7 Mistakes I made in My First Semester


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

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


2. Not getting enough sleep

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


3. Doing a month’s worth of grocery shopping

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


4. Not emptying the bins until they’re full

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


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

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


6. Leaving everything until the last minute

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


7. Buying all the books

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

7 Ways To Stay Body Positive In College

While we have been promoting physical health all week along with mental health, we want students to understand that getting fit is one thing, aspiring to unrealistic body standards is another. While exercise and maintaining a healthy body is important, loving the skin that you are in comes first. A UL student has seven pieces of advice to help you do just that:

1. Cleanse Your Social Media

Social media can be your best friend or your worst enemy. When you look in the right places; social media can be a beacon of diversity and positivity. Have a sift through your ‘following’ list on Instagram, if the results are mainly Victoria’s Secret models and people who sell ‘miracle’ weight loss teas perhaps it’s time for a content cleanse. There are plenty of body positive accounts that aim to shatter society’s perception of beauty; rather than adhere to it. My personal favourites are effyourbeautystandards, bodyposipanda and Project Heal.


2. Don’t Buy Trashy Magazines

It can sometimes be tempting to buy some reading material at the bus/train station to keep yourself occupied for the trip home but save yourself the trouble (and a couple of euros) and avoid magazines that pick apart women’s bodies. A handy guide would to avoid anything with the words ‘thunder thighs’, ‘post-baby bod.’ And ‘muffin top’. Seeing women being picked apart so brutally simply for existing is more harmful to your self-worth than you may realise. Pick up a newspaper or treat yo’self to good book; you deserve it.


3. Don’t Count Calories

While calorie-counting can easily fall under the guise of being ‘health-conscious’, it can easily become an obsession and lead you to a life dictated by numbers. Calories are not always an indication of health. Some healthy foods like avocados and unsalted nuts can have a high calorie count whilst still providing you with necessary nutrients. Instead of calorie counting, focus on maintaining a balanced diet that won’t leave you starved and unsatisfied.


4. Count All The Things You Love About Yourself

While I regularly see this tip, it seems to mainly apply to physical attributes. This is all well and good but your physicality changes. I find it a lot more productive to focus on the non-physical things you like about yourself. Pick a talent or attribute that you love and regularly tell yourself how much you love it.  By doing this, you are teaching yourself that you are more than your appearance.


5. Keep Busy

Not unrelated to the previous point but engaging in a productive activity you enjoy can give you a sense of achievement and boost your self-esteem. College is the perfect time to discover a new hobby and develop new skills. Finding value in your talents is an important part of overcoming body hang-ups. As well as this, keeping your mind occupied will help keep negative thoughts at bay when they pop up.


6. Don’t Compare

This one gets thrown around a lot but it’s one of the most important. Don’t compare your body to someone else’s and the same goes for your eating habits. Different bodies require different amounts of energy. Don’t feel guilty or embarrassed for eating just because your pals aren’t hungry. Apply this same idea to physical appearance. Everyone’s body is different and obviously we all look different. Avoid conversations talking about clothing sizes or weight, despite being intrusive and unnecessary, conversations like these are a hotbed for poor self-esteem to flourish.


7. Help Your Pals Out

When we put it out there that we don’t like parts of ourselves, we send out the message that it’s not okay to like yourself. In order to combat this, do your best to make your pals feel good about themselves. As well as complimenting them, try not to be too self-deprecating. Sometimes when we highlight something we don’t like about ourselves, our pals feel the need to match it with a flaw of their own. (We all remember that scene from Mean Girls- eh.. I have really bad breath in the morning?) This creates a negative environment that’ll leave you feeling crap.


Thank you Claire for this wonderful advice, if you have some advice to add please comment. If your think others need to hear this (like we do) please share it around.