Why I came back to UCC to do my Postgrad

By: Tara Horgan who starts the MSc Information Systems Risk Management this September.


What did I like best about being an undergrad at UCC?

Imagine it’s a hot summer’s day, you’re sweating, in an uncomfortable suit, looking out the window longingly at the people passing by the office window with an ice cream in their hands. Drip. Drip. Drip. You look back at your computer screen at the excel spreadsheets sprawled across the pixelated piece of technology in front you, when all you want to do is reach out and catch, even an individual drop of, melted, ice cream on your tongue so as not to let it go to waste. You look around the office and see what your future holds. So many people that have been sucked into the corporate lifestyle of glitz, glam and suits on false promises that all your dreams will come true. But how can they guarantee that? There are no guarantees in life.

Being an undergraduate student in UCC gave me the freedom to do what I want, when I want and how I want. I had the choice of what way in life I wanted to go and the help surrounding me at times was overwhelming. It wasn’t a question of “do I have someone to ask for help?”, it was a question of “who will I ask for help first?”. Whether it was my mom, a lecturer, a tutor, a friend or another student from my class, there was always someone to turn to when a problem arose. UCC enabled me to go into the world after university with choices, not a single, determined, path.

I chose a path after my undergraduate degree that may be the right one for me later in life, but not right now. It wasn’t the right choice at the right time. UCC was willing to take me back and embrace me upon my return. UCC is a land of endless opportunities. All you have to do is jump. If it doesn’t work out, someone will catch you.

Everyone in life needs a leg up every once in a while. Whether UCC was where you chose to study your undergraduate degree or not, UCC will help you get to where you want to get to next. Who knows where I’ll end up after my Masters, I may, or may not, go on to do a Doctorate, if UCC will have me, but right now I’m not in the least bit worried about it!


UCC and the full meaning of the present life

By: Úna Hennessy who starts the MA in Creative Writing this September.

American thinker John Dewey once wrote:

“Cease conceiving of education as mere preparation for later life, and make it the full meaning of the present life.'”

UCC for me embodies this. When studying English and French for my undergrad, I not only received a top-class education in the traditional sense, but grew, learned and matured in ways that I didn’t expect. From reading mind-blowing novels recommended by class-mates in the President’s garden, to experiencing the warmth of community of the music societies at open-mic nights, there were endless opportunities to exploit during my college years.

I had lecturers who had open-door policies for students, welcoming all to chat or debate, despite their busy schedules, and whose enthusiasm was contagious. I met fascinating students from around the world, and made friends for life. Although I had a huge amount of fun in college, it was of course daunting and challenging, especially coming straight from secondary school, where rote-learning is key to success. Luckily there were supports for students to make the transition to thinking critically, and to writing well-researched essays and annotating correctly etc.

I was delighted to be accepted onto the Creative Writing MA programme this year. It was easy to choose UCC for my postgrad, having heard great things about the course, and having experienced first-hand the expertise of its lecturers in the school of English. I’m looking forward to getting stuck into the coursework, as well as making use of the membership to the Mardyke pool (and sauna!) as well as meeting the other MA students. College is such a social place, and UCC is big enough that you can meet loads of people, but at the same time small enough that it still feels like a community.

Over the years, Cork has become home. I love the people, the ease of accessing the city and campus, the food, the pubs, the galleries and venues. UCC holds a lot of memories for me, and I can’t wait to be back there!


Back to UCC, back to self-improvement

By: Daniel Lynch who starts the MA in Irish Writing and Film this September.

When I first entered the grounds of University College Cork as an undergraduate, I could not help but feel elated and perhaps somewhat overwhelmed at the buzzing potential. I questioned whether I could adapt from secondary education to tertiary and whether I would ever find my way around the ORB! Three years later I would be happy to confirm my gut feeling that day; attending UCC was the best decision I ever made.

First and foremost you are attending university for your piece of paper, and at UCC you will receive a stellar standard of education. I primarily decided to return for my MA in Irish Writing and Film because of the impression left upon me by superb lecturers. This trend carries across different disciplines, and the friends I made along the way from Engineering to Medicine will attest the same.

The facilities available to students in UCC are second to none. If you are at crunch time for essay deadlines there are a multitude of computer rooms available. UCC’s library is exceptional with a helpful staff and also doubles as a wonderful study location. Everyone has ‘their spot’ in UCC, and I cannot wait to return to mine this semester!

Perhaps the biggest memory from my undergraduate degree however belongs to the friends I made along the way. I recently attended the wedding of two friends I made in UCC, and returning to the Honan Chapel last year gave me a wonderful sense of joy and pride in my alma mater.

There is no shortage of friendliness on campus and joining a society or club is the quickest way of meeting new people. Everyone who graduates UCC will have their own special memories of a play they acted in for Dramat, an article they wrote for the Express or even the nice cups of tea they had with the Tea Society!

