The Snapper, The Lycra Model and the Shameless Creeper – Where’s Wally, gym-style…

summer is coming

So the sun has finally made an appearance, we’ve made the brave decision to go out of doors without a winter coat (at least twice), and we’ve had our first 99 of the year.

Tá an Samhradh ag teacht lads , and we all know what that means.

It’s “beach body” time.

Immediately, we regret the 99 and longingly dream of rock-hard abs, calves of steel, and arms that don’t jiggle when we wave at people.

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Panic sets in and the decision is made.

Ar aghaidh linn! To the gym!

Even by merely putting on those lycra jogging pants, we begin to feel that we’ve achieved something (probably because of the magical effect they have on our arse) and after the sports bra goes on it’s níos fearr fós!

Earphones packed, snazzy new buidéal uisce at the ready, our wallpaper changed to some cheesy motivational fitness quote, agus táimíd réidh!

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Or so we think…

Once we set foot through that revolving door however, it’s a different kettle of fish.

The place is plódaithe. There’s the other newbies like ourselves of course, gaping open-mouthed at the machines (that look more like contraptions of torture than fitness equipment), we bee-line for the treadmill (because at least we know how that works, “Sure haven’t we seen it on the telly loads?”).

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From this vantage point, we get to tóg go bog é a little. We’ve got all the way here and we’re finally doing something! Now, we can properly take in our surroundings, and it doesn’t take long to discern the different characters mórthimpeall orainn.

The Lycra Model, mar shampla.

These cailíní are one of the first things we noticed when we strolled through the door, for the plain reason that they are stunning.

lycra model

Also known as the Gym Bunny, these particular gym–goers are a wonder to behold. Perfect make-up, straightened hair, but strong enough to break you with their little finger.

We hate them, but we want to be them, all ag an am céanna.

We’ve also got Grandad, who’s doctor shipped him here “for his health”. God bless the poor lad, he’s probably got sky-rocketing cholesterol and chronic arthritis but he’s working those wrinkly guns.

Maith thú Grandad, we’re proud of you (and only a little bit embarrassed that you’re doing better work than we are).

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The Snapper is a common, modern-day presence sa sportlann. Unfortunately, they have nothing to do with the Barrytown Trilogy and everything to do with the art of the selfie.

Commonly found on the training bikes, these selfie queens will snap to their heart’s content and make sure everyone on snapchat knows they’re there (naturally, their five-minutes of rothaíocht will be broadcast as the next Tour de France, but they’re a harmless crowd really).

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The Body Builders are probably the most intimidating buachaillí in the building.

Clad in wife-beater vests and very, very tight pants (so that nothing is left to the imagination), these boyos are probably lovely gentle souls, but because of their resemblance to the Incredible Hulk and the way their veins pop out when they lift the mammoth weights, we tend to give them a wide berth.

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The Shameless Creeper is the slipperiest of the bunch, and the trickiest one to spot.

Normally drawn by the lure of the Lycra Model, these slippery snakes lurk in the corners to get a bird’s eye view of the ladies in action.

gym creeper

So bígí cúramach girls, and watch where you squat.

If in doubt of a creeper, implement the Harry Potter tactic and get checking the mirrors for any suspicious snakes lurking sa chúlra.

It’s almost like a real-life Where’s Wally, with bonus points for the County Player, the Marathon Runner and the Operation Transformation-er.

So keep your peepers peeled for next-time, my fellow gym-newbies, and enjoy.

 say hello to summer

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Save a baby from a burning building…Or just smile, maybe?

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The dreaded study week is upon us once more, leading students to move in their droves towards the leabharlann.

The vast majority of students will probably camp here for the week, stressed out about scrúdaithe, panicked about deadlines and penniless after squandering all of our worldly wealth on coffee in the café síos staighre.

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Bhuel, that’s what I’ve been doing anyway.

It’s uafásach really, having to frantically plough through weeks and weeks of half-arsed lecture notes, as well as having to tear around the place looking for even more information (after realising that the notes you took yourself are more or less useless), resulting in nothing but hardship and flashbacks of the…dare I even mention it…

LEAVING CERT.

