The final year files: February

The final year files: February

I’ve always liked February. (I also enjoy the alliteration of the f’s included in this title, but that’s just me being a grammar nerd).

The reason I like February is that I feel it’s the real starter month, the reality setting month. January sees everyone full of ambition and unrealistic ideas around their new found path to greatness, where February acts as a news flash, a reality check and me being me, I appreciate the honesty of the month.

My final February as an undergraduate was full of firsts and lasts, fun adventures oversees and the always dreaded: week six of college. But this time week six was not as drastically stressful as semester one. I knew what beast I had to tackle, and tackle that beast I did. Somehow it wasn’t as bad as last time; maybe I’ve even matured a little since then? Or not, your call.

So after January seemed to last for decades, February was welcomed – the short and sweet month. Time is everything in the last months of college and it was never felt as much as this month.

First off, we celebrated our final Arts Ball. This saw us all glamorous, celebrating our last opportunity to have a fun night together as college students in that kind of setting. Fancy drinks were had, picture upon picture taken and of course once we found the confidence to take to the floor, as final years, we took it by storm.

We even ended up in the photo-booth with some guys and gals from the journalism class (the day-one huns) and a few friendly extras. It was an amazing night all round and it’s something I’ll never forget. Also to note that we saw bands The Academic play as well as my favourite locals, Bob Skeleton. So it was a busy night that went by as a happy blur.

It wasn’t until the following day that I needed to get my wits together, as I had to catch a flight to the Netherlands – casually after four hours sleep. That I will also never forget, but the citylink bus provided a handy space for a nap as did the flight itself.

Everything went smoothly and we arrived to Amsterdam city centre, a beautiful opportunity to step back in time for me as I recalled visiting the city last year. But really there wasn’t too much time for sentimentality, as there was a mission at hand. The following day, I was to travel 30 minutes outside the city to Utrecht University to attend a Masters open day.

Although sort of stressful at the time, it was fun to go exploring outside the capital and find our destination, which could also potentially be my future place to live and study. It’s a wonderful city, very quaint and picturesque. The college was pretty perfect too, with a lot of exciting potentials to come from such a course. It wasn’t until I got home that I realised how perfect it all could be.

It made me realise how vast the options are. People say degrees open doors but I really think they offer an opportunity for exploration. You just have to be brave enough to take that leap of faith. It’s amazing to think that having my degree and the work I put in can get me onto something else, a little different than originally planned but still pretty fantastic.

The days of a one person one career seems different now, as we embrace change a little easier. I think that’s what visiting Utrecht taught me. So, I’ve decided to keep my options open and potentially apply for this course to begin in September 2019. I think it would be a disservice to my journalism if I didn’t give it my best shot after enjoying it for almost four years of an undergrad.

I will say though that visiting Utrecht gave me a motivational boost to get through my assignments, so much so that I successfully (really successfully) avoided unofficial RAG week in Galway. Where has the old me gone? Am I a real adult now?

To answer that: not quite.

As February came to a close and the first two midterm assignments were handed in, nobody could tell what was just around the corner.

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The final year files: January

The final year files: January

Welcome back to The final year files in brand new 2018 fashion.

I hope the new year has been treating you well, and if it hasn’t, don’t worry because in case you didn’t know, January is on the free trial month.

Some felt that the month dragged, emphasis on the “dry” and boring aspect of the particularly long month. But I didn’t like feel this, and actually had a pretty spectacular month. In summary, I finished up working at my part-time job (P45 and everything), rung in the new year with my best friends, went on a holiday with my boyfriend, began the second and final semester of my final year AND got the exam results back from last semester. Hectic, to say the least.

I realise I’m speaking here about January and it’s currently February, and that’s my bad. See I only got all of my semester one exam results at the end of last week, (on the 1-2 of Feb) so I wanted to know where I was at, before I began to blog about such a theme. Pre-mature blogging is not something anyone wants, I’m sure you’d agree.

But this won’t happen again.

To fill you in. I was pleasantly surprised by my results, and I’m really happy with how everything went. I worked particularly hard in the exam season and brought up my grades a good deal. This ability to pull myself up has allowed me to trust myself a little bit more. Knowing I’m able and will make it through this last semester with good classmates around me is something encouraging. I know now, we can do it and we are ready for whatever will be thrown our way.

Which brings me to the topic of this blog. I know everyone seems to talk about new years resolutions, changing their habits etc for turning over a new leaf. What I’ve decided to focus on, to do with this idea and also not, is simply: not to settle.