Personally, as an undergraduate I became Editor-in-chief of the college paper and can attest it had a huge effect on my career choice. To this day some of my closest friendships were forged over frayed nerves editing at two in the morning to meet a deadline!

For budding athletes who go on to represent their country or plucky amateurs who like the idea of trying their hand at fencing, UCC’s Clubs have something for everyone. The Mardyke Arena offers world-class training facilities, and as someone who went in completely ignorant of how to use the equipment, I appreciated greatly the staff’s patience!

Why return to UCC? The defining quality of UCC is self-improvement, a continued search for knowledge, and new experiences. Addressing the proud students when I first graduated, President Dr. Michael Murphy stated he hoped that it was not the end of our education. He stressed the need to seize opportunities and always try to improve oneself, as education is a lifelong goal and one that should never end.

UCC here I come! Let the adventure begin!

By: Nadia Eckmann who starts the MA in Contemporary Religions this September.

I really can´t believe it. I will start my postgraduate course at UCC soon and I feel that my whole life is changing again massively. Changing again? You may find yourself asking: Why? Well, in the last year I´ve been working with the Irish organization, Friends of the Elderly, doing a European Voluntary Service in Dublin. Originally I’m from overseas, my home country is Germany. During this one year living and working in Dublin I got to know and love Ireland, the culture and the people. Working with the elderly for a year meant a lot to me and after finishing my undergraduate studies in Germany it was great to take a break from university for a year and to support elderly people in need. Due to this experience, new opportunities opened up for me. And I was sure: I wanted to stay and I wanted to study. But I also wanted to explore a new part of Ireland and meet new people. So I applied at UCC and here I am, starting my MA in a few weeks’ time. In the last couple of weeks I’ve been saying lots of “Goodbyes” to different people and to the elderly I worked with for a year. This really wasn’t easy for me. Now I’m back in Germany for a couple of weeks, meeting friends and family and then saying “Goodbye” again. In fact coming home to Germany is like making holidays for me and my “real” life is waiting for me… in Ireland. Being home also means a lot of preparing and organizing to start my studies at UCC. So at the moment, in a way, my life takes place in two countries and that makes it even harder to think about which items from home will be making the journey with me. Well, of course there will be lots of small items like clothes, books, lots of German bread (even after living in Ireland for a year I really can´t get used to the sandwich bread the Irish use) and of course I will take with me all the good memories from my previous experiences in Dublin and from family and friends here in Germany. But also there is going to be one really big object with me: my car will be brought over with the ferry.

This will allow me to get to and from the college, driving around Cork City and (that’s what I’m so much looking forward to) exploring the beautiful coastline of County Cork. So studying and traveling – that’s going to be my main goals for the upcoming year and I’m already preparing for both: reading the Book of Modules, making my mind up about a focus within my studies and also printing out different routes, “Must-Sees”, attractions and beautiful places of County Cork! I think the adventure can begin – as soon as I get used to driving my car on the left side of the road of course 😉

Why do I want to go to University?

By: Sue Dukes who starts the MA Creative Writing this September.

Because I have the opportunity, because I really, really want to; because education doesn’t – shouldn’t – stop when you reach a milestone number of years.

After retiring from a lifetime of tedious work to keep family and home together, I decided to spend time doing what I want to do most:  writing fiction. I had a goal and was actively seeking a path to follow, and taking an MA turned out to be part of a logical progression.

I had small successes in genre fiction over the years, but, I was always working in a vacuum.  No editor has ever sat down with me to go through my work to indicate areas needing improvement; no agent has evinced the slightest interest in my work; and no rejection has ever come with a kindly note on how to progress. This will sound familiar to anyone who has ever tried to sell fiction.  No-one is out there to help you – they are out there to make money from the skills you have.

So, I needed to improve, but how?  Firstly I joined an Arts Council funded on-line group called YouWriteOn, which provided reciprocal assessment opportunities, and there I posted various literary offerings.  I received responses ranging from the pertinent to the bizarre.  I also provided assessments for others. The online group is a stepping stone and a sounding board which I might return to from time to time with new pieces; however, it’s time consuming and the responses as variable as the participants.

So where should I go next?  I discovered the Skibbereen writing group, and for the first time in my life began to interact face to face with a group of people interested in the art of writing.  We discuss the specific meanings of words, narrative viewpoints, grammar, and all the other associated topics. This is mind-broadening stuff. My horizons expanded.

Then I discovered UCC ran an MA in Creative Writing, and my reaction was instant: I WANT TO DO THAT.  It will provide a structured learning process and criticism from people qualified to give it. It will take my writing to a higher level.  I will be able to immerse myself in the world of writing.  It will push me to a new depth of awareness and competence.  I will read work I haven’t considered reading and gain information I don’t know I’m lacking.   I’ll receive the education and advice I’ve been seeking all my adult life.