*Insert shudder here*

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No one enjoys study week. But despite all the nastiness, it can make us appreciate the little things an awful lot more.

This occurred to me the other day as I trudged down the stairs to spend my last pingin rua on coffee to help me power through the dregs of an essay. Needless to say I was not at my most cheery. Truth be told, I probably looked like more like a zombie with insomnia and an attitude problem than my regular scoláire self, but I returned upstairs with a smile on my face.

When you’re feeling a little bit down, the tiniest of things can change your whole day.

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For me, it was the lovely lady at the till who, despite having clearly been toiling behind the counter for the whole day, gave me a huge smile and asked “Well darling, what can I get for you?” soon followed by a “There you go now pet”.

Without getting into an iomarca of the gooey details, just that small bit of kindness made me feel so much better, and almost (but not quite ready to go back and face my aiste).

So, thosaigh mé ag smaoineamh about the other little things that can make a huge difference.

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Things like the mental health campaign on campus, with colourful messages scattered timpeall na hollscoile saying “You’re Beautiful” and telling us to “Smile” and “Bee Happy” (naturally accompanied with a crude, but admittedly cute) drawing of a bee.

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It’s the simplest things that make the biggest impact.

On the Luas in Dublin, mar shampla, the #BeSound campaign is everywhere. It reminds us how even something as straightforward as offering up your suíochán for someone can not only make their  a little easier, but also inspire someone else to do the same.

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Now ná bí buartha , I’m not about to go all Gandhi on you and beg you to go help old women cross the road or save a baby from a burning building.

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Ach, it might be no harm to give a random act of kindness a go, for anyone who’s a bit under the weather, or for anyone for no reason at all.

You’d be surprised how big a difference a smile can make.

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 So whether you offer your pal a cupán tae, let someone skip you in the queue in Aldi, or chat that young wan on Tinder to tell her you think she’s “unrale“…

Give it a go, and spread a little joy.

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“Níl Aon Tínteán Mar Do Thinteán Féin” – When beans on toast becomes too much…

home sweet home

Yes of course, college life is unreal and the advantages are endless.

We all adore the craic, the freedom and the endless potential for causing wreck that exists at the heart of saol na hollscoile. So much so, that we’re perfectly happy to put up with the mouldy bread (“Sure it’s grand if you toast it”), the endless supply of gone-off milk (because “once it’s in the tea you can barely notice it” ) and even the sinister pile of putrid tea towels that never gets washed and just keeps growing.

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Yes indeed, college life is thar barr, but every so often there comes a time when the little things become just too much and the prospect of beans on toast for the fifth day in a row sends us over the edge.

Sometimes we just need to go home.

Tar éis cúpla seachtaine of living with the constant stench of manky tea-towel, we begin to envision home as the lap of luxury. Only now do we fully appreciate how well we have it sa bhaile and how much we have missed our simple home comforts.

The fridge, mar shampla.

love is an open door

The fact that at home, we can open the cuisneoir without being assaulted by the horrifying smell of someone’s three-week old chicken curry or the crippling realisation that there is in fact, no food, seems unnatural to us, and is embraced as nothing less than a miracle.

want to eat you baby

We had completely forgotten that there are a whole world of dinners out there. Ones that aren’t scrambled eggs, bland pasta or the aforementioned and accursed beans on toast.

We are normally reminded of this wonderful truth by our most beloved one and only…

MAMAÍ.

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The weeks of malnutrition have gotten to us, and she invariably becomes our hero as she hands us our dinnéar, which we swear would put Gordon Ramsay himself to shame.

As we horse into our third helping of Shepherd’s Pie, we promise ourselves that we’ll get her a really, “like really really” good bronntanas for Mother’s Day next year and we strongly consider getting one of those “I ❤ Mom” tattoos.

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After we’ve sufficiently stuffed ourselves , we retreat to the couch where we flop for the evening os comhair na teilifíse and rejoice in the vast quantity of telly channels. This particular home comfort comes as an especially pleasant luxury, and we are shocked at the level of choice, having forgotten that Judge JudyJeremy Kyle and the Big Bang Theory are not the only programs in existence.

