Tag Archives: college

A life update before we plunge into the good stuff once again.

Hi there friends and people I don’t know. Probably more people I don’t know than friends, actually. But that’s another story.

Last time I was here was August 17th, so I’m going to a nice, easy but relatively boring post in order to ease myself in gently to this blogging thing once again. I’m thinking list form, because there’s less of a chance for me to go off on a tangent and it might look friendlier to the eye for all you loyal readers.

1. Beginning where I left off, I drank a few glasses of whiskey and orange juice the morning of the results, and waited until I knew everyone would be gone from the school and went and collected my results. Neither precaution was really necessary though, because I got 590. And, if you’re like the vast majority of people to which I’ve told this news, you’ll want to know where those 10 points went; the answer being science fucked me over. A1s in everything, and then A2s in biology and chemistry, which I think is quite good for bullshitting my way through science.

2. I went to Electric Picnic. That was terrible amounts of fun. I probably didn’t see as much music as I had planned, but I don’t regret that for a second. Great craic, and a long list of memories that I’m not going to bore you with. Not that I want such stories to become common knowledge. What happens in Stradbally stays in Stradbally. Unless you’re one of those people who holds a grudge. In which case you shouldn’t be allowed go to Electric Picnic in the first place.

3. I started college. Law and French in the mighty as-featured-on-HIMYM UCC. It’s class. Law is interesting, and I like French, or at least the idea of one day being able to speak it fluently. (Or to fluently speak it. Do we have any opinions on split infinitives?) Aside rom the academic stress of starting my assignments 24 hours before they’re due, and struggling to attend lectures after a night out when sleeping is so much more attractive, I love college in general. UCC is lovely, and I’m glad I stayed in Cork, even if I would absolutely love to move out. I like how you’ll always see some friendly face around campus. I like how it’s different from school and so much more ‘me’. I like how my class are lovely and we’ve good craic together. I like arsing around campus even if I’ve a million other things to be doing. I like it in the evening when it’s dark but the illuminated Quad looks lovely and, at the moment anyway, the Christmas lights just make me smile. Oh, and it’s Ireland’s only five-star university, yo..

4. Following on from point three, I do a radio show on UCC radio every Friday, along with three others. It’s in Irish, which wasn’t exactly our plan but I’m glad, because it gives me the opportunity to use my Irish on a weekly basis, something I know would never have happened after I changed my CAO from Law and Irish to Law and French if it weren’t for the show. It’s very ‘organic’ as we like to say on a regular basis, in that it’s rarely well-planned, our Irish isn’t fantastic, I say ‘like’ about 100 times per show, and we’ve started depending on Youtube for music instead of iPods and CDs which isn’t the best idea. Like today we played some Christmas track but there was just random noise for the first 30 seconds while some stupid airport scene took place in the video. If this all sounds like your thing, UCC98.3fm (accessible through iTunes radio) every Friday from 2pm ’til 3pm.

5. I got a MacBook Pro, which pleases me very much. I’d had my good ol’ Sony Vaio for the past three years, and while it was still going strong-ish, I broke the screen by pushing on it too hard when angling it in order to watch Gossip Girl – or something equally embarrassing – in bed one night. So y’know, I told the parents how imperative a laptop was for college, especially in my course so I can save the environment and read various cases and reports on-screen as well as doing assignments and the like. And I told them there was no point in getting me anything other than a Mac because I just wouldn’t be happy. So they bought it for me as my Christmas/birthday present. Quite frankly, it’s the best Christmas/birthday present I ever got, and that ol’ education discount is nice too.

6. Oh I got my Christmas holidays today. We finished off with a charming French exam which we won’t talk about right now. (Ah to be fair I did pass.) Next week is technically study/review week but I doubt I’ll make it into college which leads nicely on to my next point…

7. …because I have tonsillitis! Only made it to two lectures this week as a result, although to be fair I did do a contract law assignment on Monday in between going to the doctor and taking antibiotics. So I finished the assignment half an hour before it was due, made my mum drive me to the print shop in the student centre but they told me they were “closed for printing” (’cause they do so much else) as there was a “big job” going through. Panic ensued, until I remembered this other place up on College Rd., ran there (first time running in UCC, awkward) and then continued my sprint to the law office and I made it, sans-bibliography, with five minutes to spare. Anyway, tonsillitis sucks. First time getting it so the doc wasn’t all ‘to hospital with you!’ but it’s still a terrible nuisance and my tonsils look disgusting and all I want to do is eat sorbet. Made orange sorbet myself one day during the week, squeezing about ten clementines and one large orange in order to get enough juice. The sorbet was amazingly good but it was gone all too soon. And so much for my dad’s promise of getting me more today.

