My jolie co-op

By Cassandra Murphy

At age 12 I stepped foot in Paris and knew I would return. I was sure that the next time would be for more than 72 hours. Fast forward 8 years and I’m sitting in my Parisian office in front of my Mac emailing well established bloggers. Typical start to a Hollywood comedy right? Luckily for me it as a reality. This was my coop experience.

The process

When it came to organising coop I was a bit all over the place. My first choice was to organise my own. I always knew it would be hassle to try to get a placement I either the psychology or law sector. After one failed attempt early in the planning stages I decided it was not worth the hassle as my heart wasn’t 100% in it. Option two was Grupos. I had studied Spanish in first year, it might be fun to live in Barcelona, but the placement really wasn’t for me. I am quite independent. The idea of working in a very large group of people who I already know did not appeal to me. So I moved onto option three: Argentina. This plan lasted all of five minutes before I decided I wanted to stay in Europe as I am very close to my family and going abroad for six months was going to hurt both parties a lot. Finally I made my decision. FRANCE. Why not? I studied French for the Leaving Cert. Surely I could dig deep enough to find a few ‘mots’ to get me by. I submitted my CV and hoped for the best. Considering I didn’t study French at UL there was always a possibility of them saying no. Luckily for me I sweet talked my way around the coop office and managed to secure myself in France. More importantly, in Paris.

The Job

Every day I think about how grateful I am to the coop office. I don’t think my placement could have been any better for me. I was working in a small start-up company called My Jolie Candle. The company made candles with jewellery hidden inside. While the company was based in France they shipped their produce to the UK. This meant my job was in English. I was their community manager. This included customer service and marketing. I managed the social media accounts, the website and contacted multiple bloggers throughout the semester to feature the product. Every day I was surrounded by sweet smells, trying on new jewellery and packing boxes with crepe paper and glitter. It was never a bad thing to get caught on YouTube or Facebook. What more could I have wished for? The workforce was also a dream come true. My boss was the eldest on the team at 28. There was a total of six of us in the office, including three interns. Three companies worked out of the one office spaces, all co-founded by the same people.

It became clear to me that not much research was done into the UK market before I arrived. My boss realised also. This led to him setting me many research tasks. I learnt so much about European economic, social media strategies, marketing, social media and the business world in general. With the hit of Bexit and the lack of funds to invest fully into the UK market my boss decided it was a waste of both of our time to make me focus all my days on the English side of the company. He decided it was up to me to figure out how amazon and eBay worked for businesses and to set the French company up on both. So if anybody has any questions on either, I am your woman!

After the six month I was sent on my way with a suitcase full of Swarovski jewellery and candles and a brain full of knowledge and experience. I got to see the ins and outs of a small enterprise. I saw what happens when it fails, and what happens when it succeeds beyond anybody’s expectations. I got to experience the heartbreak and excitement of the ups and downs. And I got to experience it all in a family like setting.

The City

Paris. What can I say? I struggle to think of a boring day. I chose to emerge myself in the culture. From ballets to football games. I did it all. Every Thursday after work was museum day. Every chance I got I sat at Trocadero and watched the Eiffel Tower sparkle or sat in front of Sacré Coeur and stared out onto the city. I met my friend for some wine and a baguette along the Seine or met her by her apartment near the Louvre. I know the metro like the back of my hand. I sang with the Irish for the Sweden match in Stade de France and fell to the ground on Champs de Mars for the Italy game. Being an Irish person in France during Euro 16 meant something special. I got to experience that. I got to enjoy art and explore architecture. I got to try different cuisines and improve on a language. I was even mistaken as a Parisian on multiple occasions. (Until I tried to speak French. My accent gave it away.) Paris gave me all I could expect and more.

None of this would have been possible if the coop department had not believed in me and my ability. They believed in my ability to not only take on a job that I was not trained for, they believed in my ability to do it in a foreign country where I could just about form a sentence. My coop experience gave me a chance to grow and improve and most importantly, discover where I want my future to take me.


About Cassandra Murphy:

I come from a little island off the South West coast of Ireland but moved to the big city of Paris for 6 months of coop. Normally I study psychology and criminal justice but at the moment I’m in France for Erasmus trying to string together a few sentences of French to avoid dying of starvation. It’s safe to say I like a challenge. 


