Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Summer Antics

It has been three months since my last blog post. I hope you enjoyed the silence! A lot has gone on, good and bad, but I will save the negative bits for a later date. For now, a round-up of the good bits is in order...

I got my results at the end of June, and I'm delighted to say that I passed my first year with a 2:1 grade. I also got Firsts in a couple of my second semester modules, which I'm really pleased with. It's so nice to be able to look back on my work for the year with satisfaction and to look ahead to second year. I have to register in a few weeks and choose my modules, which I'm looking forward to. I've pretty much decided on everything I want to do this year, so hopefully my choices will work out as planned.

I've been to a couple of concerts this summer. Back in June, I saw The Who at the O2, performing my all-time favourite album Quadrophenia. I was so excited because I'd been hoping and praying for them to perform that album live for years. A couple of years ago, I saw Roger Daltrey solo performing Tommy and it was one of the best gigs I've ever been to, so to see Quadrophenia as well was something truly special. It was such a perfect night.

A few weeks later, I went to see Brian May and Kerry Ellis perform an acoustic show at the Olympia. I went with my friend and Multimedia comrade Adele, and we had a great time. It was such an intimate show; you could hear a pin drop. Kerry, for those not in the know, is a former cast member of the Queen musical We Will Rock You (which I have been lucky enough to have seen on more than one occasion) and she's an unbelievable singer. We bumped into her on the way in, and she's a lovely person. Afterwards we waited outside for ages hoping to meet Brian, but alas he'd already taken off, so that was disappointing. I met him a few years ago in London when I saw We Will Rock You, and that was an amazing experience. He's truly my number one guitar hero.

I was supposed to be seeing Blur a couple of weeks ago with my sister, but unfortunately I was sick so my ticket had to be sold. I'm still gutted about that, so moving on...

Last month, I went to Leicester for a few days to visit my best friend Mona. I had a great time. It was so nice to see her again, and to explore the city she now calls home. It's a lovely place; I was very impressed. We went shopping and sightseeing, and one of the most interesting parts was going to the Richard III exhibition. Mona is a History student, and I'm a big fan of it myself, so it was an enjoyable time.

I must mention that one of the highlights of my summer has been finally getting to see Monsters University at the cinema. As a huge fan of Monsters Inc., I was unbelievably excited about this, and it didn't let me down. While in Leicester, I ran into the Disney shop and bought myself my very own Mike Wazowski! Here he is below with his Minion friend, acquired by Mona on our trip to McDonald's.

As it's my 21st birthday soon, I have some nice trips to look forward to. My lovely mother and I are going for a spa treatment next week, and then I'm going to Manchester with my dad to see United play Chelsea at Old Trafford. It's David Moyes's first home game as manager, and I can't wait.

My living arrangements are all sorted for the coming year too. I will be living closer to town this year, which means that I will have to get the bus in and out of uni each day, but it's only about a ten or fifteen minute journey depending on traffic. I'll be living with family, so that will be nice. Living on my own last year was a great life experience, even if I wasn't Larkfield's biggest fan. I can cook without poisoning myself or anyone else, and I can look after myself convincingly. It could be a bit lonely at times though, so being surrounded by people I know and love will be nice.

I can't wait for second year to start.

Friday, May 17, 2013

Summer is Here

Well, that's it. Last assignment of the year handed in and I'm officially finished for the summer. While nearly everyone I know is frantically revising for exams, I'm sitting here feeling blessed to be a Multimedia student... in fairness, it's not like I haven't had my fair share of exams in the past few years anyway.

I am now faced with the prospect of four months off, but I sure as hell won't be spending the longest summer holiday of my life sitting on my backside. I've got lots of plans. Here are a few of them.

Make a radio documentary – I've been planning this for months and have finally been able to make a start on it. I won't reveal the details yet because I'm paranoid about idea thieves who might be out there, but I recently recorded an interview and will be conducting a few more soon. Once I have it all put together, I'm hoping to have it broadcast. Fingers crossed.