8. I’d love an Irish coffee or a Bailey’s coffee right now. And some sorbet, of course. Slán.

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See-Ay-Oh.

That title may make no sense whatsoever to you, but I was just trying to mix things up a bit. And yes, I am aware that that was an extremely innovative and mind-blowing way of doing it. Titles are not my forte.

If you’re still lost, I’m talking about the CAO. Central Applications Office, for those of you lucky enough not to have a clue what those three little letters stand for; three little letters that strike fear into the hearts of sixth years nationwide. I’ve been thinking about what direction I want to go down later in life for a while now. I suppose that’s an obvious statement. In reality, I think that, as children, we’re always thinking about it, even if we don’t realise it. When I was four years old I decided I wanted to be a vet. Nothing else would suffice.

For the next nine years or so I watched every ‘Animal Hospital’, ‘Vets on Call’ and ‘Emergency Vets’ I could find. I dreamed of opening my own surgery and treating every animal that walked, hopped, flew, slid or swam through the door. Truth be told, I did manage to have my own veterinary hospital, where I successfully managed to treat all the stuffed toys I owned. There was a notebook too, where everything was recorded. I took things very seriously, although I did offer free check-ups.. Not sure was that such a good idea..

Fourteen years on, and I wish I was still as sure about my career as I was back then. Between then and now I’ve contemplated teaching, science, pharmacy, medicine, law, Irish, media and probably a lot more I can’t think of right now. The vet phase lasted until I started secondary school, and slowly I started thinking about science of some description. Then at some point, law became a possibility followed by journalism within the last year or two. To sum things up, I haven’t a clue what to do.

Since starting into our final year of secondary education, we’ve been bombarded with prospectuses, guidance sessions, predict-your-points worksheets, entry requirements, UCAS, HPAT, closing dates, open days and university fairs. That big, brown, scary CAO envelope was thrust into my hands all too soon, and things started to seem a bit too real and ‘official’.

My own dilemma is the fact that I am torn between two completely opposite areas. Should I go down the science route? Medicine, pharmacy, veterinary, biomed, biochem? After all, I’m doing both Chemistry and Biology, as well as honours maths, so surely this is the route I should be taking? We’re told it’s the future of our world, the smart economy, it’s where the jobs and the high salaries will be.

Then at the completely opposite end of the spectrum, we have law, journalism and media. Last Saturday, I went to talk upon talk at the UCC open day. Everything was great and interesting and what have you, but when I was listening to that law talk, it was like something clicked. When the lecturer described a law student, it was like she was describing me. When she talked about career opportunities, it was what I wanted to hear. I left UCC completely set on either Law and Irish or Law International. I had found ‘the one’.

Not for long though. The little insecurities slowly started creeping back. Will I like it? Employment opportunities? Is science ‘safer’? Is science more ‘sensible’? Am I really a more scientific person? So we’re back to square one.

After going through all of this, I have two main issues with the CAO system:

1. How are 17 and 18 year olds expected to know what they want to do? I know this has been said a thousand times before, but it’s so, so true that I see no harm in it being said again. The guidance we receive in school is minimal. Proper career guidance should begin well before we need to begin worrying about CAO forms, ideally in third year. I know that 5th year subject choice has affected a lot of people, so Leaving Cert is too late to begin talking about college courses.

2. My main gripe lies with the points system. This, too, is nothing new, but it probably affects me more than number 1. I’ll say it straight. A1 students only do medicine because they can. They do it for the prestige, to show forever that they got 600 points in the Leaving Cert. How in God’s name could they ever contemplate doing something like Arts? Sure, no-one would even know they were intelligent then! Ha! And so, we end up with lots of unhappy students: those doing medicine who wish they were somewhere else, and those who wish they had gotten medicine, whose place was robbed by unhappy student type 1.

