Six months, six countries, and three continents later…

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It seems like I always begin each post apologizing for my lengthy sojourn! So I’m gonna skip that part this time, and dive right into it. 

Once again, a million things have happened since my entry of six months ago. When last we spoke, I was in the middle of my Journo Masters, training for the Great Limerick Run and preparing for a month-long summer holiday. And now, I’m living all the way down in the Rebel territory of County Cork, working in the Irish Examiner, and desperately trying to make time for the gym!! Quite a leap if I do say so myself, so I’ll begin at the beginning:

The Journo Maters went well, though I didn’t finish my thesis this year as expected due to a few bumps along the road.

Firstly, some of my forms were lost by the college meaning that I didn’t have approval for my topic. It’s a long and annoying story, so I won’t go into it, but it means that while I could still have finished the thesis, it wouldn’t have been the one I set out to do.

Secondly, I started a placement in Cork with the Irish Examiner during the summer, and I simply didn’t have enough spare time to complete the thesis with the level of commitment it required. So in the end, I deferred the thesis part of my Masters to next summer, and I’ll be graduating in Jan ’15. I don’t really mind though, because now I have a whole year to pay the balance of my fees as opposed to a few months. So I think things are actually working out for the better. 

My placement in the Examiner is going well, I’m pleased to report, and I’m really starting to fall in love with Cork! I’m getting a good variety of work published and everyone working in the offices are really nice. They’re just about to move the whole show down to Blackpool though, which may throw a spanner in the works seeing as I’ll have to walk/cycle a good bit extra to get there now, but sure we’ll see how it goes. 

Every weekend I’m trying to get out and see a bit more of the City and attractions in and around it. I’ve been up the bells of Shandon, out to kiss the Blarney stone (see the castle below), and even an odd and musty trip to the Butter Museum (don’t ask). 

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And now to backtrack a little – I finished the Great Limerick Run a few months ago and I’m so delighted to have done it. My medal is hanging up on my wall right now, in fact, and I wouldn’t trade it for anything. A truly great, if intensely tiring experience. After that, it was off to see the world! 

Here’s a brief snapshot where we went and what we saw:

First stop: Italia! Flew into Rome, basked in the sun down by the Trevi Fountain (below), went to see the man himself in the Vatican, got given out to for having bare shoulders in St Peters Basilica, took a train to Naples, marveled at the strength of Mt Vesuvius, trekked around the ruins of Pompeii.

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Second stop: Turkey. Flew into the Asian side of Istanbul. Covered up my hair for the mosques, soaked in the softness of the carpets on my bare feet, scoffed down Turkish Delights, moved around palaces that hurt your eyes to look upon, ran away from Taksim Square and the police (below), ran towards Taksim Square with the protesters, took buses over to Asia to the Black Sea, jetted up the Bospherous and rented bikes on Prices Island. 

Third stop: Greece. Strolled down the avenues of Athens, took in the sights from the Pantheon, drank wine on top of the mountain by the Acropolis.

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Fourth stop: Spain. Flew into Barcelona for the Feast Day of St John, joined in the lighting of the flames off La Rambla, climbed to the top of Mont Serrat (below), risked our necks on the cable car, went the wrong way up a mountain to the theme park we heard was on top, spent the night on a beach looking at fireworks at talking to new friends from Australia and America. Bought Duff Beer, hated it. Marveled at the designs of Antoni Gaudi. 

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Fifth stop: Morocco. DIED in the heat, went to see monkeys, ran away from the monkeys, touched a snake by accident, got harassed for money by almost everyone, got given out to for taking a photo of the palace guard, went to a water park int he middle of the desert, got sick from swallowing the water in the water park, went to the Ouzoud Falls anyway (below), bought a lovely dress, got a tattoo, had an allergic reaction to the tattoo, sweat away three times my own weight in water. 

Sixth stop: England. Good old London town! Recuperated, regrouped, had food, got ready to go home. No point seeing the sights, been there seven or eight times before. Stayed in a crap hostel, stole some wifi. 

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Phew. 

By no means is that everything either. But If I was to write it all down here, this post would be twenty times as long. At least. And ain’t nobody got time for that. 

