Happy New Year!

Happy New Year! I hope 201 6 was wonderful and that 2017 is even better. Personally, 2016 was a year full of trials and tribulations, between  trying to figure out my future, balancing an unstable, on again off again relationship, studying for and sitting my Leaving Cert. exams and spending half the year fretting over the results of said exams, while second guessing all my decisions, and consequently moving from a small town to a new (admittedly small) city and having to make new friends in a big university where, at first, I felt like a very small fish in a very big sea, it was definitely a challenge. However , despite it being a challenging year, it was undoubtedly  the best year of my life. All of my hard work paid off, I got into my first choice of university, I’ve met amazing people and made wonderful friends and I wouldn’t change a thing.

Life got hectic when I moved to University, not because my course was overly exhausting (it’s definitely not), but trying to balance living away from home, studying, and a social life took time to get used to, I was so used to going to school all day and studying ever evening, I barely ever went out, and suddenly I had all of this freedom, it took time to adjust to it all, but I did.  At first I felt really lonely, I didn’t know anyone in university and I moved down almost a week early to get settled in. Exploring the city was fun at first but the rainy days when I couldn’t go out and was sitting in my tiny room all by myself made me hyper aware of how alone I was.  When university started all of that changed, I met wonderful people who, from day one, were friendly and inclusive, and I felt less alone.   I joined the UL Trampolining and Gymnastics Club because I thought it sounded fun but I didn’t expect to love it as much as I do. It gave me the opportunity to meet great people and I actually feel like I’ve found a sport that I’m not absolutely awful at, I’m even competing (or attempting to!) in the SSTO’s in Edinburgh next month. I’ve never competed in anything before, I’m terrified but so excited at the same time.

Of all the great things that have happened in my first semester of college, the best thing would  undoubtedly have to be joining Out In UL, UL’s LGBTQA+ Society.  It has opened my eyes to so many important issues in society, it’s taught me a lot about myself and the queer community, before joining the society I would’ve considered ‘queer’ an insult or a ‘bad word’, but I’ve learned to embrace it as a beautiful inclusive word that represents people of all genders and sexualities. The best thing about the society is the people, I’ve never felt more comfortable in a group of people.  Everyone is so wonderful and friendly and inclusive, it was impossible to feel uncomfortable around them.  Rainbow week was the highlight of the semester, with workshops and the big night out.  It gave me the opportunity to get to know everyone better and make more friends.  At the end of the semester I was elected to the committee as first year rep.  Standing in front of everyone to hust for a position was terrifying, I hate talking in front of people but I did it and I couldn’t be happier to be on the committee with so many wonderful people.  Next semester is going to be full of new experiences and challenges but when I go back to Limerick after the Christmas Holidays I know I won’t feel alone, it will feel like going home, Limerick feels like a second home now and I’ve learned that home is not defined by a place, it’s defined by the people around you that care about you.

So, I guess going to University is supposed to be about getting an education which I’ve yet to mention… I’ve studied hard this semester and enjoyed every minute of  it…okay, that’s a tiny white lie, it got a little stressful coming up to assignment deadlines and exams, but over all I love my course, I get to learn about subjects which actually interest me and my results are based on understanding the topic rather than memorising  books (well, Devereux excluded!).  I’m happier than I’ve ever been and I’m excited to face the new year and whatever it throws at me.  This is usually the part where I’d say that my ultimate goal for 2017 is to lose weight and that my New Year’s resolution is to give up X, Y and Z but I’m gonna try and just aim to be happy, stay healthy, do my best at everything I put my mind to and make those around me smile. I think that’s a more important resolution.

What was the best part of 2016 for you? Did you make any New Year’s Resolutions?  I hope 2017 is wonderful and that you are happy and healthy.

Love Orla xxx