Why UCC?  I’m lucky it’s my nearest university.  I’ve visited the campus a few times. I love the ethos and the atmosphere, yet when I visit I feel like an intruder into someone else’s world.  I want it to be my world, too.  Interacting with a group of people on the same wavelength will be as much an education as the lectures.  The MA might increase my chances of eventual publication, but above all, I intend to enjoy the educational experience.


I dreamt of UCC on a starry night

By: Noemi Magugliani who starts the LL.M. International Human Rights Law and Public Policy this September.


Everything starts with a dream, (some) people say. Well, my journey to Cork started off with a peculiar twist. A very special someone moved from grey Milan to green Cork and I dreamt of UCC on a starry night, while fighting the cold(est) spring in New Hampshire some months ago. I knew that the School of Law was one of the best and I thought: “Why not?”, and started working on application forms, motivational letter, documents and the nightmare of any international student: paperwork. I got the big news while I was driving (don’t tell the cops!) in Northern Italy, my mother couldn’t keep herself from unfastening her seatbelt and I had to pull over to let her hug me. And scream in my ear. And call half of the relatives. And cry because I was going to be gone for another year. But this is another story…

I was blown away by the idea of flying off to Ireland, which I had never seen before, starting the LL.M. in International Human Rights Law and Public Policy and joining the amazing UCC family, home to over 4.000 postgraduate students, the UCC ladies soccer team, my sweetheart. Many things have changed in the past few months, including my sentimental status, but not the excitement to join UCC. Craziness happened, that’s for sure, from accommodation to timetables, from finding a job to registration, from bank letters to overnight Ryanair flights. But here I am, in late August, packing my 15 kilos suitcase with the essentials: a bunch of winter clothes, my very special soccer shoes, a couple of evergreen books that I have been carrying around in my constant wandering and plenty of expectations. And coffee.

A new country, new mentors, new teammates, new friends; a brand new life waiting for me, a dream that will start feeling true the moment I will land in Dublin and get on a coach to Cork. Seminars, lectures, societies, clubs, meetings, papers – my small (maybe too small) agenda is already full of notes and things to do and places to see; my desire to learn, engage, participate is higher than ever. I fell in love with the University the moment I laid my eyes on its astonishing architecture, its green lawns and its magnificent libraries on a sunny August day. I fell in love with Cork walking down Oliver Plunkett Street, getting lost downtown, watching the sun setting on the water. I fell in love with Ireland as I saw its shape from the sky, amazed by its colours. And I can’t wait for it to conquer my heart and brain over and over again.


My Future Self

By: Marit Van Dijk who starts the MA in Geography: Cities, Space and Culture this September

When I turned seventeen I began a new tradition. Every three months I would write an online letter, to myself in the future, to be received, by myself, in exactly three months.  A website offering this service stores the letter, and then forwards it to you. Whenever I receive a letter from my past self, I reply to my future self within a week, which means that I write another letter to a future me, and so forth. By now (I recently turned 23) these letters have grown into a personal digital archive. Sometimes, when preparing for something big, I reread some of them, because they show me an early, less mature version of myself and help me to put things into perspective.

Whilst refolding a stack of jumpers (packing for Ireland!) I think about the first letters I wrote. Chock-full of grammatical errors, random capital letters and worries about how other people would perceive me. I hadn’t yet learned how to properly write about anything, let alone how to cram all my thoughts into words. I pick up the stack of jumpers, place them in my already full suitcase and doubt if they will suit the Irish winter.

Four years after I wrote my first letter, I was heading for an internship in Moscow. I was so stressed that I was hardly able to deal with the pressure.  In my letters I was asking my future self a lot of questions, aware of the fact that I would not receive an answer. However, the idea that I was exchanging letters with my future self and that she knew the answers, had a soothing effect.  When I received the letter in Moscow, I was startled. I already forgotten how scared I was and which fears and biases I had had about living in Russia.

I leave my suitcase be for a moment and reread the letter I’m about to send to November, when I will be in Cork. In this letter, I seem surprisingly confident and relaxed with the idea of moving to Cork and my decision to study at the UCC. Most likely because I told so many people how I ended up choosing the UCC, that at some point it got completely embedded in my brain.

Sitting on the floor, beside my suitcase, I realize something. Again, I have thought through the whole process of decision making. However, there is one issue that – for now – will remain unsolved. What will go through my future self’s mind when I read this letter again?

If you enjoy the concept of e-mailing your future self and want to try it out, just check https://www.futureme.org/  It’s free!

A long, winding road from Nebraska to UCC!

By: Jeff Davis who starts the HDip in Applied Computing Technology this September.