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We even finding ourselves feeling warm and fuzzy after fighting over the remote/washing machine/dishwasher with our siblings, who are another vital aspect of home living. These little argóintí take us back to our childhood and also make the list of our favourite home comforts…whether we admit it out loud or not.

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Faoi dheireadh, after couch-potatoing for a significant amount of time, comes arguably the most precious of all home comforts…

Our own bed.

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There’s nothing we want more at the end of a long day than our very own leaba, and returning to it after a long time apart is like Christmas morning and your breithlá all in one.

There’s no doubt that our days in college are some of the best of our lives, but ag deireadh an lae , we all have to admit…

There’s no place quite like home. ❤

YOLO – A way of life, and an unreal excuse to do just about anything…

As college students, we have all uttered the phrase…

We have all screamed it at the top of our voices on countless nights out and we have all used it at least once, as a fine leithscéal to cover our arses and to hide our embarrassment when we look back on some of our most shameful moments.

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Níl ach saol amháin agat”.

It might not be the oldest of seanfhocail, but it’s certainly got a ring to it.

You see, what started out as a really irritating catchphrase, overused by young wans and Beliebers alike, has now morphed into a way of life.

yolo beach

For us daoine óga who have the pleasure of partying our way through our days here in college, I’m sure we can all relate to a few common YOLO moments.

These consist of the best, the stupidest and the most reckless of all our third level stories and more often than not, are the ones we love to tell arís is arís.

One of my personal favourites occurs about once or twice a year, on those rare days when we catch a glimpse of that elusive fiery ball in the sky, and all hell breaks loose.

sun

It’s “Goodbye lectures!”, “Slán go fóill assignments!”  and “Hello YOLO!”

Then away we go to whip out our bristí gearr, squander our money on 99’s and race to the nearest pub to have a pint amuigh faoin ngrian.

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YOLO moment uimhir a dó is another classic, and often goes hand-in-hand with the sunny day.

THE SPONTANEOUS ROAD TRIP.

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Nothing beats it. The windows down, the spéaclaí gréine on and the radio absolutely blaring.

“Ná bac leis an obair! Sure won’t we tell our grandchildren about this in years to come?”

Uimhir a trí is a much more regular occurrance however, and can be witnessed on most nights out.

After numerous painful hangovers, we’ve sworn off this particular brand of YOLO many a time, but we can never resist for long, can we?

TEQUILA.

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It’s the stuff of hopes and dreams, and the creator of many poor decisions.

These regrettable tequila shots can often be held responsible for a sizeable chunk of YOLO category uimhir a ceathair.

This grúpa could be described as the things you really, really shouldn’t do…but do anyway.

Agus ar ndóigh, by “things” I mean people, and by “do” I mean shift.

These are undoubtedly some of the trickiest types of YOLO, and often the most regrettable – as we realise when we pull away from the ex-boyfriend/current housemate/cara is fearr/absolute minger that we’ve just locked lips with.

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Often stemming from the same source, YOLO group number five typically appears an mhaidin dár gcoinn, and is known far and wide as…

THE WALK OF SHAME.

This beauty is a clear indication of some YOLO-related tomfoolery the oíche roimh ré and can be a great source of entertainment for anyone creeping from the safety of their kitchen window, as they catch a glimpse of some poor créatúr legging it home in their buachaill’s hoodie, tracksuit bottoms, and of course, last night’s heels.

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Ironically, it’s in situations like this, when a bitín YOLO can come in awful handy.

After reaching rock bottom, you realise that the only way to go is up! Thus leading to a magical transformation from walk of shame into the Stride of Pride.

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Tar éis sin, we realise that there’s nothing to be done except to suck it up, to laugh it off and give all our gang a giggle as you recount your tale of woe.

And soon enough, we find ourselves right back where we started, because “Ah sure who cares?”

“You only live once”.

