The Ideal Study Environment (from The Badger, Week 5)

Studying for exams and getting essays done on time at uni can often be difficult at the best of times, however if you attempt to do it at the wrong place at the wrong time, it can be even more monotonous and troublesome. If you make simple changes to where and how you do your work, it will save you time and your sanity.

The first step in improving your ideal environment is to observe what you usually do and figure out if it is working out for you or not. If it isn’t, figure out why. From experience one of the worst places to study is in the bedroom. Obviously many bedrooms at uni are fitted with a study desk, however staying in your room for hours on end can cause a serious case of cabin fever which can make you feel worse. As most students know, staying in your room for too long is a rookie mistake both for study and socialising. The other common mistake students make when studying in their room is the endless number of distractions. You intended on research or even simply note taking, then you realise you are hungry, sleepy or bored. You decide instead to cook, clean your room, watch Netflix and have a nap. Then you realise you did nothing but procrastinate and you panic. If you leave your flat to go study you will feel a lot better being more focused and organised since there are less distractions.

For many students (including myself), it is more productive do complete work somewhere that is designated for studying such as the library or the I.T. lab. The best advantages of going to the library is you have the necessary texts available to you with a plethora of books and journals at your disposal. Another advantage of going to a designated study environment is everyone else there is there for similar reasons, so they will also require a quiet, clean, well-lit place to study just like you. As long as you follow the library or I.T. lab rules and respect your fellow students’ need to stud,y, it is an ideal environment to be productive.

Regardless of where you study, you can still face obstacles for studying. As it was mentioned before, procrastination is a common issue for many students, especially when it comes to gadgets. Since your laptop is one the most important tools for research on Study Direct, contacting lecturers, typing essays, and handing in essays through Turnitin. However your laptop is also used for recreational purposes such as Facebook, contacting friends and family, streaming shows and videos, playing games, and randomly looking up unrelated topics online. One of the best solutions to getting distracted online is downloading an app that can block certain URLs for a certain amount of time. I recommend ‘Cold Turkey’ since it is free and you can choose what websites you want blocked and how long you want them blocked for. Of course you must also be careful with how much you use your phone. Turn off your phone and keep it away from your desk since if the phone is out of sight, it will likely be out of mind.

Another obstacle which is commonly faced is forgetting important things for studying. When you are stuck for something and need it immediately such as glasses, go back and get them, but do not leave your bag or laptop unattended because it will either be stolen or moved by disgruntled students who want the last desk available. If it is non-essential in urgency, do something else with what you have. In the case of forgetting important things, always pack the day before and double check if you have everything you need.

The final thing to consider when studying outside of your flat is how long you want to study for. Try arriving by noon because you will have more of a chance of finding a desk in comparison to 3pm. If you are thinking in squeezing more time even though you are feeling sleepy at night, just stop where you are, go home and get sleep. When you are tired, you will not be able to remember as much as you wanted and you are more likely to make mistakes in your work than you be if you were wide awake.

The most important advice in finding the ideal study environment is to find a place that will help stay motivated and productive to help maximise your grades in the best way possible.

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College: Expectations vs. Reality

College: Expectations vs. Reality

The Buzz.ie

Sometimes college just isn’t what we thought it would be. Louise Clancy writes about some of the expectations and realities we all share when we begin our college lives.

When you first arrive to university, you are excited that you are finally finished with school but a little nervous. No matter how you felt about the situation you had many ideas in your head of what your life in college would be like. As the weeks go by, you realise that some of these ideas are not exactly what you had in mind. This article will list the most common situations in college where the expectations and reality often clash.

