Saturday, 25 November 2017

Death by Deadlines

Hello everyone!

I'm not going to lie, the past few weeks have been quite stressful as I have been drowning in deadlines. I'm not even exaggerating when I say this was my schedule for this week just passed:

Monday - Organisational Design essay due
Tuesday - Mock interviews and a Spanish presentation on a Cuban film
Wednesday - Spanish written exam
Friday - European Union law essay due

Literally how disgusting is that?! On top of it all the essay-writing and revising, I've had all my classes to attend as well as my extracurriculars. I still have 1 deadline and 2 exams over the next  9 days but after the week I've just had, I think I'll manage!

So I just wanted to write a quick post to give a few tips to anyone who is also currently up to their eyeballs in deadlines.

  • Get organised. If you have essays and reports to write, start your reading and research far in advance. It's makes your life so much easier and actually ends up saving time because if you have everything you need on a word document, when it comes to actually writing the thing you'll find it actually starts to write itself.

  • Take breaks. It's so important to get the balance between working hard and having down time, which was what I struggled with last year and it can lead your mental health to not-so-great places. I treat my uni days like work days, even if I only have an hour or two of class during the day, I go to campus at 9am and leave around 5pm/6pm. This means I'm working solidly during the day and so can afford to chill in the evening.

  • Study with a friend. I'm so much more motivated to study when I'm with someone because I can't get away with being lazy! My friend Lauren and I study together all the time. Even if we go and sit in the silent area, just knowing she's working makes me work. Also, it's great because every hour or so we take a quick break, have a lil chat and then get back into it.

  • Take care of yourself. This time of year is stressful and it's so important that you look after your well-being. The last thing you want is to be having to write essays and study whilst being ill. Make sure to eat well, exercise (even just a half an hour walk) and get lots of sleep, the golden formula for staying healthy.

I hope these tips are of use to even one person! And if you're currently in the middle of deadlines or have exams coming up, good luck! You can do it! :)

- Caoimhe x

Friday, 10 November 2017

Over a Year Later...

Hi everyone! Long time, no speak…

First of all I want to apologise for being MIA for the past 15 months or so. You would not believe the year I’ve had. It’s definitely been the biggest rollercoaster of a year I’ve ever had but also the year in which I have grown the most as a person and learnt the most about myself and just life in general, as cheesy as that sounds.

In August last year, I got my A Level results and found out I’d got more than I needed to get into the university of my choice, the University of Bath, to do the course I have wanted to do since I first read about it when I was in Lower Sixth. I was absolutely over the moon! However, for anyone who doesn't know Bath is a city in the south-west of England, and I am from Northern Ireland and have grown up in the countryside living with my parents and siblings so the prospect of packing up my life and moving across the water to a place where I knew nobody was very daunting.


So on the 24th September, my parents and I boarded a plane to Bristol and hired a car to drive to Bath. I had been so excited on the flight over but when we were in the car I suddenly got so nervous that I wanted us to just keep driving and driving until we ended up in Scotland or just somewhere that wasn't Bath! But lo and behold, my parents didn't fancy a spontaneous trip to the Scottish Highlands that day so we arrived in Bath about half an hour later. I unpacked all of my stuff and got settled into my room before meeting my flatmates. Little did I know I had such enjoyable times ahead with some of these people...

Saying goodbye to my parents on the Sunday was probably one of the hardest things I'd had to do. At the time it felt like I was never going to see them again, which I know sounds silly and even now I'm like 'how did we feel like that?!' because I was back at home this summer as if nothing has changed, but at the time it was horrendous. But one of my flatmates Rosie, who would later become one of my best friends, cheered me up that night by having a right natter and a good old laugh, definitely helping us to get to know each other better.

Rosie and I as lil awkward Freshers

Monday signalled the start of Freshers' Week which was definitely a once in a lifetime experience. To this day I still can't figure out whether I liked it or not and every time I discuss it with my friends we all come to the conclusion of a single sentence: It was weird. It definitely had its ups and downs and when I think of it now I think of the awful homesickness I had during the day but how much fun I had getting dressed up and going to the themed club-style nights with my new flatmates. There was definitely a certain contrast of emotions going on throughout that whole week and even into my first week of classes. I was so excited to start lectures because it was a whole different experience from being in school and, as I said earlier, this was a course I had wanted to do for 2 years so I was really looking forward to learning more.

