The final year files: September

The final year files: September

Welcome back – a mostly positive term we hear sometimes whether we want to or not, on entering a new (and this being final in title) year of college.

From what I’ve seen it has been met with mixed reaction. Some delighted to be back on familiar ground, leaving their eramus adventure as a wonderful memory to look back on, and others have slowly but surely come around to the idea of this being our last year in college together.

There has been a huge sense of “back to reality” present within the past weeks. From sitting together once again socialising as normal, finding the ideal spot in lectures as a must and trying desperately to recognise a familiar face in the crowded halls. Whether this be someone you particularly want to see or otherwise.

It has been quite the challenge, something a little different to previous years – probably influenced by our ever changing level of maturity in coming to the end of the road with college years. There’s a sense of pressure that we must know and be sure of what we’re doing with our lives, before we even attempt to get through this challenging last year, it’s worth 70% of the degree did you know? (As if we all didn’t have that ingrained enough).

Last week, we attended a careers talk on where our degree could take us and what’ll become of us after we escape the enclosing college walls. It made me appreciate the safety of college, of familiarity in a way. But to be honest, I feel more unsure now than ever before on what I might do. Masters are daunting but doable potentially, but wouldn’t it be amazing to get a scholarship for a PhD – I mean, that’s something I really need in my life right now at 21. Who knows for sure what the right path is, but be sure to decide immediately.. no pressure.

In some ways it was the opposite, these weeks have felt like first year again, or some in-between uncomfortable area within getting back into the swing of things in terms of academia and the exceptions within that. Sitting in the library, having not been there for seven months in total – it felt like I had never left. This year I also decided to move back closer to where my student accommodation was in first year. Maybe this was in a sense a weird way of stepping back in time. Also since we have entered back into a year that contains more 3rd years than ourselves as 4th years, there’s some strange faces about in lecture halls we are unfamiliar with, which is just the nature of our course.

But honestly I think this sense of going back to reality came from the sheer amount of freedom the last year presented, the majority of us included. For myself it was my various placements to independent work outside of college, this never really held a set classroom setting. So this year it’s like being dragged back kicking and screaming, for the most part anyway.

I found there was no time to find your feet within the first weeks, only now have we settled as we approach week 4 at high speed (with four sort of important essays to complete in the next two weeks). With books to buy and read quickly, friends to see and catch up with as well as a gym to join and get bearings with (yes I did that), it’s been busy to say the least.

The rain pouring constantly really brought the whole complaint of “summertime is over” to a bitter reality. But we got through it. Moving into a new home with an old friend, classmate and housemate, along with new housemates brought about a feeling in that little sense of difference in that fact that it’s the last time for now that we’ll be moving in together for college.

But we let all the emotional stuff fade and got focused on the books straight away (for the most part). Even though I actually feel more on top of things for once, for some reason, the final year hill seems higher and taller and further away than ever before. I thought chipping away at the mountain would be a good strategy, but now it feels like smashing your whole self straight into the mountain would be a better option.

I have found some joy though in planning breaks, of times when college will be put to the back of the mind. These things to look forward to play a huge role, and honestly push us to do well in order to reap the rewards guilt free. A simple one, I’ve limited myself to only watching TV on weekends and I spend each night (about an hour or so) reading before bed (admittedly something to do with college) but at least it’s done in comfy pj’s with the fairy lights on – pretty blissful if you ask me.

Now I’m sure some of you reading this think this life I’m living is so boring compared to the “mad” times college is supposed to be. Sure, you can choose to go wild, skip lectures and drink coffees or other beverages on an off day – but these days catch up on you. Pretty easily actually, and become more than you thought they were – instead of simply going out one night for a few – that turns into a day in bed, and what does that involve? Two missed study opportunities and will have to be found again in a limited time. Not something you want every week to be.

So avoid the hassle. Final year is a bit of a beast, but let’s hope we are all going to be on level with that beast fairly soon, prepared to take on whatever might try knock us. Final year is also something I don’t plan on doing twice, so I’m going to try get the most out of it.

So as September nears its end, final year seems to be fully in motion and going forward, I intend to battle the beast and attack the mountain with various tools at my disposal. Hope you’ll stick around to see exactly how that goes down!

Until next time, fyf.

All images are taken from my personal instagram: https://www.instagram.com/cathyleex/

 

 

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Irish Blog Awards 2017 finalist!

Irish Blog Awards 2017 finalist!

So I couldn’t believe my luck this week, when I received a lovely email to let me know that I had made it as a finalist in the Irish Blog Awards this year in the politics and current affairs personal blog category.  It was amazing to see this blog listed alongside seven other pretty impressive blogs with their takes on topical issues, holding stances set on history to homelessness.

