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ION T I D PE U AP R W

your independent student newspaper

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AND THE AWARD GOES TO... Find out who has been winning what P> 3 - 5

TEN STUDENTS GO TO MALAWI Read one student’s Malawi Diary P> 6 ITION UP ED WRAP

WHAT’S BEEN YOUR HIGHLIGHT? We ask students about their favourite moments of the year P> 8 & 9

GOT A COUCH? LET’S GO SURF The highs and lows of couch surfing P> 13 ITION UP ED WRAP

STUDENT LAUNCHES OWN BUSINESS Find out what 2nd year has just launched his own company P> 7

DIT TAKE PART IN SWIMATHON FOR REHAB Turn to the back page to find out more

>P4 > P7

May 2011

SIGN SOC CLEAN UP AT AWARDS DIT Sign Language Society were the big winners across the board this year, collecting awards at both the annual Society Awards and the Board of Irish Colleges Societies Awards (BICS). Earlier this year the society organised “Think Inclusion, Think Integration” week where they hosted various events to raise awareness of disability issues. In March 2011, a group of students also created the first ever music video in Irish Sign Language. The society won Best Online Presence and Best Civic Contribution both awards and were given the most coveted award of Best Society at the Socs Awards.

Continued on page 3-5

Sign Soc members Ciara Mc Cafferty, Thomas Geoghegan, Padraig Ruane and Arlene Caffrey pictured with Professor Brian Norton. Photo: Conor Mulhern.

1 IN 4 TO EMIGRATE Final year students reveal plans for future By Eve Sherlock

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early a quarter of all final year students will leave Ireland after they finish their studies this year, a recent study by DIT News has shown. Twenty four per cent of fourth year students are either going to travel or emigrate while 33 per cent will stick it out to try and find a job. A small number (8 per cent) of lucky students have already secured

jobs and will take them up after the exams. One such student answered “already got a job, win.” Australia remains a popular choice of destination falling in second to the UK, where the majority of students will set up residency in, suggesting that people are relocating to look for work. Dave Kilmartin, of DIT Careers Service, says that for those students

who are jumping on the emigration bandwagon, their reasons for doing so need to be challenged, and they must be provided with the best possible information. “You need to tap into the students’ mindset, for many, if they don’t think jobs are out there, they won’t look for them. We need to challenge their assumptions and ensure they have explored every avenue at home before

they feel forced into emigration. Information is powerful, and we at the DIT Careers Service need to be critical of students’ rationale in order for them to make the best possible decision regarding their future.” Dave has seen some positive changes though, as DIT recorded a ten per cent increase between 2008 and 2009 of students enrolling in further studies, whereas statistics for

Continued on page 6


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DIT News May 2011

Note from the editor... So here we come to another end of year. This is my fifth year studying and working in DIT and I don’t know how I’ll say goodbye forever. I have loved my time studying in DIT and met some really amazing people and friends for life. Working on the DIT News has allowed me to see a whole other side to the college. So much hard work is done on a daily basis by the staff and of course, you the students. I can’t count how many times I’ve heard the words, “Get Involved”, and it sounds cheesy but it’s true, GET INVOLVED! If I have learnt one thing working on the newspaper, it’s how much fun it can be to be part of societies, clubs or the SU. It’s not just about going to classes, it’s about being part of the college experience. It’s where you make your best friends, get experience and have the most fun. I want to take this chance to thank everyone I have worked with. Anita, James and Teri in the societies office were always so helpful whenever I had a question. I couldn’t have survived without help and advice from other staff members such as Brian Gormley, Melda Slattery, Professor Norton and all the people in the SU. But most of all, I want to thank the students. The newspaper would not have been possible without you and you should all be proud of what you achieved. There was a small group of dedicated people who were always there to cover a story and get stuck in. They know who they are and I’m so appreciative. Even if all you do is read the newspaper, thank you, and I hope you’ve enjoyed it. I definitely have!

Aisling Editor

EDITOR WANTED DIT NEWS ARE RECRUITING

We are looking for a self motivated, enthusiastic and hard working individual to take on the role of editor next year.

ARE YOU...

Organised and ready for a challenge? Full of creative and interesting ideas? Capable of managing a team? Experienced doing layout and design? Interested? Email Teri O’Boyle at teri.oboyle@dit.ie with your CV by Friday 3 June 2011.

