Rediscovering Myself and My Passions in Life

Life Experiences

It’s taken me a very long time to come back to this website. The reasons for my absence were through no fault of my own. Working a full-time job and studying for a Master’s degree on the side took a lot more of my time than I thought. As much as I wanted to write, I had to focus on finishing my studies and meeting all the deadlines that were laid out for me.

This final semester of my dissertation has by far, been the most brutal and stressful one. I had classes in Online Media and Photojournalism. They were classes that I thoroughly enjoyed, and I learned things from these classes that I never expected to learn. I did projects that I had no idea I had skills in. Photojournalism in particular, was really interesting to me; there is a lot more to the history of photographs than one believes. We were encouraged to examine famous photos of the past and learn from what was good and bad about photography. We had to create our own photobooks shaped around one of four optional themes. Over the next couple of weeks, I will share my photo work with you, and show you the theme I chose and how I went about creating my work. It was a small thing that inspired me but it helped me to create a significantly good photobook.

I will be honest and say that most of my time over the last few months has been devoted to my dissertation. Oh God, the dissertation. The bane of my existence. I honestly thought that I’d never finish it in time. I wrote twenty thousand words all about how sexuality was represented in films between 1980 and 2020. In the dissertation, I examined how gays, lesbians, bisexuals, and transgender people were represented in film, using eight different examples. By the time submission day rolled around, I was losing my mind and was close to tearing my hair out. But it’s gone now, finished. I did the very best I could and that’s all anybody can expect of me. I’ve feel I’ve done enough to do well and receive my Master’s degree in November. And once I get the Master’s, that’s it. No more studying! I am done. It’s time to go back to my life, and rediscover who I am and what I want to do in my future.

For the next several posts, I’m going to be catching up on everything I’ve done over the last few months. I’m going to go back and look at everything I’ve done, what I’m going to say, what to write about on this site. There are things that I want to write about and I need to find my passion for writing again.

And when I say that, I do not mean any writing in terms of any assignments.

Hopefully within the next few weeks, I’ll have found my love for writing again and this site will be far more active than before.

Experience on Erasmus – Career Development Module

erasmus, travel, Trier

My Erasmus year brought many different classes and modules. I was taking Media Studies classes, German language classes, and a class in German history and literature. At the start of the year, I didn’t realize that I was signing up for classes under two different courses at the university. You could choose classes as long as they added up to 60 credits for the full academic year. The compulsory Erasmus German language classes added up to about 15 or 20 credits, so we had to sign up for classes to add up the rest. Unintentionally, I signed up for one class in the German Studies course and the rest was in Media Studies. Thankfully though, I didn’t get penalized for it and I was allowed to continue studying in the classes that I’d chosen.

However, I must tell you that my home university, DCU offered Erasmus students the opportunity to undertake a Career Development Module. The module would see us speak with people who worked in our chosen area of study and allow us to get a perspective on possible future careers. It would help us decide the path we wanted to go down on after we graduated. I was all up for it.

While working on this module was a little bit annoying in the fact that it took so long to finish, I have to admit that I am glad that I did choose to work on it. The module gave me a chance to look deeper into the different options with regard to careers in the media industry. I know that I would love to work in television and broadcasting in the future, but I also know that it’s important to look at all the possibilities.

As part of my Career Development module, I had to interview three people who work in different professions in the media industry. The three industries that I chose were communications, education, and broadcasting. It took quite a while to find three people in these professions. Think I must have emailed at least twenty different people all over Ireland and Germany. At last, I received a response from Vera Tellmann, the Head of Communications in die Deutsche Welle. We conducted an interview by phone about a week after she agreed to take part. Vera Tellmann was lovely to talk to and gave me an insight into the world of communication. She spoke about the years that she worked in journalism and public relations in England and Germany before moving to Die Deutsche Welle. 

I also interviewed one of my Media lecturers in the university, Annette Deeken. Although (to be perfectly truthful), working in education is the last thing that I want to do, I thought that I should still look into it because you never know. This interview was easier to organize because I was able to talk to her face-to-face. I must admit, from my interview with Annette Deeken, I found that the education side of media had more depth than I thought. In all honesty, I assumed that education was just teaching to kids who couldn’t be bothered to listen most of the time. But from what I discovered was that education involves research, asking questions, and understanding what you are teaching.

