Students supporting students

Third year English student Alice Baxter describes the new group she helped set up to support self-isolating students.

The Student to Student Covid Relief Scheme has been set up to help isolating and vulnerable students. The University are of course providing basic food boxes, but some of us need a little more. Students can request items discreetly and we will organize for one of our volunteers to transport them to the isolating flat.

Student to Student Bristol Covid Relief Scheme banner

We welcome requests for medications or food items relating to medical and ethical requirements, foods that ease an eating disorder, pregnancy tests… anything really (as long as it is not a controlled or illegal substance) that people who are isolating require. If you require any non-food related items during isolation, such as board games or art supplies, we are here to help.

Our volunteers understand it is a very anxious time, so please let us know if there’s anything we can provide which will help put yourselves at ease in your isolation period. We are not affiliated with the University or the SU, so all of our requests are “off the record,” and we will keep it between us. Our volunteers are friendly, fast and supportive, and we take all necessary precautions of social distancing and PPE.

Alongside welcoming requests, we are also taking volunteer applications, and you can find the form on our Facebook group.

If you’re self-isolating, there’s lots more information on the University website about how to stay safe and protect others, and how to access other support.

Welcome to the weekend

It’s the start of another weekend. Time to relax, take some time out and recharge your batteries

Many of you may be coming out of self-isolation over the weekend; some of you may still be self-isolating. We hope you’re keeping safe and well.

If you are coming out of self-isolation, do enjoy your renewed freedom but don’t be tempted to let loose, and thanks for continuing to follow the guidelines and respect others.

If you’re still self-isolating, it’s a good time to catch up on those box sets, get cosy and find what feels good for you. They say it’s going to rain this weekend anyway! If you are struggling though and could do with some help, please get in touch with our Wellbeing Access service to get the support you need.

Finally, if you have to self-isolate, remember to update the coronavirus self-reporting form to let us know about your status so we can make sure we provide you with the essentials – food, laundry and rubbish collections – during this time.

Whatever your situation, here are some activities and events you could check out over the next few days.

  • Travel the World with the Global Lounge  – new series of weekly events, where students and staff shine a spotlight on different countries and cultures. Next stop, South India on 27 October, and Dubai on 3 November. Sessions take place every Tuesday lunchtime between 1 pm and 2 pm.
  • Return of the virtual Language Café – every Wednesday between 3 pm and 4.30 pm, delivered with the SU. Improve your language skills and meet others!
  • The Multifaith Chaplaincy   explore the online events programme for the autumn term. 

Bristol Students’ Union

Bristol SU  has a varied programme of events and activities taking place. Paint and Sip caught our eyes – a chance to relax into Sunday by creating some art, supping a drink of your choice and getting to know other students. Can we come please?!  And for all those folkies out there, make your folk dreams come true with tonight’s Give it a Go music workshop – 7pm  

Bristol Futures Open Online Courses

Develop life-long skills and unleash your potential by joining the current run of open online courses. Choose from the themes of Innovation and Enterprise, Sustainable Futures or Global Citizenship and learn alongside fellow students, staff and alumni. Courses also count towards the Bristol PLUS Award.

Black History Month

It’s not too late to attend some last events as October draws to a close. See our  programme and book dates into your diary now.

UoB Sport 

The weekend’s a great time to boost those endorphins with some physical activity. There are both online and in-person activities to get you going.

 

Share your views

We’re always happy to hear from you and we’re looking for students who’d like to contribute to a weekly blog post about events and activities. Please get in touch with us at student-comms@bristol.ac.uk. Also, don’t forget to complete this year’s Welcome Survey to let us know how the Welcome experience was for you. Your views count and really help us improve things for future students. Closes 28 October.

That’s it for us for this week. Hope you all have a good weekend, whatever you’re up to.

Bye for now

Student Comms team x

Reflections as a black medical student

by Adewale Kukoyi

Reflections

During lockdown, I’ve had ample time to reflect.

To reflect on my first year at University, all the positives and negatives, the pedantic learning techniques I used and my overall perspective on Medicine. However, more profoundly, I’ve reflected on my own position, and the value I can potentially share with others from my community or background who may believe where I am is unachievable for them.

Including me, there are only six black male students in my year group of roughly 270.

As one of very few, I felt it essential to share my experiences with others from a similar background to me so that they can take the necessary steps to start their medical journey

Volunteering

The opportunity to give back arose when approached by Medic Mentality – an upcoming medical school initiative, aiming to increase representation in Medicine through mentorship services, personal statement reviews, events, and UCAT/BMAT advice. They asked me to join them on an Instagram live to discuss my experience as a Bristol medical student. Founded by Aderonke Odetunde, Maria Taiwo, Osas Ogbeide, Nehita Oviojie and Toni Oduwole (all 2nd-year medical students at UCL) aims to equip students from underprivileged backgrounds with the confidence to make the application to medical school. Despite only launching in July 2020, the scheme already has 30 mentees.