Aisling O’Sullivan

newssoced@gmail.com

News Editor

Edel Golden ditnews.news@gmail.com

Features Editor

Cassie Delaney

ditnews.features@gmail.com

Fashion Editor

Stephanie Costello ditnews.fashion@gmail.com

Entertainment Editor

Kevin Donnellan ditnews.ents@gmail.com

Sports Editors

Colin Higgins and Aoife Connaughton ditnews.sports@gmail.com

Tuesday May 24Th

Lois Lane, 1972


DIT News May 2011

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AND THE AWARD GOES TO... A

society awards 12/4/11

SPORTS awards 14/4/11

wards season is upon us and last month, DIT students were treated to many nights out in honour of... well, themselves. Whether it was at the national student media awards, the sports or even the society awards, talented students were congratulated for their contribution over the academic year. First up were the Student Media Awards where students from DIT won the award for Blog of the Year. Sponsored by MyHome.ie it went to the makers of www. teaandtoast.ie. It is a political website set up this year by two students, Graham Ó Maonaigh (second year marketing) and Dan O’ Neill (public affairs and political communication MA). Less than a week later, the Burlington Hotel hosted the annual DIT Society Awards. Many of the 80 societies received awards and 11 final year students were recognised for their outstanding contribution throughout their time in DIT. The sporting stars at DIT were awarded for their involvement throughout the year in a ceremony held in the Aviva Stadium. Boxer Kenny Egan was in attendance as guest speaker to congratulate all of the students. Twelve awards were presented on the night to individuals and various clubs. DIT was one of 14 colleges and universities awarded at the BICS (Board of Irish Colleges Societies) on Thursday, 21 April. DIT came away with three awards including Best Fresher, Best Online Presence and Best Civic Contribution. The Sign Society won two of the three awards as well as winning Best Society at the Society Awards. DIT came in close second for other awards including Best Event, Most Improved, Best Individual, and Best New Society. Turn over for more photos from the ceremonies.

bics awards

21/4/11

smedia awards 6/4/11


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DIT News May 2011

AWARDS SEASON bics awards

21/4/11

Clockwise: Ruth Murray accepts her award for Best Fresher from last year’s winner, Steven Pierce of DIT. Students pose with Head of Societies, Anita Conway. Students and staff of DIT societies support the winners. Members of Sign Society collect one of their two awards for Best Online Presence and Best Civic Contribution. Photos thanks to Conor Mulhern.

SPORTS awards 14/4/11

Above: The annual DIT Sports Awards took place in the Aviva Stadium where numerous individuals won All Star awards and many clubs were awarded also. Above right: Graham Higginbotham receives an award from Professor Brian Norton, Head of DIT and Kenny Egan, guest of honour.


DIT News May 2011

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AWARDS SEASON Society awards 12/4/11

Clockwise: Members of the Nutrition Society receive their award from Professor Brian Norton for Most Improved Society, Southside. Anita Conway, Head of Societies addresses the students at the ceremony held in the Burlington Hotel. Various students involved in the eDIT Festival, which won an award for Best Event. Photographs thanks to Conor Mulhern.

smedia awards 6/4/11

Above: Kathryn Thomas and Daíthi Ó Sé present the National Student Media Awards hosted by the Mansion House. Right: Eva Hall and Eleanore Hutch represent DIT News, who were nominated for several awards on the night. Above right: Some DIT journalism graduates were in attendance. Photos thanks to Oxygen.ie and Frankie Whelan.


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DIT News May 2011

Twelve DIT My Malawi Diaries students travel to Malawi DIT journalism student, Tessa Fleming talks openly and candidly about why she applied to go over to Malawi and how her opinions changed whilst there.

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welve DIT students have travelled to Malawi for two weeks with the Irish NGO, Wells for Zoe. This is the fourth year that groups have gone on the trip. Every year, all DIT students are invited to apply to go away with the NGO and interviews take place to decide who goes. This Easter, ten students and one graduate went and stayed in a rural town called Mzuzu in Northern Malawi. Speaking about the trip, one of the organisers, third year marketing student Nicola Burns said “yet again DIT students had a very successful trip. I think this year we saw some very harsh conditions, especially in a local hospital which really pulled on the heart strings of all who attended. I hope they feel encouraged to go back and I hope next year we can continue with the strong connection with Wells for Zoe. This year students from a variety of disciplines went over including four journalism, one business management, one early childhood education, four

computer science and one engineering student and one DIT graduate. The group worked on a variety of projects including a farm run by Wells for Zoe, the pump facotry where the wells are made, visiting local villages and teaching English to adults. One volunteer, Lynne Swan spoke to DIT News about her experience. “I formed an extremely close bond with my fellow volunteers and it’s safe to say the entire experience would not have been the same without them. I can’t wait to start fundraising again next year as I hope to spend an entire summer out there volunteering. If you’ve ever considered doing volunteer work definitely look into the work that Wells For Zoe do and consider giving them a helping hand, it’ll change your perspective on life for the better.” Since returning from Malawi some of the volunteers have set up a blog documenting their experiences and providing information for those interested. You can find it at www. w4zvolunteers.wordpress.com.