I would say it definitely took me the whole of the first semester of university to settle in. Being away from home was very hard for me at the start. There were times I felt lonely and down and I would just phone my parents and cry because I was regretting so badly that I didn't stay at home and go to my local university. On top of this, the course I was doing was quite different than I had been expecting and the workload was insane. I knew it was going to be a lot of work but I hadn't realised just how much and the amount of additional reading I would have to do. Don't get me wrong I had made great friends and was really enjoying the social side of university but I was starting to question whether I was actually made for the type of course that is as academic as the one I do. However, by the time Christmas came I was starting to feel a lot happier. I had accepted that I wasn't going to love every aspect of any course I did and that maybe the Semester 1 modules just weren't my cup of tea, which is perfectly okay.

I had a really enjoyable Christmas holiday back at home and it was so great getting to spend nearly a full month with my family and my friends from home. I even got away on a cheeky trip to Amsterdam with my cousin in the second week of January, which was so lovely.

By the time the middle of January came I found myself wanting to go back to my little uni room and to see my uni friends which made going back a lot easier. The only down side was that I was going back to do my first set of university exams... I definitely found it hard studying for these exams simply because of the fact that I wasn't enjoying the modules so I was quite unmotivated but one day I just told myself I was going to have to suck it up for the revision time and exam period and then I never have to do those modules again. The exams were difficult enough but I found out in March that I had passed all of them, thankfully!

I absolutely loved Semester 2. When I came back after inter-semester break (the break between January exams and the beginning of Semester 2), something felt different. I felt a lot more settled and Bath really was starting to feel like my home away from home. I feel like by that stage I had found my feet, had a solid group of really good friends that I could really rely on and had just settled in to living independently. I enjoyed my course a lot more and just had so much fun. My friendships grew stronger and I have friends now that I know will be my friends for life. We've been through too much together - it's too late to turn back now!!

The only blip really in second semester was when I sadly lost my granda on 5th March after an 8-year-long battle with Alzheimer's Disease. I had been home that weekend to see my brother in a production of Les Mis and my granda had been in hospital for almost 2 weeks by then and was going downhill quite quickly so we knew he wouldn't be able to hold on much longer. It was really sad saying goodbye to such an amazing man, a man who always put everyone else above him, a man who gave his whole heart and everything he had to his wife, his children and his grandchildren, but we were also relieved that he was no longer suffering after such a long battle with such an awful disease.

After Easter holidays in April, I had two more weeks of class before my second set of university exams in May. I found this period easier because I'd been through it before and also, I know some people find it easier to revise when it's bad weather, but I definitely can concentrate better when it's sunnier because I'm in a better mood. Plus, my motivation around this time was heading to the lake on campus with a book and some of my friends which helped get me through all the days I had to study!

At the beginning of June, I moved out of my campus accommodation. I was actually a lot sadder than I was expecting myself to be when I was packing up my little room, but that had been my home for the previous 8 months so it's understandable I think! Saying bye to all my friends was hard but it's so easy to keep in touch these days with all the various forms of social media and we knew deep down that although 3 and a half months sounds like a long time, it goes so quick! Especially when it's the summer!

The 27th of June marked my mum's 50th birthday so we took a family trip to London for 5 days which was so good! I'd only been to London once before so it was nice to go back and do the things we hadn't had the time to do before. We went to Kew Gardens, took a boat trip down the Thames, went to Windsor Castle, among other things. The main event for my family, however, (because we're all massive musical theatre geeks!) was seeing Les Mis in the Queens Theatre on the night of my mum's birthday, since it's her favourite musical. It was absolutely AMAZING! Literally, my emotions were all over the place, it was just incredible.

