The Fall

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Photo By Unsplash on Pixabay

Today I’ve decided to share a short story that I wrote for my creative writing module last semester. As with all of my work, I’m never overly confident in it. However, I was awarded an A1 for it and my lecturer recommended that I apply for a Master in Creative Writing- and I’d like to think it’s not just because she likes me.

The Fall, Creative Writing

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Big Yellow Taxi

It’s been a year since I last blogged anything, which is absolutely terrible. However, I have an excuse. Sort of. With just three weeks remaining of my final year, things have calmed down enough that I finally have time to blog again. The last few months have been hectic; my focus was entirely on writing my final year project (FYP), which I will hopefully upload as soon as I get graded for it. Exactly 13,264 words, around 60 Mochas and quite a few tears later, the end of my degree is finally in sight. It’s a terrifying and exciting fact.

As the wise Joni Mitchell once said, “don’t it always seem to go that you don’t know what you’ve got ‘til it’s gone”. While a poignant line, it’s not exactly my reality. From the moment, I set foot in UL, I’ve known it was right for me and I knew I’d be missing it long after I eventually left. It’s the first home that I chose for myself, every aspect of my life in Limerick was something I chose. At the risk of sounding disgustingly cheesy, the people I got to know, the last-minute BBQs, the “one-too-many” kind of nights, and the adventures that ended up in goat attacks- they were all a part of this life that I built in Limerick, my home away from home.

Now that the end of my degree is very, very close, I don’t really know what to do with myself. There’s a kind of buzz around that’s contagious, everyone seems to have a different plan and a path that they want to take and I feel like I’m not ready to decide which way I want to go. While that does scare me, I’m trying to remember that I’m still young and decisions don’t have to be made hastily.

Despite not knowing exactly what my next step is, I’ve never felt more confident and happy about where I am and what the future might hold. Studying in Limerick has helped me to grow in a way that I never expected, I am so grateful for this experience and I’m excited to work out the next step.

Barcelona

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Park Guell, Barcelona by TRAVELKR on Pixabay

Last year I had the amazing opportunity to take part in a co-op programme offered by my university. It took me a while to decide what I wanted to do, I tried to organise my own placement with various newspaper companies to no avail. I had previously done a week of work experience over the Easter break of first year with Beat 102-103, which was really enjoyable. What I learned from that was that I could easily see myself working in radio when I was older, however for my co-op I wanted to explore all my options and try something new.

With this in mind I paid a visit to the university’s co-op office, and I left it with the certainty that I wanted to work abroad for the term. Niamh Crowe, one of the placement officers had recommended that I apply to work for Grupos Organizados, a camp dedicated to teaching English in a natural and fun environment. So I did, and to my delight I got it. I would be spending my Spring term of second year living on the Costa Brava in beautiful Barcelona.

For five months I woke up beside the beach and spent the day teaching children from all over Spain and Catalonia English through classes, beach games, water sports and numerous other activities. It was the dream. I remember waking up one morning and nearly complain about the fact that I had to do beach games for three hours. Nearly.

Although I wasn’t sure that teaching was something I wanted to do, the experience was incredible. It not only helped me in terms of planning for my future but I learned so many things while I was away, and I know with certainty that applying for that job was the best decision of my life- so far.

To anyone who has the opportunity to go abroad or to work off campus during the course of their time in college, do it. I cannot say this enough. Just do it.

How To Write

I have always had my head stuck in a book. From as young as I can remember reading has been something I loved, and something that came naturally. As I got older it helped with my writing, and extending my vocabulary as my dad insisted I looked up words I didn’t understand in the dictionary. However as much as I’d like to be an incredible novelist I think I struggle with putting words to paper. Scholarly essays are fine they’re all facts and structure, whereas creative writing seems to get tangled in my mind along the way.

I took a class in creative writing during my Erasmus placement in Queen’s University, Belfast. It was during this class that I was introduced to Ernest Hemingway, an American writer, journalist and novelist. His writing was of such quality that in 1954 he was awarded the Nobel Prize for literature. We were studying his short story Hills Like White Elephants in my American Literature class recently and I was reminded of some rules he put together about writing.

Here are five of Hemingway’s quotes about writing that I believe are worth knowing

  1. Write One True Sentence

In simple terms, leave behind the elaborate over-killed sentences. Real is important.

  1. Never Underestimate Simplicity

Hemingway believed that when you couldn’t get the words to flow, use a pencil. A free-flowing hand equals a free-flowing mind.

  1. Always Stop For the Day While You Still Know What Will Happen Next

How else can you continue telling your story?

  1. Never Think About the Story When You’re Not Working

Hemingway once said “if you think about it consciously or worry about it you will kill it and your brain will be tired before you start.”

  1. Be Brief

Short sentences work. Try writing and then re-writing, this process will help you to eliminate any irrelevant or unnecessary writing.

Writing isn’t something that is easy but like any talent it can be improved.