If you’re not happy with how things are or how you think it’s looking things are likely to go, do your best to change them and express what it is you’re uneasy about. Essential is this practise, that I honestly think is a certain route to happiness.

This comes into every aspect of life, from jobs to relationships and can come into play at any stage of your life. I’ve seen how those who settled into something early have had difficulty in their future trying to give themselves a second chance at change. Now I’m not saying that avoiding settling for things exempts us from this happening, but it’s certainly a help.

I will say that although this semester has started off with ease, I’ve noticed that people are getting serious about things, which I suppose is most understandable. We all know, somewhere at the back of our minds, that this is it. We are in our final semester of an undergraduate course at NUI Galway and we need to get a bit of a loose plan together about what we’ll do once the final exam is handed up and the transcript is finding its way to our homes.

It’s key at this moment and in the months to come, that we don’t settle for something out of fear and find ourselves stuck for the rest of our 20s and so on. The world is a big place, we are brave, intelligent and ambitious people – we should use this to our advantage. We kind of have the privilege of having a blank canvas here that we can decorate, explore and make up as vibrant as we can.

I’ve come to realise that I want my canvas to be detailed and not easy to define. Artsy I know.

So to make this a reality, I need to trust myself and be a little more fearless. In the spirit of this, I’ve booked tickets for the end of this week to go to Holland and attend a masters courses open day.  You may ask why, and I may not have the perfect answer to that for now. But I’m going to give this option due consideration for my immediate future, for now.

I will of course tell you about that in the next post, whether this slight dream becomes a reality. My point here about not settling is that your future is yours, and yours alone. If you want to do the most illogical crazy thing, something that only makes sense to you – just do it.. as long as its yourself you’re doing it for. How can it be that wrong?

Just to add, the most crazy thing I did in January was hang out at a parrot sanctuary in Gdansk in Poland. Worth it? Of course.

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

 

 

A future

It surprises me, when and how I think of that

Something of just you and me,

 

A future –

 

(so vivid and real)

That it may be even possible

 

I think ahead like always,

Thoughts creep in slow and

Flow all around my head fast and quick,

Trying to escape at first but being trapped, remaining

Setting something up, strong

Without any chance of defeat

 

I hope you can fit and fight on with me

In this tight and rigid space of my mind

For what the future will hold, brings forth fancies and opportunities to rip away set ties,

Unexpected but accepted, in time

 

I hope you’ll be beside me, for the big and the small things
All I can want and dream for you,

Is just to be.

Whatever that might come to mean,

All in good time.

 

The final year files: October

The final year files: October

Hi again!

Hope you’re feeling spooky on the day that’s in it. Welcome back to the bitter place of Hell that comes in the form of final year at university, brutal I know. Now October was a scary time as the college as monsters decided to come to life as assignments. These fiends were worth a high proportion of the grade and were coming all at once, a little thrilling I must admit. The dreaded and much spoken about week 6 came and went and didn’t take too many victims on its rampage (but it was close, let me tell you). So overall, it’s been a fairly scary time, so much so that Halloween itself was welcomed.

Now I know I started things off positively last month and I don’t want to totally lose that, but I will be brutally honest and say, from the front lines – we’re finding it difficult here. I thought for a short while that it was just me, when my not-so-amazing first grade of final year came back with a bang. But I soon found out that I was not alone in this pit of despair (there’s actually a few pals down in this pit, we’re holding things up pretty well).

So although it’s been stressful, it didn’t result in total failure and even encouraged some unity- that’s a plus yeah?

To change it up, I’ll bring you right back to the end of September, when my fellow students and I arose from the final year pits and attended the March 4 Choice gathering rally in Dublin city centre. An amazing experience, difficult to some up honestly as it was really such a huge thing. It ranged from chants to bants from young people (younger than I) and those a little more mature (much older than I). But it was clear that we were all united collectively for the one cause, something that on the day was tiring yet very rewarding. I’m so happy that we gave up a day to march for those whose days have been destroyed and changed utterly due to our restricting, inhumane and cruel eighth amendment.

On another more positive note, I got to attend the Irish Blog Awards at the start of the month due to this blog being placed in the final of the Personal Politics and Current Affairs Section. This was pretty incredible to be surrounded by the community – another huge one I’ll admit – of those doing something similar to me right now writing like this actively. I was honoured to see the title of this blog to pop up on screen, and although it wasn’t crowned a winner – I’m delighted for the blogs who did triumph. It really encouraged me again to keep this going further, coming back next year stronger.

