Student Issues

Better yourself over the christmas holidays

If you’re in college, chances are you’ve finished your exams and have weeks of holidays (sorry DCU). Of course, you’ll meet up with friends and catch up with your favourite shows on Netflix, but how are you going to fill the rest of the time?
Here are some free ways to increase your skills and impress friends.
Learn a language
While it’s unlikely you’re going to learn a language in the space of a month, you can start learning a new language or brush up on your Leaving Cert French using free classes online.
The best site I’ve found is Duolingo. It has 11 languages, including French, German, Spanish and Italian, and they’re adding more.
You choose a language and you complete sections which are grouped together like ‘food’ and ‘verbs’. It encourages you to keep up a ten day streak, and you can follow friends. 
You get points for completing sections and there is a leader-board which shows who has gotten the most points out of your friends.
You can also download the app and do your lessons on your phone or other devices.
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Get fit
So you’ve been putting it off, but you’ve decided that this is the year when you get in shape and no longer get out of breath after going up a flight of stairs. But where to start?
As someone who used to break out into a cold sweat at the thought of vigorous exercise, I found an easy way to get into running was to download the Couch to 5k app. The idea is to start small and to work your way up, 60 seconds jogging then a 90 second break, until by the end you can run 5km without stopping.
Take a level in cooking
Increase your recipe repertoire and take advantage of the many dishes you can learn online for free. It’s as easy as deciding what you want to eat and googling it to find a recipe to follow.
Alternatively, you can go to a site like and have a look around.
If you want to increase your skills in the kitchen, like how to prepare herbs, how to create great salads, and how to cut garlic correctly and quickly, I found the Jamie Oliver how to videos very good.
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Read the classics
Have you always wanted to see what the fuss is about Ulysses? Been itching to read some Aristotle? Craving a good read from Jane Austen?
Well the good news is all of the copyright has expired on these books, which means that you can download them for free: and a number of other sites have books which you can either download or read online if you’re concerned about downloading files.
If it has been more than 70 years since the author died, then the book will be in the public domain.
Learn how to code
Not only does coding look good on your CV, it can also make your life easier when you don’t have to beg friends for computer help to set up your blog or to create a program.
There are a few different sites which can teach you how to code. The main one is Code Academy, which is completely free. You can learn how to make a website, HTML and CSS, SQL and other programming languages.
The lessons are done in an easy to understand way so it never seems too overwhelming if you don’t have any prior experience, and it’s interactive.
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Take a course online
Whether you’ve always wanted to know more about economics, computers, or another subject, there is an incredible amount of resources online. Edx offers courses from Ivy League and highly ranked universities like Harvard, the Sorbonne and Australian National Universities. You can get a verified certificate saying that you completed the course after you finish.
Coursera is another site which has a wider range of courses.You can also check out Khan Academy to learn about maths, science, economic and arts and humanities, or download the app. 
Learn how to adult
Sure, you may be over 18. But you often wonder how grown up you really are. After all, you’ve never used a washing machine and you would have no idea what to do in an emergency.
I suppose it’s a bit weird, given that I’m a woman, that one of the sites I’ve found most useful for learning how to be a ‘proper adult’ is The Art of Manliness. But hey, fuck gender heteronormativity, am I right?
They have a useful section called ‘Heading Out On Your Own: 31 Life Skills in 31 Days’. The skills include how to do laundry, what to do if you get in a car accident, creating a budget, renting your first apartment and how to change a flat tire.
Some of them will not apply if you are of the female persuasion, like how to be a reliable man, but the rest are very useful.
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You can also quickly learn what to do in a medical emergency by downloading the First Aid app from the Red Cross. It also has a section on creating an emergency kit in the event of flooding or another natural disaster. 
Ideally you should look at all of the sections before there is an emergency as you probably won’t have the time during to open your app.
The above is just a list of suggestions which I can recommend based on personal experience. The internet is a wonderful thing, and you can find tutorials for almost anything you would want to learn, whether that’s how to play guitar, how to take really good photos or how to do quantum physics.