I’m still getting my head around the fact that I’m on my Summer holidays now, and that I’ve finished my second year of college- I’m halfway through my course! If college life has taught me anything it really is that time flies.
Last year, before I came back to Limerick to start my second year I set myself some goals. For the most part, I am actually proud of how I’ve come along with these goals. There’s definitely room for improvement (when isn’t there?) but I think I’ve made a solid attempt at them all!
For my first year I lived in student digs (lodged in someone’s house), out of the two I had been looking at, I chose the one that would be hosting a second student, and so when the end of first year came around, Ruth and I were set on remaining housemates, but wanted to leave the nest we had made, and wanted to move into a proper student house. My digs experience was a very positive one, but realistically speaking I didn’t want to be there for my whole college experience.
We were running out of luck when we finally managed to find a house that was being renovated into student accommodation. We were promised the house would be ready by September, however, in true misfortune, this was far from the truth and we didn’t move into the house until the end of September. We made lots of memories there, so there was a lot of good to replace the bitter taste we had at first!
I applied for a steward job with ULSU Ents before the academic year started, and was quite happy to have got a position. The job is very sporadic in terms of when I work, as it’s only at the events held in UL, such as Freshers Week, RAG Week, and any other events that they may run throughout the year but it’s still a handy type of job and some extra pocket money here and there.
Fresher’s Week is the first week of college, and essentially a week of going out and ‘settling in’. As UL had their own events on campus, I worked at the events they held in association with ULSU Ents. The work wasn’t the most strenuous. Both nights I was on the tickets and wristbanding, which wasn’t the worst spot in the world! Plus, I got to see the acts myself- who can complain about a bit of good music? Tuesday saw John Gibbons headlining the night, and Wednesday was Blonde, both two fantastic acts!
I got the chance to work at Sean Kingston who played a Halloween show in the courtyard. It was quite a big event with Chasing Abbey, and Welshy also playing along with a few more local DJs.
Along with working with ULSU Ents for Freshers I also was a Week 1 Guide for the First 7 Weeks, so it was essentially a very busy week, with back to back shifts a few of the days with the F7W, but it was good. Plus, I got to meet new people as a Week One Guide, so was already achieving goals!
Another goal of mine was to do some volunteering in my 2nd year. In first year I had been contributing to An Focal and was on the committee of the boxing club, which were all seen as volunteering. I would’ve done these anyway, so wanted to do something extra. I signed up to be a UL Buddy and was assigned three Erasmus students. I really hit it off with one in particular, a German girl, and we met quite regularly for a coffee before class.
In the first opening weeks of 2nd year, I signed up for an opportunity to be a student rep for Habitat, a nightclub in Limerick. It was cool at first. In a nutshell I had to get my friends to go into Habitat, they got to get in at a discounted price. The student reps were invited into the VIP Section, which was a cool experience! It was a good experience while it lasted. that’s for sure!
There were many course meetings for Erasmus and our Work Placement which were both happening in 2018! As we were pretty much off campus for second semester for the year, both had to be sorted within the first semester.
Eimear and I had been on about how it would be ‘brilliant if we could get the same Erasmus’, and ‘Oh if only we were allowed go to the same place’, and then it was confirmed at the first meeting, that it was perfectly acceptable for students to go together or in groups. So away we went! I had always had my heart set on Amsterdam. It’s my number one travel bucket list destination. Initially, we put Amsterdam as number one, and then put Budapest as second. We were stuck for a third (we had to give three choices in rating!) but then settled on Prague in the Czech Republic.
After further looking we noticed that Budapest was cheaper than Amsterdam for cost of living so switched them around, and left Prague as our third option.
We made two attempts to go into the Erasmus office to drop our applications off before we went in- third time lucky, and all that! Eventually, we found time in our timetable to pop in, knowing we could be queuing awhile. When we went up we mentioned that we were going together, so the office would know that they needed two places in the host university, and not just one.
The lady at the desk had a worried look on her face, “Yeah, your first and second option are both gone, unfortunately.” We were disappointed, thinking we would have to go back to the drawing board, “But Prague is still there if you’re interested.”
It was pretty much confirmed there and then, that we were going to be studying in Prague, and we couldn’t have been more excited! As I said, we had tried to go to the office twice prior, and I really feel like we were best going together when we had, or things would be different.
Within the same week I had my first interview for my work placement for my second semester. The interview was with I Love Limerick in Limerick City, and a few days after the interview I received an email to tell me I had been offered a job with them! On top of that, a week or two later Eimear got offered a place there too.
