Christmas is peeking its way through

Friday December 6th 2013

Since my last blog, I passed the half-way point of my first semester and it’s difficult to comprehend that it has went so quickly! It has been a crazy rollercoaster of new changes, new people and new experiences all merged into six weeks. However, in meeting this milestone, there is something (scary) looming at the forefront of the minds of many students: mid-term exams.

This month has been pretty quiet as far as University life goes – I guess that’s a true indication of how the work is really beginning! I’ve had the ‘privilege’ of meeting several deadlines in various forms. Everything from coursework components to group presentations and last but not least, class tests. All of which can be daunting in their own way. With the coursework for example, you attempt the basic work and then when you try to refine and perfect it, you begin to worry about the smallest things: is the font okay? Does this sentence make sense? Is this even relevant? Even, at times, did I even listen in that lecture?!?! However, I’ve learned that, like most things in life, you have to trust your gut instinct, try not to get too stressed and just do the best you know you can – Put a bit of trust in God and trust in yourself!

Group presentations weren’t as bad; I’ve always been a person who doesn’t mind public speaking, having participated in it during school and being involved in drama groups from an early age. As daunting and as nerve-wracking as it may be initially, any anxiety soon fades and I start to enjoy it. Yet, at university, things operate a bit differently. Group work can be difficult as everyone has different timetables, different extra-curricular activities, part time jobs and this makes it hard to synchronise on times where we can all meet. As a lot of students say, they can be a bit of an ‘effort’, but it’s actually a great way to meet new people from your course. During times of procrastination, when you’re supposed to be working on your speech, it’s a nice opportunity to have a chat and make new friends.

My final assignment was a class test and this was the one I was most worried about as it contributed quite heavily towards my final grade. It was difficult to strike the right balance in terms of workload; lecturers were giving us several warnings about the importance of constant, consistent revision so you don’t have to ‘cram’ the night before, whereas students from the years above were saying not to worry about it because it wasn’t as bad as they were making out. In hindsight, they were probably telling us that to make us feel better, and it was true to an extent, as I was pleasantly surprised at how well it went. It looks like the revision paid off… or maybe it was the blessed candle that was lit back at home that did the trick! Yet, these tests, as stressful as they are, are a great way of giving you a glimpse of what it will be like in January when the weightings of the tests are much higher. Needless to say, it has obviously taught me valuable time management skills. (Note to self: More time needed in the library…*sigh*)

As riveting as that may be…on to more exciting news now. As I mentioned in my previous blog, Michaela Foundation was at Freshers’ Fair to invite people to express their interest in a potential Queen’s University Michaela Foundation Society. This month, we officially got the green light to go ahead with it! Kelly Loughran, a fantastic volunteer for Michaela Foundation, and I attended the Students’ Union Council Meeting on Tuesday 19th November.  In being the ‘proposers’ for the society, it was our job to formally announce the project to the attendees of the meeting and the voting council. (A massive ‘Thank you’ to RAG Co-Chair Fergal for giving us a heads-up about what it would involve!) Kelly focused on the background of the foundation for the first half of our pitch, explaining how Michaela was a student at St. Mary’s, which is a college of Queen’s, and it would be brilliant to see a continuing legacy. I went on to speak about our future plans for the society. For example, Michaela Foundation is one of the chosen RAG charities for this year and because of the incredible response we received at Freshers’ Fair, there is huge potential for opportunities, plans and development. Once it was over, the council had to vote and I’m pleased to say that the vote was completely unanimous! The feedback we received from the student body afterwards was brilliant and I think it’s fair to say that it gave us a real boost for what will undoubtedly be the beginning of a hugely successful branch of Michaela Foundation!

Speaking of St. Mary’s, I have to say, it was wonderful to see such a great turn out for their Michaela Foundation Society AGM. I loved how the two fellow scholars at St. Mary’s, Killian and Eiméar got stuck in and were elected as Promo & PRO Officer and Secretary respectively – Congratulations! It was also fantastic to see a lot of familiar faces from my previous school and hometown there too! I always get a really good vibe about St. Mary’s – the community spirit at ‘the ranch’ is remarkable!

Now, Christmas is peeking its way through. I’m hoping to attend the Belfast Continental Market sometime before the holidays begin. I’ve only been once before but didn’t really get to spend much time there so hopefully it’ll be fun! – I’ve lost count of the amount of people who have told me to try eating kangaroo…might give that one a miss!

Hopefully next month I’ll be writing this in the comfort of my own home, either enjoying the festivities or stressed to the eyeballs about European Union Law….we’ll have to wait and see!

Until next month,

Stephen.