How to have a productive day at the library

UL Bolton Library 13
01.02.2016 Bolton Library, Cashel Co. Tipperary. Picture: Alan Place/Fusionshooters

By Sarah Talty

The semester weeks are finally in the double digits and dread has started to creep in. Whether you’re cramming for exams or trying to meet deadlines, it can be hard to get focused. Some people are lucky to have the motivation to study at home but for the rest of us only the library will do. There’s nothing like holding a coveted seat in the library and powering through all your work. For many of us though, distractions get in the way and we find ourselves leaving mentally drained with little done.


To combat this we’ll pinpoint the main things that get in the way of being productive and how to overcome them:


Bring lots of snacks and water and also pack a lunch for yourself. There is no faster way to decide to leave the silence of the library than having your stomach demonstrating a whale call because you haven’t fed it in hours.

Your phone

Phones are the worst! You decide to scroll through your phone for a few minutes and before you know it you’ve wasted half an hour. There are apps that can block certain sites and apps on your phone or just lock it completely for a certain period of time. My favourite app is one called Dinner Mode, in which you choose a period of time to not pick up your phone. If you pick it up before the minutes you chose have passed then you lose. Very simple but effective if you’re as competitive as I am. It’s a great way to give yourself time periods of working hard with no distractions before taking a break. You could just leave your phone at home too, up to you.


When your friends want to hang out it can be hard to say no when you’ve been staring at figures and essays for hours. We’re in the last few weeks though and your friends should be studying too so they’ll understand when you say no. Plan breaks to meet your friends so your brain doesn’t explode, or turn to mush four hours in of looking at a computer screen.

23.09.14           University of Limerick Supplement. Picture: Alan Place.


Come early to get a good seat and don’t lose your precious seat by taking breaks longer than 45 minutes. Also if a friend has a class to go to or is leaving the library for good have it arranged that you text the other in advance to see if they want to come in and take your seat.


‘By failing to prepare you are preparing to fail’

Take 10 minutes when you first get into the library and spend it planning what you want to achieve that day. Write out a to do list and tick each task off, even if it’s just something small such as completing a recommended reading. It will help you get more done and give more structure to your day so you can get the best out of your day.


Being tired is one of the main ways to kill all productivity at the library. If you’re too tired in the morning you won’t get anything done and if you’re too tired in the evening you’re likely to just give up and head home. Make sure you get plenty of sleep, especially if you’re trying to hit the library for the whole day. Pack your bag the night before so you can give yourself an extra 15 minutes in bed in the mornings.

Newsroom 2



What To Consider When Choosing Where To Go On Erasmus

By Sarah Talty, 4th year Journalism and New Media

ErasmusWe are very lucky that the University of Limerick is one of the best colleges for allowing their students Co-op and Erasmus opportunities. UL are linked with many fantastic colleges all around the world and when the time comes to finally choose where to go on Erasmus it can be very daunting. Here is some advice from one veteran Erasmus student:


Language is one of the main factors we think about. If you want to improve on a language you’re studying then you should go to the country. If you’re thinking of taking up Spanish and want to get some real practise in then head for Spain. If you’re heading to a very touristy city then most people will speak English, but if you don’t have a language but English do some solid research into how easy it will be for you to live there.


Make sure the place you’re going is easily accessible. As well as flying to and from the place you also want to check that an airport near you has relatively cheap and frequent flights to other countries. Most Erasmus placements are five or six months. That’s a long time to be away from home and it’s likely you’re going to want to go home for a few days and make sure your dog still remembers who you are. If the place you choose for your Erasmus is a paradise but you can’t travel anywhere else in the six months or afford to go home or nobody can afford to come visit you, it might be worth looking into somewhere else.


Sometimes we become so swept up in the idea of living in a foreign country that we forget we’re actually going there to study. Look up the college’s website and see what modules they have to offer you and if they’d be something you’d be interested in and are worth your time going there.


Do some proper research into the college you’re thinking of attending and look up it’s academic timetable. See what dates the college is starting and finishing, if you have plans for the summer, like a J1 job lined up, this could be affected. Also check what holidays you get from college, this could be a great time to nip back home or go travelling.


Being from Ireland the weather is something we’re constantly thinking and talking about. Depending on when your Erasmus is taking place it’s worth looking up the average temperature for the months you’re going to be there. You might find that a country you think of as being hot is nearly the same temperature as Ireland in November.

Things To Do

Make sure there are things to do in the country you’re going to. It might be great to wander around picturesque towns for the first few weeks snapping pics, but if there aren’t any cinemas showing movies in English or proper nightlife then you’re going to get bored fast.


