7 Ways to Combat Homesickness

1. Join a club or society!

With over 70 different Clubs and Societies based in UL, there is definitely at least one that will pique your interest, which means you will befriend people over your shared interests, whatever that may be. Clubs and Societies are an ideal way to get out and about also, with many social nights, particularly in the first weeks of each semester. This is all done in a bid to make their newer members feel more welcome and involved.

2. Avail of the First Seven Weeks Initiative

Make sure you are connected to the First Seven Weeks social media accounts for an array of tips, workshops and 7 whole weeks dedicated to settling incoming first years in! The First Seven Weeks is a brilliant initiative that is unique to the University of Limerick, and the university and its students are so lucky! Interact with the social media accounts, and maybe you’ll be lucky enough to source some of your incoming course mates – like I was fortunate enough to do!

3. Get out and about during Fresher’s Week!!

Go out a few times during your fresher’s week, because you can guarantee that it will be the hot topic before classes every morning for the duration of the week, and it is the most ideal way to make new friends and settle in!

4. Keep a diary.. track your new journey!

Invest in a diary, and use it. People do not realise the amazing benefits keeping a diary can have. You can have your own personal place where you can vent, and talk to your hearts content.

5. Befriend someone (anyone!) on your very first day!

It is not as hard as you may think to say “Hey, I’m Chloe, ”.. and then a friendship blossoms. Truth is, everyone is in your position, and are probably only waiting for you to bite the bullet and introduce yourself!

6. Swap Snapchats, Numbers, Facebooks!

Do not fall into the trap of befriending someone on the first day of college, and then not being able to meet up with them the next day- or for the rest of the year!!!!!!

7. Take in the beauty of the UL campus!

Walk around it, take in the beautiful scenery that is the amazing campus of the University of Limerick. Take a breather in the fresh air.

 

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7 things that will happen to you and every other first year ever

 

The transition from school to university can be extremely tough as you do not know what to expect.

Here are 7 things that you might be worried about. I am here to tell you that if you are worried about it, it is most likely that the majority of your peers are also worried about it!

 

1. Friends

The first and most obvious one is friends. You might have chosen a course like Business or General Arts, where it is a big course and you might know lots of people doing the same course. Or you may have picked a smaller course where you do not know anybody. During orientation you are split into groups with other people on your course. I understand that some people are more confident than others, but the only advice I have to give you is, no matter how shy and anxious you feel, try your best to make conversation with people. Most people are just as nervous as you are about making new friends, everybody is in the same boat. There will be people that you do not click with and that is okay, but you still have to talk to everyone and give everyone a chance because your future best friend or partner could be hidden in one of those groups!

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2. Not Understanding your timetable

Do not be worried if you cannot make any sense of your timetable whatsoever- trust me, you are not alone. Figuring out the room numbers does take some time. During the first seven weeks, there will be students stationed around UL to help you out. I would recommend getting the name of your orientation guide. I study Journalism and New Media and I asked 3 people in a row to help me find the room I was supposed to be in, but one student studied business and the other two were in the engineering buildings so they were not sure where I was supposed to be, as they had never been to the arts department. If you can contact your orientation guide, they are usually more than happy to help. Or just travel in packs, surely someone will be able to figure it out eventually!

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3. Getting Lost

Be prepared to get lost. I was once asked by a final year student for directions, the main building is a maze and the campus is huge, so it is easily done. On your orientation, you are given a number to call in case you get lost. TAKE THAT NUMBER DOWN. My friend and I somehow managed to get separated from our group and had to call that number and wait patiently until a hero in a first seven weeks t-shirt came, rescued us and returned us to our group.

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4. Worries about how you measure up against your peers

Do not be worried about your classes, you will settle in and just because someone did better in their Leaving Cert than you does not mean they are better than you. You are all starting fresh and on equal footing. If you find you are not settling in, I would recommended you speak to a guidance councillor about changing course, but give it a fair chance and time to adjust to the new teaching method. You are not handed out notes like school, you take your own notes so you must stay focused!