College Work

Expectation

Student using laptop in grass Student using laptop in grass

You did the Leaving Cert last year which was absolute hell. But now you’re in college with less hours and all you have to do is show up to the lectures, read…

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University of Sussex Students from Turkey Commemorate Ankara Massacre on Campus (unpublished article for The Badger)

A group of University of Sussex students from Turkey came together outside the Arts A building on the evening of Tuesday 13th October to create a memorial of the Ankara Massacre, which took place on October 10th. Two bombs were detonated outside the Ankara Central Railway Station during a ‘Labour, Peace and Democracy’ rally, made up of over 20 civil unions; where over 120 people died and over 500 were injured in the attack. On Sunday 11th October, thousands of protesters gathered in London to commemorate the loss of lives in Ankara and condemn the terrorist actions of the Turkish government, accused of carrying out the attack. However, Turkish state media has blamed ISIS for the attack.

In light of the London protests and to give solidarity to their fellow citizens, a group of Sussex students from Turkey set up a memorial to those who were killed in the massacre. One of the students named Ardahan, who helped organise the event, explained the reason why the students decided to set up the memorial; because they thought “it was a terrifying attack on people who met in order to demand a peaceful Turkey and the end of violence. We know that we, students from Turkey, would also be marching for peace if we would not be studying currently in the UK. Moreover, bearing in mind the absence of any evidence that the Turkish state is fighting ISIS and the fact that no single person was arrested for being an ISIS member until today, we think that the Turkish state is responsible for the attack as much as the perpetrators are. Thus, we wanted to organize it to be in solidarity with the victims, and express both our sadness and anger.”

At the memorial, it featured a placard that explained what happened at the Ankara massacre, the list of all the names of the victims who died in the attack, messages of support from students, a list of violent terrorist attacks in Turkey since 2011, candles that spelled out ‘PEACE’, and a blue placard in Turkish which is translated to “We missed it to look at the sky with no blood”.  The memorial was received positively by students, albeit many of them were unaware the Ankara massacre had happened. “As some of the students who attended the event on Facebook knew it already, they came with candles and took part in the process of preparing placards and lighting candles. There were also students who did not know what the event was about, though. However, we informed everyone about the bombings and explained them why we had organized the event. When they learned about it, they told us that they are also very sad and that they are in solidarity with us. Most of the students took part in the process of lighting candles and expressed their feelings on the placards. Most of the students told us in person that they are very thankful for the commemoration and that it is of great importance.”

Students from Turkey have had strong reactions regarding this serious incident in their home country. Ardahan stated that many students from Turkey are “very sad and angry at the same time. We are very sad as it is our friends, families, brothers and sisters who died in the march. We know that one of us could also be a victim if we would be in Ankara, although that it is not very relieving that it’s not us, but others marching for peace.” He also discussed on the anger the students have towards the Turkish government’s reactions on the recent violence: “the state shuts its eye on the bombings and does not feel the need to take security measures to protect people marching for peace. We are very angry at the Turkish state as it attacked the victims with tear gas and water cannons after minutes of the bombings while there were dead and injured people all around.”

If Study Abroad Testimonials Were Honest.

At first I was nervous coming to this University in *insert country here* because all I had to go on was the website, and didn’t give me any relevant information. I was also excited because it was an interesting time for me to do things I have have never fone before (but ultimately won’t do as I won’t have money or time to do it). I laugh at how nervous I was then because I was actually right! It was a terrible idea and I wish I went inter-railing instead.

Oh my God, it is only ok! The amount of acquaintances you will encounter and then never see again, will change how you see the world because friendship is really hard, and you question everything you knew about making friends, making you lonely.

I totally recommend studying abroad because if you’re the type of person who relishes in crushed dreams, unfulfilled plans, lonliness and dying inside, this is the opportunity of a lifetime for you!

I’m only here because I got paid to lie students out of their money and use cliches like “you will not regret this” and “it truly is the opportunity of a lifetime” to make my time here better than it actually was.

This will be the biggest mistake of your life! ☺☺☺☺☺☺☺

A Message Re: My Childhood Secret

Roughly two weeks ago, I made a post on this blog about the fact that I was severely bullied when I was 6 years old to the point I was molested at one point. And one week ago, I decided to share it on my facebook profile. I expected it would catch some attention. But what I never expected was to get over 400 views in one day alone! At the time of writing this post, there were 51 likes, 8 comments (excluding my replies) and several private messages.