1 in 4 to emigrate CONTINUED FROM FRONT PAGE travel and emigration have remained the same. “These figures are reflected nationwide.” Seventeen per cent of final year students surveyed are planning on doing a masters degree after they complete their studies and 76 per cent plan on being in Ireland for their graduation in October and November. Although the statistics suggest that students are geared up to go on the job hunt, many have not heard of employment schemes provided by organisations such as FAS and IBEC. Over 60 per cent of them confessed to not knowing what the FÁS Work Placement Programme is while a massive 83 per cent never heard of the IBEC Gradlink Scheme. Both of these programmes offer an alternative to graduates who cannot find paid work. The FÁS programme allows people to keep their social welfare

payments while working in a job that will give experience, skills and expertise. The IBEC scheme works in a similar way, offering graduates the opportunity to gain useful workplace experience and a chance to apply the skills they gained in college. It also allows people to keep their payments. However, critics have blasted the schemes because those looking to apply have to be on the live register for three months first. This means that students leaving college must wait until September at the earliest to start applying. DIT News spoke to one disgruntled DIT graduate who finished her studies last year, “I couldn’t find a job straight out of college so I went to register with FAS because I’d seen a lot of great opportunities with the work placement programme. But I soon found out that I had to be on the dole for three months before I could apply, it’s ridiculous”.

I

wanted to come to Malawi to make a difference, to help people and communities to build wells for water and grow food and work physically hard to make a difference in Malawi. But now that’s not why I am here. My perceptions of Wells for Zoe have changed. It’s not about me working hard, digging wells, and it’s not about me making a difference. It’s about providing opportunities, support and encouragement for Malawians to make a difference for themselves. Until now I have never imagined the importance of just being here, encouraging people, working with them, listening to them and even playing with them. Today and yesterday the journalist students went to Zolo Zolo secondary school to facilitate a simple journalism workshop. It was amazing to see how the students enjoyed it and how they allow themselves to be free, to have fun working, to have fun dreaming and how inspired they were about the possibilities of education. We exchanged emails and phone numbers with the students so that we can continue to work with them, to support and encourage them long after we leave. We will always be there for them. Not only did we work with secondary students but we went to preschools in various villages. We were really welcomed by the locals and in particular the teachers. I soon came to realise that their schools have practically nothing. We played with the children on each visit and they quickly became comfortable with us, laughing and running around and actually being children. John and Mary Coyne have done so much here working with small communities. In Lusangazi for example, the most amazing farm has been set up by Wells for Zoe which is run completely by Malawians; a small, close knit group of people doing their own research in order to achieve the most efficient and practical way of farming and particularly the most sustainable. They have a small hostel on

site which visitors can stay in free of charge and work with Wells for Zoe farmers, learning these sustainable practices. As we drive down different roads and through different villages, it is a common occurrence for John to get out and talk to the small local farmers about their difficulties and offering them the opportunity to visit Lusangazi. It’s there for everybody. I couldn’t imagine a more welcoming and helpful, hardworking farmers than those at Lusangazi. They are truly amazing. Going home, I know why I am here. I am not here to do the jobs that the Malawi people could do in half the time. I am not here to teach or to preach, to lead or to be followed. I am here to work with the people, to build friendships, a network of support and encouragement that can be continued long into the future. I know that while I may be back in Ireland soon, Wells for Zoe will continue to be here in Malawi, and will continue to be a community of people that will always be there, that will always offer help and support, that will always extend the hand of friendship and that will never give up.

Tessa takes time out of a netball match to play with a local baby while above: dances with kids in Umozo, at Saint John of Gods


DIT News May 2011

Grab a lift, go green By Siobhán McGuire

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s part of DIT Green Week, Dr Mike Murphy, Dean of Engineering and Built Environment, launched a new car – sharing website for DIT. The new website is an initiative of the DIT Smarter Travel Working Group and the National Transport Authority. The website is used to match up DIT staff and students travelling in the same direction. Staff and students log onto the website using the DIT email address. Registration for the site is easy to use and is completely free. The idea was inspired by a DIT Travel survey in 2009. The survey, carried out by The Smarter Travel Working group, showed that 15% of the DIT population occasionally car – share. According to the survey 46% of respondents said they would be interested in a DIT car – sharing scheme. Manager of Campus Life, Brian Gormley said that the website is “a brilliant opportunity for DIT staff and students to see that there are other people travelling in the same direction and that car – sharing is available.” Within the first ten minutes of the launch “I spoke to three people from Ashbourne who were driving separately to College,” he added. He hopes to promote the car – sharing scheme among first years by using social media, the DIT diary, welcome packs and induction week. Over 22 workplaces and colleges have signed up to carsharing.ie. Other colleges which are partaking in the car – sharing plan include NUI Maynooth, Dundalk Institute of Technology and NUI Galway. Information can be found on the DIT Smarter Travel Facebook page or by logging onto www. carsharing.ie/DIT

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Grangegorman hit another milestone