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The Procrastination Station – Acknowledging an essay and ignoring it anyway.

We all know the feeling.

The initial denial. The deep dread. The inevitable tears of frustration.

The cursed aiste is upon us once more, and there’s no escaping it, as much as we’d like to.

Yes yes, the same aiste we found out about three months ago. Yes yes, the same one that we swore we’d do “super early this time”, so that we wouldn’t have to suffer through the same pain and hardship that left us sleep-deprived and croíbhriste after the last one. Back when deadline madness corrupted our brains and turned us into red-eyed zombies, slumping over computer screens until the early hours and feeling oh so sorry for ourselves.

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You’d think that we’d learn from our previous naivety wouldn’t you? That we’d recognise our mistakes and come back with a brand new, oh-so-mature and hard-working approach?

Bhuel a chara, you’d be wrong.

Because you see, as much as we’d love to morph into these fabulously mature, capable and intelligent scoláirí, who we promised ourselves we would become, there are about a million other things that require our utmost attention before we could even dream of opening Microsoft Word.

Ar dtús, we have the mandatory check of Facebook. Because, what if someone wants us? What if someone has been desperately trying to reach us but can’t get us on our phones? What if something has happened and we’re the last to know?

THE HORROR!

Now, more often than not, we’ll log on and find out that we’ve got one measly notification, from one long-forgotten “friend” who doesn’t even really miss you – they just sent you an invite to play some useless game that you’ve never wanted to play and never will.

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After that, comes the moment that you realise you’re surrounded by an array of empty pints glasses, mouldy mugs of tae, dirty socks and that dodgy mystery stain in the carpet, which is looking a lot more sinister all of a sudden…

Sure of course, you “couldn’t possibly work in such filth“.

Thus leading to an hour or two of in-depth cleaning, to such a standard that even your Mamaí would be proud. Even if, dare I say, visitors were calling over.

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So finally, faoi dheireadh, the stain has been scrubbed, the cups are clean, the bed has been made and your seomra is spotless.

Now is the point when it generally hits us that we were never going to work in the room anyway, and that there’s only one solution to our procrastination problem…

The library.

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Little do we know, this will just open a whole other can of worms.

In we stroll, with hope in our hearts, grabbing any book that might even be the slightest bit relevant, convinced that today…today will be the day that we’ll tackle the accursed thing and come out alive.

Then, we sit down, organise our desk, take out our study plan (the beauty and colour-coordination of which, would rival the Sistine Chapel itself) and open Microsoft Word.

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In with the title, in with your name and in with your student uimhir for good measure.

Sure that’s nearly 50 words right there! Thus, we reward ourselves with a 30 minute creep trín bhfuinneog.

Peeping through the window blinds with binoculars

After a few hours of this rotation between creeping out the window, regular trips to the toilet, sneaky snapchats of the Greek God sitting beside us and occasionally jotting down a cúpla focal, we start to feel pretty good about ourselves.

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Therefore, when the fón póca beeps and we cast our eyes over those five beautiful, beautiful words, sent from procrastination heaven or productivity hell…

“Will we go for pints?” 

We tell ourselves,”You’ve been here for hours, you deserve a break”. 

Spurring the famous last words…

Sure I can finish this in the morning!” 

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And that’s the end of that until the maidin ina dhiaidh , when you wake up with a mouth as dry as Gandhi’s sandal, a pounding headache and some vague memories of having “great craic” before falling into bed at some ungodly hour.

never drinking again

With the spriocdháta getting ever closer, there’s nothing to do but crawl to the laptop screen to finish the fecking thing once and for all.

Except that instead of finding all your work from the night before, you’re greeted by a frozen laptop screen and the feeling of your blood turning cold as you watch your essay disappear before you eyes.

Queue the inevitable tears here.

bad things good people

Time is running out. We know we’ll have to start the excruciating process all over again, because if we use the “family problems” excuse for an extension uair amháin eile, they’ll either smell a rat or call social services.