Maybe I’ll start a travel blog or something. I’ll let ya know. In the mean time, I’ll try keep this up-to-date more often. I promise 🙂

Kel  x

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A Hiccup or two is Good for the Soul

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Its been almost six months since I last wrote a personal blog update – doesn’t time just fly by?!

There are quite a lot of updates to fill you in on, so I might as well start where I left off and continue in some sort of chronological fashion.

When last I blogged, I was feeling a bit down in the dumps. I was stressed, I was juggling a lot of projects at once, and I was worrying about my health. But, as you see, I got through it! Unharmed, unscathed, but a little wiser. I completed the end of the semester, finished exams, and had a long Christmas break back home in Kilkenny.

Then I had to go to the hospital for a bit 😦

I wrote a bit about having HHT disease last year. I won’t go into it again in that much detail, but I had the official screenings down in Cork a few months ago and received the official diagnosis… which did indeed confirm that I have it. I had to go for a good few tests then – an Echo, a CAT scan, brain scans, MRI – that type of thing. The good news is that my brain scan was totally clear… but my lung scan (the Echo) wasn’t.

In case you’re confused, HHT is a hereditary disease that is very uncommon and affects your veins. It means some of my veins are malformed and the ones affected could burst easily. It’s not very serious in general, but if these veins occur in areas like your brain, lungs, stomach etc, then you’ll have problems. Pretty big ones.

So back to the test results. Brain one was clear, lung one wasn’t. Upon further examination, they determined that I do have the problem veins in my lungs, but at the moment they’re very tiny and aren’t a problem. I have to go back in 3-5 years to have all the scans again and in the mean time I’m not allowed to go scuba-diving. Which, of course, only makes me want to actually go scuba-diving!

But it’s not all doom and gloom – I’ve had a great few months since that I’m pleased to report! Along with some smaller hiccups which I’ll mention later.

I did very well in my Christmas exams thank God and I now have a 1.1 honors degree, though that could change in the second semester. I’m delighted with it so far though, I hope I can keep it up!

I had the chance to go to Two Door Cinema Club – have been dying to see them for ages so that was great – and I went to the Irish premiere of Lincoln and got to meet Daniel Day Lewis and Steven Spielberg! Also met Katie Taylor, Shane McGowan and a few other celebs who were attending. It was insanely enjoyable!

More recently, I spoke at the Croke Park launch of Spunout.ie – a Dublin based website aimed at educating young people right across Ireland about the issues that most affect them. I was speaking on the topic of Sexual Health for their live launch and I loved it. Excellent initiative.

I’ve been writing for the Limerick Leader as much as ever – which is to say, every two weeks or so. I’ve covered a good few local events recently, most notably Jan O’Sullivan TD’s opening of the Girls Room in Ballincurra Weston and Madeline Mulqueen’s visit to the area.

I also decided recently that I was going to work out more. I’ve roped in a friend and we’ve agreed to set ourselves a goal of the Great Limerick Run which is on the 5th of May. Now that I have a goal, I find I’m more willing to go to the gym or go on a run. It’s great! I’m keeping up the yoga too, but that’s just because I find it enjoyable.

It’s into the second semester now, and it’s going much the same as the last one. I have some new modules this time around – I’m studying News Feature Writing, Radio Broadcasting, Current Issues in Irish Journalism and Shorthand. They’re all going well – particularly the Broadcast module, I love it!

And now for the hiccups.

The last time I wrote, I was taking driving lessons. I’m tempted to gloss over it, but I’m gonna take the good with the bad and fess up to having taking the test and failed. I’m normally great when it comes to exams, but I was so nervous – I just completely fell apart! I made so many silly little mistakes – it was an awful experience. So I’ve given up the lessons for the moment to concentrate on my course and I’m gonna start back into it after summer.

The second hiccup, is that I’m now €4,661 in debt.

SUSI, the grant authority, told me over the phone in October that I would be eligible for free fees if I was to do a Masters in Journalism. I then took up the course, filled out all the forms, and thought nothing more of it. Then three weeks ago, I get a letter from SUSI basically saying “Hi! How are you? Oh yeah, you’re not eligible for that grant after all!! Ok thanks bye.”

