Monday, 29 December 2014

Dear Diary... My First Semester.

Notebook by Foray, courtesy of 

I am the sort of person who apologises to my diary for not having written in my diary in such a long time. As if my diary were offended. As if it had been so excited to read itself.

Beside my bed is a plush purple Foray notebook intended to be my diary for the past three months, as I began my first year of University. For the first few days it bears overwhelming detail… since my flatmates arrived, it has remained relatively untouched.

And that’s OK. For once, I don’t feel guilty for abandoning my diary or my blog. I’ve been too busy actually doing all these things to write about them, as with many other pastfailures.
It will definitely be one of my New Year’s resolutions to fill in more pages of my diary with all the important changes and day-to-day things that are happening, because this is an exciting and important time in my life and I want to be able to remember it all. I want to be able to tell my grandchildren about my adventures, as and when.

So hopefully I’ll have detailed accounts of all the ups, downs, olds and news that occur in my second semester. For now, I’m taking some time out of my holiday, in the manner of a middle-aged married woman writing the annual round-robin for the Christmas card, to take stock of the last few months and chew over all the developments in my life.

Academically, things have been… interesting. The first few weeks really shot my confidence. Having taken 7 subjects at Leaving Cert as opposed to 3 or 4 at A Level meant that I hadn’t studied either Literature or History in as much depth as many other students. Seminars seemed to discuss topics way above my head, often using complex vocabulary I didn’t sully understand. It was a scary, shaky start, going from the top of my classes to struggling in seminars. However, as the weeks went on, two things happened to help me gain confidence: everyone else relaxed and stopped trying to sound smart and intimidating, and I began to catch up and come into my own.

By week ten, I had a presentation to give with a friend for my Cultural Studies seminar, and it went from several weeks of “How the hell am I going to stand up and talk about this?” to standing in front of the seminar group thinking to myself “Actually, I really do know my stuff. Maybe I’m not an idiot after all”. I heard someone whisper “this is really good!” and our tutor then spent some time in the seminar expanding on a topic myself and my friend had introduced. I think this was the point at which things improved for me and my confidence really shot up. A shame it happened two weeks before my main deadlines, but even in those two weeks I found it a lot easier to get my head down and work, knowing that what I wrote would at least be worthwhile.

Now I can’t wait to start my new modules next semester. I’m going into things feeling like I’m on a much more level playing field with my fellow students and knowing that by keeping up with the work, I’ll get there. I also intend to throw myself into my studies next year. At school, I worked incredibly hard and admittedly, I haven’t done so at Uni! I’m not worried though: the priority this term has been settling in, making friends and getting used to new ways of learning.

Socially, living in a flat with thirteen other young students can have its trials at times (mainly involving crockery and shared bathrooms), but things have gone surprisingly smoothly. I’m hoping to publish a list of things they tell you about living in Uni accommodation, and whether or not I think they’re true, very soon! I’ve experienced that mild surprise of meeting new people and finding that they are keen to get to know me and become my friend… and I feel exactly the same about my flatmates, as well as my neighbours and course-mates. The sheer volume of people in one place means that you’re bound to find someone you click with.

Personally, I’ve experienced quite a few of those clicks, and am eternally grateful for it. The first few days after everyone moved in were pretty hard, because I met so many different people that I became overwhelmed and felt like a bit of an outsider. Within a few weeks, though, I couldn’t have felt more a part of things. My advice to anyone feeling like they don’t quite fit is to explain to people exactly why… you’d be amazed how many of your fellow students are feeling exactly the same way, and by opening up that dialogue you get to know some of your new friends even better. I certainly did.
Meeting entirely new people and making first impressions all over again has taught me an awful lot about my own personality—some of it a little surprising—which I’ll go into at a later date.

In short, I’ve met amazing people (and others), I’ve done some incredibly fun things and incredibly stupid things—the two aren’t mutually exclusive—and am looking forward to going back to Uni and seeing everyone again: catching up on their gossip, eating at 2am in the midst of kitchen chats, getting into deep drunken discussions with relative strangers and being hugged at precisely the right moment. 