The final person I interviewed was someone suggested by my mum – Irish radio broadcaster, Ian Dempsey on Today FM! This interview was done by email due to (unfortunate) problems with the phone connection. Ian Dempsey was really kind in his emails and answered every question that I sent to him. I grew up listening to Ian Dempsey, every morning on the way to school. Mum absolutely loves him! I’m glad that she gave me the suggestion of interviewing Ian Dempsey. He actually said to me that he’ll be watching out for me in the media!

The one downside to working on the career development module was that most of it had to be written in German! Not fun, especially as it took me forever to write out my notes into an essay and then translate it all into German! By 22nd May, the day of submission, I was nearly tearing my hair out with frustration, wondering how on earth I would finish this. But, I am relieved to say that I did get my career development module finished and submitted back to DCU just in time.

Looking back at the interviews that I did and the amount of time that I took to get it done, I have to say that I’m really glad that I decided to do the Career Development module. It gave me a better insight into the different career options in the world of media and all the choices that I have in the future. Before I sign off for now, I got an email from DCU, with the results of my submission – and I’m happy to say that I passed! 

Experience on Erasmus: Sharing Cultures – Teaching Irish Classes

erasmus, travel, Trier

My mum has worked as a teacher long before I was born. For years, she has worked at the local primary school in Monaghan, my hometown. I had her as my teacher for my second-last year of primary school and I consider it the worst year of my school life. Okay, that’s a bit of an exaggeration; it’s the second-worst, after the Leaving Cert. After years of watching my mother plan lessons and correct copies nearly every night, I made a vow to myself: no matter what happened, I would never ever EVER enter the world of education when it came to choosing my career. No. Way. 

At the start of the Erasmus year, during the orientation, the International Centre in the university was asking for volunteers to teach language classes. My friend, Jasmine suggested that I should volunteer to teach Irish classes. Not really thinking much of it, I decided to do it, just to see what they thought. Well, the Centre was thrilled as they had never had an Irish class in Trier before. So they arranged a day, a time and a place where I could teach the class and I began my first lesson.

Naturally, for the class, I had to teach my pupils the basics of the Irish language; how to greet someone, how to say who you are, where you live, etc. But I also wanted to teach them a little bit about Ireland itself. 

When most people think about Ireland, they think about leprechauns, lucky charms and drunken idiots. Ireland is so much more than that. We are the home of amazing legends and poets (Oscar Wilde, Seamus Heaney), beautiful music (The Corrs, Celtic Thunder), and literature (Brendan Behan, James Joyce). I wanted to show my pupils that during my classes as well.

Preparing my classes definitely took a lot of time. Every week, I had to choose what kind of vocabulary and verbs the class would learn and what topic about Ireland I would cover. Not to mention, looking up all the right information and adding it all into a presentation. It took a lot of time and there were some weeks where I just wanted to give up but I have to admit, the end result was worth it.

I held my Irish classes every Monday from 4-6pm. I had an average of six to seven people in my classes per week – for a language class being taught in the university for the first time, that wasn’t too bad. Every class, we would start with the Irish language and basic vocabulary and grammar. I tried not to make it too difficult – grammar is hard in any language! Basically, I taught my class how to greet one another, how to talk about their families, how to count in Irish, days of the week, months of the year – simple things that were, in my opinion, easy to remember. In one class, I gave them the task of matching some words with their Irish counterpart. I split them into groups and everyone got all but one right! If that doesn’t count as a great achievement, I don’t know what does!

After teaching a bit of the Irish language for one hour I would move on to Ireland in general. Every week, there would be a different theme. One week, I did Irish Myths and Legends  – stories about the Children of Lír, Chúchulainn, Fionn, and the Fianna, those sorts of things. Another week, I talked about Irish music and traditional Irish instruments and dancing, playing a few samples of each one. The week before the Christmas holidays, I talked about the traditions of Christmas in Ireland. 

I also decided to show them a few Irish television programs. I know I’ve already said that Ireland is more than the stereotype – but that doesn’t stop us from making fun of that stereotype! I showed them programs like Killinaskuly and Father Ted… and of course the legendary Mrs. Brown! Irish films were also looked at and I showed them ‘Circle of Friends’ – a simple but very touching film based on a book by author Maeve Binchy.