What I learned after sharing this post is that so many people who are generally liked and respected by many (including myself), were bullied as kids in different ways and were even bullied for longer periods of time than I was. Only one of these people had my condition too, the rest were neurotypicals (non-autistics). I realised that anybody can be bullied and there really isn’t much of a reason why they are targeted. And even if there is an alleged reason for being a target, it is still not a justifiable reason to bully people.

What I also learned is that telling the truth surprisingly helped me break through a wall I never knew was there, and I feel braver than I ever thought I could. This may not cure my anxiety or my insecurities, but it is an important step for me.

I would have never reached this stage, if it weren’t for the support from friends and family who reacted to my post. Most importantly, I want to thank everyone who has read, liked, commented, and supported me for writing this post. Special thanks to my friend Hannah who inspired me to do this with her brave article on Trinity News.

Here are some links below if you wish to read them:

My previous blog post: My Childhood Secret

Hannah’s article: We need to stop treating sexual assault survivors like liars

Many thanks, Louise

My Childhood Secret

I write this story as an inspiration of my friend’s brave story of how she was abused as a child. I will warn you now that this will be personal, contain sexual phrases, and not for the faint hearted, but most importantly, it’s true. But I feel this story must be told to create a dialogue of abuse prevention and the importance of consent.

When I was a child I went to a special school for a few years due to my autism. It was many miles away from home so I would have to go by bus every day (and this was before motorways existed outside Dublin). This bus specifically took kids with disabilities to different schools around the city. When I was 6 there was a new kid. His name was Michael and he was 2 years older than me. He had no obvious disabilities but he was from a damaged background and it affected him, as I would find out the hard way.

I was bullied by Michael on the way to and from school most days. He said mean things to me, stole my possessions followed by threatening to throw them out the window while the bus was moving on a very busy road. One morning I accidentally sneezed on the bus floor, he stole my school bag and decided to wipe the floor with it. I still remember running into school crying about my snotty bag. Luckily the teachers were good to nice and cleaned the bag. I tried telling people that I was being bullied but nobody did anything about the problem. To this day people do not take the bullying I had seriously and  I still do not understand why nobody helped me.

However they were only trivial in comparison to the worst thing he did. On the way home one day, he manipulated me into getting involved with something that no 6 year old girl would either fully understand or wish to do. He wanted to put his hand down my trousers and touch me; in return I would put my hand down his trousers and touch his penis. Although as a 6 year old girl who was quite autistic, I knew that it wasn’t the right thing for kids to do that to each other. And I knew it wasn’t simply just innocent, accidental exploration. He did it on purpose and he understood it was sexual. Not for one second did I want to do it but he had power over me. I was touched without my consent by an older child. To put it simply: I was molested.

For some reason, I told nobody what happened for thirteen years and until this post very few knew at all. It affected how I saw things for a very long time. Being bullied made me discover that I was different to other kids. I knew I was disabled and being disabled made me weak. It depresses me to this day that if was seen as normal, I would have never been bullied. People assume because I have developed as a 22 year old college student with a potential and have loved ones in my life makes that my autism not an issue any more. Nobody understands the jealousy I had with friends, siblings, cousins and classmates because they had no reason to be bullied. Nobody knows how I felt voiceless and inferior for so long because I was voiceless and weak then. I have mentioned I was bullied a few times but people but nobody took it seriously either because it didn’t happen in the school itself or they did not believe child on child molestation was real. Nobody knows what it is like to be doubting if it ever happened because I was just a stupid little girl. But when another victim of his brought it up 3 years ago, it all came back. The pure hatred I had flowed through me, I wanted him to suffer just like I did.  Nobody knows what it is like to try to be strong and not be a fucking crybaby, fearing I will be bullied, attacked and raped because I am weirder, and it’s why I have done not one, but two forms of martial arts. Nobody knows how it makes you scared of having disabled kids because you exactly how it feels and wouldn’t wish this suffering on anybody. Nobody knows how it’s given me anxiety and self-harming tendencies.

