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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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 know nine

21 blog posts series know nine

Nine: “Don’t apologise for your preferences”

This week NUI Galway held their annual societies awards ball. This is the first year of being on college that I didn’t have the pleasure of attending the event alongside friends that I’ve made and met through societies. Although I was a little saddened by this fact, it gave me the opportunity to reflect on what being in a society meant to me and the difference it made to those first two years in college. I realised how different things would be if I hadn’t have given my time to it in that way.

First of all, societies are wonderful things. Sure, they are known to involve heavy commitment which can be a challenge at times during college, but it being something that you love, it shouldn’t feel in any way like a chore. Societies in their essence should be inviting, welcoming and open to those who wish to be involved. This comes particularly true for first year students or those on Erasmus or an international study abroad, trying to find their feet in college through the platform of societies.

Truly, societies within their structure and place in college show us that nobody should apologise for their particular preference, no matter how mainstream or very particular it is. NUI Galway welcomes new societies each year and often they’re something completely different to the 100+ that exist already. From my experience, societies open doors and pathways to new friendships that you probably never imagined.

As I write this, in Dublin this evening, the national inter-varsity student poetry slam is taking place in NCAD. When I came to college, I had written a few poems and mostly they had never gone further than a drawer in my bedroom. It was only when I came to college that I realised I wasn’t alone in the solitary act of writing. Skip forward some time, I was competing in this national poetry slam which was something entirely new to me with an original poem of my own. (I link here for those interested: https://cathyinconversation.wordpress.com/2016/07/28/a-political-poem/).

These niche interest we  might have can often go under the radar during secondary school times which can be a shame. But I think for the most part college brings with it a new confidence and sense of freedom that can be enriched through taking part in societies. Whether it be dance, drama, anime, film, debating, fashion – these are unique interests that can really come to life and be celebrated during the college years and I don’t think these interests are too likely to fade after the gown and cap are given back.

I don’t think we need to justify to ourselves or anybody else why we have the interests we do and why we give it our time, it’s simply just something we do as an all important form of self expression. I can give dozens of reasons why being involved in societies was good for me from the friends I made to the unique events we ran together and the new connections even outside of college that were made.

But it’s more important to say to those who aren’t involved in societies in college, I can put my hand on my heart and say that you are missing out. Even if you only start by going to the odd college event, it’s important to challenge yourself to get somewhat out of your comfort zone or college dorm. There’s so much happening and it’s easy to see the hard work that each society is putting in in order to make sure something good is up and running for students to take part in. So seriously, the next time the weekly email comes in telling you what’s happening in the world of societies this week, don’t place it in the trash or skip on – give it the glance and a half it deserves. You could pleasantly surprise yourself.

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

Library Looks

6 hours until the deadline

600 words down

6 times you have told yourself

“You’ll never live this down”

 

A coffee break,

an escape,

From the enclosure that never closes

 

The land of books

and dirty looks

As you scramble to take your place

 

Among the scholars,

far and wide

The various range of areas.

 

You can spot the ones that don’t fit in.

 

And so you escape for coffee.

Tag

I’m caught see, it’s not me.

This isn’t,

why do I have this feeling of need and necessity when your presence is with me?

Let it be. No I can’t

 

Frantic, I must escape from you

‘Get out before you get hurt’
I wish I could forget and move forward but I’m being dragged.

You’re the centre that pulls, without consent

my heart my head and my soul

This dept I feel for you cannot be real, how is that?
This frustration is untold, I hide it well
.

See I’ve never yet fell,

and I plan to remain in the cell I’ve become accustomed to.

 

You’re all that I want, everyone and everything else is a different scale
This is a sorry old tale, ancient and dated this

It’s not supposed to happen to me,

I’m the next generation where we remove the uncomfortable things.

Why think of the impossible, does it make it any more possible?
Why. Why do you hang over me,

the deep swirling colour of your eyes or the slick skill of your hair or the broadness of back and side and form.
Why do I notice this?

It’s like a reflection of soul.

 

I see me, I see you.

You’re perfect, you’re it

I’m not.

A Message amidst madness series: Taking Alternative routes.

By Cathy Lee

Have you ever stopped to ask yourself why you choose one way rather than the other? Let’s take for example, your walk to college or walk or your system of commute.

Can you remember the first time you went that way, and why you did?

Did it stand out to you or present you with something good? Did it lure you in?

Think now about how much of an impact this has had on you now. It is now part of your regular routine, you must spend the majority of your days on this route.

It has become part of your life.

I believe politics to be the same.

There was a general election in Ireland just recently on February 26th  2016.

National media described it as a “very different” election and in turn will create a very diverse Dail.

But why is it different?

You may have seen the hashtag ‘ge16’ on Twitter (it even had a little Irish flag automatically attached

For me it meant travelling back to my home town of Wicklow, over 200km from where I’m living currently to attend college.

I know from those I met at the polling station that much more also travelled home to cast their vote and valued having their views counted.