Two weeks before I was due to fly back home for good, I decided to host one last Irish language class. With everything that had to be done, including packing, cleaning my apartment for the next tenant, I just knew that I wouldn’t have the time to prepare for another class so I was firm with my decision to end my Irish class. 

It was actually with a heavy heart that I taught my final class. The theme was ‘Plans for the Future’ which I considered appropriate. We did a simple Irish conversation about plans and watched some Irish television programs. I ended the class by talking a little about Dublin City university and what I planned to do when I returned home to Ireland. And then, it was 6pm and time to end the class. I thanked everybody for taking the time to take part in my class and I hoped that they enjoyed them. The class then thanked and applauded me before leaving. I packed up everything and closed the door of the classroom for the last time. 

I have to admit that my opinion about teaching has changed thanks to my experience teaching Irish on my Erasmus year. While I still say that it is stressful and very time-demanding, it is also good fun teaching to others and sharing out all sorts of knowledge with them. Maybe in the future – it is a possibility – I could teach media to students in universities- I’m not saying that it’s definitely going to happen, but you never know!

The Passage of Time

Life Experiences, stories

This blog site has gone unposted in the last several months. No new posts have been written in a long time. Things have happened, things have been changing. I’ve had to put my writing on hold for a while.

Many times, I have wanted to return to my blog, go back to writing my short stories and posts about my life. I just was not able to. Time and other commitments in my life took the opportunity away from me.

Things are definitely changing; it seems that Ireland is finally being able to step out from the shadows of the coronavirus pandemic. Restrictions are finally easing, people are getting their second and third doses of the vaccines. It’s still a long way to go before we ever find a true sense of normality. Things will never be the same, the corona is going to stay with us for a long time, but we are getting there.

I am also really busy planning for my future. My future rests on me finishing my Master’s Degree in Griffith College. There is only one semester left of my entire degree and then I am finished. It’s been a long process but at the same time, I’m also amazed at how fast the time has gone. Signing up to do this course, during the pandemic was certainly a very wise decision.

Now, I would really like to come back to my blog. Writing is and always has been my passion and what I want to pursue as a career; this blog will help me achieve that. So, now, I plan to come back and post more frequently here.

Please bear in mind, that I will not be able to post every single day, but I’ll do my best to update as much as I can!

The Fragility of Life

Life Experiences, stories

The second semester of my Erasmus year was only days away. I spent the Friday before the restarting of classes in the Trier Galerie with two of my friends, Emily and Gina. Easter had just passed, but the decorations had not yet been taken down.

On the bottom floor of the shopping centre, we saw something that we didn’t expect – a small mini-chicken coop with baby chicks on display. Tiny newborn chicks, fluffing their bright yellow feathers, cheeping up at the multitudes of human eyes looking down at them. They didn’t know what to make of us, they merely tottered about, pecking at their food.

There was also an incubator where eggs waiting to hatch, were being kept warm inside. Little lives waiting to start and expecting to crack open into this world. But as I moved to get a closer look, I got a nasty shock.

To my horror, among the unhatched eggs, lay the tiny bleeding body of a baby chick. It lay among the shattered pieces of its egg, born far too early for this world. I could see its skeleton, there were no feathers and its eyes were lifeless.

The caretaker of the chicks immediately removed the corpse from the incubator, but spots of blood and pieces from the egg remained inside. I continued on with the rest of my day, but I couldn’t get that baby chick out of my mind.

What had happened to cause that little chick to be born too early? It didn’t even get a chance to grow its wings or meet any of its brothers and sisters. I didn’t even want to think of what the caretaker did with its body.

That little chick reflects on the real fragility of life. Not everybody who is born in this world truly gets to bloom. The premature chick represents the thousands of lives, born too early, only to be returned to heaven. It makes you wonder about what they could have been doing, who they could have become as people.

Life is a sacred blessing and not everyone born in this world, is lucky enough to receive this gift. For those of us fortunate to be able to be alive, we should embrace all that we are able to receive and not miss any opportunities that are available to us.

They’re gone forever if we do.

Life With a Springer Spaniel – Groomers and Growlies

dogs, Life With a Springer Spaniel

Aside from his given name, Murphy has a lot of other names. Baby Boy, Buckshot, Mammy’s Boy, Murph, Smurfy… you get the idea. But there is one name that I feel is the one that we should have given him when we got him:

Custard.

Murphy wanting cuddles and attention!