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5. Being overwhelmed by the vast environment that you are unfamiliar with

If like me, you came from a small school, you know all your teachers on a personal level. All that is about to change. You are going to be in lecture halls with hundreds of other students. You will have tutorials which consist of smaller groups and you are invited to participate but the atmosphere is very different from school. Do not panic, it may take a while to adjust but you will settle in.

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6. Getting along with people that you are living with

Whether you are commuting or moving from home, it can be very stressful. A lot of the students who commute are afraid they will miss out on the full college experience but that is not the case. There are several people on my course who commute, either driving or using public transport and the only thing they might have missed is a 9am lecture if the bus times don not suit- but who’s really complaining about that? As for nights out, once you make friends, you can just stay at your friend’s house! People who move away from home to on-campus accommodation are usually worried that they will hate their housemates – or their housemates will hate them! I personally got very lucky, obviously we had our disagreements but at the end of the day we all got on well and I am happy to have shared that experience with them. Some people got housemates who they did not get along with at all, but even that was not the worst- they just did not hang out together, and if you are on campus, it is only for a year. After that you can find a house to rent with the friends you have made!

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7. Striking a work/life balance

Some people are worried about how they are going to balance college work and going out, but it is manageable! You just have to work with your timetable. On the other hand, some people who do not drink are worried about what people might think about them. I do drink, but I would never judge anyone that does not, and I think a lot of people have that mind-set. Also just because you do not drink, that does not mean you cannot go out and have a great time!

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I hope you find this helpful and if you have any questions, do not hesitate to ask any of the first seven weeks staff!

Your Mental Health – 7 Things to Keep In Mind

 

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

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

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

 

1. It is OK to be clueless.

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

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

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

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

 

2. Make the most of your living situation

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

 

4. Isolation, Responsibility & Big Changes

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

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

 

5. Financial Guilt, Exam Stress & Your Course

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

 

7. Focus on You

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

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

 

 

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Looking After Your Mental Health In College – One Students Story

We want to put a focus on Mental as well as physical health this week, here we have the words of a UL  student that talks about just that and it’s key reading for absolutely everyone.

Life in UL can be amazing, but also very challenging for lots of us too. We won’t pretend that side of the experience of going to college doesn’t exist. We know it does, and we know it needs to be talked about.

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It’s Important To Look Out For No.1

Mental health can be defined as a person’s psychological and emotional well-being and unfortunately, college can be a time where your mental health is put through the ringer. We, as students, are faced with the tasks of making new friends, living away from home for the first time, budgeting, falling in love and monitoring our own academic input.

Each of these transitions, if not handled in a supportive, patient and self-caring manner can result in conditions such as depression, anxiety, addiction, eating disorders etc., which can affect our mental health, not only during our college experience but also later in life. Furthermore, each of these conditions can be deemed a gateway issue to further complications for our psychological well-being, resulting in an increased inability to be successful in our academic endeavours.

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College Is The “Best 4 Years Of Your Life”

The majority of these issues could stem from students feeling a lack of control and inadequacy, especially when we are told that college will be the best four years of our life, and that is certainly what I was expecting. As I sat in class for my first ever college lecture, a torrent of feelings swirled inside me. This was it, this was my fresh start. I didn’t know these people and they didn’t know me. I no longer had to be the girl that had suffered with general anxiety disorder, depression and self-harm. I could be the person I always wanted to be, but if you fast forward to one week later, it didn’t quite work out like that. After my second SPSS class (Statistics – yes, feel my pain), I found myself in the bathroom in floods of tears doubting my ability to do any of this, it wasn’t what I was expecting at all. I wasn’t what I was expecting.

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You Need To Be Able To Help Yourself, and Ask For the Help of Others

After struggling through school and dropping out of it twice as a result of my mental health, I realised that I didn’t want my college experience to be the same as every other previous experience: a total nightmare. I felt very alone with my feelings, everyone else seemed to be settling in fine, little cliques were forming here and there and I felt like I just didn’t fit it. I knew from past experience that suffering in silence was about the worst thing I could do, so I knew I had to take steps towards looking after my own mental health while I was here.