Last year being shortlisted within this section of the national awards gave me a huge buzz to keep on blogging and this next step has for sure encouraged me even further. So, looking to the future – I hope to play out my role and really feel that this place among my blogging peers is deserved!

This weekend will see the first installment of “The Final Year Files” and following this, I’ll be getting pretty political on the ground in the coming days as well as attending the blog awards themselves (eek!) – so keep your eyes right here.

As always, thanks so much for keeping up with this blog and engaging with the posts. Very excited to keep it going and growing!

Blogging update

Blogging update

Happy September readers and fellow bloggers!

I hope you’ve had a pleasant summer. I hope that you got to read, write and explore your surroundings as much as possible, with maybe even a hint of sunshine along the way.

Just a little update regarding this blog.

I found out last week that one of my posts 21 blog posts series find fifteen has been long-listed for the current V by Very Blog Awards Ireland 2017 competition in the personal category of “Best Blog Post” which you can check out here: https://blogawardsireland.secure-platform.com/a/gallery/rounds/76/details/21928

I’m so happy to be placed in this very exciting section of the competition, among some strong contenders!

Also to say, that on Monday coming (Very sharply coming I might add) I begin my last year of college at NUI Galway. I’m sure this will hit me like a tonne of bricks but all the same, I plan to document it somewhat by posting about it monthly in longer posts I will collect together as “The Final Year Files“.

Really looking forward to getting started on it and I hope there will be many happy reports per post.

Thanks so much for the 2,000+ hits on this blog, honestly amazing – and a sincere best of luck to all who have entered and been long-listed within this years rendition of the Irish Blog Awards.

Talk soon,

Cathy

Caca Dana Review: “All the World’s A Cage” – By Niamh Ryan

Caca Dana Review: “All the World’s A Cage” – By Niamh Ryan

By Cathy Lee

The brilliant “All The World’s A Cage” engages and grips an audience from the beginning. On entering the small secluded dimly lit made-to-do theatre at “The Teachers Club” Dublin 1, the actors we had not yet been introduced to were already present on the background of the stage. This set a relaxed sort of mood into the air as the stage was at ground level, we relaxed into the comfortable couch-like audience seats and all I could experience was the feeling of curiosity the entertainment to come, and I wasn’t to be disappointed by this expectation! I would wholeheartedly describe this play as another success for the fantastic playwright and star Niamh Ryan, who plays “Jill”.

The very limited stage space was essential and fitting for the story. This one room setting exposed the character of the lives that the three young women held together, tightly bound in a not exactly cluttered scenario but one of great importance we are to learn to each of them, particularly “Tina” – played by Marie Hegarty. We discover each of these young women, graduated from college in Galway in their early 20s, as we watch the hilarious lack of interaction unfold between the ladies and the driven TV License inspector. We later discover that maybe indeed that this authoritarian figure isn’t the only one of his kind in their lives. Be it boyfriends, co-workers or closed-minded directors – these young women are really up against it.

The placement of individual striking lines in the play were exceptional for me as they were very captivating and allowed me to further my belief in the talents of Niamh Ryan as a script writer. Most of the comedy was physical at the beginning of the play, from yoga fitness moves of “Jill” to exaggerated facial expressions of “Amy” and the improper placement of some lemons and limes. But as the themes of feminism and power in the play further, lines from Tina and of course Jill, played by Niamh Ryan were hard hitting and to the point.

I found the characters to be strong with each possessing a distinct individuality and their own world view, strongly expressed at differing points in the play. Niamh Ryan as “Jill” and Katie Reid as “Amy” were headstrong and often outrageous bringing in heavily the humour and dominance into the scenes but I feel too that “Tina” played a distinct role in balancing out the possibly deeper strength of characters in the acting of Niamh Ryan and Katie Reid.

The play addressed a form of modern day millennial message or struggle and a strong feminine message which broke down barriers of fear in that of being a woman, the restrictions and draw backs found that we see existing here as the story unfolds. Through strong will and true togetherness in friendship, the girls overcome their challenges and the energy within the play can be felt, through the honesty of humour and the true sense of belief in one another as women and as good friends.

Although the play only held one setting due to the limited stage space available, the actors made this work through their use of physical space to depict time passing and also the excellent use of selective lighting present was visually important. Props were used to a good affect, from the weapons to the couch – which both united and separated the girls at different stages. I think this also added some colour to the play in a different way than the strong comedy did, as sometimes the atmosphere was dreary as the sense of hopelessness became present for the characters at their current and somewhat fixed reality.