I love Murphy to bits but he is such a big coward. He always gets so unsettled about everything. Even when the postman comes in the morning, Murphy would jump and just start barking like crazy. He can never settle with people coming over, he always has to bark. Mum likes to think that he is protecting his territory. I think he’s just a big cowardy custard.

As you can see, Murphy’s fur had grown out a lot.

As he has grown up over the years, Murphy has calmed down a little somewhat, but there is one thing that I know that he will never change his mind over. The groomers.

Murphy HATES the groomers!

As businesses had been closed for such a long time, Murphy wasn’t able to go and get his fur clipped. By the end of May, he needed to go very badly. He was shedding all over the house, so much so that Mum had to get the sweeping brush out sometimes twice a day. It was also irritating him as well. Murphy always has a tendency to growl particularly during the evenings. Sometimes, if he has a sore eye, or if he’s tired and just wants to sleep. The way he growls is so adorable but we try our best not to annoy him too much. It isn’t fair on him.

Well over the last couple of months, Murphy began to growl even more. Mum suggested that the amount of fur that he had was irritating him and was making him itchy. The fact that his ears were becoming a bit of a problem as well. Murphy has beautiful long brown ears, that have little curls. But because his ears are so long, he has the tendency to get leaves and twigs tangled in them. Whenever anyone tries to get anything out, he growls. He really doesn’t like it when anyone messes with his ears!

So my mother managed to get Murphy an appointment a few weeks ago to get his hair cut and be all groomed. Murphy is so scared of everything, he always runs away whenever he sees any sharp scissors. Everytime he goes to the see the groomer, we have to put a muzzle on him, so he won’t bark or snap at anybody. And he hates the muzzle just as much as he hates the groomers! I always feel so bad when we put on the muzzle, he always pulls at it in a desperate attempt to get it off. While it is adorable, it still shows how much he hates anyone going near his face.

Whenever Mum drops him off, she has to sneak off quickly so Murphy doesn’t see her leaving him with the strange lady and her equipment. I remember Mum telling me how she felt the first time that she took Murphy to the groomers. Murphy looked at her with such a sad look in his eyes, that she was very nearly tempted to go back and cancel the appointment altogether.

It’s a bit funny though, whenever the groomer starts working on him, Murphy always seems to calm down. Maybe it’s because he realizes that whatever she is doing, she isn’t setting out to hurt him in any way. As a matter of fact, when she starts work on giving him a good wash, he actually seems to enjoy it!

It’s always so lovely to see the final appearance when the grooming’s all done. I am always in shock when looking at before and after pictures. Murphy always looks so different when he comes out. See for yourself!

Murphy before and after his ordeal at the groomers!

It’s always so good to see Murphy look so clean and cuddly after being at the groomers! The trimming of his hair makes him look much younger, almost like a puppy again. Whenever he sees Mum afterwards, he always greets her very happily for two reasons; one – the ordeal was over, and two – he was cute and cuddly again! (not that he wasn’t already!)

Now that he’s been groomed once more, Murphy is far less growly to any of us. He has reverted back to being the cuddly baby boy that he was before. Back to playing fetch in the garden, cuddles on the couch in the evening. Of course, I have no doubt that he will revert back to Grumpy Growler, the next time he has to go to the groomers!

Smiley Springer Spaniel!

A Chip in a Stone

Life Experiences, stories
The abandoned village of Port in County Donegal

Donegal has always been a part of my life right from when I was born. Both of my parents are Donegal born and bred, my father raised in Ballyshannon, my mother in the village of Glencolmcille.

Mum would take me and my sister up to Glen nearly every week. My grandad is still living in the house where he and my nana (God rest her soul) used to run a bed-and-breakfast called Brackendale. Me and my sister would share a room with two twin beds and we had all sorts of fun together.

As I got older, the opportunity to travel up to Donegal became rare. I was in university, working, setting up my own life away from my family. There was no time to go back to the county that had played a large part in my life for so long.

But in the summer of 2019, I was thrilled to get the chance to go up to Glencolmcille with my mum to see Grandad. He would never say it out loud but I know that he is always delighted to see. In the years since my nana passed away, Grandad loved company.

During my stay that summer, Grandad got the idea of travelling to a place of the coast called Port.