Limerick Mental Health Week took place from October 9- 13, and I was delighted to be able to do some social media for Limerick Mental Health Association. The few days were quite eye-opening and showed me how important awareness to mental health is. The welfare officer in UL organized a remembrance walk to be held in UL on World Mental Health Day, and Eimear and I did the walk, as we figured it was the perfect type of event to cover. It was a lovely walk, and at the end, everyone got lanterns to light and lined them up around the fountain by the Kemmy Business School. UL did quite a bit during the week also and brought Bressie down for a talk about his mental health journey. I bought and read his book Me and My Friend Jeffrey so was very keen to go. As far as I know, he does pretty much the same talk for all the talks he does, so if anyone ever has the opportunity to see him I would definitely recommend to do so! If I get another opportunity I’ll definitely be going again!
For my first semester of second year, I took on 5 modules; Media Law, Introduction to Literary Theory, Introduction to Technical Communications, Research Methods in Languages, Literature & Cultural Studies and Sensibility & Romanticism. They took up the same form as my modules last semester; two hours of lectures a week and one hour for a tutorial a week.
Media Law was one of my favourites! I wasn’t great at it but I found it very interesting all the same! Media Law was the only module I had an exam at the end of the semester for- the rest were continuous assessment. All in all, I passed all my exams so was happy out!
As I’ve said multiple times before, my second semester of second year was a semester on work placement at I Love Limerick. I recently posted my reflection and what I learned in the 6 months so be sure to check that out here.
I tried very hard to keep in the loop with the goings on around college and tried my best to contribute to An Focal. I was the News editor for awhile, but realized I wasn’t able to do the job properly at the time, as I didn’t know the news around UL, and it was very difficult trying to make the meetings week in, week out. Hopefully next year I’ll get another opportunity.
I joined the gym for the semester in first semester, and decided to renew my membership for the second semester. I had just been using the treadmill for a 20-minute run all along, but went with Eimear and Ryan a few times and soon realized there was a lot more to the gym than the treadmill and found it was all really enjoyable!
One thing I managed to keep a hold of was keeping up with the boxing, and the boxing club in UL. In January, I had my club championships, and in March there were the college Intervarsities. I won my semi-final and lost my final. I was heartbroken, but there’ll be no doubt I’ll be back next year. It was a great bonding experience, and it was great to see that UL brought 14 boxers of all levels of experience to Dublin for the championships! I’m sad to think that I won’t be with the club from September until December, but I’m already looking forward until the Intervarsities in second semester.
February was a low month for blogging, but very busy with my placement at I Love Limerick! I also got a bit of socializing done, however! At the start of the month, I went to a mock-up of Take Me Out at the Library, which was great craic! Take Me Out is a massive guilty pleasure of mine so it was fun to witness a parody version! One of my friends from Cork came to see me in Limerick for Valentine’s Day, and we went to see Basshunter at Habitat- my 13 or 14-year-old self would have died!
RAG/Charity came and gone, and it was fun! The Riptide Movement played in UL, so it was again, very cool to get the opportunity to work at that event. Tom Zanetti was set to play the Wednesday or RAG Week, but there was awful weather around that time, and the gig had to be cancelled. I am a massive fan of Tom Zanetti so was very disappointed this time ‘round.
March was my birthday month! Richard took us out for a birthday lunch, and as my birthday fell on a Tuesday, my friends and I figured the Stables was the best option, for Techno Tuesday, and €3 pints of Fosters!
March was also a big month in terms of the Belfast Rape Trial, on March 29 there was a lot of movements around the country for the girl in question. There was an ‘I Believe Her’ rally in Bedford Row, Limerick, it was very emotional with some guest speakers, and the sheer unity of everyone that came to stand up for the young lady.
Student Race Day was in April, and we got the day off! This year I got the tickets when they went on sale and wasn’t frantically looking for an affordable one come the week before! It was a great day- the weather was fab which always impacts massively! I also finally got my braces off on April 23!
In the height of a very busy May, we all had housing difficulties as our contracts were almost up, but we still had near to two months in Limerick with our placements left! It was really touch and go for a while, because a lot of landlords/landladies don’t rent out during Summer, not to mind for half of Summer! Alas, we found a lovely landlady that wasn’t intending to rent out, but decided for a few weeks it wouldn’t hurt!
I also voted for the very first time at the end of May, and I’ve already said I’m absolutely delighted that my first vote was for something so important, and something I feel so strongly about. I’m very proud that abortion was passed in Ireland.
My placement at I Love Limerick finished on July 13. For our last day, we met up with Cora for her 21st birthday (which was two days previous!) and went to the Jasmine Palace for lunch. We went out to 101 that night, which was an amazing night, and a lovely end of the semester night out with my best friends! We all got tattoos, which was a nice bonding experience!
I believed I had made countless memories in first year of college, but that isn’t a patch on the opportunities and memories I’ve made for myself this year and all that I’ve achieved in second year! I really feel like I’ve become even more independent, I joined the gym- and loved it! I’ve become closer to my friends, and made even more friends!