Our NUI Galway Correspondent, Aisling Bonner, discusses the Students Union's study break event with a twist.
‘It’s the most wonderful time of the year’, they say? Not just yet. For many students across Ireland, December/January screams cram, cram, cram. The libraries fill with irregular visitors and the shelves are left scarily bare. Lectures end and study week begins. 
NUI Galway’s Students Union took a study break with style last Tuesday with an afternoon of student therapy by means of food and animals – and no, I don’t mean free animal biscuits, although I wouldn’t say no. The Student’s Union adopted its own take on ‘Giving Tuesday’ which was started in 2012 to counteract the commercialised American traditions of Cyber Monday and Black Friday. Its aim is to become a national day of giving in the run up to the Christmas season. 
The Galway event encouraged students to retreat from their cramming caves and see the light of day for a few hours of entertainment involving the ‘Big Fat Charity Cake Sale’ and a visit from some furry friends at Wooly Ward’s Petting Farm. 
The SU said, “The event gave students a break from the books with a difference. There were rabbits, gerbils, guinea pigs, hamsters, chicks, hens, turkeys, geese, ducks, sheep, goats and Kuzco the Llama, along with plenty of cake and tunes from Flirt FM.”
Kuzco the Llama proved to be the most popular visitor of the day. A llama-decorated cake from the college’s own radio station, Flirt FM, was one of the main selling points of the day, and tunes from Llama Del Ray were provided throughout (had to be said).

The event was supported by a variety of local businesses in the city including Flirt FM, The Gourmet Tart Company, Mr Waffle, Goodness Cakes, The College Bar, The Róisín Dubh, Connacht Rugby, The University Bookshop and Electric Garden & Theatre, along with a crowd of student volunteers. 
But, where is the ‘giving’ element, you say? The event raised €421 for two charities supported by the NUI Galway SU, Console and BeLong To. These charities work both on a local and national level and provide great support for students, adults and children alike. 
This event saw the NUI Galway Student’s Union surge well past the €6000 mark in their fundraising achievements for semester one. 
Unfortunately, after the cakes were scoffed, and the animals escorted back to the ark, there remained one thing to be done - Study. The inevitable had returned but not without some handy tips from the SU which were echoed throughout the day.
“Try to limit stimulants as much as possible. Too much caffeine, for example, coffee, caffeine tablets, Red Bull and other drugs give you a short lift before making you crash and burn. They can make you feel sick and can interfere with your sleep and therefore your ability to concentrate.”
In case of any devastation at the notion that coffee is in fact counterproductive, there’s always a plus side (which involves tea).
“Breaks are extremely important so make sure to take regular breaks. Do something to relax yourself like watching a TV show or go for a tea and a chat with mates.”
Take a leaf out of the SU’s book, and be inventive with your study breaks. 

Photo: Eibhlí Seoighthe