My first year of college.

In August of last year, which seems like a lifetime ago now, I found out that I had been offered a place at the University of Limerick to study Journalism and New Media, my first choice, and I couldn’t have been happier.

After doing my leaving cert, universally agreed as one of the worst years of a young person’s life, I was looking forward to a fresh start, to having new experiences, moving out of home and beginning the next chapter of my life.

So, I set off for college with a lifetime supply of any item I could ever possibly need, courtesy of my mother, and hope in my heart (and vodka).

However, like many, I got off to a bit of a rocky start at UL.

I was nervous about meeting new people, intimidated by the size of UL’s massive campus, and after a rather overwhelming orientation day thought I had made a huge mistake coming here.

My first week was tough, I didn’t seem to be able to get the hang of anything and felt like I was failing at every turn.

I decided to try my hand at ‘Total Body Workout,’ an absolutely torturous exercise class in which everyone knows the routine except you and I can only suggest be renamed ‘Total Death Wish.’ I ended up completely humiliating myself and left feeling deflated.

If life is like a boomerang, mine had come back and hit me in the face, repeatedly.

However, UL has a way of making you feel all at once at home. When you go to UL you instantly become part of the family, or should I say the “wolf pack.”

By the time week three rolled around, I really felt like I was finding my stride. After being quite apprehensive to begin with I had fallen in love with my course and was slowly getting used to the different ways academics work in college.

I struggled for a long time, and still do to a degree, with my workload being left entirely up to me. After fourteen years of being told what to do and how and when, I wasn’t sure if I was doing too much or too little or if I was even focusing on the right things.

This subsequently lead to many a late night feverishly hammering away on my laptop trying to finish essays due the next day. This still happens from time to time (weekly), I am a procrastinator extraordinaire after all, but I feel like I’ve found my pace now.

I even found myself, a former loather of night clubs, really, genuinely enjoying the night life in Limerick, the abundance of takeaway pizza on tap afterwards may have sweetened the deal for me somewhat.

The end of semester one seems to sneak up on everyone at UL and I was no exception. I was so busy with assignments that at times all I could do was lay on my floor and simply contemplate all I had to get done.

The library was my saviour. If you’re like me and find yourself too easily distracted when you try to study at home, I cannot recommend it enough. After a few six hour stints and possibly a few frustrated tears later, I was packing up my bags to go home for Christmas.

Semester one kind of sums up the emotional rollercoaster that to me, is college. Semester two goes by quicker than you can say “Three euro Mondays in Angel lane!” and you will find yourself, like me, looking back on what has been one of the best years of your life.

UL is one of the most accommodating, diverse, and fun places I have ever been. I’ve found my first year challenging but so rewarding. I have grown so much as a person, learned so many things bo,th in and out of lectures, and had so many amazing new experiences.

My only regret from first year was not getting more involved in some of the amazing clubs and societies offered at the college. Living off campus, I was honestly just too lazy to make the effort to go back onto campus in the evenings and I really wish that I had.

Most importantly, I was exposed to and made friends with some of the best and most interesting people in my first year at college, none of whom I would have had the pleasure of meeting if I had given up when I was struggling in that first week.

If I were to give any advice to incoming first years to UL, it would be to do something you love because it makes study and assignments so much easier, and while you’re in first year try not to get too bogged down with grades, as long as you are trying your best. It will take time to get into the swing of things.

I guess you could say that my boomerang is back on course!

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