With the stories of abuse, rape and molestation I have decided I will not go quiet into the night any more. I was molested at 6 years old. It has made me fear my past and my future. It has made me question my abilities as a person. It has made me feel like I am less of a person. It has made me feel like I am the only person who is like this. I take anti-depressants every night and I may have to go to counselling for the rest of my life.
I refuse to be quiet, I refuse to believe what I am doing is wrong, and I refuse to be dismissed by everyone because it’s not the norm simply because I wasn’t a drunk, skimpy-dressed woman abused a creepy stranger or a child abused by a respected adult with terrible secrets.

Nor will I delete this because it’s inappropriate. But that is the point. We need to get this into people’s minds that sexual abuse towards all ages, genders, sexual orientations, religions, races is wrong. It is NEVER EVER the victim’s fault. If someone says they were abused, believe them. Very few make it up.

To fellow victims: You have a voice. You are not inferior to other people. You are better than your abuser. Just because “things could have been worse”, abuse stories are not a contest. You didn’t give consent and it felt bad, that’s abuse in a nutshell. And don’t forget to make your life great for yourself, because that is how you win at life.

To Michael if you ever see this: I don’t know where you are, what you look like as an adult, how your life is or even if you are alive. I haven’t seen you in 15 years and I am very grateful I haven’t. Although you made my life a living hell, my life has also been pretty great. I have done well in school, I am in a degree I like, I am good at writing articles, I have a stable family, I have friends who respect me, I am in love with a wonderful man who gives me strength and loves me for me, I even get to travel to great places. I won’t say that I want you dead or that I forgive you. But I will tell you this: I fight the fears you give me every day, and every year I get better and stronger, and I am not afraid of you. Touching and bullying me was wrong. My autism was not a reason to hurt me and it is not a weakness. It was disgusting what you did, I hope you realise that and you answer for what you have done. Sincerely, Louise Clancy.

Erasmus Diary Prologue Part 2: The Journey Before The Journey

Hi everyone!

As promised I am telling you the story of how studying abroad became my dream and how I made it into a plausible reality. It will be done in a timeline format because why not!

2009-2010: My older brother spends his third year abroad in Cincinnati, Ohio. As my brother travelled for college, my interest in studying abroad became a vague pipe dream.

Early 2012: When I was in 5th year in secondary school, I was in my careers class. Our teacher gave us college prospectives. Since University College Cork was one of my colleges of interest, I decide to read that one first. I was thinking about doing arts for a few months beforehand but wasn’t fully sure at the time. I looked at the arts pages and I was interested in what was said. The career guidance counsellor later explained that UCC were allegedly starting an Arts International course in 2013. The year I’d start college (provided I wouldn’t screw up the Leaving Cert).
My sister confirms she would attend her third year of commerce in Glasgow, Scotland.

Late 2012: As Leaving Cert year started, I visited universities including University College Cork. I find out that Arts International is confirmed as an upcoming course. There is not much information but it caught my interest nonetheless. In November I put Arts International in UCC as my first choice in the Central Applications Office (CAO).

June 2013: I completed my Leaving Certificate exams.

August 2013: I got 435 points in my Leaving Cert results (and was pretty stoked by that). The following Monday, I received my offer for Arts International. I found out later that day that the course was worth 430 points, meaning I got in by 5 points on merit alone. I was shocked and relieved!

September 2013: I attend my Arts International orientation day (which had many speakers, including my future boyfriend!) I receive information that I would have meetings with my course director in second year. I also become officially registered.

September 2014: As I started my second year of Arts International, my entire course year received a notification that we must do a module about different aspects of the international community. We were only told 2 days before registration. Most of it was boring and irrelevant but learning about the migration issue to Europe and the Mexican/US border control was fascinating. (And the Mexican/US border topic made me want to watch Breaking Bad a lot). This incident taught me to not rely on academic authority for giving information and just seek it yourself.