You probably think I’m going to tell you to try to pick somewhere your friends are going so you’ll have someone to help you through this rough transition? Wrong. It’s scary to go somewhere different to your friends but at the end of Erasmus you can look back and feel more confident that you’ve survived Erasmus all by yourself. It forces you to put yourself out there and make new friends from all around the world. It’s also a positive because you’ll have to expand on your go to topics of conversation such as mutual friends, nights out and sports because your new friends wont have a clue what you’re on about. Another plus is that if your college friends all go different places for Erasmus then you’ll have loads of different countries to visit, all with free accommodation and a built in tour guide.


Advice for your next semester

By Sarah Talty, 4th year Journalism and New Media

Every year the same thing happens. We put off our deadlines, don’t attend lectures and tutorials and fail to study for exams in time. Every year this happens and every year we tell ourselves, ‘next semester will be different’. Well this is a warning to you right now while you still have time to turn it all around!

  • Go to all your tutorials.
  • If you don’t go to some lectures at least get the notes off Sulis.
  • Skip one or two nights out in favour of a late night in the library and clear head the next day.
  • Start your assignments at least three weeks before the deadline, not a few days before.
  • Keep a list of all your deadlines on your bedroom wall or in the front of your notebook and tick them off as they’re completed.
  • Attend the free workshops, classes and help advertised in your student mail such as citation workshops.
  • Figure out if you work better in college or at home so you know where to study for study week.
  • Go to classes even if your friends aren’t going.
  • Spend a few hours in the library every day and work steadily, rather than just letting all your work pile up to the last minute.
  • Make a reasonable study plan and stick to it.
  • Get the Writing Centre to help you with your essays now instead of rushing in minutes before your deadline.
  • Organise your notes as you go along so you’re not panicked searching for them during study week.
  • If you’re having trouble in a module go to your lecturer’s office hours and ask them for help.
  • Trade being relaxed after tests you’re almost sure you’ve passed for a few weeks of stress and worry now.


Why I chose to study at UL

By Sarah Talty, 4th year Journalism and New Media


To be honest with you I didn’t like UL when I attended the open day in Leaving Cert. I had just been wowed by how pretty and ancient UCC’s campus was and UL just seemed too green and brown for me. Weird I know. It was a sunny day and I remember thinking God with all these brown sombre buildings if I’m in college here and it rains it will make it a hundred times less appealing.

Now I’m in my final year at UL and I know that’s ridiculous. I chose UL initially for my course, followed up by how close it was to Clare. I have friends from different colleges all around Ireland and now I don’t even think my once coveted UCC campus holds a light to UL.

UL has a real community environment. We have shops, pharmacies, off licences, a cinema and plenty of restaurants and takeaways right on our doorstep. Even if we do want to venture into town the 304 can collect us right on campus or at a bus stop five minutes from our house or apartment.

Then there’s the actual campus itself, I’ve experienced campuses in Cork, Sligo, Dublin, Galway and Barcelona and there’s really nothing like UL. It really is like a little town with our market every week, our shop, the little cafes and restaurants and bumping into people you know every five minutes.

The Stables is an amazing feature of UL too, it’s great to have a casual place to hang out with your friends if you don’t have the energy or the funds for a proper night out. Sometimes a night in Stables ends up being one hundred times better than getting all dressed up and going into town.

Our transport is great too! It’s so handy for me to be able to get the green bus home to Clare or up to visit my best friend from Dublin, all from the Stables bus stop. I think the Dublin Coach only started running a few years before I started college so I got very lucky.

I’m so happy I decided to come to UL and that it proved my first impressions to be so very wrong!

Arts degrees and your future career

By Sarah Talty


Sometimes I feel like the world is divided into two types of people: people who think it’s okay to study Arts and people who don’t. But a lot of the time these people are misinformed or their career route is so straightforward they can’t see past a college degree. If you’re doing something like nursing or teaching, the thoughts of finishing a degree, like a BA in Arts, and not having a set title might terrify you.

But an Arts degree gives you a lot of freedom! I know that seems like just something people say at open days to try and entice you into their course but it’s true. When you graduate with a Nursing degree, you’re going to go to a hospital and be a nurse. And that’s great if you want to be a nurse. But if you don’t really know what you want to do an Arts degree can be a great way to learn some valuable skills while you figure it out. But with the likes of an Arts degree, a lot of the time, it’s what you make it. With a journalism degree you can become a Journalist, Editor, Technical Writer, Public Relations, TV Journalist, Broadcaster.


That was a big thing for my dad when I was trying to decide what to do. I didn’t really have a head for maths or business or science. I went through the whole prospectus for UL, trying to find the course for me through the process of elimination. Eventually I found myself mostly left with the Arts section. I was looking at doing a BA in Arts, English and New Media, Journalism and New Media or Business. Dad’s question to each of these was: ‘what are you going to be after?’