Niamh Ryan is clearly a multi-talented young woman, with excellent script writing skills and is a capable actress herself included. Having seen another Caca Dana production “Eternal Youth” before,” All The World’s A Cage” showed me a new side to the writing of Niamh Ryan and I think her talents are very diverse with the potential for a vast future to explore, which audiences of all kinds should enjoy.

I wish the team at Caca Dana Theatre company all the best for their ventures stateside and I look forward to their future productions, wherever they may be. You can check out their website here for further information: https://www.cdtheatreco.com/

21 blog posts series take twenty one

21 blog posts series take twenty one

Twenty-one: “The final, the future”

So as we draw this blog series to a close together, we come to the number that represents the age I am now. I think birthdays remind us that we’re equal, being celebrated for being born and growing older. Nobody can take your birthday away from you, no matter what age you are. So as we draw the curtain on this series, which I hope you enjoyed or got something out of, I’d like to make this post about the future. I see the future as something positive, with the sense of unknown possibilities to come.

Now this wasn’t always the case for me. I spent my secondary school life waiting and dreading the Leaving Certificate and often I thought about the hassle of final year when I began studying in college. It’s because we know we’ve to face challenges in our future and in the present time, we may not feel ready and so that creates a sense of fear. A good few friends of mine are in final year, preparing for exams and ultimately finishing their undergraduate degrees and for some, being finished with college forever.

Should that create a sense of panic? I guess it depends on how you look at it. But in so many ways, the future is inevitable and really being scared about it proves little purpose. Change is unavoidable and it’s really up to us whether or not we change with the times. But honestly, we probably aren’t being very fair to the idea of progress if we don’t at least try along the way. I’m excited for the future to see how much the world will change in my life time and how I’ll react to that change.

It’s amazing to think of what the future might bring about. Whether that be new friends and family members, relationships, break-ups, jobs, joys and challenges – all aspects that make up a life. I think a weight is lifted once you decide to accept life’s positives and negatives simply as they are. Blame the universe or God or whoever you want, even yourself if there’s an element of fault there but that acceptance of life happening without your complete control is often a hard lesson to learn but one we all must face up to.

The future is ever changing and honestly, exciting enough. All these blog posts I’ve done covering pretty varying topics, I hope will stand the test of time and be carried on into the future. Life doesn’t really change overnight a lot of the time and often we’re too wrapped up our own things to notice the future happening. Age for the most part brings wisdom and we must remember that we are setting examples for the generations to come, whether this be close relatives or even work colleagues – we all have a part to play in this.

I don’t think age matters when it comes to having an independent thought or opinion, having an “established voice” in order to be right about something. That’s not always the case and young people should be encouraged to speak out, with importance placed on their confidence and ability to speak their minds without being deemed “cheeky” or ill mannered. We’re all being educated well and I’d like to think we can form a thought or two, and shouldn’t be afraid to voice it when we have it.

So thinking to a future without fear, may you: reflect, appreciate the ability to travel, attend the events that mean something to you, avoid the pitfalls in relationships, value and appreciate individual friends, understand that loss happens and plays a role, appreciate the lessons of history, know the curse of social media, not apologise for your preferences, learn from mentors and appreciate wisdom, manage your money, respect the responsibility nature demands, appreciate sport and athleticism, question in order to understand politics, be kind to your body and yourself, find common ground within family, recognise change in journalism, know and trust the power of your own voice, expect the unexpected, be welcoming to refugees and finally – understand that the future is not something to be afraid of.

(And if you realised that they are all the titles of these blog posts, well done – I now declare you’re a fan).

All images used are from my personal Instagram: http://www.instagram.com/cathyleex/

21 blog posts series know nineteen

21 blog posts series know nineteen

Nineteen: “Expecting the unexpected”

Now not to steal a line from the RSA, but not only does driving involve expecting the unexpected, in life we should remind ourselves to try and maintain that same mentality. We don’t know what might happen tomorrow or next month and so on, the unexpected is never too far away. Does that mean that we live in fear and refuse to go outside the door? I’d like to hope not. The unexpected occurrence doesn’t necessarily have to be negative, but for the most part – it can mean something that’ll change your lifestyle or how things were before this vital change of events.

Whatever your opinion is on fate or things happening for a reason, it’s impossible really to have complete control over what is going to happen in our lives. Not to scare the control freaks out there, but this is very true. You don’t know who you might meet, what you might see and what could stay with you in the form of a lasting memory or something having a lasting affect. I think these things often can give us an opportunity to reflect as well, which shouldn’t be knocked as I’ve said before somewhere.. (https://cathyinconversation.wordpress.com/2017/03/21/the-first-of-21-blog-posts/).