Studying Languages: The social degree

By Elle Walsh

I chose to study languages at third level mostly because I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do and I knew for that I enjoyed French in secondary school, well I enjoyed talking… to anyone, in any language. I have been “blessed” with the gift of the gab. From the moment I learned to speak I have not stopped. I will to anyone, about anything. I have communication skills in capital letters all over my cv, and similarly too chatty on every school report.  By choosing to study two languages I have no widened my potential pool of potential conversations by 449 million people!

Studying languages at UL has opened so many doors for me. Last year I spent nine months working and living in France. Six of these were spent in the French Alps working in a ski resort and the other three consisted of living on the French island of Corsica looking after two children. I was also lucky enough to spend some time in Berlin, learning about the history and culture of the most amazing city in the world. Without my language skills I would never had put myself in these situations.  Some of which were the best times of my life!

And that is only the beginning of my travelling thanks to my degree, this coming January I will be packing my bags once again to move to Germany to work in a German company for six months. A compulsory part of my course! Then that September I get to study in France for a semester, also compulsory! These are things that so many people don’t have the opportunity to do, but with a language degree in UL it’s just the beginning! Every summer people most of my course migrate to different parts of the world to improve their language skills and soak up the culture! Trips like these are ones that create friendships and memories  that will last a life time.

Although I sit in German grammar classes and wonder what I ever did to deserve a fate like this I would never change my degree for the social benefits that come with it.  I chose to study languages without really knowing if it was right for me, I can say now that it definitely is.  My  degree has given me the ability to form friendships with people I would have never have spoken to and made me feel at home in a foreign country miles away from anyone I knew! This alone without even considering the advantages language graduates have, makes my degree worth while!

This week, the University of Limerick marks Languages Week – check out the full programme here:


Elle Walsh is a 2nd year Applied Languages student at the University of Limerick. Last year, Elle took a gap year to improve her language skills and travel around Europe. This semester she is back in Limerick studying French, German and Politics.

What’s it like to study languages at university?

By Aoife Martyn

So you enjoy studying languages at school, but how do you know if you’d like to study them at third level? What is studying an advanced language at college like in comparison to the leaving cert? An Applied Languages student is here to give you the answers.

Studying languages at university is different to secondary school but the way in which it differs depends on your teacher at second level. I can only speak as a French student, but from what I can see the leaving cert curriculum is fairly vague (i.e there are no assigned texts) and gives the teacher a nice bit of scope to cover whatever they deem to be useful to give you a more proficient level of the language.

Many second level teachers don’t include literature in their leaving cert classes so you may not have even read a book in french by yourself before but this will be completely different at college where literature will be central to your language learning. Straight away you’ll be handed a French novel and told to read it in your own time which is something to consider. You’ll also have extra literature module options (you can get out of this by doing cultural studies if you wish), but if you’re considering teaching as a future career then you need all the literature credits you can get. Of course, it makes perfect sense that the more advanced you get in your language learning, the more literature you do. Sure, isn’t that exactly how our English language education goes?

There’s also a considerable emphasis on grammar and presentations are everywhere. This semester I have a four modules with presentations which count towards between 5-15% of end of semester grade. Personally, we didn’t do anything like that at school so this was also an adjustment for me, but one from which I have benefited greatly. Of course there are oral exams as well which are more off-the-cuff than the leaving cert ones (and minus the sraithpictuirí you’ll be glad to know).

For Applied Languages, you’ll also be studying linguistics which is defined as ‘the science of language’ and it’s taught through -gasp- English! This really gets into the nitty gritty of what a language is and structure and morphology and phonology and all that jazz, so again not hating grammar is helpful here. From my experience, my love of English at school has really added to my enjoyment of studying languages at college, something I didn’t foresee but of course, English is just another language so it all adds up really.

To sum up, I really enjoy all the various elements of studying languages at university. I always enjoyed grammar and literature and all of the orals and presentations have made me so much more confident speaking my other languages.

So now you know.

untitled-design-13Hey everyone! My name is Aoife Martyn, I’m nineteen and I’m an Applied Languages student from Mayo. I’m in second year and, a year and a half into the course, it’s safe to say I’m loving it!

Choose a subject you love, and choose UL!

By Colleen O’Brien

colleen-obrienHello! For any of you who don’t know me (which could be a lot), my name is Colleen O’Brien and I’m a first year studying English & History in University of Limerick. I’m one of the lucky few who post on this blog so hopefully you can get through this post without clicking the X button or going back to Netflix.

