I don’t want my first year to be over already!

Friday May 16th 2014

When you read this, the Easter holidays will well and truly be over. Lent is finished, chocolate Easter eggs have been ate to the point of bursting, and the final 3 weeks of the semester are underway before exam season starts – eek! I was told on a regular basis how the second semester goes faster than the first and that was certainly true. To be honest, I am a bit ambivalent about the year nearly being over. On one hand, I am definitely looking forward to a jam-packed summer. Then again, I don’t want my first year to be over already! Especially as my course is only 3 years! I can definitely see myself being one of those perpetual students, forever completing postgraduate study just to prolong entering the big, bad world of the 9 to 5 job! Above all else, I suppose I should be grateful though – you know what they say, time flies when you’re having fun and it would undoubtedly be worse if I didn’t love my course or living away from home! So I’m definitely counting my blessings in that regard.

It seems to be a common pattern in my life, but during last month, all of the events were jam-packed into a few days – when it rains, it pours! Firstly, the QUB Michaela Foundation Society were nominated for ‘Best New Society’ for the Students’ Union Awards. We were really delighted to be nominated, especially as we have only been holding events since February! Add this to the fact that we were facing stiff competition and it reiterated what a great privilege it was to even be considered. 1044050_611093732308447_988782212_n

The nomination meant that Kelly, myself and a few members from the committee made a presentation in front of a judging panel along with an interview afterwards. Writing the presentation was an enjoyable period of reflection and allowed us to reminisce on the excitement we experienced of setting up the society. The actual awards ceremony allowed us to get glammed up for the evening, enjoy a dinner and listen to speeches from university staff and award winners delivering impromptu ‘thank you’ speeches. It was a huge surprise to us to actually win, and the comments made by the adjudication panel showed the esteem in which the society is held in the university. It was a great motivator to plan ahead for the future!

Last month, I also ran for ‘Charity Officer’ in the Law Society Elections. I was a bit hesitant about running; I wasn’t sure whether first year students would even run, but I decided to just go for it! I’m pleased that I did, because it was one of the best experiences of my life where I have had the opportunity to make some great friends! As it turns out, my doubts weren’t needed as a lot of first year students ran. I did face a lot of competition, as in this category, there were a total of 7 candidates, making it the most hotly contested position on the executive. I think this speaks volumes, as every candidate had their own reasons for running, usually the delight they have received from working with charities in the past – I know this was certainly the case for me. It felt like being a politician, having to create a voting campaign, design and write a manifesto, and canvass for votes. However, the most nerve-wracking part of the whole process was the hustings event. That was daunting for a number of reasons. The Charity Officer candidates were last to address the audience due to the number of candidates. This meant we got to see every candidate being grilled by the chairperson for the evening, Basil McCrea MLA who was – how shall I put this? – relentlessly thorough in his question asking!  He was very fair to everyone though, giving them an opportunity to deliver the points of their manifesto, and demonstrate their personality, passion and motivation as to why they decided to run.

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When it came to our category, the nerves were certainly running high! II was pleased with how everything went, considering how unplanned and unscripted everything was, including both questions from Basil and members of the audience. Unfortunately, I didn’t win, and yes, I’ll admit, I was disappointed – but I knew that this was a likely outcome due to the large amount of competition. After the initial sadness, I was pleased at how the process never felt like a competition at all. There was no animosity or hostility towards any of the candidates and everyone supported one another and wished them good luck. That’s what is most important! Everyone was delighted for one another, regardless of whether they won or lost. There’s a lot to be said for that mature level of sportsmanship and competitiveness…

BlmYpPCIMAA-rP1Fast forward a few weeks and on Easter Saturday, Michaela Foundation visited Buttercrane Shopping Centre in Newry! I was extremely pleased to be asked to help out a while back and assist in the delivery of a tea-party and fun filled day. We also had some special guests from Alice in Wonderland including the Mad Hatter, the White Rabbit and Alice herself. After the tea party, we got ‘stuck in’ (quite literally – there was lots of glue!) to some arts and crafts activities followed by an Easter egg hunt around the shopping centre! I have to say, I really enjoyed myself; not just working with the children who were all so energetic, but also meeting some of the rest of the brilliant Michaela Foundation team!

As per usual, writing this blog allows for a great time out and an even better form of distraction – something which is badly needed, as sometimes life can be a bit ‘all work and no play’. Then again, I need to remember that there’s a difference in thinking about revision and actually doing revision. As with most students, I fall into the former category about 90% of the time! It can be difficult to find the motivation to begin (In fact, at times, it was so completely lost that I even contemplated offering a reward for its return!) You know you need to be doing some serious work when the library at your uni announces that it is returning to 24 hour opening hours – useful for the night owls amongst us. These exams seem like the end of the world, but if you are in the same boat, just try to remember not to be too hard on yourself – all you can do is your best! If you do that, nobody can ask anything else from you and things always work out in the end! Positive mental attitude works wonders!

All being well, in the next blog, the Michaela Scholars will have completed the Belfast Marathon 2014!