So we sit down to the dreaded task once more, there’s no time for distractions, nothing can tear us away from it this time…

Until perhaps…we get the sudden burst of inspiration to blog about it…

An Ghaeltacht – Matchmaking for beginners

It’s a rite of passage here on this beautiful Emerald Isle of ours…the Gaeltacht , that is.

We introduce it to foreigners as a “cultural gem”, as a magical and sacred aspect of Ireland where the language is still alive and kicking. We go on and on about the beautiful thatch cottages, the turf fires, the fresh country air that’s thick with heritage and the clear view of Tír na nÓg from every kitchen window.

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Ah, if only they knew the real story.

But sure come on. How could we break it to them? The fact that for years and years Irish parents have been packing the bags of their beloved offspring to ship them away to the far corners of the island. All this, in the hope that they might get three weeks of peace i rith an tSamhraidh and that the child in question might even absorb enough Irish to scrape together a pass in their Leaving Cert.

So away we went. With dread in our hearts and scowls on our faces as we envisioned fiercesome Bean an Tighs, horrific mince dinners and hours upon hours of the Modh Coinníollach.

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To Conamara, to Dún Chaoin, to Tír Chonaill! Clutching our dictionaries and desperately trying to remember how to say what age we are again as Gaeilge (and wondering why it has to change every fecking year!) .

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This is where the fun begins. Because you see, during our spiel to the turasóirí, we forget to tell them the very best part of the Gaeltacht experience; the reason we go back time and time again, the reason we come home grinning from ear to ear and singing Baidín Fheilimí till we’re blue in the face.

THE SHIFT.

It’s the stuff of dreams, and the key to the croí of any young Irish teen.

Yes, it’s slobbery and more like a cross between a fish and a washing machine than any real romantic encounter, but it’s also the gold medal for any young aspiring gaeilgeoir during their three-week stint in Irish College.

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It all begins at the céilí, another aspect of the Gaeltacht which is not to be romanticised. It is not, as you might imagine, a collection of Michael Flatley-type déagóirí , diligently focusing on their “aon-dó-trí”s and keeping their arms by their sides.

Quite the opposite, in fact.

In reality, it’s a flurry of sweaty palms and hormones as the scoláirí scurry around the halla, torn between rushing to get a partner before all the decent ones are gone, and playing it cool to let on that you couldn’t care less.

It doesn’t get any easier after that, I’ll have you know. Even if you nab yourself the prettiest cailín in the coláiste , you still have to power through the next seven to ten minutes of shuffling isteach agus amach to Ballaí Luimnigh and making awkward chit-chat trí-mhéan na Gaeilge.

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That’s when the wingman steps in.

After a few days of careful planning and much deliberation (not to mention awkward eye contact), it’s your cara is fearr‘s time to shine.

The day has been set, the céilí mór is near and it’s time to pop the inevitable question.

“Ar mhaith leat buaileadh le mo chara?”, better known as its counterpart as Béarla…

“Will you shift my friend?”

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After this, you’re ar mhuin na muice! The days following will undoubtedly be spent scuttling away to empty seomraí ranga to get the sneaky shift at regular intervals before brushing up on your Dreoilín and working out some “hilarious” new lyrics to An Poc Ar Buile .

Before you know it, the three weeks have flown by and the Céilí Mór is upon you, bringing with it the sean-waltz, choruses of “An bhfuil tú go maith? Mar tá tú ag féachaint go maith!” , ridiculous outfits and of course, complete and utter heartbreak. There’ll be tears flowing and promises to teacht le chéile left, right and centre, just before the cruel soul working the ceol decides to play Greenday’s “Time Of Your Life” as the last song.

After weeping a bit more, and causing absolute wreck after lights off (because “Sure they can’t kick us out now!”), the maidin dheireanach has finally arrived and it’s time for the final goodbye.

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So you hop in the car, give your Mamaí the traditional “grand” to every single question on the trek home and spend your journey reminiscing on what was undoubtedly, “The best three weeks of my life so far”.

You swear you’ll never forget, but sadly, for many this isn’t true for long.

Until that is, the Dreoilín comes on the radio…and it all comes rushing back…