So now I’m liable for my course fees, the aforementioned €4,661.

But hey. It’s not the worst thing that could have happened. If they had told me back in October I wasn’t eligible, I wouldn’t have done the course. So I was obviously meant to do the course because everything happens for a reason right?

Well that’s what I’m choosing to believe anyway!

And finally, to end on a somewhat happier note – I’m going on holiday with Kevin in a few weeks! Yes, I know I just told you I was in debt, but I booked and paid for the holiday before the SUSI letter came. Ironic, I know.

But that’s where we are and I’m actually really looking forward to it. It’s a whole three weeks in June where we’ll be away from everything with nothing to do but travel Europe. Sights include Rome, Athens, Istanbul, Barcelona, Morocco and London. It’s gonna be fan-fricking-tastic 🙂

Kel xxx

The Mid-Semester Slump

It happens every year, the mid-semester slump, but this time around, and for the first time ever, I think I’m actually dealing with it properly!

From first to fourth year, I’ve experienced this slump, this waning of interest… the year starts with a lot of enthusiasm and energy, and then you hit four or five weeks in and you’re tired, frustrated, bored and annoyed with all of it!

Part of it has to do with the evenings getting shorter and duller and the inevitable approach of Winter. It’s cold, it’s dark, and everyone feels like crap. Semester One is always the worst semester in this regard. Another factor is the course and the workload. At the start, everything seems more than manageable – classes aren’t all that demanding, you’re just finding your feet, everything is new and shiny and interesting… but before you know it, it’s week 6 and you’re on the go 24/7 and you’re not getting anywhere!

That’s how I’ve been feeling these last few weeks anyway. I’ve so much going on that it’s really hard to keep on top of it all. I have assignments every week, in class tests and assessments, we have off-diary stories to work on, we’re gearing up to the newspaper, there’s shorthand to be learned and InDesign to get the head around… and that’s just the course work! On top of all that, I’m working with the Literary Society, with Student Radio Ireland, taking an evening course in Creative Writing, working for LaundryMom, The LaundryShop.ie and the University, blogging, writing, reviewing, presenting, pitching ideas to the Limerick Leader, taking driving lessons… the list goes on.

It all gets a bit much BUT I think I’m slowly working myself out of the slump.

Last week was particularly bad. I was feeling depressed and emotional and everything was getting to me. I felt like I was doing so many things, that I wasn’t doing them all to the best of my ability. That’s probably still true… and I did think about giving up a few things… but I really enjoy being busy and I really enjoy all the different aspects of what I’m doing – social media work, journalism, creative writing, radio… they’re all very different, and very demanding, but also creative, artistic and rewarding at the end of the day.

But this week has been far more positive. I had a really good driving lesson, I got an A grade in my Shorthand exam, I FINALLY pitched a good story idea to my lecturer and I’m doing well with the social media thing. Not to mention the fact that my boyfriend has been so supportive of me this past while – I’m so lucky to have him 🙂

So all in all, things seem to be looking up.

Fingers crossed xxx

Everything’s coming up Kelly!

The beautiful University of Limerick, where I’ve just started my Masters

I don’t know about you, but that was one hectic month that just went by!

So where did we leave off… ah yes, Belarus and Total Recall.

Nothing much has happened on the Belarus front, I’m still planning on going, but am waiting on Garda Vetting forms. This week I’m planning on sitting down and coming up with fundraising ideas, I just hope I havn’t left it too late!

A few weeks ago I attended the European premiere of Total Recall (Check out my review! – http://screendawg.wordpress.com/2012/08/12/113/) and it was a mixed bag to be honest. Yes, I did eventually get to speak to Jessica Biel, Kate Beckinsale and Colin Farrell, but after a lot (and I mean a LOT) of standing around and waiting for hours on end. The whole thing maybe lasted around a half hour and it was a lot of pressure trying to get your questions in. I was lucky in that regard, however, as I have lots of experience interviewing people so I wasn’t shy or starstruck, or awkward in any way. Also, I tried not to be too pushy, and if I ever accidentally cut another reporter off then always said a quick apology and continued. I was very much in the minority there though, as not a lot of other journalists did that.