Web Design

 

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Thoughts and Designs: Image by StockSnap on Pixabay

As I mentioned before I’m a New Media and English student in the University of Limerick. One of the modules that I’m taking this semester is actually the reason for this particular blog (That module was also mentioned in the linked post). As well as having to keep an up-to-date blog I also have the seemingly momentous task of creating a website.

Now I haven’t done a lot of coding, I only learned HTML coding this semester but hopefully it’ll still be manageable. For this assignment we’re going to use Google Sites to create the website. I haven’t decided yet what type of website I’d like to make, but what I have done is compiled a short list of  websites I think are interactive and clear. These websites were found through the Webby Awards.

So in no particular order, I give you:

Aislin’s Top 5 Aesthetically Pleasing Websites

  1. Climate.nasa.gov
  2. Squarespace.com
  3. Mashable.com
  4. I-remember.fr
  5. Ted.com

The reason these websites have made it onto my list is simple, they’re easy to use, pleasant to navigate through and the purpose of the site is clear. These are in my opinion, three of the most important aspects of web design. Without a clear navigation and an obvious purpose the website falls to pieces, and having an easy to use design does not mean boring. It means clear, interesting, and it captures the attention of the viewer. Which, if you care about your design, is exactly what you want to happen.

Over the next month I’ll no doubt become increasingly frustrated with my own project due to the lack of resemblance to any of the above sites. But I suppose you have to start somewhere, and I’ll take all the practice I can get.

If you have an interest in web design or you’re just looking for some new sites I’d strongly recommend flicking through the candidates of the Webby Awards, there are some fantastic sites to be found on there.

 

Mental Health

Last week was election week in the University of Limerick which meant that the campus was flooded with campaign posters, notices and chalk messages littered across buildings and pathways urging the students of UL to vote.  The positions that needed to be filled were the President, Vice President Academic, and Deputy President Welfare.

The campaigns of each candidate for the various positions were extensive and by the end of the week the students had decided who they wanted to represent them. Sarah Dunphy was voted for President, Donal Foley for Vice President Academic and Caolan O’Donnell for Deputy President Welfare.

One of the most powerful campaigns this week was created by Caolan O’Donnell and his campaign team. Caolan, along with two other young men wanted to tackle the stigma surrounding mental health in young people today. In particular, they wanted to raise awareness of men suffering with mental illness

Internationally, studies show that men are more likely than women to take their own lives. In Ireland the rate of suicide among men is over four times higher than in women.[*] In 2013 the rate was five times higher. So what better way to raise awareness of such a huge issue than by taking the very brave step of talking about their own personal experiences with anxiety, panic attacks and depression?

They created a very poignant video which sees the three men discuss their own experiences with mental health. They talk about their worst days and the battle that they each had to face with their mental health.

[Video from Caolan’s Facebook campaign page]

“I closed up, started hiding away.”

“I was ashamed of myself.”

“I feel worthless and useless, and put myself down all the time.”

“I didn’t know what was wrong with me and that was what scared me, there was nothing going wrong in my life.”

This is the reality for an uncountable number of both men and women across Ireland. A shocking and sad reality that many people can’t understand. The taboo around mental health needs to be shattered. In a society where we cannot feel comfortable admitting that we are not feeling okay, the road to getting better is not going to be an easy one.

The most important thing that these young men recommend is talking to someone. That point cannot be said enough.

Honestly, just talk to someone.

If you are struggling with your mental health don’t stay quiet about it, the first step to healing is to tell someone how you feel. If you can’t quite face it in person why not check out one of these sites:

Reach Out

Pieta House

Aware

 

 

Spring Stress

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Picture By Kpgolfpro at Pixabay

We’ve hit week seven of this Spring semester and we’re quickly approaching week eight which means that I have less than five weeks left of this term. It never fails to astound me how fast the semesters seem to speed by. This time next year I’ll be five weeks away from finishing my degree. A scary concept.

I’ve been finding it difficult to find time to write as the first round of assignments are all due in the next few weeks. I’m trying to manage my time equally between all of my assignments and projects due so that I can be one step ahead of everything. I’m doing well at it though, which surprises me because looking back at first year I was the most unorganised person.

Once I have these all completed and submitted I can relax again for a little while as I’ll have until the end of the semester to submit my final assignments. I’m very happy about this as it means I can have more time to work on my FYP idea, which at the moment seems to be changing every day.

Managing stress has always been a struggle for me and it’s usually a case of I get worried about something so then I pretend it doesn’t exist. It’s not a good system. Unfortunately it’s something that a lot of people seem to do. However, I have stumbled across this lovely little website that is sort of like an online mini meditation site. It’s so relaxing and amazing at helping you collect your thoughts.

It’s called The Quiet Place.

At the end of the day, we’re living, we’re breathing and we all have somebody who loves us so what’s the point in stressing over silly things or things out of our control? In the case of college work the only way to avoid it really is to do the work, it’s not as difficult as it seems.