My last first day

By Muireann Murtagh

Monday of Week 1 was… weird.  I was busy, which was good.  I had been working with the International Education Division, welcoming new international students the week before, and I was continuing to work at their information desk in week 1 (so far, on Wednesday of Week 1, it’s still going fine!).  I had to be there at 9am so my last first morning was an early one.

Then I had class, followed by coffee-and-chat with one of my best friends, then we were back to class for another few hours.  I returned home for a late lunch and spent some time chatting to my housemates. Another couple of classes meant that my academic day finished at 6pm, which I can already see Future Muireann detesting over the next few weeks.

However, I wasn’t done yet – I had to lead an International Society committee meeting.  I became president before Christmas and since then it has been a hectic whirlwind of planning, organising, and yet more planning, with a little bit of panicking over things that could go wrong added in just to make the whirlwind more interesting.  That took just over another hour.  The meetings are always fun, and there’s always a check list of things to do afterwards, which took up much of my evening.

It was such a long last first day, which meant that I really got to live every moment of it.  Over Christmas, everyone I met asked me what I wanted to do when I left college, and I gave them the usual ‘Oh I’m applying to loads of places’ spiel that we all give to people when we don’t want to break down on their shoulders at the thought of leaving college and having to actually step out into the world.  Honestly, I feel so sad at the thought of leaving UL.  I remember finding my course online in my 5th year of secondary school and reading all about it, and thinking of how amazing it sounded.  I remember going to my first open day and knowing there and then that I loved UL.

I have been saying goodbye to UL since last September, like a guest leaving a house; from ‘Oh, I must be going soon! It’s been three years!’, to ‘I’ll just get my coat.  I can’t believe how much everything has changed!’.  That was last semester.  Now I’m standing in the metaphorical hall, and it is the beginning of the end.  I need to start making my goodbyes – ‘You must come and visit me soon.’ – and send on all my regards to everyone who I’m leaving and who will be hear after me – ‘Mind you do that, and give me a call when you need me.’.

Luckily for me, there’s a few more steps to go before I step out through the door and into May, and freedom that I’d happily forego.  I’m going to savour every millimetre of these last steps on my UL journey.

muireannMy name is Muireann Murtagh, and I am a fourth-year student of Applied Languages. I am 21 and I am from Longford. Despite the long journey that divides my two homes, I am so happy to study in UL. I really enjoy my course, in which I focus on French and Spanish, because it is everything I ever hoped it would be. It has given me the chance to work in Paris and to study in Spain, it has given me amazing friends and incredible memories, it’s challenging and it pushes me to work hard and learn constantly. It’s exactly what I wanted.

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Week 8, and the library is full of zombies…

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By Muireann Murtagh

Well, not literally.  However, it is Halloween, so the library café – of which I have become the resident ghost because I’m here far too often – is full of people making plans for Thursday night, Friday night, and Saturday night, talking about the costumes they’ll wear and where they’re going out.  Nightclub promoters have been haunting (hee hee) campus dressed as superheroes, ghosts, and fairy-tale characters for the last 10 days.  Sadly, the scariest thing at the moment is not all Hallow’s Eve or things that go bump in the night, but midterm exams and deadlines.

Yes, boys and girls, it’s that time of year again – Christmas seems oh-so-far away, summer is but a half-remembered dream, and no-one knows if it’s going to rain today or not.  It’s autumn, and that means midterms, deadlines, and seeking comfort in the hot chocolate in Scholars when everything gets too overwhelming.

Luckily, I’ve only had one midterm, but I had two deadlines and the menacing shadow of the FYP looming over my shoulder is getting more and more solid as each day passes.  Finding a seat in the library is proving to be a real challenge these days, and getting there before 11am seems to be a good solution.

It’s a stressful time of year, and it really only gets busier from now on.  Just when you need to treat yourself kindly, it’s harder to a) find the time to do it because you have so much to do and b) justify it, because you have so much to do!  Therefore, I have made this helpful feelings chart, so that I and anyone who needs it can use it to make decision-making easier.

What should you do next? Don't think for yourself, decide with this helpful guide!
What should you do next? Don’t think for yourself, decide with this helpful guide!