Having said that, I did meet some nice people up there and it was a great day overall. I got to chat with the stars essentially (!) and my colleague Michelle wrote up an excellent article on the day incorporating the questions we asked – http://filmjamblog.com/2012/08/23/film-jam-talks-with-total-recall-cast-at-dublin-premiere/ – Check it out if you have a few minutes!

That was about three/four weeks ago now and the time in between has been totally manic. I finished up in the Admissions Office in UL after a very busy Orientation Week… then I worked with the FSW crowd for a week directing first year students to the right buildings… and now I’m doing some Social Media Management for various different companies.

On the education front, I’ve started my Masters (Journalism) and I couldn’t be happier, I absolutely love it. There’s 11 full-time and two part-time students in my class and they all seem to be really nice. We’re doing four modules – News Writing (love it!), Professional Skills for Journalism (love it!), Shorthand (getting there), and Media Law (tough, but not insurmountable).

There’s a big emphasis on getting published this year, but that shouldn’t be a problem as long as I keep up my writing for The Limerick Leader. Who knows, I might even get the chance to work on something for a National!

Seeing as this year is all about Journalism, I’ve become the PRO for UL’s Journalism Society and I’ve secured two shows and a news reading slot on ULFM. My first show is today at 6pm, it’s called ‘Off the Charts’ with Leah and Kelly and, surprise, surprise, it’s a chart show!! If you feel like listening, you can log on via http://ulfm.ie/ or you can like the show on facebook here – http://www.facebook.com/#!/ulfmOffTheCharts

On a personal level, my driving lessons with Ray are coming along nicely – I’m not making any of the really silly mistakes I used to, which is great! Also, I’ve moved into a new house… with a boy! So yes, myself and Kevin are now living together. We haven’t killed each other so far, so that’s a plus :p

So yeah, everything’s coming up Kelly… for now anyway!!

Yes, I’m going to Belarus

So I met with Brother Liam last week and have decided that volunteering in Belarus is a go. Rebecca feels the same and we even managed to rope our friend Stewart into coming along too! So now that that’s decided, I’m starting to fill out the various different forms and will get cracking on the fundraising. Wish me luck!

Colin Farrell and Kate Beckinsale in Total Recall

More exciting news last week came from FilmJam, one of the sites I write for. Long story short, I’ve been invited up to both the press screening of Total Recall and the red carpet premiere. The press screening is this coming Friday and the red carpet event is on Tuesday the 14th. I’m having to take both days off work but I actually couldn’t give up such an opportunity! I’m not sure yet what cast members will be in attendance apart from Colin Farrell, but hopefully Kate Beckinsale, Jessica Biel and Bryan Cranston will show. I’ll be recording the interviews in any case, so I might be able to post up a link or something once I’m back!

I posted a review of Spiderman there yesterday, check it out if you have the time! It’s at www.screendawg.wordpress.com – otherwise, I’ll let you know how the premiere goes next week!

Kellington xxx

Cars Love Girls and napkins love fires

Hello, Hello. I hope everyone is well this glorious Sunday??!

As you can tell, I’m in a fabulous mood and said I’d share it with the world of wordpress. I haven’t been feeling the best lately, not sleeping well, some worrying nosebleeds etc, but I went back to the gym yesterday and now I feel great.

I took a week off from working out because I got sick of it a little bit… but in hindsight I probably shouldn’t have because I think it really affected my mood. In any case, I’m back on track now (I hope).

Funny thing happened to me last week. I went to the doctors about a few things (the HHT, not sleeping, nosebleeds etc) and, as part of something she does for filing reasons, the doctor took my height and weight. These past two weeks I bought a weighing scales and have been trying to lose some of the weight I put on (sabbat stone strikes again I guess). I was weighing as 14 stone on my scales but in the doctors I was weighing as 11… turns out my crappy €6 Argos scales were off by two stone and I was in the perfect BMI range after all!! So I took a break from the gym and have since been telling everyone I lost two stone last week :p

Kevin’s Birthday also came and went last week. We had a great time going to see The Dark Knight Rises in the cinema (fantastic film, definitely recommend going to see it, I have a review up on Screendawg if you’re interested) heading out to Cars Love Girls in Dolans (Again, fab band, couldn’t recommend them enough. Will have a review of them up on drop-d.ie soon) and on to Costelloes for a few drinks. On to Youghal then the next day where Kevin overcame his fear of the sea and somehow managed to set a napkin on fire in the hotel restaurant. Great weekend by all accounts! We had plans to go to Pukkelpop festival in Belgium also, but it was gonna mean too much travel and too much money so we drew a line under it. Pity really, I’ve always wanted to see Bloc Party, but I’m young yet I guess!