I spent most of the month of July in my holiday house with my family, playing golf and going for walks, bike rides and hikes so it was super chilled. In the 3rd week of July, my friend Rosie came to visit and I had such a fun 5 days showing her around Belfast and various other parts of Ulster. We did the open top bus tour of Belfast, the Titanic museum, went to the Giant's Causeway, Carrick-a-rede rope bridge, went to the most northerly point of Ireland... We fit so much into the short amount of time she was here!

August was a very different month. I was working in Spain for the entire month as an au pair, so basically I was living with a family and teaching the children English during the day, occasionally looking after them when the parents were both working. I was in a little village of 800 people (!) in Aragón and was there with of one of my best friends from uni, Lauren. We were there with the intention of improving our Spanish as our course is business with Spanish and I feel like my Spanish definitely improved as a result, as well as my confidence in the language, which is great. It was amazing having Lauren there too because we were able to do stuff together in the evenings and at the weekends the 2 families took us on trips to see other parts of the region together so it was kind of a half way point between working and being on holiday. The family I was living with was lovely and the kids were so cute! There were 2 girls, aged 12 and 4, and a boy, aged 8. I had such a great time teaching them and becoming like their "hermana mayor".

This was the view of village from a hill behind it - I'm not even exaggerating about how small it was!

A lot of September was spent catching up on sleep I'd missed out on in Spain, getting ready for going back to uni and doing a bit of volunteering to fill my time. So on the 27th I came back to Bath and moved into the house I'm living in this year with 5 of my friends. We've made the house so homely and cosy, I love it! And I have a double bed this year which is amazing! I've never had a double bed to myself!!

I started classes again on 2nd October and I've been enjoying my course a lot more than I did last year. The modules are better suited to me this year - I'm particularly enjoying marketing and another module about people and organisations which is more the psychology side of business. 

So that brings us up to now really. I have a lot of deadlines coming up in the last two weeks of November so we're all having a bit of a stressful time at the minute but come the 29th November it'll all be over and I'm very excited to start getting into the Christmas spirit then! Also, at the minute, we have to be planning our year abroad next year so that's all very exciting! At the minute I'm thinking of going to Business School in South America for a semester and then working in Spain for 6 months so I can get the best of both worlds in both senses (ie. studying/working and Spain/South America). I'm also looking forward to getting to go home for 2 nights next week since I have 2 days off uni and haven't been home since I came back to uni. It'll be nice to see my family again and get my head cleared of some of the stress, even if it's just for 36 hours or so. I'm also craving having a home-cooked dinner made for me - I miss mum's roast dinners!!

So yeah, that was a very condensed (but somehow still rambley) catch up on my last 15 months. I'm so sorry I neglected my blog but I'm very glad to be writing again. I'm not sure how often I will be posting now, I think I'm going to play it by ear and just see what happens.

I hope you are all well and that you have a lovely weekend!

- Caoimhe x

Friday, 26 August 2016

My Trip to Barcelona

On Wednesday 29th June, my family and I arrived in Barcelona airport. We had been travelling since 1am that morning as we had a 2-hour bus journey to Dublin airport and then a 3-hour wait in the airport for our 6am flight. Needless to say, we were pretty tired but also very excited! My mum and dad had been to Barcelona before but my siblings and I had not so we couldn't wait to see what it was like.

We got the metro to the Sagrada Família, the stop nearest the apartment we were renting. I'd heard about the Sagrada Família before, both in Spanish class in school and through researching Barcelona before we went. I'd seen a lot of photos of it but nothing could have prepared me for what I saw when I got out of that metro station. It is absolutely enormous! It looks so powerful and is such an incredible building! We were so lucky with our apartment because it looked right out at the Sagrada Família. Waking up every morning, opening the curtains and seeing a world heritage sight right in front of you is something amazing!

This was the view from my bedroom window with no zoom or anything!
After we got settled and unpacked, we were all pretty tired so we slept and just took it easy for a few hours. But we still wanted to do something that evening to kick off our holiday so we got the metro to La Plaça de Catalunya and walked down Las Ramblas, which are famous streets in Barcelona lined with lots of little cafés, shops and stalls. We walked down as far as the port where there were lovely views of the city. It was a nice relaxing start to the holiday and gave us a feel for Barcelona as a city.