Up until the mid 1800s, Port had been a thriving village, said to have been the first maritime port in Donegal. But during the Famine of 1845-1850, the entire village upped and left, fled to Liverpool and America, in the hopes of escaping the hunger and disease. Even now, centuries later, the stone houses still stand, crumbling down, but show that at some point in history, there were people living there. These are all that remain of this once-thriving village of Port.

It was a bit of a journey to get from Grandad’s house to the beach, but I didn’t mind that. It’s ironic; when I was much younger, I would easily get bored, wanting nothing more than for the car to stop so I could get out of there. But now, I enjoyed the views of rural Ireland passing by the windows of my mum’s car. We took it slow, as the path was very narrow and winding. On occasion, we would have to stop and let other cars inch their way past us.

The Beautiful Beach in the Abandoned Village of Port, Co. Donegal

At last we arrived at the beach in Port. Immediately, I was taken in by the beach. It was not your typical sandy seaside, this beach had hundreds of large stones leading down into the water. I stepped out of the car and breathed deeply in the sea air. There is always something about the smell of the sea that really calms me and makes me feel good.

Leaving Mum and Grandad behind, I moved down to the shore. There was an old wooden ladder laid down, leading to the sea. Wanting to get closer, I tried the ladder at first, but about halfway down, I decided to step out onto the stones.

I remember I was not prepared for it. There was no real grip and it was quite wobbly. A couple of times, I lost my balance and nearly toppled sideways, but I didn’t care. By some miracle, I managed to find my footing on one particular stone and spent a little while just watching the white sea foam crash against the rocks. I was in awe of the remnants clinging to the shore as the tide went back out; it reminded me of the story of the Little Mermaid. The bubbly sea foam was all that remained of her when she cast herself into the waters.

The chipped stone that I collected from Port, Co. Donegal.

The stones were heavy to the touch but I was able to pick up a few of them and through them out to sea. I smiled as they hit the surface with a large splash then sunk without trace. The stones were my worries, my fears and I was tossing them out to sea.

There was no way that I was going to leave without a souvenir. I searched and examined everything around me, before finally selecting a grey, oval stone.

When I picked it up, at first glance, it was smooth and sparkly, perfect to the sight. But when I turned it over, I discovered that one part had been broken off, a chip in what was once a perfect stone. I could have discarded it and chosen another one, but something in me said that I should keep it. Because that stone was me.

The stone represents two sides to my personality. How I’ve changed over the years. The smooth outside represents the determination to be perfect, to fit in with the crowd. The rough, chipped part represents the inner turmoil, the struggles with accepting myself, accepting who I really was. It shows that while you can try to cover yourself up as best you can, but you can never truly hide what’s underneath.

The stone also shows that there is not such thing as perfect. When I was a teenage, I tried so hard to be the perfect girl, the one who could blend in, fit in with the cool kids. I read the magazines, tried the different hairstyles, did the make-up… but none of it worked.

Because I’m not perfect and I never will be. None of us will be.

At the end of the day, the only person I can be is myself. Why should I try to be perfect and follow the crowd? That isn’t who I am, not anymore. It took a long time for me to show my true personality, but that’s over now. That chip in the stone is my real self shining through.

It’s a reminder that in life, regardless of what you see in society, there is no such thing as perfect.

The only person that you can be, is yourself.

Open Up Opinions – The Highs, The Lows and The Unexpectedness of the 2021 Eurovision Song Contest

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I remember where I was two years ago when two hosts in Tel Aviv, Israel announced that the Netherlands had won the 2019 Eurovision Song Contest. Myself and my sister were on the edge of our seats, tense, and practically screaming at the television, yelling at the hosts to ‘Just get on with it!’ In my family, there is no such thing as patience! Poor Murphy was scared of us, huddling on a chair! Still, we had nothing but high praise for Duncan Laurence and swooned over his beautiful ‘Arcade’ song. I had high hopes for the contest in 2020.

Or at least I did, until a certain event happened in 2020, called the coronavirus. I was gutted when it was announced that Eurovision was cancelled. The reasons were perfectly understandable but having been looking forward to see if Ireland would get through to the finals (we have had a very poor history of being eliminated in the semis in recent years) I was just so disappointed. 2020 was not a good year, that is for sure!

So when 2021 rolled around and it was announced that the contest would go ahead this year, everyone was thrilled. Personally I felt that Ireland had a decent chance with Lesley Roy and ‘Maps’. I’m not saying that we were going to win, but at least to get through to the finals would be great.