FIRST CRANE IN DUBLIN FOR 3 YEARS

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rangegorman has once again reached another milestone when it recently submitted a plan to become a Strategic Development Zone (SDZ), or ‘Urban Quarter’. In December 2010, the government designated the area as a SDZ zone and last week the Grangegorman Development Agency (GDA) presented a proposal of the overall design, plans for transportation and the provision of services and amenities. As well as that, the first crane in three years will be set up shortly on site in the north inner city campus. When complete the site will house medical facilities, a school, and the state’s largest educational institution, DIT. If granted, the SDZ scheme will mean that the 73 acre plot will

act as a framework for all future applications at the former psychiatric hospital in Dublin 7. Building on the HSE Mental Health Replacement Facility will commence in the coming weeks and will mark the first part of the project. At the beginning of 2011 Professor Brian Norton revealed plans to amalgamate four Institutes of Technology into one large Technological University (TU) and speaking to DIT News, assured that Grangegorman is still “going ahead even faster, it’s going ahead with gusto.” Despite fears that the project would be put on the back burner due to the recession, Grangegorman is full steam ahead and very soon everyone can look forward to seeing the first crane on the skyline in three years.

DIT STUDENT LAUNCHES BLINGIN’ NEW BUSINESS

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impBerry is a new company set up by Steven Pierce, a second year marketing and French student in DIT Aungier Street. The idea is simple and cams as a result of the introduction of Blackberry phones on Pay As You go by leading phone companies. This has resulted in a growing number of students and young individuals having the phones. After constant queries from friends about where they could get covers for their Blackberries, Steven decided to cater for this niche. “It is really a case of simple supply and demand. Students were getting the phones and there was strong demand for stylish, fun and affordable protective covers, but no one readily supplying them. There really is a great

opportunity in the business and a growing market of style conscious young people out there” said Steven. PimpBerry launched this May and offers a range of protective covers including basic plastic ones all the way up to the ‘bling’ crystal ones and even the boys are catered for with ventilated army style cases and ones resembling car tyres. The concept is that you can change the cover of your phone for any event, going from day to night in moments. Customers can also change the whole cover colour of the phone from the black and white ones that are sold to practically any colour. The company’s main marketing and sales channel is through Facebook and the fan page facebook.com/ pimpberry. In-built into the page is an

online shopping facility using PayPal. In the next few weeks the focus will be on increasing the number of ‘likes’ on the page through a targeted approach through all the main colleges Facebook pages. It is then planned to sell through markets, online and at various fairs throughout the Summer season, using the Facebook page as a medium for advertising these events. For the moment the company only stocks covers for the Blackberry model of phone but ‘Like’ has plans to stock iPhone and Nokia the fanpage covers in the at facebook.com/ future. The pimpberry for 10% motto of the off and FREE company reflects Shipping. this expansion, the more the berrier.

Steven poses with a few of the covers available from PimpBerry outside his college, DIT Aungier Street. Photo by Jennifer McHale


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DIT News May 2011

There's been so many. I would say being part of societies in general. - Emmet

” “ ” My highlight was SpinOff 2011. - Burschi

My highlight of the year was fresher’s week. - Ciarán

”“

Best part of the year was returning to college from placement and getting to see everyone in Kevin St again.

” “

- Claire

- Claire

Getting elected to the Student Union. - Glenn

Arriving in Mzuzu after 60 something hours of travelling! Having spent the past year orchestrating the volunteer trip to Malawi with DIT, it was such a relief tofinallyarriveinMzuzu,despitelast minutedelaysandsetbacks.Itwasa realproudmomenttoseeeveryone there and having a great time.

- Cassie


DIT News May 2011

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Highlights of the year according to YOU, the students

GoingonErasmusto Paris this year - Conor

I went to Amsterdam with ten lads for threedays. Itwas great, unreal

-Daniel

When my friend NathanO’Reillysaid Will young was his highlightofthe90s, live on RTE.

- Jarlath

Winning the European Commission Entrepreneurship student case study competition. - Kyle

It's really been a great year, highlight for me has definitely been getting moreinvolvedinsocieties, I've made some great friends and had a serious bit of craic.

- Craig


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DIT News May 2011

Students recognised for work throughout the year

Three students, Ross O’Neill, Jordana Baukute and Thomas Geoghegan receive Active Citizenship awards at the second annual DITSU student recognition awards. The ceremony took place on Wednesday, 11 May in DIT Aungier Street. Other students were recognised in various categories such as DITSU Volunteer, Best Newcomer, Student Democracy and Outstanding Contribution. Pictured with the three students are Dr Michael Mulvey and Mr Sean Dorgan.