The next morning we got up bright and early and took the metro to Camp Nou, the home of Barcelona FC. If I'm totally honest I was a bit disappointed with it as a tourist attraction because we just had to walk around ourselves with no information on the stadium or the team. I would have liked for there to have been tour guides or even audio guides to provide information as we walked around. But aside from this it was cool to actually see the massive stadium! Imagine playing there whilst 99, 354 people are shouting and screaming!

After that we went to Park Güell, a famous park containing a lot of Gaudí's architecture and designs. I really enjoyed walking around it and seeing everything. His architecture has quite a Roald Dahl-like feel to it with curvy, childlike designs. The park also offered amazing panoramic views over all of Barcelona. It's such a beautiful city!

On Friday morning, we went across the street to the Sagrada Família, where we rented some audio guides to listen to while we walked around it. It was so good to finally see the inside after being able to see only the outside everyday since we'd arrived! The inside of it really surprised me. It's a lot more modern that I was expecting! The fact that it's still under construction probably should have given it away that it would be quite modern but I think because the outside looks quite old I was expecting the inside to as well. I'm so glad we got the audio guides because I learned so much in the space of the hour the tour lasted. Gaudí had put so much thought into every single detail of the basilica. It just blew my mind!

This was me not realising a photo was being taken hahah, but you can see the architecture nicely

That afternoon we walked halfway up Montjuïc, a hill in Barcelona, and then got a cablecar up to the top. There, we walked around the Castle of Montjuïc, enjoying the amazing views it offered of the whole city.

After dinner that evening we went back to the bottom of Montjuïc to see the shows that are put on at weekends and during the summer at the Magic Fountain of Montjuïc. The water was lit up every colour you could imagine while music was playing, and I guess you could almost say it was dancing along! It was amazing!

Saturday was our last full day in Barcelona. In the morning, we went back down to the port and took a 90-minute boat trip that took us along the coast of Barcelona. You could see everything and the views from the distance were beautiful!

That afternoon, we went to the zoo at the request of my youngest sister, Clare, and my brother, Patrick. The zoo in Barcelona was home to Snowflake, the albino gorilla, until he died in 2003 and they have a lovely exhibit about his life and the history of albino gorillas which was really interesting! The zoo is situated within the Parc de la Ciutadella so when we were finished in the zoo we had a walk around it. It's a beautiful park with a lake and a big fountain so it was really enjoyable to walk around.

Our flight on Sunday morning was early so we didn't have time to do any more exploring of Barcelona unfortunately. I had such an amazing few days there and I can't wait until I can go back some time. If you are looking for somewhere to go for a city break, I would really highly recommend going there! It is so beautiful, has so many great restaurants and bars, and there is something interesting around every corner. I absolutely loved it!

Did you go away anywhere this summer? :)

- Caoimhe x

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Monday, 27 June 2016

Clinique Moisture Surge Tinted Moisturizer | Review

I bought the Clinique Moisture Surge Tinted Moisturizer last year and it was my holy grail beauty product last summer, but as summer became autumn I wanted something with a bit more coverage and went back to wearing foundation on a daily basis. However, as it is summer again I’ve been increasingly finding myself reaching for this tinted moisturizer and I realised the other day that although I had written a bit about it in my Summer Favourites last year, I haven’t written a detailed review of it so here goes.

The first thing I love about this tinted moisturizer is the coverage. It’s light but buildable, which is perfect for the summer as I find I want to wear as little makeup as possible but still have a bit of coverage as my skin is prone to blemishes and redness. I like that with this tinted moisturizer you can apply it all over your face for a light coverage but apply a bit more over any spots or blemishes to build up coverage, reducing the need for heavy concealer.

Another reason why I love this tinted moisturizer is that it is great for dry skin and I truly mean that. My skin can be drier than the Sahara and when it is in this state, foundation just does not work. No sirree! As this is a type of moisturizer it hydrates the skin and gives it a lovely glowy look which can normally be quite hard to achieve when you have dry skin.

A few other things I love about it is that it’s really easy to blend, it acts as a great base for more makeup such as bronzer and it stays in place all day. Not to mention the fact that it contains SPF 15, which is perfect for summer!