Just some random, irrelevant, somewhat un-useful facts about yours truly! My name is Colleen O’Brien, not Coleen, or Cailín, or Collen. I’m barely 18 and I hail from a small village in the West of Limerick. I study English & History and I have practically no interests besides eating, sleeping and bingeing on Netflix.

Since I’m from Limerick, I knew some aspects of UL from Open Days, friends, family etc. What nobody happened to mention to me was the fact the place is quite big and the main building is like the maze runner – once you’re in, you cannot get out. Besides that, I had some knowledge of what was ahead of me.

I was 17 at the time of my Leaving Cert so I was quite young compared to my friends in school. Choosing courses for me was relatively easy as I had always intended on doing a course related to Arts and Humanities. So, after some late night thoughts I chose to do European Studies which included doing French, History, Law and Sociology. The day of the CAO arrived and I was over the moon I got my first choice, only this was not meant to be.

After orientation, we began the basics of lectures. I was beyond excited to begin this new chapter of my life only to realise half way through a French lecture, it was definitely not for me. I knew deep down, English was my main passion subject wise so I went with my guts and ran straight to admissions for an internal transfer. After running after course directors for days on end to running back and forth to admissions, I was finally on the road to a course I now love, English and History.

Transferring courses was not easy but I adapted quick enough. I had to sort my own timetable which is possibly the best and worst thing I have done so far. In the end, it was completely worth all the effort because I am now doing something I always wanted to do.

SO, for any of ye readers who are facing the CAO soon take my advice; DO NOT go for something you have little to no interest in. Go for something you really enjoy. Do not being like me, who waited until she was in college to change her mind, you may not make the right choice in enough time.



My adventure of a lifetime

By Muireann Murtagh

Despite the long journey that divides my two homes (I’m from Longford), I am so happy to study in UL. I really enjoy my course, in which I focus on French and Spanish, because it is everything I ever hoped it would be. It has given me the chance to work in Paris and to study in Spain, it has given me amazing friends and incredible memories, it’s challenging and it pushes me to work hard and learn constantly. It’s exactly what I wanted.

This time four years ago, I was preparing for a journey to UL for one of the open days. My parents, who met at UL and who had brought me here on previous journeys to Limerick, drove down with me one Saturday morning in October. My first impression was, “Wow, it’s really brown.” My second impression was simply, “Wow.” We walked around campus, we attended some course talks, I collected a prospectus and a few information leaflets, and I looked around at the people who were my potential classmates and friends. I was far too shy to speak to anyone. No-one from my school was even considering coming to UL. Nevertheless, the course was perfect, the university was beautiful, and the city was cosy – what more could I want?

Then, I didn’t even know all the other wonderful things about UL and Limerick. It took a few weeks to settle in, but the things that helped me were such small, simple little actions. I started going for coffee with people from my course, who turned into my best friends. I joined a host of clubs and societies, and the people I met there turned into more wonderful friends. I pushed myself to venture outside my comfort zone – and soon enough I was wearing a onesie outside the library, in the middle of the day, standing with two fellow International Society committee members who were dressed as animals, and we were offering free hugs to students in order to encourage them to vote in the student referendum. Soon, I was seeing faces I recognised and remembering names. In a matter of weeks, UL changed from a university into a community, and I loved it.

Morning mist on the Shannon, seen from the Living Bridge

My year abroad was an incredible adventure, full of travelling and exploring. I became an honorary Parisienne and Salamantina, walked every inch of Paris and tried as many varieties of macaron that I could, fell in love with the cobbled streets and living history of Salamanca, and promptly infuriated my friends and family with stories that started “When I was in Paris/Salamanca/Toledo/Madrid/Frankfurt/Berlin/Milan…” (Warning alert here – if you’re going on Erasmus, it’ll happen to you! I ended up telling people that I couldn’t help it if I had had an amazing year, and sorry-not-sorry for telling cool stories.

UL is awesome, I’m so incredibly glad that I came here, and if you do… you’re in for the adventures of a lifetime.

muireannMy name is Muireann Murtagh, and I am a fourth-year student of Applied Languages. I am 21 and I am from Longford. Despite the long journey that divides my two homes, I am so happy to study in UL. I really enjoy my course, in which I focus on French and Spanish, because it is everything I ever hoped it would be. It has given me the chance to work in Paris and to study in Spain, it has given me amazing friends and incredible memories, it’s challenging and it pushes me to work hard and learn constantly. It’s exactly what I wanted.