Not knowing my first port of call, I emailed the tutor of the class that ‘broke me’, told her my fears and she sent back a lovely email outlining what options she knew were available to possibly help me. I decided that one of my first missions was to introduce myself to every lecturer I had. I needed to make them aware of who I was, it would then make it so much easier to go to them if I felt I was struggling with something in a module, and it did! I then emailed the on-campus counselling service and set up regular sessions there which I found invaluable. I saw so many students using the drop-in centre during my times there, which was comforting in a way, as I felt I wasn’t alone in my struggles here.

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You Are Not Alone!

As the weeks went by there were ups and downs and I can honestly say it took me a full seven weeks before I felt like I was going to be able to get through college, and not only get through it, but actually enjoy my experience here. By talking to the lecturers I softened the harshness of academia that one can often be faced with. By engaging in the on-campus services it allowed me also to help fellow students who I found out had been having a similar experience and were too afraid to say anything.

 

Where I am now.

Now in my fourth year I can confidently say that college is one of the best times of your life. If you are willing to care enough about yourself to reach out for help, you can take away some of the worry and replace it with the time and space to find who you are, what you love, and what you are capable of. This is your life and even though you may feel alone, but here in UL the truth is … you definitely aren’t.

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Firstly, thank you to this student who submitted this. Secondly, we talk with students in the HUB regularly about connecting with the counselling drop in, so call in to us or send us a message online if you want more info about it.

Week 4 – Health and Wellbeing

2017 has been an exceptional year for the First Seven Weeks initiative so far and we’ve only 3 of the weeks completed. We are keeping the momentum going and have planned the biggest schedule of events, workshops, promotions, prizes, giveaways and competitions EVER in the 7 year history of the First Seven Weeks.

Here are 7 things that are happening this week.

 

1. You can win a bike! Or one of 2 UL Hoodies … and get a free watch!

It’s very, very simple. Come to the HUB between 8:30 a.m. and 5:30 p.m. this week and we have a very simple challenge. EVERYONE that has a go will get a First Seven Weeks sports watch, EVERYONE that has a go is entered into the draw to win a bike and the two best people at the challenge will win the hoodies.

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2. You can UL Arena membership and 5 UL Hoodies!

This is not as simple, but it’s lots of fun. It’s the annual First Seven Weeks Pedometer challenge. We launch it at 3:00 p.m. today in the HUB. There are only 60 places and 7 amazing winner prizes, and 13 runner up prizes so the odds are quite favorable.

What do I have to do? Download a step counting app in the HUB at 3:00 p.m. keep it on you for the rest of the week as you walk around. Post us a pic of your steps each night to social media. That’s it.

You don’t even have to be walking crazy amounts. Yes some people are highly competitive and will clock up insane steps, but once you are in the top 20 each day you are in the draw to win the prizes.

 

3. You can go to the Arena for FREE!

One of the best sporting facilities in Ireland if you haven’t visited there yet, today is the day to give it a go. Call into the HUB from 11.00 onward. We have hundreds of passes to give out over the week. You might want to try out the famous Total Body Workout class that featured on RTE’s “The Gym” documentary.

If you don’t what to go that far, have a pass to the pool. The National 50m Swimming Pool is Ireland’s first Olympic sized pool. Go for a swim, or if you don’t want to go that far… there’s a steam room and sauna.

 

4. You can attend a Cooking Demo!

Sign-up in the First Seven Weeks HUB. Places are limited.

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5. Touch some boobs and/or balls!

We have models provided by the nursing and midwifery Department to explain how to check your breasts or testicles for cancer… not as fun the heading suggests but on the flip side, potentially life saving information so … ya know.

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6. Wednesday: Tai Chi & Synthetic Drug Awareness

Transform your body with simple Tai Chi in the First Seven Weeks HUB with Nadine Buttery, Meditation Teacher. Learn a standalone Qi Gong practice in a half hour workshop. Take charge of your day, body & mind. No experience required. No special clothes needed. Just turn up!

Learn what synthetic drugs are, how they affect you, see the dangers as well as a demonstration surrounding quantities and doses by Synthetic Drug Awareness Campaigner, Nicole Ryan.

Tai Chi & Synthetic Drug Awareness talk

 

7. UL to City Centre Cycle

Get on your bike & cycle from the Main Plaza to the City Centre on Friday morning!