Bolton street bicycle critic starts blog By Eva Hall

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olton Street bicycle bandits beware, there’s a new bike critic in town to thwart your thieving ways. Adam Carpenter, a civil engineering student at DIT Bolton Street, has dedicated an entire blog to locking up your bike correctly. The bike enthusiast, who cycles to college himself every day, except when it’s raining, was inspired by the amount of bad-lock jobs he witnesses at Bolton Street every day. “I got the idea initially after seeing a beautiful new bike locked in Bolton Street that hadn’t been locked properly, so I wrote a quick note on what the cyclist had done wrong and how he/she could improve on it so the wheels weren’t stolen by an opportunistic thief,” said Adam. Not one to fall prey to eagle-eye bike thieves, Adam ensures his own bike is lock-solid by using “two very expensive, top of the range locks”. Adam boasts the ability to disassemble and reassemble a bike, a skill he used when building his own, and one that may come in handy during his time as treasurer of

the DIT Bike Polo Society. Although he claims the content on his blog is “common sense”, it has notched up more than 2,000 hits since its circuit on the web just one month ago. The blog features a cycle of chart positions for locked bikes, ranging from a Grade A to a Grade E. One lock-job which earned a Grade A result did so due to the additional saddle lock-down of the bike. The critique reads: “The u-lock is holding the frame to the rail, while the 10mm cables wrap up the front wheel, rear wheel and chainring! The 5mm cable holds the saddle and seatpost in place and both cables are secured to the u-lock.” Adam is currently in contact with lock manufacturers Kryptonite to secure some Grade A locks to demonstrate the correct way to lock a bike. He then plans to run a competition so followers of his blog are in with a chance to win a lock and ensure their bike-locking techniques are up to speed. Adam also invites people to comment on the blog or share bike-locking tips. You can contact him at ditbikecritic@gmail.com.

You can read the blog at www.ditbikecritic.wordpress.com

DIT seek exceptional student

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he Governing Body of the DIT are seeking nominations for the Chairperson awards. The award was established to recognise those who have contributed greatly to student life in the Institute and their local communities. Applicants must be in their final year, and have been involved in voluntary work such as societies, the student union, charity work and more.

Nominations may be made by staff, students, or committees of DIT and application forms may be downloaded from the DIT website. Closing date for completed nomination forms is 5pm Tuesday, 7 June 2011. The forms should be sent into the SSRS Office - contact details are on the application form.


make new friends

fun nights out

try something new

meet new people

5 1 ple

improve your CV

meet new DIT News peopleMay 2011

o e p

a e d i d goo and a

free stuff

guest speakers

cultural

events FEATURES 13

trips away

volunteer

give something back

learn new skills

www. socs.dit.ie

a t r sta

to s e k a t is all it

newsociety get involved

For more info contact the Societies Office Northside, contact: Teri O’Boyle teri.oboyle@dit.ie / Tel: 086 889 5372 Southside, contact: James Costello james.costello@dit.ie / Tel: 01 402 3172 or call into your local Students’ Union.

Get Involved

www.socs.dit.ie


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DIT News May 2011

Can’t study? No one else can! Can’t stop clicking onto Facebook? Suddenly finding it very important to clear out your room? Sounds like you’re a grade A procrastinator. At least Sophie Cairns admits to it.

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o, here I am. Sitting at my living room table - my laptop propped up upon a pile of The Sunday Times’ supplements - wishing I could regain my morning’s will to get some work done. Every college student’s struggle - the hump. My list of college assignments is getting ever longer, my guitar’s strings are resting out of tune and my computer’s memory is left at a constant. I need to get working. But what to do? My roommate beside me is considering taking up meditation

- six hours a day up in the local church. Now, I think that’s a little extreme, so here’s what I reckon will do the trick... Crack out the own brand chocolate and let’s get started... Nothing kicks off a plan like a bit of procrastination. Hit that e-mail delete button like there’s no tomorrow - you’ll get your e-mail list condensed and your mind refreshed with the sense of achievement. Next, whip up some lunch “More procrastination?” I hear you say? Well, of course! Especially

when it means providing you with a boost. Throw together a tuna salad for some brain food. Or, if you’re feeling extra motivated by your e-mail deletion exercise - munch through a green salad with some low-fat hard cheese, a hardboiled egg and some sliced turkey tossed in. Mmm. Now, if you’re anything like me - your desk will now be littered with bowls, bottles, and those ever present newspapers. Time to get cleaning! Get those bowls in the sink for a job to do later - and fold the newspapers tidily for reading

next month. Time to relax with some tea and a wind down. Green tea is always given as staple in these situations so try something different, a good ol’ cup of Barry’s. While you’re waiting for the kettle to boil, get your shoulders rolling. Forwards then backwards, with a deep breath in and out each time. Two minutes should do the trick. With the kettle boiled, try out some isometrics. Trust me - I’m a journalist - it’s not as difficult as it sounds. All you have to do is hold in your wobblies. Tense the muscles

in your calves, thighs, chest, abdomen, butt, shoulders and back. Just watch your arms, you don’t want to tense them too hard while you’re pouring hot water, the doctor says its dangerous. Back to the desk! With your calendar open - plan the rest of the day - all two hours. Maybe get your class involved - we’re social animals after all, just like the meerkats. Or, you could finally get down to some work. Put this article down and get working, come on, you’ve only two hours left.