What I can say is that life is going to shock you and leave you feeling a little insecure at times. But often, it’s a form of a test, if you want to look at it that way. Can you overcome a challenge, big or small or will you crumble in defeat before it? I think both reactions are respectable and understandable and it’s about having the support around you when these things happen in order to tackle the challenge knowing that you’re not alone. I don’t think that life waits for anyone and it’s up to us to keep up and keep going, constantly.

The unexpected things also teach us not to take things for granted in terms of the way they are simply. This is true of people as well. When someone falls ill unexpectedly, it’s really up to those close by to pick up the pieces and really play their role in the time of need. When someone of any age falls ill mentally, physically or even discovers a disease or disability – this presents a new changing challenge for the person and those around them. It means we all pull our weight a bit more to help and that we get on with it, living in hope that together it can something to overcome.

I think that this brings about something that’s universally understood: that this sort of unfairness that happens to people can happen to anyone. This challenges your sense of humanity and I think that’s when your humanity is challenged, in terms of whether you help or whether you turn your back to the reality someone else is facing, this is the real test of who you are. Our impressions of how people react to these situations also helps us to understand people at their core, individually. We don’t know how we’ll be in that sort of situation until we face it head on. I know it’s not something we desire to be in, but the reality is that we will have to face it in some shape or form.

These challenges change us and shape us and although often difficult, they should be embraced in some way, I suppose even in a process of reflection. I would recommend, holding on to your values as much as possible throughout these times. Whether it’s a loss or a gain you encounter, you must prove to yourself that one incident isn’t going to change who you are and what you value forever. Possibly easier said than done, but over time can be something to accept.

All photos are taken from my personal Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/cathyleex/

21 blog posts series ease eighteen

21 blog posts series ease eighteen

Eighteen: “Knowing and trusting the power of your own voice”

I’ve come to learn that having your own individuality, being proud of it and embracing it for what it is, is something of great importance. This comes in to your likes and dislikes as far as your political views and lifestyle choices. I think if we can master how to delve in and out of trends new or old that suit us, that keeps your own individual originality intact. Maybe and hopefully by doing this we can be truly happy and comfortable in our own skin.

What can stand in the way of this is simply: fear. Fear of not fitting in or even fear of those around you disagreeing or putting you down. But I will say that overcoming this fear is something so totally freeing and worthwhile that it’s worth the (possible) hassle you might face. It takes time for people to be comfortable with change but that’s helped by a little reasoning and sometimes even persuasion. If you’ve a view or opinion that can be well backed up in the form of fact and true belief from your own perspective, I think that you can fight it on any battle field.

There’s nothing worse than knowing you’re right on something or having a good idea but not having that belief there from the people around you. The convincing part of this can be a challenge but honestly, it just takes a bit of bravery and commitment in not giving up on yourself and really testing your belief in order to get it off the ground. I agree with the idea that there’s no one size fits all idea in terms of how our world should be, how politics should work, economics and even how religion fits in. But certain things that make sense for the progress of the world all the way from the richest to poorest, should be sought out. This being done by the power of the voice of individuals.

The ideas I have in mind are that of equality and feminism. Call me biased, but I don’t understand why in a democratic society we wouldn’t want to aim towards this goal? How somebody could vote in favour of the “yes equality” campaign and not support feminism, boggles me. Feminism is about equality between genders, aiming for a fairer society in which we all live. Although in its roots, the main writers on feminism were women – I believe currently that feminism has undergone and is being embraced by both men and women. (Maybe it could do with a name change to prevent confusion, but that’s another debate altogether).

What I’ve always believed when it comes to views is that you shouldn’t push them on people in terms of forcing a view onto someone. Make an argument, state your case but at the end be willing to accept that others may not agree but they should respect your idea and give you that chance to voice it. What I particularly dislike are those who take the form of a so called “keyboard warrior” who are all for one view and simply block out opposing views. These people are shutting their eyes to the world as much as those who they claim to against, making them in some of way of it: no better.

So what I would say and encourage everyone to do to counteract that fear of being opposed to is to express yourself. Whether it be through writing, getting involved in political campaigns, taking photographs or even just following things on social media – don’t be afraid to admit that you’re part of something because trust me you are not alone. Communities based on politics or political views are growing and we shouldn’t live in fear of saying who we are affiliated with, because if we truly believe in our views and opinions – they shouldn’t be something hidden.