It can be hard to maintain a balance between getting work done and taking care of oneself.  I’m trying really hard to eat properly and to bring food from home for lunch or snacks whenever I can, but occasionally it’s just not possible and I have to eat on campus instead.  Even so, I always arrange to have lunch or breaks with friends.  As much as possible, it is important to socialise with others and avoid talking about all the work you have to do all the time.  Honestly, it’s not going to make anyone feel less stressed or worried about anything.  I’m also trying to be motivated enough to go to the gym or for a run, but like most people, I enjoy walking up, hitting the snooze button on my alarm, and rolling over for a second sleep.

Some days, I have my lunch ready from the night before, I go to the gym at 7am, and I bring both a flask AND a water bottle along with my packed lunch.  Most days, I manage the flask and the water bottle.  Every day, I try to be kind to myself.  We’re all just little humans trying to do our best, and in stressful times, that’s both the hardest and the most important thing to remember.

muireannMy name is Muireann Murtagh, and I am a fourth-year student of Applied Languages. I am 21 and I am from Longford. Despite the long journey that divides my two homes, I am so happy to study in UL. I really enjoy my course, in which I focus on French and Spanish, because it is everything I ever hoped it would be. It has given me the chance to work in Paris and to study in Spain, it has given me amazing friends and incredible memories, it’s challenging and it pushes me to work hard and learn constantly. It’s exactly what I wanted.

My adventure of a lifetime

By Muireann Murtagh

Despite the long journey that divides my two homes (I’m from Longford), I am so happy to study in UL. I really enjoy my course, in which I focus on French and Spanish, because it is everything I ever hoped it would be. It has given me the chance to work in Paris and to study in Spain, it has given me amazing friends and incredible memories, it’s challenging and it pushes me to work hard and learn constantly. It’s exactly what I wanted.

This time four years ago, I was preparing for a journey to UL for one of the open days. My parents, who met at UL and who had brought me here on previous journeys to Limerick, drove down with me one Saturday morning in October. My first impression was, “Wow, it’s really brown.” My second impression was simply, “Wow.” We walked around campus, we attended some course talks, I collected a prospectus and a few information leaflets, and I looked around at the people who were my potential classmates and friends. I was far too shy to speak to anyone. No-one from my school was even considering coming to UL. Nevertheless, the course was perfect, the university was beautiful, and the city was cosy – what more could I want?

Then, I didn’t even know all the other wonderful things about UL and Limerick. It took a few weeks to settle in, but the things that helped me were such small, simple little actions. I started going for coffee with people from my course, who turned into my best friends. I joined a host of clubs and societies, and the people I met there turned into more wonderful friends. I pushed myself to venture outside my comfort zone – and soon enough I was wearing a onesie outside the library, in the middle of the day, standing with two fellow International Society committee members who were dressed as animals, and we were offering free hugs to students in order to encourage them to vote in the student referendum. Soon, I was seeing faces I recognised and remembering names. In a matter of weeks, UL changed from a university into a community, and I loved it.

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Morning mist on the Shannon, seen from the Living Bridge

My year abroad was an incredible adventure, full of travelling and exploring. I became an honorary Parisienne and Salamantina, walked every inch of Paris and tried as many varieties of macaron that I could, fell in love with the cobbled streets and living history of Salamanca, and promptly infuriated my friends and family with stories that started “When I was in Paris/Salamanca/Toledo/Madrid/Frankfurt/Berlin/Milan…” (Warning alert here – if you’re going on Erasmus, it’ll happen to you! I ended up telling people that I couldn’t help it if I had had an amazing year, and sorry-not-sorry for telling cool stories.

UL is awesome, I’m so incredibly glad that I came here, and if you do… you’re in for the adventures of a lifetime.

muireannMy name is Muireann Murtagh, and I am a fourth-year student of Applied Languages. I am 21 and I am from Longford. Despite the long journey that divides my two homes, I am so happy to study in UL. I really enjoy my course, in which I focus on French and Spanish, because it is everything I ever hoped it would be. It has given me the chance to work in Paris and to study in Spain, it has given me amazing friends and incredible memories, it’s challenging and it pushes me to work hard and learn constantly. It’s exactly what I wanted.