Helpful study tips for the procrastinator FIND A QUIET PLACE

Sometimes people study better at home, others in college. Whatever, you prefer, try and find a quiet place. The libraries can get full at times so get in early to get a good spot. Remember that some libraries have study rooms, book one once you get in – it guarantees you some quiet space to study, even if you can only book an hour or two.

BE ORGANISED Make sure you have all your study notes, pens and high lighters beside you before you start studying. Remember, if you can’t find a particular book, check the short term loan section. If not, email your lecturer who might be able to help. Keeping your notes and books organised will take away some stress and allow you to concentrate on studying.

PAUSE AND PARAPHRASE When reading academic material, it can sometimes being a bit heavy and full of jargon. Read a paragraph, stop and think about it. Then re-write it in your own words.

TAKE A BREAK Cramming can be one of the best methods of studying but don’t overdo it. Make sure you take regular breaks, even if it’s just to walk around and stretch.

EAT AND SLEEP PROPERLY In the weeks and days prior to exams you must make sure to eat and sleep right. Otherwise your body and brain will not be prepared. You will be able to handle the stress more if you do so. Make sure to get a good night’s sleep before exams, you might spend the night cramming and not remember a thing if you’re overtired. Bring water into the exam hall to keep you hydrated.


DIT News May 2011

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Got a couch? Let’s go surfing!

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Bored but broke? Got no plans for the summer? Couch surfing could be for you. Louisa McGrath looks into the newest accommodation sensation that is becoming more popular across the globe.

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ouchsurfing, for people who aren’t aware of the increasing phenomenon, is a way for people to travel by staying on the couch of a voluntary host, usually a stranger, instead of staying in a hotel or other accommodation. There have been hospitality exchange organisations that bring travellers and hosts together for a long time. The first was Servas, which was founded as a peace movement after World War II. It aims to build tolerance by bringing people of different cultures together. Most of these organisations still aim to promote cultural exchange, but many people just use them for free accommodation. “Servas is different. It is about cultural exchange; your host wants to spend time with you,” commented Mr Fine of Servas. Many other hospitality exchange networks have been created. They use the internet to boost their influence and lessen costs. The most innovative is The Hospitality Club which includes passport checks, feedback and comment mechanisms. Today CouchSurfing.org is the most successful hospitality organisation, with more than 2.5 million users in 246 countries. It gave its name to the term couchsurfing. Sebastien Le Tuan, one of the co-founders, said: “Casey Fenton, the original founder, was inspired to create CouchSurfing.org after he experienced what it is like to couchsurf in Iceland. He had such a great experience that he wanted everyone to have the opportunity to do the same, all over the world. Our mission statement is ‘create inspiring experiences’.” There are 16,339 users in Ireland. One Irish member, Lisa (19), described her travels: “My friend and I went to Galway using CouchSurfing. I found the experience uncomfortable, but it was definitely an experience. “It is a great way to meet people and learn

about the place you are staying. The host told us what places to visit and brought us out with his friends, some of which we keep in contact with. “I recommend couchsurfing to others. I wouldn’t do it again because when you are sleeping on someone else’s couch you have no space or privacy. I think it is more suited to outgoing people. “It is not something to do on your own, especially if you are a girl. I heard some disturbing stories from two other girls whom we met. Using CouchSurfing. org they had stayed with some men who proposed they all share a bed. These men had expected a little something from them in return.” The question of safety comes up quite frequently when using hospitality exchange organisations. Mr Fine of Servas said: “People have shocked reactions at the idea of inviting strangers into your house. With Servas every single member is interviewed.”

“It is a great way to meet people and learn about the place you are staying. The host told us what places to visit and brought us out with his friends, some of which we keep in contact with.”

Mr Le Tuan of CouchSurfing said: “Safety is a top priority for us, which is why we have our identity and address verification system, as well as other checks and measures such as friend links, references and vouching.” CouchSurfing’s members have reported nearly 5 million positive experiences. According to the website this is 99.7% of all

experiences. Despite this there are cases in which members have bad experiences. In 2009, a man in Leeds was found guilty of two counts of rape and one of sexual assault on a 29-year-old woman whom he had met through CouchSurfing.org. Abdelali Nachet had a profile on the website and the woman from Hong Kong got contacted him looking for a place to stay. The prosecutor in the case, Simon Phillips, said: “This is a site that enables travellers to find free accommodation with like-minded individuals to stay the night. Amongst the travelling community, it is well known on an international basis. She trusted the website and had previously stayed with other people, including single men, without incident.” Nachet was sentenced to 10 years imprisonment. Cases like this are rare and do not deter people from these websites. Despite safety concerns women make up 42.5% of the CouchSurfing website’s members, while men make up 50%. Groups, which is the safest way to travel, only accounts for 7.5% of CouchSurfing.org’s membership. The safety procedures are enough for users feel comfortable. “I am going to do some couchsurfing very soon. I want to go to Belfast. I don’t have safety concerns. You can see the person’s account and the comments people have left. There is no censorship, so it is safe. I think it is one of the best ideas I have ever heard,” said Anna (22). Amy (19), said: “I would do it travelling in a group. It costs less which is always a plus, especially for a student. There are always safety concerns wherever you go, even in hostels. With couchsurfing you can check who you will be staying with. There could be anybody in a hostel, they’re just as dangerous.” Official bodies do not advise against these websites, they just warn people to be careful. A spokesperson for the Irish Rape Crisis Centre said: “There are newer