He wanted me to say I’m doing Law so I’m going to be a lawyer or I’m going to be a primary school teacher. He didn’t get it. I actually went for Journalism in the end so when I graduate technically I’m going to be a journalist. But simply having a degree doesn’t make you a journalist. Having articles regularly published, loving writing and having an interest in what’s happening in the world around you does. Just because you have a degree as a primary school teacher, doesn’t automatically mean you have a steady stable job out of college. There’s a certain amount of work that goes into trying to sculpt a career for yourself after college that everyone has to go through no matter your degree.

Here’s a list of successful (American) people and art degrees they hold:

  • Howard Schultz, Starbucks CEO: B.S. in Communications, Northern Michigan University, 1975
  • Andrea Jung, Former Avon CEO: B.A. in English Literature, Princeton University, 1979
  • Michael Eisner, Former Walt Disney Company CEO: B.A. in English Literature and Theater, Denison University, 1964
  • Richard Plepler, HBO CEO : B.A. in Government, Franklin & Marshall College, 1981
  • Carly Fiorina, Former Hewlett-Packard CEO: B.A. in Medieval History and Philosophy, Stanford University, 1976
  • Susan Wojcicki YouTube CEO: B.A. in History and Literature, Harvard University, 1990
  • Conan O’Brien, TV Show Host: Bachelor of Arts in History

All college degrees are hard work, no matter what they are. You could be whizz at an Engineering course but struggle to get through English & New Media, simply because your strengths don’t lie in understanding literature. Everybody is different and if everyone was the same the world would be a boring place.

Find out more about our courses at

Details of our new BA can be found at


Sarah Talty is a 3rd year BA Journalism & New Media student at the University of Limerick. From Clare, Sarah loves books, chocolate, Netflix, napping and writing, not necessarily in that order.

My amazing co-op experience

By Sarah Talty

Not everyone believes that everything happens for a reason but I do and it was certainly the case for me when it came to my coop. In second year I decided to get my own co-op instead of going through the co-op office. I had my heart set on a certain magazine and all my friends would tell me that I was so lucky I knew exactly where I wanted to go and nearly had it sorted. I put so much research and energy into that magazine that when it didn’t work out I was a little deflated. Suddenly I was the one with nothing while my friends were finished their interviews and being offered places.

I remember sitting in the Course Director’s office, really upset, telling her that I just wanted to work in a magazine close to home. She told me to do some research into magazines in Limerick and she’d try help me out. I stumbled across a website for The Limerick Magazine, they also ran Fusion Magazine and had the most amazing photography and really interesting articles. I emailed my Course Director straight away but the very next day, as luck would have it, the coop office sent everyone an email saying that The Limerick Magazine were looking for unpaid interns for their coop. I jumped at the chance and went for my interview a few weeks later. Michelle, the editor was so lovely and bubby, the office was so cool and chill, they were all typing away playing music and Michelle and I went for coffee.


I got the job and was over the moon. It actually worked out even better than my previous option because, located in the heart of Limerick city, the office was only a 45minute affordable bus ride from my home in Clare, which means I saved so much money by not having to live out.

I started in June, feeling incredibly nervous walking into the office, only to be greeted by a gorgeous Labrador lying on the office floor. Michelle’s dog Bella immediately put me at ease and everyone in the office was so friendly and welcoming. We’re a small office, a photographer, graphics guy and the interns. The other coop there were on their way out when I started so I was the only intern in the office the whole summer. But everything happens for a reason and it was the best thing that could have happened because it made me challenge myself and push myself to leave my comfort zone. Even if the thought of handing magazines out around Limerick or writing a fashion piece when you live in jeans and a plain top terrifies you, when you’re the only writer in the office it’s hard to say no. If there had been others there I would have passed on doing a lot of what was asked of me because I would have thought I was too shy or not able for it. The few months working by myself taught me that I can do everything I think I can’t.

Now there are other interns in the office and I don’t want my coop to end. It’s been amazing working like a real journalist, getting to write such interesting pieces and interview such amazing people. It’s so nice not to feel like an intern, to just feel like a valued member of the team where my ideas are listened to and encouraged.

My advice would be to research your coop early but don’t bank on just one place in case it doesn’t work out. Start thinking about your coop early on, even in first year and have a good idea of what you want and don’t want. Even if some place seems out of your reach or impossible give it a go anyways because you never know. Try to build up your CV as much as you can before coop. Good grades are always welcome but experience will make you stand out. Again though, you’re going on coop to learn so you don’t need to have your own radio show or weekly column in a newspaper, even just helping out at your local radio station, having your own blog or sending a few articles into your local paper every now and can make you stand out.

Also you get out of your coop what you put it. If you don’t put yourself out of your comfort zone and you don’t make mistakes then you’re not learning. Be open to everything your coop throws at you and even if you don’t like your coop, you’re learning that that’s not the field or type of environment you want to work in when you graduate. Remember everything happens for a reason.


Sarah Talty is a 3rd year BA Journalism & New Media student at the University of Limerick. From Clare, Sarah loves books, chocolate, Netflix, napping and writing, not necessarily in that order.