Applied Languages at UL

By Aoife Martyn

There’s a lot of choice within the Applied Languages course but after careful consideration at the start of first year, I now find myself studying French, Irish and Politics along with Linguistics and two French Literature modules. Although, if time was no object, I’d probably choose to do everything.

Possibly the best thing about the course, and certainly the most interesting aspect to outsiders, is the year we spend abroad. If you’re researching courses anywhere in the domain of Arts and languages, you’ll probably have heard all about Erasmus, which is a study-abroad that we do for the first semester of third year. Co-op though, was one of the main things that attracted me to UL even before I had Applied Languages on my radar. A degree is one thing but work experience along with it? Yes please! And we get to do ours abroad, so I’m moving to Spain after Christmas. How crazy is that?

UL is really a fantastic college. When some of my friends mentioned to me as they were making their own CAO choices last summer that they were thinking about UL, I think I went a little overboard with my recommendations. The beauty of the campus speaks for itself, the lecturers and staff are very helpful and the social life is great, aided by the very active clubs and societies scene.

So how did I make my decision to study Applied Languages? I’d love to say I was one of those people who always knew what they wanted to do after the leaving cert but I’m afraid that wouldn’t be true. During the small slots of free time during sixth year when my mind wandered to the future, I realised I had no idea what kind of job I wanted but I knew that I loved languages. I considered probably every course on the entire CAO at some stage and almost ended up going to a college closer to home, but in the end I chose to come to UL to do a course that I knew I’d enjoy and let the rest take care of itself. So far it has.

More from me later – Aoife

untitled-design-13Hey everyone! My name is Aoife Martyn, I’m nineteen and I’m an Applied Languages student from Mayo. I’m in second year and, a year and a half into the course, it’s safe to say I’m loving it!

My time at UL

By Fay Langley

99089315-76f8-433e-9f54-e0dee2501c43-991-000000e2a72b0b25Well, hello there! My name is Fay and I come from a little Gaeltacht island , the most southern part of Ireland called Cape Clear (Oileáin Chléire) in Co.Cork and THANKFULLY I survived the leaving cert blues last year and made it to UL to study my dream course: Applied Languages! I’m studying Irish, French and beginners Spanish along with Irish literature.

I must admit that I didn’t exactly know what to expect before I came to UL but honestly, UL has exceeded all my expectations. The wide range of clubs and societies, volunteering opportunities to the madness of randomness around campus of people dressed up in Onesys ( how does one even spell that?? Who knows?) is only a few things to name that UL has to offer!

I honestly never felt nervous about starting in UL because I firmly believed college life was what I’d been waiting for all my life ( well 19 years of my life, that is!) And although it sounds quite bizarre but I couldn’t wait to cook my own meals !! Although I’ve had to become considerably independent in various ways such as never having the mother wake me up for those godforsaken 9am starts and of course, the one thing I’ve learned I’ve taken for granted all my life, buying toilet paper.

My time in UL has been a blast so far and I’ve made countless friends for life already!

Slán go fóilin!

Choosing languages at UL

By Róisín Leo

It’s hard to believe that two years ago I was wondering the same questions as many sixth years are wondering now, ‘Where to go to college?’, ‘What course to study?’, ‘What points do I need?’ and most importantly ‘When’s the next night out?’.

When I was filling in my CAO from the of 15 I had decided I was going to study medicine, after many years volunteering with the Limerick Red Cross I was sure that was what I wanted. Then sixth year came and I realised I absolutely hated studying with a passion. I really loved French for my leaving cert, it was one of the few subjects where studying didn’t actually feel like studying so I decided to study languages.

For those of you that don’t know how college works instead of subjects you study modules. So I study five modules- French, Spanish, German, French Literature and Language Technology. Do I love my course? Yes. Is my course hard? YES. My advice to people confused about what to do in college is do what you love and don’t think about the future, if you don’t like your course you’re not going to stay with it for four years in the hope that you will enjoy the job after.

I have to admit although I have my problems with U.L. (like standing for 15 mins waiting to use this computer) it is actually a great college.  Accommodation is a lot easier to find here than in Dublin, Cork or Galway and the campus is beautiful. One of the main reasons I would recommend U.L. to incoming students is the fact that on Thursday I am going for an interview to work in Hamburg for six months on co-op. Co-op is basically work experience during college to make it easier to get a job when you have your degree.

Untitled design (10)My name is Róisín Leo, I am a second year student in Applied Languages in UL and hopefully these blog posts will help you to make a decision on what to study next year.