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7 ‘Must Have’ Things for a UL Fresher

UL Visitor Centre

Okay so to start with a little disclaimer, obviously the things you definitely “must have” simply include a pen and notepad to write stuff from your lectures down in, an alarm clock to get you there on time, a bit of hard work and enthusiasm too. However, there are some other things that if possible, we think you ‘must have’.

 

1. UL Hoodie

You are in UL now, and there is a very common saying around these parts “UL and Proud”, what better way to show you are proud of this fantastic University than to proudly wear its logo… we are just lucky that all the UL branded gear you can get in the visitor centre happens to look amazing as well. The biggest problem you will face is not trying to decide which style to get… it’s restraining yourself from buying one of each.

Seeing as we are sound though, we are actually giving away TEN of the UL Branded hoodies this week. To find out more visit our facebook page or twitter.

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2. The “Safe Cabs” Number – 061 336 336

The UL Students Union run an amazing service with the local taxi company ‘Plassey Cabs’.

Safe cabs is a service provided by the ULSU in conjunction with Plassey cabs. If you are stuck in town with no money and no way to get home, you can get a taxi from Plassey Cabs and pay the next day in the Students Union.

To use the Safecabs service you must:

  1. Sign up in the Students Union for the SafeCabs service.
  2. Call Plassey Cabs on 061 336 336 and say you are using the safecabs service
  3. Get a receipt and come in and pay the Students Union the next day.

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3. A Bicycle

Access to and around the University is easy on a bicycle. Cycling facilities outside and inside the campus have been constructed as a response to the recent increase in the numbers of cyclists travelling to the campus.

The University has won multiple awards for its cycling facilities and to learn more about them just watch this short video or click here.

Even though the First Seven Weeks Manager Tony owns a car he is one of the biggest advocates of cycling you will find.

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Even if it’s only for time saving reasons.

 

4. Snapchat

Look if you don’t have a smart phone that is grand, in fact once your phone has snake you are winning at life BUT if you do have a smartphone snapchat is where it is at.

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Apart from it being the no.1 way to connect with your new UL friends online there are also some amazing UL snapchat accounts to add, from the Students Union Wolfie account, the official UL snapchat to International education one (great for Irish students too) and completely unbiasedly we would conservatively say the best snapchat account ever, in the history of the world to follow is… ours ;).

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5. The ‘UL Buildings’ App

Look there are lots of very important apps you have on your phone, for some of the singletons it will be Tinder or Grindr, for those all loved up it might be Just-eat for the cozy nights in but for every UL student the ability to navigate the massive campus is important. That’s why they have an app for that. It’s unreal and it will get you from wherever you are to a UL building using #Science

Apple Version

Android Version

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6. Corny as it Sounds ‘A Willingness to Ask for Help’

This isn’t just UL freshers, or UL students it’s a thing everyone needs. It’s generally an amazing time, starting University, but that doesn’t mean you won’t need help. Every single person starting in UL will have questions, lots of them, and need lots of help at the start and that is what we are here for. Call into the HUB and let us take some weight off your shoulders and help you.

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7. Friends … Soz We Are Still Being Corny

No matter how smart you are, or how many apps you download, or how amazing your current friends are you will need to make new UL friends if you want to make the most of your experience.

We can’t make people want to be your friend no matter how cool you are, and believe us, we think you are the coolest. However what we can do is give you opportunities to meet people and let them realise how cool you are, and how much they need to be your friend.

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Hopefully your orientation tour will have started that, but during freshers week we have the big Thursday event to offer. The “Welcome Par-Tea” in the Millstream Common room from 7pm to 10pm. The perfect place to make new friends.

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7 Tips On Looking After Your Mental Health In College

The transition from secondary school to university is an exciting time but it can be quite daunting for some. It’s a big change, and settling in can take a while.  College is a time to find out who you are, to make friends, to explore and to learn. Moving away from home for the first time is a big step, which is why it’s so important to look after yourself and most importantly, your mental health.