It has been a long, winding road that brought me to my HDip at UCC! I’m an American from Nebraska that was passing through Cork 8 years ago. The year before, I was living in San Diego and made friends with some J1’ers that lived next door to me in Mission Beach. I was in the process of moving when I stopped off in Dublin, and the lads thought it would be a good idea to pop down to the Jazz Festival in Cork. I met a girl in the Savoy that night, and 8 years later we have 2 kids and are happy out in Cork City.

I’ve always had an interest in IT, and after 12 years in Human Resources / Recruiting, I figured it was time for a change and the HDip was a perfect way to transition. For the last 5 years in Cork, I helped Computer Science Graduates find jobs, and loads came from UCC. Basically, I spent all day talking with people about taking a job doing what I really wanted to do! To get ready for the course, my 5 year old bought me a brand new pencil case and decorated it well with sparkles and glitter. All set. I am really looking forward to my new career in technology and the UCC HDip!

In the right place, doing what is right for me

By: Mary Tobin who starts the MA in Applied Psychology (Mental Health) this September.

I came to UCC as a mature student to do a BA in Applied Psychology. The combination of college, family responsibilities, work, and voluntary commitments was a challenge to manage at times. Two of the things that sustained me through my degree were my passion for my chosen course of study – and sharing that course with some of the friendliest, funniest, and most interesting people who I’ve met. For me, having a second chance at education meant that I was determined to ride out the occasional wobble and keep trying to do my best and engage fully with my studies.

An important part of the BA in Applied Psychology is the independent research project. I was lucky to have both the freedom and the support from my academic supervisor to carry out a research study of my own design, on a topic about which I care, with a community-based sample. Taking on this intensive research work built on my practical skills (such as participant recruitment and analysis) but also built up my sense of myself as a researcher and someone who belongs in this academic space. The milestones in my educational journey were these rare but recurring moments of gradual realisation: Yes, I actually know what I am about and what I am talking about.

The choice to do a postgraduate degree in UCC was a straightforward one. My chosen course – the MA in Applied Psychology (Mental Health) – is the only Masters degree in psychology in Ireland which has an integrated six month placement supervised by a clinical or counselling psychologist. The School of Applied Psychology in UCC has been building links with Adult Mental Health, Child and Adolescent Mental Health, and Intellectual Disability Services, as well as other psychological service providers including counselling, addiction services, services for older adults, and those for other vulnerable populations. This means that I will have the opportunity to work in a supervised placement – an advantage for any psychology graduate planning to apply to clinical doctorate programmes.

As well as a placement, the MA will also allow me to keep developing my research skills on another independent research project. I will also have the benefit of taught modules which are tailored for students pursuing the clinical psychology route.

Although I am apprehensive – to say the least – about the financial challenges of a postgraduate course in UCC, I know from my undergraduate experience that I am in the right place, doing what is right for me.


The Philosophy behind choosing UCC

By: Conor Nolan who starts the Philosophy HDip in Arts this September.

Every good story needs a back story:

In 2013 I graduated from my primary degree in Management Science. The rationale I used to choose this course were pragmatic, it was a technical course which would lend proficiencies in business, mathematics and computer science. I surmised this would increase my employability and it did. However, something was missing. After running the gauntlet of the job market and some serious soul searching, I found I had not followed my passion but rather my rational mind. In my search to find my passion, I did not find one but many.


It was British Philosopher Alan Watts who acted as my career guide. I learned about the Philosophies of the East and found I had a great love of wisdom and a new path to travel. Upon enquiry into postgraduate courses in Philosophy I found UCC’s Higher Diploma in Philosophy which covered oriental philosophies while giving a comprehensive choice of modules in every area I wished to learn about. The icing on the cake was that it was in Cork! I am from Athlone and although I am well-travelled I had never been to the real capital of Ireland. I had heard the stories and the accent but I needed to experience it first-hand. I have walked the campus grounds and I was very impressed with the quiet and relaxed atmosphere.


Cork city is vibrant, the people are cordial and always ready to chat, I have had several great conversations with Cork natives since I have arrived. I have sorted accommodation and a part-time job, so the academic year is really shaping up to be one to remember. There was some planning to be done to make this transition to Cork, finances had to be organised, research into the course modules had to be completed and living arrangements had to be made. These pieces have fallen into place beautifully and now I am looking forward to enjoying college life and all that Cork has to offer. I have to bring some essentials for my time in Cork; a desk and chair for doing college work while at home, my bedside lamp for doing any late night reading, my laptop, pens and paper for recording any miraculous ideas I might have and perhaps a skull for my desk to remind me of the value of time! I leave you with a quote from the Philosopher that inspired me to take choose this UCC course in Philosophy.


The only way to make sense of change is to plunge into it, move with it, and join the dance

Alan Watts