Looking back: CAO

By Cassandra Murphy

As I prepare for my final year in UL (for my undergraduate at least) I can’t help but look back and think where I was three years ago. Sitting at home waiting for CAO offers to come around. Still shaking from results day I was hoping that this would be the day that would change the sombre mood I had been carrying for the past five days. Maybe there was some miracle and psychology dropped dramatically?

5:50am Monday morning and no alarm set but my internal body clock woke me up. I grabbed my laptop and patiently awaited the 6am bells to ring from the clock in the kitchen. All my details entered just to press the button and see what lay ahead of me.

“LM036- BA Joint Honours – University of Limerick”

I didn’t give myself a chance to think. I pressed accept and with that I was a UL student. I just  remember tears of joy. It wasn’t exactly what I wanted but something felt right. It felt like the right decision had been made. Besides the tears of joy from me, there were also tears of joy from my mother who was happy we didn’t have to go through the rollercoaster of the leaving cert another time.

For me, it was a tough year. I have anxiety. Anxiety does not mix well with the dreaded Leaving Certificate. A mixture of support from family, friends, psychologists and my amazing teachers got me through it. Be it by changing the oral examinations timetable so I could go first or helping fight my case for a special centre or even just sitting me down and talking to me, my teachers offered me all their support. My friends and family have been there from day one and still continue to support me as do the many new friends I have developed over the three years in UL. My support system is the backbone to my success in college.

Three years on and I would never believe I was the same person. I was very reluctant about the joint honours course in my first year. Nobody ever tells you the benefits of a course. Only the horror stories they have heard. I took a chance on offers day and now I wouldn’t change it for the world. Sometimes the course you do not think you want could be the course that you need. I’ve grown as a person throughout college. I’ve developed into myself and who I want to be (as stereotypical as it sounds!) I’ve been given so many great opportunities and I’ve worked my backside off for the others. The tunnel doesn’t always have to stay dark. Sometimes the turn you didn’t expect to be there is where the light shines through the brightest. It may take an extra bit of work but the feeling of satisfaction is something else.


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. 


The Basics of Japanese Writing: For Beginners, By A Beginner

blogahss1By Sinead Cryan

So, you’re thinking about learning Japanese, either by yourself, or in UL as part of your course. Or maybe you’re just a bit curious about it, because it looks like a bunch of nonsensical squiggles when you see it around. Either way, you’ve probably heard that Japanese is one of the most notoriously difficult languages to learn, because of it’s non-alphabetical writing system. I know how you feel. It can be a bit daunting taking up a new language, especially one that doesn’t use ABC’s. And I thought it was too, and everyone I know probably thinks I’m a bit crazy for doing Business with Japanese. But in all honesty, after doing it for 10 weeks now, I can assure you, it’s not actually as hard as I imagined.

First of all, you need to know what the squiggles you’re looking at actually are. Japanese is actually written using three different systems. Yes, three. Don’t panic, please. The first one you need to learn is Hiragana. It’s the most basic of the systems and is used to guide pronunciation for beginners once you start Kanji. The second, Katakana, is similar to Hiragana, except that it’s used to write foreign “imported” words from other languages, such as Television (テレビ), taken from English, and pain, (パン), the French for bread.
Kanji, the third and final system, is a lopographic system adopted from China. This is the hardest part of learning to write Japanese, because unlike the Kana systems, which only have 46 letters each, there are thousands of Kanji. But again, don’t panic! You don’t need to learn that many to be able to read and write Japanese. (In fact, you could almost get away with never learning any, although I wouldn’t recommend it, especially for numbers.) In this post, however, I won’t be discussing Kanji, as this is only the basics to writing.

So, how on Earth are you, a beginner, supposed to tackle the mountain that is learning Japanese writing? Well, the best way to go about it is obviously to start with the two “Kana” systems, Hiragana and Katakana. I managed to learn these both in about three hours, and I mean really learn them.