1. Party, But Not Too Hard …

Having spent the majority of your life so far having a routine and having things done for you, it can be quite hard to get a grip on having so many responsibilities. Yep, you’re an adult now! You’ve got to pay bills, wash your own things, study – willingly, ensure you go to your class, and make time for socialising!

It’s totally normal to let your hair down when you’re finally set free to come and go as you please, but going out every night and drinking excessive amounts of alcohol will take its toll! You start missing lectures for that extra hour of sleep in the morning, and you leave your assignment off tonight to hit the tiles instead, before you know it you’re two weeks behind and end up trying to cram everything last minute!

This can have a serious impact on your mental health – you’re overtired, stressed, and beginning to panic. You’re anxious about failing and worrying that you won’t get stuff done on time. I’ve been there one too many times to know the feeling!

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2. … So My Advice Is This – Find A Balance!

College really is the best four years of your life, that’s why it’s so important to find a balance between work and fun! If you’re overtired, you may find it hard to concentrate in lectures; try to ensure you get enough sleep at night. So when it comes to doing assignments, you’ll be well prepared!

Set aside time for study, perhaps an hour or two in the evening to get your work done, and then you’ve the whole night to meet your friends or hit the gym.

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3. It’s Totally Normal To Feel A Bit Lonely …

Students can feel quite under pressure for the first seven weeks of the semester – trying to settle in, make friends, concentrating in lectures, finding their way around, and being away from home. It’s easy to feel a little bit lost. It’s totally normal to feel a bit lonely.

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(And yep, you guessed it, that’s Macauley Culkin, the kid from Home Alone!)

4. … But You Totally Need Your Crew

Group work always helps when it comes to making friends, you have the opportunity to chat to others in your course and work together outside of class hours. Even if you’re struggling with a topic in class, don’t be afraid to ask a peer for help. You could grab some lunch and go over notes after class. Clubs and societies are also a great way to make friends and get to know people with similar interests to you! The campus may be HUGE but there are 100’s of people in the same boat as you!

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5. Just Be Yourself

It’s vital that you put yourself and your health first while at college. Do not feel pressured to ‘fit in’ and do what everyone else is doing. If you’re not a big drinker, don’t feel pressured into keeping up with everyone else. And please don’t feel like you have to go out four nights a week, not to look like a total looser! If that leaves you feeling left out, find something else you can do that you enjoy. They’re plenty of events on campus every evening to get involved in.

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6. Speak Out To People Who Will Listen

A word of advice – it’s so important to make friends with people you feel can you talk to! If it’s all a bit much and you find yourself slacking behind – there are people who can help. After all, it is such a huge change from doing math problems for homework, to doing a 2,000 word essay in MLA style.

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7. Speak To Yourself Too, But Maybe Not Out Loud …

Be aware of your feelings and emotions, if you find yourself constantly worrying, ask yourself why? Are you worried about doing a certain assignment? Are you worried about money? Are you worried about skipping class? Trying to address these things before they become a bigger problem can be quite hard, but it’s not healthy to just ignore them and push it to the back of your mind.

One or two skipped classes can quickly turn into not going at all.  The thoughts of eating alone for the third time this week could cripple you with anxiety, so you chose to stay at home. Trying to concentrate on reading notes you can’t even understand is making your heart race. I found myself making excuses, blaming the lecturer for being boring, or the module for being too hard. What I didn’t realise, was that I was going completely into myself, hiding in my own little bubble. I was convincing myself I could work from home and still manage to pass everything. Who was I kidding?

I reached out to a lecturer, who I always thought was very friendly, and she recommended I see the counselling service on campus. “Just explain that you feel under pressure”, she said, understandingly. That didn’t seem too hard. Taking the step to talk to someone was the hard part, but little did I know just how many other people were in the same boat as me!

Vinny JS

Why was I hiding this the whole time as if I should be ashamed of it? There are tonnes of students who struggle with so many different aspects of college life. Be that exams and stress, to depression or alcohol abuse. The counselling service has met people from all walks of life, with all kinds of stories.

Whether it’s your friends, your family, a tutor or a counsellor you talk to, it is so important to talk. The campus might seem like a big place, but it’s important to remember there are a lot of people, just like you. Don’t be afraid to ask for help.

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