Semi Final 1 came around and Ireland was taking part that night. I watched Lesley Roy perform and… I was very underwhelmed. It was interesting in that she wanted to do something different but she just didn’t captivate the audience. She did the best that she could but it wasn’t strong enough for the final. When the Ukraine performed their amazing performance near the end of that night, I knew it was over for Ireland.

By the time that Semi Final 2 had completed, myself and my friends agreed that it would be a choice between Malta and Iceland. Malta’s Destiny blew us all away with her amazing performance and her beautiful voice – and she’s only 18! Of course, she had one thing that nobody else had – decent experience. Her experience comes from her win in Junior Eurovision in 2015, and being a backing vocalist for Michaela in 2019. Iceland….well, Iceland were favourites to win and had been since they were first introduced to us fans last year. When you Think About Things (pardon the pun), they were unique, captivating and had a solid fanbase.

At last, the final arrived and it was time to see who would be crowned the winner of 2021. The competition opened with a strong performance from Cyprus, marking the beginning of the whole show opening up again.

The slogan for 2021’s contest was ‘Open Up.’ After a year and a half with the entire world closed up and isolated with the pandemic taking over everybody’s lives. To have the Eurovision Song Contest held with a live audience meant a lot to everybody. The world is nowhere near back to normal, but the contest gave us a break from worrying about face masks and sanitizers and allowed us to just focus on the music.

Well mostly anyways. Panic rose when it was announced that two members of Daði og Gagnamagnið (Iceland’s unique entry) tested positive for the virus. There was fear that they would have to pull out of the competition, but it was some relief that they could perform albeit pre-recorded. And I felt really sorry for Duncan Laurence who was due to perform in the final only to be halted due to a positive test. Every winner is supposed to get a chance to relive that moment on stage, and sadly for him, the coronavirus prevented that.

There were highs, and there were lows throughout the entire show (I did not intend for that to rhyme). My friends and I had our agreements and disagreements over which acts were great and which ones were not. I remember there were mixed statements about Bulgaria’s entry where Victoria sung a tribute to her father who had been diagnosed with Motor-Neurone Disease, and nobody could understand why I wasn’t a fan Belgium’s song. There were agreements that France was brilliant and Russia was different but in a very good way, while there were disagreements about Norway’s Tix and his Fallen Angels as well as Moldova’s sexy act (I think everyone had gotten used to Moldova releasing goofy but great acts). We all had our opinions about each and every act and we all had our own predictions.

I will say one highlight that everyone loved was when Iceland were called to give their votes. The representative for Iceland, Hannes Óli Ágústsson (an actor from the controversial Fire Saga movie from last year) greeted the hosts, said it was a great song but then said ‘I personally would like you to play JaJa Ding Dong!’ Literally, I shrieked with laughter, everyone was thrilled to hear that – along with ’12 Points to Jaja Ding Dong!’ Fantastic! He looked so sad when he had to give the 12 points to Finland!

Nobody could have predicted what would happen at the public vote. With the new point system, it was less likely that a country would end up with nothing at the end of the night. Well! Nobody expected for the UK to end up with a big fat ZERO. No points from the jury, none from the public, they got ‘nul point.’ This is not the first time the UK ended up with nothing – some will remember the disaster that was Jemini in 2003. There is a lot in relation to Brexit that no doubt contributed to this result; but I have to give James Newman credit, he took the result with a smile and even opened the bottle of champagne he had!

Unbelievably, the United Kingdom was not the only act to receive no points from the public. Not one, not two, not three, but FOUR countries ended up getting zero from the public. Germany, Spain and the Netherlands could only watch as the hosts announced they got nothing publicwise. You couldn’t help but feel sorry for them, particularly Germany’s Jendrik; he certainly needs praise for keeping positive about his final score of just 3 points – a far cry from 2018, when Michael Schulte’s heartbreaking performance won them 370 and fourth place in the competition. I remember one friend, Kate saying ‘Who is on this jury?’ There was no answer to that unfortunately!

As more countries received their points, we began to tense as they came to our favourites. When it reached Malta, we all braced ourselves…only to be shocked when Malta finished in seventh place. I was gutted for Destiny but she took it like a trooper which was very impressive. France ended up with 499 points finishing in second place, their best result in 30 years! (Not counting the Junior Eurovision Song Contest last year, when young Valentina sung ‘J’imagine’ to victory.) Iceland ended up in a very respectable fourth place with 378 points…..