I’ll let you in on my secret: associate every sound with an image that relates to it or to the letter itself.
Okay, so not in any way original, but it’s the most effective method out there for learning Japanese. It applies to Kanji too, but we’re just focusing on the first two for now. If you ask around, you’ll find that this is one of the most widely used methods too, because not only does it work, but it’s kind of fun as well.

While making up a picture for every single kana yourself would be a lot of fun, a quicker method is to use some online resources. My favorite one, which I found to be the most helpful, was from Tofugu. Tofugu is full of interesting resources, both for learning the language and about the culture, but a lot of the resources, such as their own textbook, have to be paid for. However, their guides to Hiragana and Katakana are free, so that’s what I used, because not only were they useful, they made some very clever associations, and some of them actually made me laugh. And who doesn’t want to have fun while learning?
The one for learning Hiragana is here. The way I learned them all in just over an hour was by reading the article a few times, and then playing this drag-and-drop game I found on Usagi-Chan’s Genki Resources. It’s a timed drag and drop game, and it gets very addictive if you keep trying to beat your own time. I knew I’d learned them well enough when I took 1 minute and 30 seconds to match all the characters to the sounds, and that was just because I couldn’t move the mouse any faster.
Once you’ve mastered Hiragana, you can move on to Katakana. The Tofugu article can be found here, and the drag-and-drop is here!

So, go forth and learn yourself some Kana! Words can’t describe how accomplished you’ll feel, being able to read comprehensions in Japanese after such a short amount of time! So, if you’re struggling to learn Japanese, or just want to try it out, give those resources a go and see what you think! I promise you won’t find Japanese as daunting once you’re done!


Untitled design (5)My name is Sinead Cryan, and I’m a first year student here in the University of Limerick. I study Business and Japanese, as well as an extra German module, so I’m actually a student of the Kemmy Business School, but it’s the languages I’m here to talk about.

Loving Arts at UL!

By Judy Sheehan

My journey to becoming a UL student isn’t your typical ‘straight out of Leaving Cert’ craic. Since 4th year, I had always wanted to come to UL but being a naive 18 year old filling out the choices, I let other people influence me. So I spent a year in college in Cork but it wasn’t my cup of tea, so off I went and worked for a year. This cemented my original idea of coming to UL! Thankfully the auld CAO treated me well this time and I got my first choice of Arts.   Now, having spent roughly 6 weeks in the magnificent University of Limerick, I can say with certainty that I have found the college for me. Between making new friends, enjoying the banter on campus, moving out of home and settling into  the actual course itself its been a hectic few weeks but I’ve loved every millisecond of it!

What really attracted me to the Arts Joint Honours course was the wide variety of subjects you can try in first year. Whittling it down to five was tough but I went with English, History, Criminal Law, New Media and Sociology! Before you ask-no,I have no idea what I want to do after college, but I’m really enjoying the mix of subjects so far. Although there are a lot of people in the course, and a mix of courses in the lectures and tutorials, its so easy to meet people and not a day passes when you don’t meet someone new.

Something that really struck me during orientation, (shortly after my parents and youngest sister sped off, probably crying hysterically) was the easy-going, friendly atmosphere on campus. I was searching for somewhere to buy water and a security man spotted me wandering aimlessly and before I knew it, he fixed me up with one  (for FREE) and off I went happy as Larry! Its that sense of community and caring that has made me feel so at home in UL.

Now that I have introduced myself and have relayed some rough idea of the spectacle that is the University Of Limerick I will bid you all adieu for now.  With any luck I’ll be writing again soon, so until then…

Untitled design (11)My name is Judy Sheehan (most people call me Julie-really annoying), I’m twenty years old and I am in first year Arts! Hailing from the beautiful county Cork, home is only down the road. Let me tell ye a bit more, if ye are brave enough to read on…

Some useless facts about me: I am the eldest of four, with three older step siblings, have 8+ cats, am from a little town in West Cork called Bandon, LOVE animals, laugh at absolutely anything even remotely funny,drink  far too much hot chocolate and consume too much pizza and chocolate (not at the same time though).