Write as much as possible – I've already had a few articles published online, and I intend to keep this going. I've also set up a blog on comedy which I have big plans for, so watch this space. I've been meaning to return to writing fiction for some time now (I used to write loads of it) and I finally have the time to do that now without having to worry about assignments etc.

Go to Leicester to visit my friend – Again, something I've been meaning to do for ages, but when you're both busy with university in different countries, it's difficult. The only thing holding me back at the moment is money, but I'm determined to get over there.

Go back to Old Trafford when the new season starts – As my 21st birthday conveniently falls within the first couple of weeks of the Premier League season, I have been promised a match ticket. There's nothing better than going to watch United, and the fact that David Moyes is taking over as manager adds to the sense of anticipation.

Gigs galore – I've got three coming up this summer. I'm going to see The Who at Marlay Park in a few weeks (performing my all-time favourite album, Quadrophenia). Then I'll be seeing Brian May and Kerry Ellis at the Olympia at the end of June, with a friend from my course. Finally, I'm going to see Blur at the beginning of August with my sister, at the National Museum of Modern Art. This is the best summer of gigs I've had in ages!

Record music – Since I got my Zoom H4n for Christmas, audio recording has been made a million times more amazing for me. I'm getting back to playing guitar as much as possible and recording a lot of music.

Hope for a job – I've applied for a job, but I won't say what it is yet in case I jinx it. But fingers crossed!

These are just some of the ways I'm planning on spending my summer. I've never been the type of person who gets bored easily during a long break, but I'm pleased to have all of this to keep me going anyway.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

The End is Rapidly Approaching

Believe it or not, I'm into the last two and a half weeks of first year already. I think everyone is in a state of shock that it has passed so quickly. As expected, I am extremely busy with work. I have a 'creative biography' essay to hand in (I chose to do mine on Spike Milligan, and I have thoroughly enjoyed writing it), a video project to work on, another website to design and several articles to write for it. I have to say, though, there are times when none of it actually feels like work because I'm enjoying it so much. Well, most of it. I had a group presentation last week which I am only too relieved to have finally got out of the way...

Aside from having two and a half weeks of lectures left, I also have only three more radio shows. It's been great fun. As I've mentioned before, DCUfm has undoubtedly been the highlight of my year, and I hope to continue presenting The Rock Files next year. One way or another, I'm incredibly excited to be involved with the station for another two years.

Speaking of which, this week I also won a free pizza for a piece I wrote about my time at DCUfm so far. You can read it here if you wish: What do I love about DCUfm?

As for my summer plans, I'm about to start applying for jobs, though I'm not overly optimistic to be honest. I'll also be working on a radio documentary, the details of which will be revealed in time, and will be doing a bit of web design, both for myself and for other people. I'm trying to save up enough money to go and visit my friend in Leicester, and then I'm also going to play lots of guitar, as I have sadly been neglecting it since I started university. Terrible I know.

So that's pretty much the plan for the next four months of my life, and then I'm a big second year. Scary!

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Assignments, Snow and Hybrids

I'm back in Dublin after spending Reading Week at home doing work. I handed in my Writing for Media assignment yesterday. It was a 1000-word magazine article. I've also handed in my first web design project and my group has finished our audio project.

As well as doing assignments, I've also been busy compiling a highlights package (minus the music) of my radio show, The Rock Files (6pm Thursdays on DCUfm!) which my co-host Aisling and I have entered into the Hybrid Student Media Awards. The Hybrids take place in the Helix on 4 April, and each category is judged by an industry professional, so it's all very exciting. We've entered the Best Arts/Features Show category. Competition is stiff, of course, but it'll be a great experience just to have entered.

You can listen live to the show on Thursdays via the station's website. If you want to hear the highlights package of what we've done so far, here's the link to the file on Soundcloud!
The Rock Files on DCUfm

This is a relatively short week, as Easter weekend is coming up! I'm going home tomorrow evening after the radio show, and I will be catching up with my bezzie on Friday... can't wait!