ways of interacting all the time, but the fundamental skills remain the same, whether it is on the internet or in real life encounters. People need to be street wise.” A spokesperson for the Office for Internet Safety (OIS) said: “The OIS has not, to date, had any concerns raised with it on the issue of hospitality exchange organisations. Obviously people should be careful in their interactions, both offline and online, with persons whom they do not know.” For people who are interested in couchsurfing Ó Tholg Go Tolg on Thursdays at 9.30pm on TG4 is a good introduction. The programme follows two Irish girls as they couchsurf around the world using different hospitality organisations.

Couchsurfing Stats - USA is the number 1 country for surfing - 1.5 million people surf in Europe - Began in 1999 after a man named Casey Fenton e-mailed 1,500 students asking could he stay on a trip to Iceland. He got 50 offers - There are 6,232 people in Ireland currently offering their couches


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DIT News May 2011

FEATURE

Caves away!

Stephen suits up to prepare to go caving with some other students in County Clare.

By Stephen Bourke

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ome gather round children, it’s time for a Student Caving Forum! A time of jigs and debauchery and much merry-making. Also. cheap cans, a hostel and plenty of caving. This Easter DIT Caving Club played host to the venerable Irish Student Caving Forum, held this year in Vaughn’s Hostel in Kilfenora, Co. Clare. The forum was held over the Easter Bank holiday weekend with over forty staying under one roof. Students and graduates from all over the island attended, with a particularly good turnout from DIT, DCU and Queen’s University Belfast. On Saturday members of all three clubs at the Forum explored parts of the Paulnagollum-Paulelva system in the hills north of Lisdoonvarna. This is the longest cave in Ireland with over 16 kilometres of passages, and the third deepest. My first rope descent into a cave was the spectacular and terrifying pitch into Paulelva. It was amazing. Leaving daylight behind, you lower yourself into a hole walled with dark rock, turning slowly and helplessly as you go. Into your vision slides a white cascade of the water that formed the hole over the span of millenia, and turning more it slides out again. Then your boots hit the uneven, damp rocks, littered with plant debris and alive with hopping frogs. Your descender is still warm from the friction as you take off your harness and wait for the others. I wanted to go again, but we were going for a through trip. The rest is just a blur of formations and splashing. After the day’s caving, there was a treasure hunt around Kilfenora. Saturday evening saw talks of a speleological nature. Colin Bunce of the Clare Caving Club gave a presentation detailing the excavation of Poll Gonzo near Carron, Co. Clare. The club unearthed the entrance to this cave in 2009 and has been excavating and exploring it since.

“[Gonzo] is a very unusual cave,” says Bunce “It’s like nowhere else in the Burren.” This was followed by a talk on last summer’s expedition to the world’s deepest cave, Voronya in Abkhazia. Niall Tobin gave a fascinating account of the challenges involved in spending ten days underground as part of a large-scale expedition. Finally, DIT’s own Petie Barry (Bolton Street) presented a fascinating lecture on the origins of Irish cave names before we all retired to the hostel for several nightcaps. On Sunday DIT and Queen’s students lent a hand digging and hauling spoil at the Poll Gonzo dig, before someone took out the explosives and blasted some rocks in the new passage. Too smoky to continue the digging in one passage, a party of DIT cavers led by CCC’s Colin Bunce descended into the other. This more excavated tunnel leads to a series of vertical pitches and into the heart of the cave. “I hate these sketchy rope ladders,” said Stephen Brandon of Aungier Street as he descended the first. The ladder takes you to a small passage opening into a larger vertical chamber. They call it Rolling Rock pitch for a good reason. I had to yell “Below!” as soon as my wellies hit the floor, sending a trickle of small rocks tumbling over the edge. A swing and a clamber and a squeeze later, and you’re at the top of the Waterfall Pitch. It’s a wet descent to the bottom, the deepest part of the cave for the moment. It’s quite a feeling to know you’re one of the few humans to have ever set foot in a place. Sunday night rounded off the weekend for most with a raffle in aid of the Irish Cave Rescue Organisation, a clearly fixed table quiz and a disco. A total of €366 was raised for ICRO over the weekend. The really hardcore among us paid a visit to the “short, wet and fun” Paulballyshandra before heading back to the big city, exhausted but happy.