Happiness-wise (which I used to write a lot about on my old blog), things are pretty wonderful. I feel happy such a lot of the time, and even when I don’t, I know that I will after a little while.
As far as adult-ing goes, it’s been surprisingly easy in some places and shockingly irritating in others. For the most part, I’m coping, but ever since I turned eighteen six months ago I’ve noticed that being an adult involves an awful lot of paperwork.

So that’s a brief summary of my last few months. I’m going to zone in on some bits and pieces for my next posts… I hope you’re all having as interesting a time as I am! 

Wednesday, 17 December 2014

Remember Me? Christmas Tag.

I’m back from Uni and can’t wait to start writing some more blog posts. For now, I thought I’d ease myself in with a “Christmas Tag!”

1)      What are your favourite Christmas Movies?

Hands down, “The Muppets’ Christmas Carol” is the Christmas movie for me. My family watches it several times every year and even the soundtrack alone can get me in the festive mood.

Apart from that, I love “The Holiday” which makes me cry every time I watch it… and do the “Bridget Jones” movies count as Christmas films?

2)      Do you open your Christmas presents on Christmas Eve of Christmas Morning?

Christmas morning. It’s the only way for me. I’m also generally quite strict with myself in that I won’t open any presents ‘til the big day, even if someone gives them to me weeks in advance. It’s just important to me!

The only time I’ve opened one on Christmas Eve was when we stayed up until midnight waiting for my brother to arrive when his flight was delayed. It felt…wrong.

3)      Do you have any favourite Christmas memories?

For me, Christmas is one long happy memory. I love the sense of tradition and continuity—in a world of change, the Christmas staples like the turkey, the pudding and the tree remain the same every year. 

No specific memories come to mind, but Christmas always makes me feel nostalgic for times during my childhood when my whole family was together and there was that sense of excitement and magic in the air.

4)      Favourite Christmas food?

Aside from, of course, the roast dinner and the Christmas pudding, my mum makes the BEST mince pies. I’m also a sucker for a Panettone, as it’s so light after all the heavy Christmas food.

5)      Favourite Christmas gift?

That’s a tough one, but I’ve actually just received a rather overwhelming Christmas gift today. My university has awarded me a scholarship of £1,500 for my Leaving Certificate results! It’s much appreciated and I feel like my hard work just keeps paying off.

I also remember a writing-desk with a chalkboard and whiteboard I received when I was about 4 or 5 and the prospect of school was still a novelty. Those were the days!

6)       Favourite Christmas scent?

Cinnamon, nutmeg and ginger. I always get excited over the Christmas baking and smelling those spices at any time of year can transport me to my home at Christmas time.

7)      Do you have any Christmas Eve traditions?

My family is Catholic so we attend evening Mass each Christmas Eve where carols are sung and the age-old Christmas story is recounted.

There’s one particular priest at my church here in Ireland who apologetically receives a call halfway through the service which turns out to be from “Santy”, making sure all the children go home and straight to bed.

We them come home from Mass and just chill out until it’s time to go to bed… even as an adult (sorry, what?!) I’m still always excited to go to sleep on Christmas Eve.

8)      What tops your tree?

This little woman has topped our tree for as long as I can remember. I’m always adamant that an Angel should top the tree rather than a fairy. Perhaps a star would suffice but I love our angel’s delicate china hands and lace dress.

9)      As a kid, what was one present you always asked for but never received?

I do recall asking Santa for a Barbie Beatle one year and being quite gutted when I didn’t receive it. Luckily, my parents did remember to buy me one for my next birthday and the wait made it all the sweeter! Also, my parents then got the credit for it all by themselves and were for once more admired than the man himself!

10)   What is the best part of Christmas for you?

Oh, I’m a total Christmas nut! I love all parts of the holiday season. I think that especially as I grow up and my family goes our separate ways ever so slightly, it’s wonderful to have everyone together for Christmas. But from the advent candles to lying on the sofa with a sore tummy on Boxing Day, I savour every drop of Christmas.