November 2014: After much concern from the other BA International students, there is a meeting held by the course director about the different universities on offer for the language students, the non-language students for North America, and the non-language students for Europe (which is what I am). I had interest in going to either the UK or the Netherlands given that a language wasn’t required and they weren’t too far away. In the submission form, I put down University of Sussex as my first choice.
I initially panicked since it made no mention that I could do my subjects English and Sociology at the same time. I stated to my director if I couldn’t do one of my subjects, I wouldn’t do the year. He stated that doing both subjects was not only easily possible, but mandatory to do both subjects while in the year away.

March 2015: By the end of February I was getting pretty concerned I had no word from the course director about what college I ended up getting into. I put my question into action by emailing him once a week until I got my answer.  On March 5th, I received a reply stating that University of Sussex has a place on offer for me. I was so excited that day because I had a better idea of where I was going. I was with my friends at the student centre and I sort of made a screeching noise!
Roughly a week later, my course has a final meeting regarding advice on the year abroad. The advice included academic, practical and emotional advice which will more than likely come in handy for many students.

April 2015: In the weeks leading up to my summer exams, I received information on application forms for University of Sussex. I was to send in the information within a week or so by the end of April. There were two problems. Firstly, I couldn’t fill in all of the form immediately and would take several days to be sent to Sussex from Cork. Secondly, I also had all my exams the week of the deadline so it was tricky to divide my time between both tasks. As a result I ended up to pick my subjects at 4am after looking up subjects for several hours. (Not a smart move on my part. I’m still unsure how subjects work there.) But I sent it on time in the end with the help of the UCC International Office.

June 2015: June was a difficult month for me. The reason for this is simple: my anxiety over the unknown and negativity default caused me to panic and doubt the whole year. It all started with discussing housing on campus with others. The truth is English college accommodation is roughly twice as much as Irish student housing. And with the Pound/Euro rate doesn’t favour the Euro, it didn’t get much better. I noticed that the cheaper the housing, the more people in the flat. I flat out refused to live with too many people again (7 other girls in first year, we got into an argument, I left days later). Since cost and the inability to live with big crowds went against me, I doubted everything to the point I was 70% sure of not doing the year. For several days I had a catch 22: Go and risk screwing things up whilst having no friends, no way out, wasting money, time and effort, as well as missing home. OR Stay in Cork and give up a dream I had for 3 years, wondering what if and regretting not going for a very long time to come. I explained to my disability officer the situation and she convinced me that issues can be solved by asking questions to college staff, researching relevant parts of the website, and finding avenues to sort out a compromise between a good cost and a decent house. That was exactly what I did and it made my life easier. If it weren’t for my disability officer, I wouldn’t be doing it. If she is reading, I wish to thank you.

July 2015: I applied for my housing. I settled on an en-suite bedroom which has no more than 6 people per flat (which I can deal with), and in reasonably quiet location. I also filled out a disability form for what I would like in my housing.
My mother started organising what could be taken to England for my year away.

August 2015: I received news of my housing. It was  in a place called Northfield. I never wrote down into application form. Again I panicked and thought negative things. My siblings reassured me that they didn’t get choices they initially applied for but liked their accommodation in the end. Also the housing doesn’t look so bad either. I joined the house Facebook group and found one of my housemates. (Hi Jonas!) I allegedly have two other housemates but they are nothing but room numbers right now. I also applied to the Sussex Buddy Scheme, i.e. people from the college pair up with either Freshers or Exchange students and help them settle into college. The buddy scheme has several events on offer; honestly they are pretty cool and I want to go to most of them. Currently, I am packing up my things for England and arranging my goodbyes to friends and family.

Next week I will be doing the final part of the prologue. See you then!

Erasmus Diary Introduction:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t39XewtMt28