Exercise & Study: Brain Gains

As the weeks go by and the deadlines begin to build up, keeping fit and healthy can often times be a pain. Do students really want to go for a jog when they have 3 essays due? By the time you finish a long hard day in college or a full day of study in the stuffy library, you’ll struggle to find a willing student to grace the gym for an hour or head out for a walk.

It’s usually study or exercise, very rarely both. But both are extremely important and usually work best when they are combined. Finding that balance isn’t always easy and it obviously depends on the student and their circumstances, but why should students consider hitting the gym after a full day of study as opposed to stretching out on the couch and watching TV?


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Exercise can boost your brain power. Experiments conducted on mice at the University of Illinois found that mice that ran on a wheel often had more neurons (brain cells) than the mice that did not. Scientists have discovered that exercise appears to build a brain that resists physical shrinking and enhance cognitive function. Frequent exercise has also been linked to an increase in memory.

Exercise can help with your concentration also. Studies with ADHD children that did 20 minutes of cardio, such as running or cycling before their classes found that they improved their concentration, class participation and behavior.


American Heart Foundation

To start reaping these benefits of exercise you don’t have to be in the gym for 3 hours, seven days a week. Many studies suggest that 30 minutes of exercise 3 days week can be enough. With loads of sporting societies on campus you are spoiled for choice as to how you want to get your exercise in and it doesn’t even have to be a sport, you could go for a run or a walk which is completely free and just as rewarding!


Different Learning Styles

Having been back in UL for well over a month I’ve had plenty of time to contrast the learning style here and the learning style in my Erasmus university. I was on Erasmus from September 2016 to January 2017 in Hanze University, Groningen, The Netherlands.

My experience as a student at Hanze University in Groningen, The Netherlands was very enjoyable. I study New Media and English at my home university but on Erasmus I decided to study journalism.


UL Campus, UL.ie

The change in courses took some getting used to but they are similar enough that it did not take too long to settle into the course. It was a pleasant change and it meant the classes were more interesting because I was studying something new every day. 

One of the biggest changes from UL was the fact that my timetable changed every week. This did take some getting used to and was somewhat annoying because we would be given homework in a class but not always given a week to do it depending on when the next class was. It seemed unnecessary, especially because many times were had the same class in the same room just on different days.

Hanze also have their end of term exams after the Christmas holidays which was very awkward for me. At UL the first semester finishes before Christmas but in many universities the semester ends in January.

 It meant that I had to go home for Christmas and then return to Hanze for two weeks to complete my projects and exam.

I find it interesting how the different ways in which the timetable, classes and terms are organised can impact the learning experience of the students. It can often times depend on the student and what works best for them. For me personally it was just a matter of getting used to the different universities.

It took some time to readjust to the UL structure but ultimately I think this is the one that suited me best, because it is the one I am most used to. It is difficult to decided which is more effective as it depends on the individual. There are many interesting opinions on which style is better and it is an interesting debate.



Learning Something New

Studying New Media & English I can chose many different and varied subjects to study. It can be difficult sometimes when you have so many differing modules, to know what you want to do after University but it also doesn’t limit you to one specific field.

I think one of the best examples of a New Media & English module I can give is one I am studying this semester, called “Writing for New Media.” I think this is a great example because we are learning about laws, such as copyright and writing in a blog but in our labs we are studying things like HTML(which before this class I had no idea what it was).

HTML or Hyper Text Markup Langue is a computer language created for website creation. HTML consists of short codes typed into a text-file such as notepad, the text is then saved as a html file, and viewed through a web browser. The tags separate normal text from HTML code. These are the words between the . They cause all the cool things like images and tables, just by telling your browser what to render on the page. Different tags perform different functions.

Although I’ve only had one class in using HTML codes and didn’t even know that they existed before the class, it was fairly easy to pick up once you got the hand of it.  There was real learning by doing atmosphere in the class and it was cool to see how you could change the page using different codes. It was a nice change of pace and I found it really interesting!

Where I am Now?

When people ask where I go to college, I don’t think they are expecting such a convoluted answer as the one that I have been forced to give for the past year. I am in third year of New Media & English at the University of Limerick (UL), however I haven’t actually studied in UL for almost fourteen months now.

For the second semester of my second year I had to complete work placement. I did this in Barcelona, Spain, I worked as a conversation assistant in a Mestral primary school  there for six months. I enjoyed the work and gained a lot from the position both professionally and personally. Barcelona is a beautiful city and I was never bored on the weekends, it has such a rich history and amazing architecture, there’s also the weather, but don’t get me started on that!!

I look back on my time in Barcelona fondly, the only factors that subtracted from my experience there was the fact that I was alone, despite the odd visit from friends or family. It was tough at times but I think it added to the experience overall.

In September 2016, I began my Erasmus exchange in Groningen, The Netherlands. Although I study New Media & English in UL, I studied Journalism while in The Netherlands at Hanze University. It was a nice change of pace but it was still similar enough to my home university study that I didn’t find it difficult to pick it up.

It was a little strange at first, studying at  a different University but it was also interesting to see how other countries operate in contrast to Ireland. Of course, Erasmus is pass fail so that was a nice added bonus of the trip!

I’m looking forward to getting back to my studies here in UL now. I had a great year away but it’s nice to finally be home for good and not having to worry about leaving again a few months down the line. It’s good to just be settled again.