I think for once I was proud of my hometown simply because the people were willing to branch out and away from the FF/FG politics.

This was not the case for the nation as a whole.

Wicklow saw over half of the people gave their first preference to neither Fianna Fail nor Fine Gael.

In Wicklow Stephen Donnelly was elected on first count when he soared over the quota. He was elected in 2011 as an Independent candidate and just this year he co-formed a new party, the Social Democrats.

I was overwhelmed to see this as it really surprised me the courage that my constituency took to try new paths.

Now this doesn’t mean that the Fine Gael or Fianna Fail didn’t make the cut, they did too.

But it’s the one that tops polls that sticks in the mind and captures the coverage.

I was talking to a Galway woman about it who remarked that Wicklow did “something weird didn’t they?”

I chuckled when she said this, also mentioning that Galway East were the same with an Independent Alliance candidate topping polls.

Honestly, I’m happy to be classed with the weirdos if it means some actual change.

Why can’t we give the alternatives a chance to change the curve?

I don’t see how it doesn’t worry everyone that ever since the foundation of the state, it’s only ever been a majority led Dail government of Fianna Fail or Fine Gael.

I study journalism and politics in college so as you may have guessed that I was interested. I had been speaking prior to the elections to many media-types and political analysists, ever since about October.

I think it was only a very few who thought Fianna Fail would make such a comeback.

Looking back to the leaving certificate, after studying Shakespeare’s tragedy Macbeth I learned not to trust predictions.

I think that lesson could be seen again here as the count results came flooding in quite random order over the days following the election.

I woke up on Saturday morning and my dad left for work saying “it looks like Fianna Fail” are coming up.

I slipped back into the pillow and picked up my phone to check Twitter immediately.

I checked my sources which were an article on the journal.ie, independent.ie.. it was all true.

I checked Facebook. Saw a friend’s status claiming that those who had voted Fianna Fail had done an injustice to the nation.

I couldn’t make sense of it. After some thought, I came up with this.

In my mind, this election for some presented this:

“I don’t like the current government. What options do I have? I haven’t looked to any other new parties and sure independents can’t get a word in. My options then are Fianna Fail or Sinn Fein. It’s embedded in me to have a fear of ‘what Sinn Fein would do if they were in government’. I’ll vote Fianna Fail then.”

This is a simple break down. It may be way off.

I can’t predict the future, as I said Mr. Macbeth taught me. But in the next while we’ll see if the old roots will creep back up and blossom.

And this was your choice.

A Message Amidst Madness Series: Seeing people as real.

By Cathy Lee

So as it’s election season, this has brought focus to the chosen few in each constituency as to who is to represent and triumph at the polls.

The promises are thrown out and repeated on end, with the key words of “progression” and “prosperity” to be seen everywhere.

With posters shining above us upon most lamp posts and the odd fence, it’s easy to fall into a trap of seeing these running TDs as some new form of super-hero or celebrity.

I understand that these people are public figures, but it’s key to remember that these guys, although politicians, are still people at the end of it all.

Respecting somebodies status is a social phenomenon that we’ve all grown up with.

Such as respect your parents, respect your teachers, respect the priest, respect your boss.. and the list goes on.

But this week at the University of Limerick, RTE showcased the Party Leaders Debate, presented by journalist Claire Byrne.

I was very impressed to see that when questions were taken from the audience, the crowd had little fear to question the big bosses and ask them about their intentions.

I think this is only right and totally necessary.

If there’s one characteristic that running candidates or party leaders should have, it’s simply to be answerable.

(Not too much to ask from a person supposedly to be trusted with the running of our society.)

The way this election is going, there appears to be an act of desperation to get in rather than a practical approach to problem solving.

Don’t get me wrong that I’m being all preaching here, I know problem solving is hard.

I just don’t understand how in my home constituency of Wicklow, giving out Valentines cards from your local TDs, “refreshing” hand wipes or talk about going on the “Ferris-wheel” is really the target to assure a prosperous government to rely on for the future.

TDs want to be taken seriously but also want to win the sort of popularity contest that is currently going on.

These concepts can clash together creating confusion among the electorate.

A new approach is needed.

I believe that each person, as a citizen of this country, should be registered to vote and be informed.

If they are not, they can easily be manipulated by the next to nothing propaganda that’s happening at the moment of party-pushing.

It should be the standing obligation of our national government to make sure people are informed about the election process.

Instead TDs are acting somewhat manipulative, not thinking of the country as a whole rather their own career gains.

In recent elections, a lot of people had a change of mind on who to vote for within the last couple of days of the election.

These are fighting times, where it could really go either way.

Power and who holds it impacts, history has taught us that on many occasions.

So I encourage you to ask the TDs the hard questions, forget about their titles and make them earn your vote instead of a feeble attempt at buying it.

A friend recently told me a piece of advice that has been passed down through her family: “people may have their titles, their success and their status: but you must remember that they use the toilet in just the same way as you or I”.