Hello, I’m Wen! I’m from Malaysia and am currently in my third year of undergraduate studies at the University of Limerick, majoring in Economics and Finance. I started my life journey in Ireland in September 2020, so it has been more than two years now.
Two things about me: I have a husky at home in Malaysia and he has two different-coloured eyes. His fur is black and white in colour, so we named him “Oreo”. The second thing is I am a morning person, I love to wake up early and start my day very slowly.
The Sports Arena
A place that I go five days a week, in the morning at around 6:30am. My comfort zone and a place where I can feel the most myself.
The University of Limerick is known as the Ireland’s Sporting Campus. The list of facilities provided in UL Sports Arena can be found online, and in this blog I am going to talk about the sports arena from my point of view.
As a student at the University of Limerick who is living in non-campus accommodation, I am paying €150 for 4 month access. For students who are living in campus accommodation (including both on-campus and off-campus), the membership is included in the accommodation fees. You just need to activate the membership in the UL Sports Arena before you get started. This membership covers access to all gym equipment in the Health & Performance Centre, which we call “the gym room", the 50M swimming pool and most of the group fitness classes like Spinning, Pilates, Yoga, TRX, Body Combat, Body Balance etc.
I go to the gym every Monday to Friday, sometimes joining fitness classes, hence buying a monthly-based membership is much cost effective for me. But a “pay as you go” option is available too!
Back to the point of why the UL Sports Arena is my first favourite spot in the university.
I started going to the gym in May 2021. Running on the treadmill was the only thing I knew and dared to try. But every time I went to the gym, I always observed the people who were training in the weights section. I wanted to be like them, training with weights, seeing the progress on my body.
And one day, I just decided to go up to someone who looked friendly and nice (everyone in the gym is friendly to be frank, I just chose the one who was taking his breaks in between sets). I asked him if he could show me some simple moves like how to use the smith machine, and how to put weights on the barbell and adjust the level. The hardest step is starting. And I am profoundly grateful for the man who taught me how to use the equipment at first, and thankful for myself to have had the courage to start.
Systematic training has changed my life from the inside out. I have a portable-sized notepad that I carry along with me everywhere, it was meant to be a memo for me when I have a sudden idea that comes to my mind, no matter what it is about, (I know we have notes in our phones, but I prefer writing them down), but most of the time I use the notepad as a record of my gym process. The feelings when I see the recorded weights lifted getting higher, the reps increase, they are indescribable.
Going to the gym is not only for physical health, but also for my mental health. I used to struggle with body image issues (I am still a little anxious about it now), but my mindset has gotten so much healthier than before. On the other hand, when I am fully concentrating and focusing on training, I tend to dive into my own world where I can communicate with my body and clear my mind, which is also why I love to go to the gym in the morning, it's like a reset from yesterday to start a new day today.
Exercising is proven to be beneficial to physical and mental health and exercising in a space where you have adequate equipment, a clean and comfortable environment, and most importantly, located on a beautiful campus, will make you fall in love - even though you are training in pain!
The flagpoles at University of Limerick are the tallest flagpoles in Ireland, and to me they are like the landmark and sign of UL.
Ireland is a windy and rainy country, and when the wind blows, the two flags raising on the 35M flagpoles dance along with the wind. Every time I pass the flagpole and see the flags swaying with the wind, it is like two little kids in their favourite dresses showing off their beauty. Yes, the flags know how beautiful the campus is, and they are proud to be the entrance mark of the university.
I was lucky enough to encounter a double rainbow two times while studying in Ireland for the last two years. And, coincidentally, both were near the flagpoles.
In the past summer, during the Pride month, UL put a rainbow flag on one of the flagpoles, which symbolizes the LGBTQ+ Pride. Acceptances of diversity at UL is not only shown on this occasion. As an international student in this university, I am happy and blessed to say that I feel welcomed and very importantly, safe on this campus.
I was back home last summer, a pity to miss the chance to see the flag swaying on one of my favourite spots on the campus in person. But seeing the pictures online gave me goosebumps as well. I am proud to be a part of this university, genuinely.
The “Jungle” Walk
This is like a “very well-known secret place". I know it sounds like a clash, but yes, this is how it is. There is a long walk along the Shannon River that connects the campus and Limerick City Centre.
The walk starts from behind the Kilmurry village, crossing the famous Living Bridge from beneath, and arriving in town near The Locke Bar. The whole journey takes about 1 hour and 15 minutes walking. When the weather is nice and when I am not in a rush, I prefer to go into town through this walk.
I called it a “jungle” walk because there are trees and bushes along the way. If you are a dog lover, I swear this could be heaven for you. You can meet a fluffy friend every 2-3 minutes on your walk.
I would not recommend having a night walk here, as it could get very dark and there is low visibility at night. But in the spring, summer, and early autumn, when the sky gets dark later and when it does not rain as much as late autumn and winter, this is one of the best spots to have a great mental health walk.
The Glucksman Library
The Glucksman Library, the largest academic library in Ireland. The collections that can be found in the library are comprehensive, including academic and non-academic resources.
Sometimes when it is rainy and I do not feel like bringing my own laptop, I loan out a laptop from the library. There are two laptop loaning machines located on the ground floor of the library, just scan your student card on the screen and you can use the laptop for up to three hours, which is very handy! And if you prefer to use a PC instead of a laptop, there are also PC rooms and seats that provide a PC on the desk.
There are also rooms that are reserved only for Postgraduate students, so they can work on their research in a private and quieter space. The facilities and services provided in the library are described and listed in more detail on the official website of the Glucksman Library.
So, why is the library one of my favourite places in the university?
The library is my to-go place when I have long breaks between my classes or when I only have one to two classes for the day and want to stay on campus after classes. I personally work better when I am working in the library and when I am working with friends. Two of my closest friends are in their final years now. What concerns them the most at this moment would be their final year project, and this is “motivating” them to go to the library almost every weekday night after dinner.
They are hard-working and well-intentioned people. They know exactly what they want for their future and work hard in that direction. When I am with them, I'm always influenced by their dedication, and motivated to work more.
We often spend time in the library after dinner, working together for better academic results. We could sometimes be competitive that all of us were tired but none of us wanted to be the first to leave the library. It might sound like an unhealthy competition, but these are funny memories to us!
They are in their last year of their undergraduate in the University of Limerick now, graduating in less than six months. I will be missing them a lot after, and I am thankful that we created memories in the library, which makes this place one of my favourite spots on campus.