For me, the only down side of this tinted moisturizer is the limited shade range available. I’m normally very pale so I use the shade 1, which is actually a smidge too dark for me. Thankfully being out on the golf course everyday during the summer does give my face and neck a bit of colour so it matches fine a few weeks into July. However, this was one of the reasons why I didn’t use it in autumn and winter when I was extremely pale. It would not have been a good look! In total, there are six shades, which is really unfortunate because it means a lot of people may have to miss out on a great product!

Overall I really like this tinted moisturizer. I think the light coverage and SPF 15 make it a great summer makeup product. I also love how dewy and fresh it makes my skin look and feel. I’m definitely adding it back into my makeup routine for the summer!

Do you have a holy grail summer product? :)

- Caoimhe x

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Sunday, 26 June 2016

Weekly Round-Up #4 | June 2016

The beginning of this week was busy but in a pretty mundane way. I'm going on holiday with my family on Wednesday for 10 days and I can't wait! As my parents were working all week and I was the only one in the family with pretty much nothing to do, I was put in charge of organising the sights to see, things to do and places to eat in. So that has been keeping me very busy, which is why I didn't manage to get a post up on Wednesday or Thursday of last week. I'm really sorry about that! I've decided that to make up for the 4 days worth of posts I've missed in my June challenge, I'll continue posting every day from today until the 4th of July. (And then I might take a week off!)

Thursday was a pretty momentous day in my life as I voted for the first time. I think it's kind of crazy that the first time I've ever voted was in what was probably the most important vote of my lifetime: the EU Referendum. I voted for the UK to remain in the European Union and it is something I felt very passionate about after studying the European Union for part of my Business Studies A Level. Also the fact that I'm so into my languages means I'm considering working abroad when I'm older. Being in the European Union opened up many job prospects and would have enabled me to freely travel to and work in France or Spain.

Copyright: ITV News
Also, on Thursday my friends finished their exams which meant that night I finally got to go out and celebrate the end of exams and my birthday! It was such a good night and it was so good to finally be able to just let loose with all my friends! However, I do regret wearing 6-inch heels as my feet were still feeling a bit worse for wear two days later!

A pretty awful photo of my friend Orlaith and I :)
I got home at 2am and sat up for a bit watching the coverage of the EU Referendum results. It got a bit addictive and before I knew it was nearly 5am and they announced that the devastating news that the United Kingdom was to leave the European Union. I am honestly still so shocked about it and I feel that both the short-term and long-term benefits of Brexit could be extremely dangerous, not only due to the impact on the economy and employment levels but also due to a new type of politics that appears to be emerging. I'm also upset that a lot of arguments during the campaign was based on lies. For example, it was not only stated but printed on the side of buses and on billboards that if we leave, we would have £350 million a week to spend on the NHS. On Friday morning, Nigel Farage stated that it was a 'mistake' for Leave to claim this. Sorry but that is not a mistake. A mistake is accidentally saying something you don't mean, but Leave meant this meaning it was a blatant lie. People didn't know this and based their vote on lies such as this. I do fear for the future of my generation and I don't feel it's fair that considering 75% of under 24 year olds voted remain, our future was decided by the older generation. Also, on this note I really recommend reading this opinion piece from The Guardian which sums up perfectly how I, along with a lot of other people my age, feel.

On Saturday, my dad and I went to my holiday house in Donegal as I was playing in a golf competition. I played absolutely awful, but the two ladies I was playing with were lovely and it didn't rain, which is always a positive. In Ireland, any round of golf where you get into the clubhouse dry is a successful round, no matter how you actually play!

My dad and I then got a Chinese and went to my Granny and Granda's house to watch the gaelic match between Monaghan and Donegal and then the Euro match between Portugal and Croatia.

This morning after getting up and packing what little stuff we had brought with us, my dad and I went out for breakfast. I was still full from the Chinese last night so I just had tea and a croissant. When we got back home, we just watched the Ireland v France game and my brother and I made chocolate chip cookies after dinner, which was a nice way to end the week.

- Caoimhe x

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