For the past two days, though, it's been snowing on campus. Here are a couple of pictures taken from my bedroom window in Larkfield:

Hope you all have a good Easter!

Friday, March 8, 2013

Multimedia: What To Expect

I noticed recently that one of my most-viewed posts on this blog is the one I did about on campus accommodation, which leads me to believe that a lot of prospective students have been checking it out. This gave me the idea to do a post especially for people who might be thinking of coming to DCU to study Multimedia specifically.

Presumably you have an interest in media, though you're probably not sure exactly what career you'd like to have. This is fine, because you have plenty of time to decide. The great thing about this course is that it allows you to experiment in lots of different areas. Although you do have to be a bit of an all-rounder, don't worry if you're not good at everything.

Don't think that this is a 'doss course' just because it's ten hours a week. If you're thinking of doing Multimedia because it seems like an easy option, you're doing it for the wrong reasons. We don't have exams in first year, but that's because we are assessed on the assignments we do. You will have two assignments in most modules and they will take up a lot of your free time, particularly as the weeks progress. You will be expected to put the work in outside of lecture and seminar times, so make sure you use those free hours!

If you've read the course information on the DCU website, you'll have seen that you don't need previous experience before studying Multimedia. This means that you will be taught the basics of every piece of software you use, but you will also have to teach yourself some things too. The lecturers are always there to help if you get stuck with anything, but there's a lot to be said for practising in your own time and developing new skills.

Group work is a huge part of Multimedia, so if you're not used to working as part of a team, you're going to have to work on that. We probably do more group projects than individual assignments, but it's really good for your personal development and also something you'll more than likely have to apply in the workplace. It's great for making friends too.

A lot of people seem to ask what the difference is between Multimedia and Communications. The two courses are similar, and we share certain lectures and do some of the same things, plus they can both lead to some of the same careers. The main difference would be that Multimedia is more 'hands-on' than Communications, and our course is much more software-based than theirs. For example, Communications students don't do web or interface design at all, whereas Multimedia students do. One of the main things you should have as a Multimedia student is a love of technology and computers, because almost everything you do will be based around that.

I've said how important it is to work on things outside of class time, and this includes extracurricular activities. We are blessed with many amazing societies at DCU, and getting involved in them is so important. Every Multimedia student should make it their business to join the Media Production Society, which comprises DCUfm and DCUtv. The real-world experience you gain from this society is invaluable, and it will make your CV stand out from the crowd.

Finally, if you're a person who thrives on creativity and you are willing to work hard, this course is perfect for you. You will only get out of Multimedia what you put into it, so if you never go to lectures or do any work, you're not going to gain anything from the course. If you really throw yourself into everything it has to offer, it will be the best experience of your life.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Food, Glorious Food

This week I have overdone it a little on the junk food front. Okay, that's an understatement. I have actually been overdoing it all my life.

Everyone knows I have a passion for chocolate. An all-consuming passion. You can imagine my delight, then, when I discovered the chocolate brownies served in the DCU canteen. These brownies have been my comfort food for the past few months. I can't resist them. When I see them, I buy them. It's as simple as that. Unfortunately, this is at the expense of real food. When my friends are eating their curries and steaks and fruit salads (not all together, obviously) I'm busy tucking into my brownies, with a bottle of Club Lemon on the side. It's terrible.

I've always had what you might call a sweet tooth (more like a head full of sweet teeth) but I'm convinced I've become steadily worse over the months I've been at university. When I'm at home, there is no way I would have a fizzy drink every day of the week. When I'm here, it's another story. Take this week for example. On Monday I walked into the shop with the intention of buying toilet paper and nothing else. I walked out with my intended purchase, plus a bag of Haribo Starmix and a four-pack of Cadbury's Wispa bars. Never mind that I already had a giant Aero bar waiting for me back at the apartment. Disgraceful. As my mother is forever telling me, it's a wonder I'm not diabetic.