So I’d like to say that we’ve now really settled into the way of final year with lectures, housemates, friends mostly known well and familiar, assignments, tests and presentations – it’s clear that we are doing things on an individual basis. We’ve faced the wrath of assignments and maybe learned a little bit more about our own capabilities. Things really came into focus when I attended a jobs fair in the college. Seeing the adult world creep closer from all sides, in an all-consuming manner probably should have panicked me. My friends graduating (although delayed slightly by the gal herself Ophelia) should have also but fair enough, it did have affect and made me think of the future ahead.

The future is dividing us as students right now. It appears to me that some have their ideas decided upon, settled and excited to run with. They have their eyes and mind focusing forwards only, not exactly seeing what’s going on either side of them. For me personally, that hasn’t happened yet and honestly, I don’t really want it to. Call me crazy here but I’d rather smell the final year flowers than think of the big company I’ll sign my soul over to or masters course I’ll choose from a hat just to have a plan together.

I know the unknown is a scary place but for me, tackling the monsters of final year right now – the unknown doesn’t seem so bad in comparison.

 

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

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 ease eleven

21 blog posts series ease eleven

Eleven “Managing your money”

We’re always told about saving for that “rainy day” occurrence. It’s something that’s planted into our minds from an early age from pocket money to cashing in for brithdays or special events. I agree with saving for the rainy day and rightly considering that you might not have an influx of money in the near future. But sometimes, with the money demands that come with being a student, it can feel like it’s constantly overcast and the rainy day is happening constantly, just above our heads.

Never fear, these challenges can be tackled with a small bit of planning and some self control. Before I get into this I will say that it isn’t very good to live your life in fear of spending. What I’ve learned is that with each purchase or investment we make, we must decide on the how worthwhile the action is that we’re taking. Start with devising in your mind whether the thing is a want or a need, like a form of pro or con list. At the end of the day, every time we make a purchase we are making a choice whether something is worth it or not in terms of parting with your money.

However it is you get your income, money comes with responsibility attached. It can easily enough become something scarce when not handled or managed properly. A smart way to go about spending less is to get yourself well set up to deal with the unexpected. There are some great apps out there for money management which are worth a try for sure. But what I’ve found most useful is having two accounts to work off one as a spending and one as a saving account.

It’s not really that much of a hassle, it just divides your funds more fairly so you can attempt to stay on top of things, having something to fall back on if you really need it. I think there’s something built in us to love spending money, I don’t really know of anybody who doesn’t partake in the act. But I think surrounding yourself with people who you know may entice you to spend can sometimes be an act of harm. But this doesn’t have to be a thing you avoid if you put a bit of planning into it.

If you’ve arranged to meet a friend out somewhere, say a café or restaurant – familiarise yourself beforehand with the price range of the place. How much are you willing to spend here? What’s your budget? For me, budgets and weekly expenses can fluctuate. I’ll have more money in if I get more hours at work but I won’t if that doesn’t come together.

So what do I do? Lock myself away from the world if there isn’t a certain amount in my account? No. I would say, always do the thing if at all possible, but think ahead of what you might need to draw in on and make sure you keep your wits to do that. Plan out what the likely expenses will be and see if there are alternatives to these in the situation. This can be applied to any sort of social event when you really give it some thought.

Student life can bring with it huge pressures, from money to exams and really the balance is sometimes impossible to get right. Should you get more hours at work or in the library this week? It’s hard to know. So I’d say if you’re really stuck, don’t be afraid to go for the student loan option, be that from a bank or another source. We all place value on our degrees and if a loan is what you need to get that done, so be it. Grants are great things and should be thoroughly appreciated but when it’s a tough time financially, do what you have to do.

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

Turning corners

Bottle the problem,
Capture it

enclose it away
Turn to the bottle, it has the answer

You have to get to the bottom of it
Lock you up

There’s a screw not turning

In a man so focused on fixing
Those around him

Coming down hard

Like the shard of glass
That he probably used that time,

They all do that don’t they?

It’s expected and weirdly accepted
Swept away, like the glass I lose to the floor every time I work in the bar.
We let things go on too far

before we do what we can

We clear it away.

It’s gone, everything is perfect again.
Until the next time.

This inevitable unknown that’s just around the corner,

Comes once you are on the wrong road.
Don’t leave the paths you know,

Don’t branch out and try to live.

Stay set stay put,

It’s the only way.
You may be a misery,

But at least it’s not clinical

Not this time.
I wonder when the next corner will come?

Out of nowhere and send the vehicle overturning, spinning out of control.
The road is never known