Megan and Sahuna standing beside each otherHi everyone! So, the college year has ended and our college bloggers, Shauna and Megan, have finished their first year in college! Needless to say, the year was definitely not what anyone expected, but we both learned lots and had lots of different experiences! We hope you’ve enjoyed the blogs and hopefully some of you might have picked up some tips for when you start third level education if that’s something you want to do! To wrap up, we’ve decided to write up some of our thoughts on what we’ve learned overall throughout the year!

Hi everyone, Megan here. Hope you are all keeping safe and well. For me, first year in university has come to an end. It has been a brilliant year. Although it was cut short, I was lucky to be able to sit my summer exams online from home and I was delighted with my results! I am in UCC studying World Languages and I am thoroughly enjoying my course. For anyone interested in languages or translation, it is a great course with a lot of different paths from it. I would highly recommend checking it out!

There were certainly ups and downs during the year, but I have to say that I learned a lot from moving away from home. The biggest thing that I think everyone struggles with at the start is finances. I know I did anyway! Especially in college, it takes a few weeks to settle down and fully grasp the concept of budgeting. A lot of my new friends from my course are from Cork and did not move away from home so it is easy to forget how much more expensive it is to be living in student accommodation. I found it hard to resist when they invite me for coffee or to go out for drinks, and I would end up spending way too much money! I think after the first few weeks of regular college life I managed to grasp the concept of managing my finances, but its undoubtedly hard at the beginning, when everything is new and exciting!

Another big thing I learned from college is the significant difference between making friends in secondary school and making friends in college. When I moved to Cork, I knew a few people from Wexford who were also going to UCC, but I did not know anyone in my course, and I was very nervous at first. I quickly discovered that everyone was really friendly and there were no specific groups of friends, like secondary schools. From my experience, there is much more of an emphasis on making friends in a variety of circles, rather than just one small group of friends. I have made friends, not only from my course but also from clubs, societies, and voluntary programs in UCC. I would urge anyone starting college this year to really make an effort to join as many clubs and societies as you can in first year. The year is all about getting to know the college and making friends and those circles are the best ways to make solid friendships with people who have similar interests to you. I have made some of my best college friends from these circles and everyone there is so friendly and welcoming, so it is important to step out of your comfort zone and just go for it!

Finally, I have really enjoyed writing this series of college blogs to document my year. Reading back on them, I realize how far I have come and all the life lessons I have learned throughout the year. College is such an eye-opening experience and I am already excited to get back to a somewhat normal routine in October. Thanks so much for reading the blogs this year and I hope you learned a thing or two from my adventures!

Megan Dempsey


Hi everyone! It seems like a very long time ago that I was sitting in Whites Hotel in Wexford finalizing our plan for our college blogs, and a lot has changed for everyone since then! My first year of college was definitely a very different year to what I expected, and I was definitely a bit disappointed with the way it was cut short, but I also think the Covid-19 situation has really changed my perspective on a lot of things and thought me a lot in itself as well. I think the pandemic will really change how we look at a lot of things in life and how we go about education will definitely be one of them, and I think our new normal will definitely include a look at the potential of online or flexible learning and how much we really need to be living on a University campus with high rents and high costs of living to receive a good education. I guess we’ll just have to wait and see!

Other than that, I think I’ve also really learned over the year that college isn’t for everyone and isn’t the best option for everyone. As I want to do teaching, college is a necessary step for me to get to the career I want, but seeing my friends’ journeys and meeting different people from different walks of life, I’ve definitely learned that while college is great for some people and essential for some careers, you don’t have to follow the school to college to work roadmap that’s set out for us from the time we’re young. There are so many other options and you should take the time to really sit down and think about what the best option for you is – not just from an academic perspective, but also considering things you enjoy outside of school and your own personality. Saying that, college is a great experience if it’s something you want, I think it’s just important to emphasize that it’s not the only option, which was something I never really considered before I actually went.

I went into college with lots of ideas of things I might struggle with, and of course these things didn’t actually turn out to be problems at all! I found things like learning and finances pretty okay, but what I did really struggle with, which I never even considered, was looking after my health, both physical and mental. The reality of college is that it can be quite lonely – especially in larger colleges you really are a number not a name, and you end up spending quite a lot of time by yourself due to different living arrangements and timetables. Some people love this, but for me it had a big impact on my mental health and I really missed the support system I had back home of my friends and family. Another thing I found hard was making sure I was eating well and not allowing myself to burn out, as I’ve always found it hard to get a good balance between getting work done and looking after myself, and living alone meant it was much easier for me to let that balance get even worse. However, once I started to recognize these things as problems, there were lots of supports on campus to help me sort through them and get my health back on track! If I was to give advice to someone going in to college, it would be to make sure looking after yourself is your number one priority, and to set up self care routines straight away when you start in September, to make sure you don’t fall into the same situation as I did.

Despite all this, I had a great year and lots of fun, and I met lots of people I would never have encountered otherwise. I learned so much about myself and I think college can be such an eye opening experience and really broadens your perspective! We’re facing into such an uncertain world at the moment, and educating yourself whether it be through college or a plc, an apprenticeship or any other type of education is going to be so beneficial to your future, so I really recommend having a good think about what the best option for you is!

Shauna Whelan Buckley