DIT STUDENTS COLLECT MEDALS AT CROKER

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ix DIT hurlers collected medals on Sunday 1 May when the Dublin Senior Hurling team defeated Kilkenny, winning their first Division 1 League title in seventy two years. Dublin were crowned the winners at Croke Park with a 12 point win over the Kilkenny side. DIT was well represented with Quantity Surveying student Tom Brady, Engineering student Peter Kelly and Transport & Logistics student Paul Ryan. Marketing student David Tracey came on to score for Dublin at the end. Accounting and Finance student Paul Schutte and Sub Goalkeeper Finn McGarry from Business Studies were also in the panel. The final score ended up as Dublin 0-22, Kilkenny 1-07. DIT was also represented on the other side as three Kilkenny lads were on the sub bench including Quantity Surveying student Pat Hartley, Leisure Management’s Eoin Murphy; and Michael Murphy - a metal fabrication apprentice.


DIT News May 2011

ITION UP ED WRAP

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Students and staff go the distance in first ever triathlon Twenty four student and staff members took part in DIT’s first ever triathlon, organised by the Fit2Go Club. Taking place in Kevin Street, the race consisted of 41 lengths of the swimming pool, 15 kilometres on the bike and 5 kilometres on the treadmill. The event took place over two days and everyone pushed themselves to the limit until Donal McGoldrick was crowned the winner. Coming in at 53 minutes and 30 seconds, Donal, who had been a member of the club since February, showed that hard work pays off. A staff member, Brian Nolan, gave McGoldrick a run for his money and even beat him in the swimming part of the race. However, with a time of nearly 58 minutes, Nolan was slightly off the pace to win. The women’s race was a close call and first time triathlon competitor, Marta Garcia De Echaue narrowly beat Roisin Gallagher, with just one minute to spare at one hour and eight minutes. All the students and staff were preparing and getting into shape for ten weeks before the event and Fit2Go provided training sessions for everyone. The winners were presented with prizes on the 15 April and Fit2Go announced that they will be holding another race again soon for those interested.

>CONTINUED FROM BACK PAGE “Over 70 leisure centres and pools nationwide have agreed to waive their fees for those who wish to undertake their own sponsored swim, so there really is every incentive to take part. Coral Leisure is the main sponsor for the 1km swimathon and will be hosting a number of key events on June 17th” said Crowley. Head of DIT Sports, Sinead McNulty praised the DIT students saying “Congrats to the Fit 2 Go Club team, and all the swimmers on the fantastic day out at the NAC last week... a great day” For further details on how to sign up for a sponsored swim and details of participating leisure centres and pools, log on today to www.1dayforrehab.ie and register for a free fundraising pack.

Sports Awards 2011: A night to remember T he 14th of April will be a night to remember for many as it marked the end of a great sport year for

DIT. In a ceremony held in the Aviva Stadium, many young athletes and sports people were honoured and awarded for the sporting achievements in 2011. Guest of honour for the night was Kenneth Egan, silver medalist in the 81kg light-heavyweight in the 2008 Olympic Games. This is the 13th year for the awards, which have been recognising talent among DIT since 1998. All star awards were presented to individuals and clubs while medallions were given to some students and staff members for their outstanding contribution throughout the year. Club of the year was awarded to DIT Soccer Club who, with more than 500 members have had an outstanding year. The club’s Premier Team were the AllIreland Umbro Cup Winners and were finalists in the All-Ireland Bob Eustace Cup.


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sport

ION T I D PE U AP R W

DIT take the plunge in 24 hour swimathon

20 -22 May, RDS Dublin

DIT students get ready to take the plunge at the National Aquatic Centre for the 24 hour swimathon in aid of REHAB.

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IT students were among four other teams who took part in the 24 hour ‘swimathon’ in aid of REHAB. The swim began on the 6 May 2011 and launched a series of swimathons taking place nationwide as part of ‘1 Day for Rehab’. Four celebrity mentors and their teams of volunteers, including students from DIT, took the plunge in an fantastic 24-hour swimming challenge. The swim, which was sponsored by 98fm, made a splash in the National Aquatic Centre with four teams competing. The swimming squads were made up of volunteers from Dublin Fire Brigade, DIT, Royal Sun Alliance and DCU.

Each team had a celebrity mentor, including Sean Gallagher from Dragon’s Den, TV presenter Nuala Carey, actress Rachel Sarah Murphy from RTÉ’s Fair City, and 98FM’s Teena Gates. Speaking on the day Pauline Crowley, Rehab’s Head of Fundraising, says “This is our second annual 1 Day for Rehab national fundraising appeal and we wanted to have an activity that would interest all sectors of the community. We’re delighted to be launching the appeal at the National Aquatic Centre and hope that our celebrity teams will encourage others to do their own swim. People are being encouraged to take part in 1 Day for Rehab and swim 1km, as an individual or in a team. Continued inside >>

ALL OF YOUR DIT SPORTS COVERAGE INSIDE

Going the distance: Students and staff members take part in the first ever DIT triathlon, organised by the Fit2Go club. Find out the winners inside

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