Of course there’ll be exceptions. There are many students who get 550+ and do the low-points courses, because they realise it’s all based on supply and demand. But for the vast majority of them, they’ll always feel the need to answer ‘BIS, but I was thinking of doing Pharmacy too..’, when asked what course they’re doing.

Tomorrow I have my careers interview with the guidance counsellor. Let’s hope she can work some magic.

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Guidance…

I don’t know why they call it guidance at all really. You sit there, listening to that ‘guidance counsellor’ drone on and on about how to apply and where you can do level 6 courses and blah blah. I know all this shit already, I need you to help me figure out to do with my life, not tell me that it’s good to get into the habit of filling out forms in black biro.
The prospectii that I already have at home are thrown at me, and I have to ‘research’ a course, research here meaning reading the brief course description that I’ve read ten times myself already. Everyone proceeds to scribble down banal details such as number of places, course code and where to apply. You people think I don’t know this already?!?! You actually think that just by reading the prospectus in the ‘Guidance Suite’ it will miraculously all become clear as opposed to reading it in the comfort of my own bedroom?
So every Monday, I leave the ‘Guidance Suite’ more confused than ever. I’m being told to do Arts or go to a post-leaving cert college. Not being snobby here, but I’m capable of alot more than a certificate, you people should know this. Or has the motto suddenly become ‘Aim low and you might eventually get there via the longest possible route just in time to have the degree you want to stick on the inside of your coffin’. I’m all for looking at different options, and trust me, I have. I’ve possibly looked at every possible area and course available to me. And to be honest, that’s the problem. I’ve too much choice. If I work hard, I can get however many points I want, so that’s not a huge issue. But where to start?
When I was young, very young, I wanted to be a vet. That dream lasted for a good while and I thought I’d never, ever want to do anything else. I even remember telling my parents that you could only do vet med in Dublin, and what would I do, not realising I’d be mad to move away when the time came.
I think Science came next, although maybe there was a very short period of time where I was interested in teaching. But yeah, from about 1st to 3rd year I was set on Science. I was looking at Biomed, Medicinal Chem, general Science, Biochem and so on. Then I contemplated Pharmacy and thought about Medicine, and to this day I still do. Law crept in round about third year, and is still a strong possibility.
Fourth year opened my eyes to the completely new (to me) area of media. Design, journalism and TV/radio suddenly fascinated me. This all happened for numerous reasons and I still have this idea of what I want to do. It’s an extremely idealistic view of what I’d like to end up doing, but everything starts with a dream. I think I love writing, and design too. I like organising and running events. I like the arts and culture. I like the Internet, newspapers, blogs, film and graphic design. I like Irish.
So right now, I have two vastly different options in front of me. I have the scientific one, which absolutely fascinates me. As gay as it sounds, I have a hunger for knowledge, and I like knowing the answers and understanding things. Science is modern and the key to our future as Ireland begins to focus on R&D. The option to study the human body and drugs and having such powerful knowledge seems exciting, and I know I would love studying medicine or pharmacy. It’s the job that’s turning me off. I don’t know how I’d like to be stuck in a lab on my own all day surrounded by test tubes and droppers. I’m not sure if I’d be able to cope in a hospital as contagious diseases scare the living daylights out of me. Being able to save someone’s life would be utterly amazing, but I just don’t know how I’d cope in a hospital, married to my job.
Then there’s option two. If I chose that route, there’s lots more choices to make after that. I was thinking of Law and Irish and if I had to fill out my CAO today that’s probably be number one. Law’s a very broad degree and I think that’s what I need, while Irish would allow me study something I love and use it to possibly get into media or something completely different. Journalism and New Media in UL is something I’ve been looking at too, although it’s a very new course. There’s a few in NUIG that interest me too. That’s the thing about UCC, it’s very ‘traditional’ course-wise. While other colleges are looking to the future and diversifying into modern areas, UCC seem to be holding back a little, and it annoys me, because I really don’t know if moving away is financially feasible.
So here you are, with me in the midst of making one of the biggest decisions in my life. This time next year, that form will have been signed, sealed and delivered. I’m merely a teenager, who still has to get dropped here and there by my parents, who can’t even legally buy alcohol, and yet I’m expected to know what I want to do with my life.
Mind-boggling, in more ways than one.

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