expectations and compare this with the outcome after nine or twelve months. It will show you where your competences are and in which fields you have failed. Afterwards, you should concentrate on further enhancing your strengths rather than trying to work on your weaknesses. That is the way mediocre people become excellent people.

What follows is a comprehensive examination of different types of performance and learning. At this point at the latest one recognizes the importance of being aware of one’s own best practice. Drucker explains impressively why it costed politicians their US presidency if they did not know whether they were a reader or a listener, decision maker or adviser. Unfortunately, this is the part where you are left out in the rain. While he explains in detail the purpose of knowing your own learning and performance method, Drucker gives no hint how to figure them out.

He then deals with the significance of our values and how to stick with them. A method, which is mentioned in this context and is worth thinking about, is the mirror test. It asks what kind of person you want to see when you look in the mirror. This might sound somewhat philosophical, but it means, in essence, that your values should be compatible with the company’s values you are working for. This will protect you from frustration and nonperformance.

As if it were not difficult enough to evaluate yourself in all these aspects, Drucker stresses the necessity of understanding all your teammates in regard to their characteristics, ways of working and values. If one does not adapt correspondingly, even the smartest and most hard working employee might be perceived as being stupid or lazy.

The last chapter, probably not really applicable to students but no less interesting, is about the second half of your life. Drucker elucidates the struggle people in their mid-40s experience and the possibilities to overcome this period. Here again, he underpins his statements with examples, such as the engineer who becomes a church treasurer or the lawyer who runs model schools.

It is definitely one of the more helpful versions of self-help books and gives you some more or less concrete guidelines how to ascertain and manage your competences and how to deal with failings. You can read it on the bus on your way to university or during a free period between your lectures. It is just fifty-five pages long and written in a large font, which one knows otherwise only from children’s books. Nevertheless, Drucker gives some useful advice, enriched with vivid anecdotes. It is, in addition, not only a book for top managers or people who want to become one. It might also help people who are seeking to improve their team work skills or learning strategies.

Whatever you are searching for; the first step to discover your own competencies in order to become a better student or employee or if you just do not know what to do during a break, you cannot do anything wrong with this book.

By-line Friederike Bartling

My Experience with the President’s Volunteer Award





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

7 Times to Savour in First Year


College is a time of firsts, and things you have never experienced before will, for better or worse, change you as a person. In the whirlwind time that is first year it can be easy to just float along and let some great times pass by, but it makes sense to try and make the most of them. They say it’s the little things that count and as you look back on your first year you will think the same. The things you remember fondly, laugh about and cringe at will remind you of the exciting time that is first year, so you should do all you can to savour these moments while you can.


1. Moving In

Daunting – a good word to describe the move away from home. Driving up to a new house or apartment in a cramped parent’s car it is easy to think of all the worst possibilities; not getting on with housemates, messy kitchens, cold nights without your dog. The best thing to do is accept the first few minutes might be awkward as you work out what is going on, then you can start being yourself.


Remembering that everyone is doing the same thing, starting fresh in a new place, can go a long way to help any nerves. The people you move in with could be some of your best friends for your time in UL and these first few nights are memorable, as you get used to being free to do what you want. It is worth remembering as you hit the hay on your first night that while a new place can seem scary, it also means an opportunity to be yourself and an adventure ahead.


2. First Visit to the Stables


Say “Stables” to any student in UL and it means one thing. Craic. Some of the best days and nights of your college career will be spent in here. The first time will be wild enough, probably involving UV paint or some sort of county jersey, but it’s important to get your bearings early. Little tricks like knowing what time it fills up at on busy Wednesdays and the best route to take to get served quicker are vital to making the most of a night in the Stables. These come with experience, but for the first couple of times it’s good enough to just take in the sights and sounds, safe in the knowledge you’ll be getting fairly used to the place over your 4 years.


3. Travelling Home


After a long week of going to all your lectures and studying, a trip home is a welcome thought. Nothing quite compares to the moment you land on your bed at home like a starfish and think of nothing but how you could stay there forever. If it wasn’t for the home cooked dinner waiting for you, you probably would. Little things like washing being done, dinners made and heat might not be fully appreciated until you have lived away from home so make sure you make the most of these luxuries when you get the chance. Soon enough you will be back to choosing between another pint or having sauce with your pasta for the week.


4. Surviving Exams

Exams are like death and taxes, inevitable. In first year you have a certain amount of leeway due to the fact that, for most courses, your QCA only really counts from second year. You still have to pass though, so exams bring with them all the stresses of lost student IDs, struggling to find seats in the library and severe procrastination. As important as making sure you do your best in exams is appreciating when they are over. The hard work you put in before a test means that once you hand up your script you don’t have to perform a post-mortem and you are free to concentrate on celebrating, whatever way you choose, in peace.