….but it was Italy who ended up at the top of the scoreboard, which a grand total of 524 points! Rock group, Måneskin stole the show, becoming the first rock group to win the contest since Finland’s Lordi in 2006. They put their all into their performance, with their song ‘Zitti e buoni’ described as “undeniable rock stomper with a hint of Franz Ferdinand in its slick guitar riffs” by NME. I’ll never forget the look on their faces when it was announced that they had won. Drummer Ethan Torchio was absolutely gobsmacked – I don’t think it fully sunk in for any of them at the time!

As unexpected as the result was, everyone was really pleased with the winner of this year’s contest. Måneskin certainly deserved their victory and we cannot wait to see where their careers takes off next. This was certainly an enjoyable contest to watch and it was really great to have Eurovision back after everything that happened last year.

So next year, we’ll be taking the contest over to the land of Michelangelo, da Vinci and Carlo Collodi. It hasn’t been determined which city will host yet, but they have plenty of great choices I will say that. And there is one other thing I will say that I know everyone will agree with me on…

Ireland will need to pull out all the big guns if we are to have any chance of getting through to the finals, let alone winning next year!

Experience on Erasmus – Coping With Classes

erasmus, Trier

As Orientation finally came to an end, I was finally given the opportunity to take part in actual classes in the university. During the day, I had to sit through Media classes, and in the evenings, I had German language classes with the other Erasmus students.

Before we began our official classes, we had the opportunity to pick what classes we wanted to participate in. It was important that the number of classes we took totalled to 60 credits. Here is a list of the classes that I chose:

MEDIA STUDIES

  • Medienstrukturen
  • Film- und Kinosoziologie
  • Empirische Medienforschung
  • Foko-Ikonen: Die Geschichte hinter den Bildern
  • Qualitát im Fernsehen: Dokufiktion

GERMAN STUDIES

  • Judische Figuren in Film und Literatur aus der DDR

GERMAN LANGUAGE STUDIES

  • Aussprachetraining (Pronunciation Training)
  • Sprechkompetenz (Speaking Skills)
  • Mittelkurs 1
  • Deutsch: Sprechkimpetenz
  • Deutsch: Mittelkurs 2

As you can see from the names, all of my classes were in German! That itself was going to be a big challenge for somebody whose first language was English! I was in for it!

You would notice that one class doesn’t fall under Media Studies – Jewish Figures in Film and Literature from the GDR. As a person who had a great love for history, when I saw that they were offering a course in learning about important film and literature that arrived after the Second World War, I signed up immediately. I’m glad I did because there was a lot to learn about the culture that came into Germany after the end of Nazism.

The class involved studying films that were released mere years after the war as well as stories detailing the lives and brutal realities that Jews were forced to endure. There were two movies in particular that stood out to me: Ehe im Schatten about the story of a German man who refuses to divorce his Jewish wife despite extreme pressure from the Nazis and ultimately end up committing suicide to avoid the death camps. Sterne, a tragic story about a young German boy who falls in love with a Jewish girl who is imprisoned in a temporary prison for deported Jews. We has to watch and examine these films – while it was difficult to fully understand the langauge, I was captivated by what I saw. German films have a certain depth that definitely draws you in.

Meanwhile, my Media classes were different as well. I deliberately chose to study Film and Cinema Sociology because I had always been interested in the inner messages of films.

In Germany, the pass system is different to what I’m used to. While in Ireland, your grades are A-F, in Germany, the grades are 1-6, with 1 being the best and 6 being the worst. If you get a 5 or a 6 in a German exam, then you have to repeat. I was really hoping that wouldn’t be the case for me!

Thankfully, it didn’t .come to that. From what my results showed, my German improved…slightly! I passed my Aussprachtraining with a 1.7 (B+), my Sprechkompetenz with a 2.7 (B) and my Mittelkurs with a 3.0 ©. Before, I could only scrape a D in German so to get these results was really satisfying for me! 🙂

I also passed my Jewish Figures in Literature and Film exam with a 2.0 (B). This oral exam was a first for me and my lecturer – according to him, I was the first Erasmus student that he had ever had for an exam – that’s an honour in itself I suppose! For this, I had to prepare information about three different topics- I chose two different films ,,Ehe im Schatten’’ and ,,Sterne’’ along with talking about the Stereotypes of Jews used throughout the years. Having studied the Holocaust previously in my History classes, this wasn’t too difficult for me!