Seriously, I think the only reason I'm not diabetic is because I have an extremely fast metabolism. I probably expel calories from my system quicker than many people, because I seem to lose weight rather than gain it. Sure, I play football once a week, but I'm not sure that has anything to do with it.

Anyway, when the full realisation of my behaviour hit me, I decided to set myself a challenge. I would not buy a chocolate brownie this week, and I would limit myself to one bottle of Club Lemon. It was bloody hard, I can tell you, because willpower doesn't exist for me where sugar is concerned. But somehow I managed it. This afternoon after my lecture, I bypassed the brownies and fizzy drinks and headed straight for the apple juice. I also bought sausages and chips, which ain't exactly bursting with goodness, but at least it was hot food.

I worked out that buying a chocolate brownie today would have meant sacrificing my bus fare for tomorrow, so as well as the obvious health benefits of cutting down on the sweet treats, I get to save money too. And students, as we all know, are obsessed with saving pennies. How long will it last though? I'm not too sure. This time next week, all my hard work could well come undone. Meanwhile, there will be pancakes to enjoy when I go home tomorrow...

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Going Home at Weekends

I love my degree, especially this semester. I love the work and the modules and the whole experience of being here. That said, I also really enjoy going home at the weekends to see my family.

When I started this blog last summer, I talked about our move from Dublin to Wexford when I was twelve and why it was so hard for me. I talked about my lack of any emotional attachment to Wexford. That's still as true as it ever was, especially with my friends all being away at university themselves. But when I go home on a Friday afternoon and the bus pulls into Enniscorthy, I do feel content for one reason - I can see the family. Okay, and sleep in my own cosy bed for a couple of nights.

This whole 'going home at weekends' lark is an alien concept to many non-Irish people. As I've mentioned before, my best friend is studying in Britain, and she tells me that students there just do not go home very often during term. It seems that American students don't really do it either, unless they actually live nearby, in which case they probably live at home with their parents anyway. But we Irish seem determined to make the trek. I know people from Galway who have a good four-hour journey ahead of them, and they do it every week. Mine is not quite so bad; I can do it in two hours by bus depending on traffic.

Some people would argue that if you go home every weekend you're not completely independent. Well that's true, but I think that being semi-independent is good enough for now. I wouldn't say there are many students who are able to fund their own education - you're either on a grant or your parents can afford to pay your fees - so are any of us truly independent at this stage in our lives? Anyway, if your cooking exploits during the week are relatively successful (as mine have become) then it's nice to have a break at the weekend and enjoy Mammy's dinners. After all, you can't beat them.

I don't know what it's like at other universities, but as far as DCU is concerned, the campus is dead at weekends. The shop is closed, the restaurant is closed, so is the library on Sundays. Everyone living on campus is gone home, so there's no one around. There's only so much wandering around the city centre you can do - if there's no one to talk to, you're going to be lonely. I don't see the appeal in spending my weekends like that, so going home is the logical option.

It's funny what you take for granted, even just being away for a few days. My shower in Larkfield is perfectly adequate - it gets the job done, even if the water has an annoying tendency to heat up and cool down every few seconds - but having a shower at home is luxury. I've never been one of those girls who take ages to get ready in the mornings (at any rate I prefer evening showers) but I have realised that recently I've been taking longer showers at home than I would in Dublin. Also, the bed situation. I think I've mentioned before that my bed here is pretty comfortable, but there's nothing quite like my own bed at home. After a week in a single bed, a double bed is pretty damn amazing.

The only irritating thing about being at home is that my parents and sisters have developed a strange habit of forgetting that I've actually been present for certain events. For example, my sister might say, "X fell over on Dancing on Ice last weekend." And I'll say, "I know - I was here watching it with you, remember?" Sometimes it's like the only one who remembers I was there is the dog.

Back to the positives though. I really am very close to my parents and we get on so well. Some of my friends think that's really odd, because you're supposed to fight with your parents! But I can honestly say that the vast majority of the time, we get on fine. We've always been a close family, and I think that's probably the main reason why I love going home at weekends. It's a nice balance to have.