5. First Sight of Sun


Around March time when the first proper bit of prolonged sun breaks through the clouds the campus is transformed. The grass outside the library is full of students eating 99s and a smug feeling is in the air as the people inside the library are turned into entertainment. Most of the people sitting on the grass have given up on lectures or assignments that have to be done, but there is a way to get the best of both worlds. As painful as it might sound, getting up early and doing some work before the sun is in peak form saves a lot of hassle. It’s vital to enjoy the sun while it’s there, god knows we don’t get too much of it, and making plans to get work out of the way can take weight off your shoulders and make those ice-creams guilt free.


6. Charity Week

Charity Week is the most enjoyable week of the college year. It’s like seeing a squirrel outside a classroom window, the ultimate distraction trying to drag you away from college. There might be a few late nights, groggy morning lectures and labs spent watching the clock, but going to college can be justification for going mad after it. The best way to enjoy the madness is to embrace it, whether that’s messy sing-alongs to the Vengaboys in the Stables or running through campus in the nip (almost). Making sure you are up to date with your modules before this week helps you to make the most of it, because even though week 6 is all fun, next comes week 7, and with it the looming presence of the end of year exams.


7. Race Day


Arguably the best day of the year, the races give everyone a chance to get all polished up, pretend to know a thing or two about betting and do a good bit of horsing around. You don’t want to miss out on race day, so just buy a ticket when they go on sale. That way you can avoid the stress of worrying about getting one, not to mention the con artists and extortionate second-hand prices. When it comes to the actual day of the races, it’s really every person for themselves so eat a good breakfast, get a clear run of the day and hope for the best. The real achievement is if you can make it back with any of the money you went with.


Eoin O'Sullivan

7 Ways to Keep Homesickness at Bay

One thing I didn’t realise until I started at UL was how much I was actually going to miss home. While I immensely enjoyed my first year of college, there was always too much excitement to get on a bus home on a Friday and always too much worry of going back on Sunday. I missed the typical routine of being at home and living in my comfort zone and having the friends from home near me.

Homesickness is a completely normal thing to experience, it’s the first time a lot of us have moved away from home, some people even moving from different countries, I’m literally only an hour bus journey from home but when it doesn’t feel like the place you’ve called home for all of your life, it can be difficult to adjust. I am going to share my top tips of keeping homesickness at bay:


1. Get involved in UL activities

UL have so much to choose from, there is a broad range of activities from the student council (my personal favourite!) to joining clubs and societies. There is something to join to fit all types of hobbies and interests: every sport you could think of, comedy societies, Enactus UL, ULFM.  You’ll get to do something enjoyable and make countless new friends with the same interests of you.


2. Catch up on college work

This may seem like a dreadful one but one thing that kept my mind off home was heading to the library on a quiet evening and did some study. One of the key things to success is to keep on top of the work on a regular basis which is near impossible but it can be so useful to use to keep yourself busy. You’ll actually feel so much better when you’ve caught up on lecture slides and readings and getting assignments done instead of panicking two hours before submission deadlines. It was definitely one of the best ways I took my mind off things and had great outcomes for my QCA.


3. Volunteer

UL have a great system called the Presidents Volunteer Award, where you volunteer on a regular basis and can obtain a bronze, silver or gold award, depending on the number of hours volunteering you do throughout the academic year. It’s a great way to give something back to the community and its put on your student transcript, another benefit for when you graduate! There are opportunities all over Limerick to volunteer so you will actually get to know the area a bit better and actually get used to it.


4. Keep in regular contact with friends and family

Be sure to keep in contact with relatives and close friends from home on a regular basis. It doesn’t have to be every day but it’s good to talk to the people your close with to catch up on what your family have been up to or the latest drama your friends have gotten themselves into!


5. Take regular visits home

It can be difficult for people who live far away to take regular visits home but if you can at all go home for a weekend. My weekends home were definitely what made me feel so much better when I got to go back  to see everyone and go out to my local. It makes the stretch in the week away from home that bit smaller cause you’ll be spending a good portion of your time at home and makes it easier to come back for college.


6. Socialise around UL

UL definitely has the best social atmosphere I have seen. From Wednesday nights at The Stables, to the best DJs in Habitat, there is definitely so many nights out to choose from. Or even if you’re looking for a quiet night, the cinema is about 15 minute walk from the East Gate entrance or there’s the UL Arena to go to a wide range of classes or a gym session with your fitness buddy with definitely the best range of equipment I have seen.


7. Counselling Service

Sometimes the homesickness may affect you where you may feel you need to share your thoughts. UL have an excellent counselling system in place. They have brilliant staff there who are open and caring and will help you deal with whatever problems a new setting may have. They have a drop-in service for you to explain why you called in and they will decide to go from there.


These were my best ways of dealing with homesickness when I was in first year. To all the students reading this who feel the same way, don’t worry it really does get easier! I came in as a first year who missed home every day and longed for my weekends home, now I am going into third year after spending the whole summer working in Limerick. UL is a great place, when you learn to balance home and college you’ll actually find that you’ll end up with two homes and who knows UL might become your favourite!

Elizabeth Small

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.