Also, I achieved something that I have never got before in my college years – I passed my Film and Cinema Sociology exam with an A+ (or a 1.0 in this case!) For this, I had to prepare a topic of my choice for discussion. Thankfully, I was able to speak in English, but I printed out an essay that I had written in German and gave it to my lecturer. He was very impressed with my topic and the amount of research that I had put into. So my A+ (I mean 1.0!) was well-deserved for this module, wouldn’t you agree?

These achievements certainly gave me a boot of confidence with my studies and my language skills. It gave me the belief that I could go even further with everything. I finished my first semester at the University of Trier a very happy person.

My next Erasmus post will move away from the classroom and out into society. I did a lot more than study during my year abroad!

Word Against Screen- Where Rainbows End vs. Love Rosie

Word Against Screen

I’ll be honest; I’m not a huge fan of rom-coms. I find them very clichéd and they all follow the same story: unexpected meeting, falling in love, split up, reunion, all ends happily ever after. The End. Just doesn’t appeal to me.

Now I’m not saying that I hate all rom-coms; I do enjoy the occasional one. Unfortunately in this case, Love Rosie was not one of them.

Love Rosie is based of the 2004 novel by Irish author Cecelia Ahern, originally published under the title Where Rainbows End. It tells the story of childhood friends, Rosie and Alex as they grow up together in Dublin. They are always together right from when they are little kids, but then are suddenly separated when Alex and his family move away to America. Then, just as Rosie is about to join him, she receives unexpected news that forces her to stay in Ireland and ruining any potential future with Alex.

The book was written through letters, emails and instant messaging as years, relationships and circumstances continually challenge their friendship. The question of whether they were always meant to be more than friends, tortures them throughout the years. As setbacks keep interfering with their plans, Alex and Rosie are forced to truly question their lives and how they feel about one another.

Normally, I don’t read modern romance novels, but I enjoyed Where Rainbows End. It was one of those stories where you can actually see yourself interacting and being friends with the characters. It also reflects real life: moving away, new jobs, love and betrayal; all reflected through letters and emails. Rosie in particular, went through such a character change – falling pregnant at 18, meant she had to change her whole life, but she grew into a strong young woman, determined to achieve her goal of working in hospitality. Alex was one character that I had a love-hate relationship. In some parts of the story, I liked him….other times, I wanted to punch him! The whole story was fun for me to read it on a beach in Lanzarote! 

Sadly, Love Rosie is not fully based off the novel. Very few aspects of the story appear in the film. Personally, it was a little bit insulting for the film to be set in England, while the original story is set in Ireland. The story where Alex moves away because his father gets a job, is completely scrapped – instead Alex and Rosie are only separated when Alex gets a place at Harvard. Rosie gets pregnant by her former crush Greg, while in the book she falls pregnant to a boy named Brian who only appears in her daughter Katie’s life when Katie is 13.

The most frustrating aspect of the movie was the length. The movie takes place over 12 years, when the novel takes place over 45. To be fair to the actors, it would be extremely difficult to be able to act out this long amount of time, but it was a bit annoying all the same.

Lily Collins is one of those actresses that makes me question their talent. She was born into showbiz as the daughter of Genesis rock star, Phil Collins and got her first big role in The Blind Side in 2010. I wasn’t sure what to think of her in the beginning. As Snow White in Mirror Mirror, she came across as bland and wooden – she tried too hard to come off as strong, but she wasn’t convincing to me. In City of Bones, she got on my nerves as Clary Fray, which is sad because I had been a fan of the Mortal Instruments at the time. Plus, her hair wasn’t red enough! Admittedly, I saw improvement in To The Bone and especially, she was very enjoyable to watch in Emily in Paris (I watched the whole season in one day!), but to me, she was a huge disappointment as Rosie Dunne.

Love Rosie has become one of the many forgotten rom-coms that’s only remembered by true fans. Where Rainbows End is certainly a book to pick up and enjoy and is certainly superior against its movie counterpart. If you are looking for a decent romance book, pick up a copy of Cecilia Ahern’s novel. But if you want a night in with girlfriends, watching rom-coms, look away from this movie and find something else.