In other news, I’m meeting with a man called Brother Liam tomorrow. Brother Liam is in charge of a project that facilitates volunteers travelling to Goradiche Orphange in Belarus. I’m planning on heading over there with my friend Rebecca in October for a week or so. We’ll be holding some fundraisers in the coming weeks to raise money both to go over and for the Orphanage itself. So far, the majority of the volunteers have been Shannon locals as the whole thing started in Shannon back in 2000 when the parish took on support of Goradiche for the millennium. Hopefully we can raise some awareness out in the community of UL and Castletroy and maybe more people will feel the need to help out directly.

Not much else happening around here… am working away in UL and getting ready for Orientation Week. I also had an interview for a Journalism Masters which went only alright. I should know either way in the coming days… I’ll keep you posted!

In the mean time, I’ll be uploading a good few movie reviews to http://www.screendawg.wordpress.com (Ted, Spiderman, The Lorax) so do pop over if you have a few minutes spare.

Until next time, take care of yourself 🙂

Kelly xxx

 

Learning to drive, coping with illness and heading off to Youghal

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Hello readers, its been a while!

The last time I wrote, I was still coming to terms with life after ULSU – a strange transition indeed. At first it felt odd… it was odd to see updates from An Focal knowing I had nothing to do with them… odd to see posts between incoming ULFM Board members about plans for next semester. It was also very strange to find myself working 9-5 Monday to Friday!

Last year, I couldn’t understand why the outgoing sabbatical officers all but disappeared off the face of the earth. Nobody popped into the Union, nobody came back for the Graduation Ball… I couldn’t understand it! But now I know.

So it’s onward and upwards, with no looking back 🙂

Something else that’s been weighing on my mind recently is a little health problem that’s cropped up. I haven’t told many people about it, but it’s not a secret or anything… just something I have to come to terms with. Basically, my mom has been diagnosed with HHT, a vascular disease that causes the veins to function abnormally and to occasionally burst. It’s a hereditary disease so chances are good that I have it too. Symptoms include regular nosebleeds (check) and tiny little red dots on hands and face (check). Symptoms start to show in mid-twenties and become more pronounced with age. So while I only have a few red dots on my hands, my Mom has quite a few on her hands and lips and in her mouth. Mine don’t bleed but sometimes hers do, it’s really worrying. Apart from the obvious cosmetic downsides, HHT increases the risk of things like having a stroke. It depends where the veins burst. If they burst in specific areas such as your stomach, lungs or brain… let’s just say you’d be in a bad way.

The bad news is that there’s no cure for it. The good news is that it can be treated. The only place in Ireland you can get treated is in Cork. My mom is in contact with some really excellent people down there who are helping her and she’s also arranged for me to go down in January for an MRI, some X-rays, blood tests etc. The other good news is that, because it’s a rare disease that often goes undiagnosed, they’ve secured funding for treatment and research. In other words, I don’t have to incur insane medical charges 🙂

On a lighter note, I’m sure you’ll all be pleased to hear that I’m FINALLY learning to drive! Had my first lesson last Tuesday and am having another one in a few days. I’m also writing loads, State Magazine (www.state.ie) have been very good to me by publishing my ramblings on a regular basis! Check out the site if you have a chance.

In other news, my boyfriends birthday is coming up! I’m whisking him off to Youghal for the occasion and getting him a doozy of a present. I’m not gonna let the cat out of the bag just yet, but he’s gonna absolutely love it! I’m also contemplating doing a Masters in Journalism come September. I figure, if that’s the area I want to go into, I should probably have some sort of qualification in it! I’m also thinking that it’s my only time to do it… but I haven’t decided just yet. I’ll let you know when I do ❤ ❤ ❤