@medicmentality (Instagram)

I have also joined various organisations who work to empower younger generations through mentorship and provision of resources. I am currently a mentor with The Black Excellence Network and BME Medics Bristol Year 2 Lead. In both roles, I work with prospective medical students by providing tailor-made consultations over their applications, helping with drafts of their personal statements, and giving an insight into life at Bristol.

As well as working with prospective medical students, I also work with other current medical students, and I am an active member of the newly formed Black Medic Plexus. We are a network which prides itself in building a strong community and network for black medical students across the UK. The platform was created (and founded by the brilliant Sharon Amukamara) to create a supportive space for black medics based on community and work-life balance.

My advice

My biggest tip for black students looking to enter Medicine (or Higher Education in general!) would be to have the self-confidence to apply. There are so many mental barriers you can put yourself under, ranging from imposter syndrome (feeling of not belonging) to a lack of role-models. My advice would be to reach out to any organisations (like the ones I’m part of) for guidance, information and the belief that you are capable of excelling in your chosen field.

Finally, I would also urge any medical student to get involved and recognise the value they can exchange with others. We are in a position that is hard to access and providing any help along the way is vital in uplifting future generations.

by Adewale Kukoyi

 

Find your Support

Hi everyone! Khadija here, chair of the BME network, elected by BME students to represent BME students at a university and SU level.

Many students struggle with finding support, and in my role, I particularly find this as an issue for BME students, who often find it difficult to see how to access the university’s services. As such, I’ve become familiar with what is available, and have had some great discussions with the staff behind them already to incorporate the needs of all students, including those from racial and ethnic minorities! How to Find your Support:

1. Student Wellbeing Service

This is your first port of call if you’re struggling, and includes a range of services, from:

Student Wellbeing Advisors, who can help direct you to where you need to go.

TalkCampus app, giving you online peer-support any time of day and night.

– Self-help resources, including the FIKA Covid-19 support app, which is designed to help you learn practical mental and emotional fitness approaches which you can apply to your everyday life.

The Student Counselling Service, including a specific BAME Counselling service run by NILAARI, which the BME Network supported being expanded into the university last year.

– The uni are working with Bristol Drugs Project too and ‘The Drop’ harm reduction service. If you’re thinking about trying drugs or if drug use has become a problem, reach out via email thedrop@bdp.org.uk find them on Instagram above or call 0117 987 6000.

2. Personal Tutors

Make sure to reach out to your Personal Tutor whenever you need them, for any issues, no matter how big or small. As a network, we’ve engaged with the services to try and work on some diversity training so they can better support all students.

3. Study Skills

Check out the Study Skills online! I’ve been a medical student for 3 years, and now I’m intercalating in a Masters and having to manage my own learning far more. So I used these pages for the first time this year and found them surprisingly helpful!

4. Library Services

The Library Services are always there as a channel of support with subject librarian advice, if you have any issues finding resources and there’s a Library Support team too for accessibility. In light of COVID they have some great online resources, including the 24/7 live chat service and a great range of self help books too – their One-Stop Shop page is super helpful.

They’ve also just collaborated with the BME Network on sharing resources and books by Black authors for Black History Month, with students like yourself writing the reviews!

I’ve spotted they’re offering Online Study Lounges during October, they’re half-day events led by the Study Skills team and an opportunity to connect with other students online rather than working completely alone.

5. Students’ Union

You can become a course rep and advocate on the issues that you’re finding in your course to help feedback and represent your fellow students.

As well as this, engaging with societies and volunteering can be a great way to find friends and build your student community. I dressed up as a Banana for a week to raise money for charity as part of the Islamic society, something I never dreamed I’d be doing when I first started!

The BME Network believes in collaborating with a range of societies to create a variety of spaces to suit all needs – from large social events like festivals and cultural exchanges, to smaller more relaxed sessions like political discussion groups or wellbeing chat.

At the beginning, the range of what’s out there can feel confusing. It’s all about finding the areas you feel you belong and understanding what helps you feel good early on, so that you know where to find it in times of stress. Maybe sport is your thing? They’re part of the ‘Give it a go’ taster sessions currently running.

6. Peer Mentoring

If you’d find it helpful talking to a current student studying a similar subject to you, look into the Peer Mentoring scheme. It’s open to first year undergraduates to help you settle into uni life and nice to talk to someone who likely knows how you’re feeling and may have the answer! You do need to complete the form before the end of October.

 

This university should support you in thriving both academically and socially, so make sure you access and use the full range of services available, and if there’s something missing, don’t be afraid to ask for it.

Remember, even if you might not feel like you fit in to the university community immediately, you still have the right to take up space in being unapologetically yourself!

Get ahead of worries this World Mental Health Day

Written by Dr Dominique Thompson

Starting university is always a big moment in life, but in 2020 it’s going to be a historic moment too. Living in a new institution, perhaps a new city, in a global pandemic certainly adds an edge to the whole process.  

So if you are feeling a little stressed (which would be entirely normal) help is at hand and you may find the new, free, online course that I helped to create, ‘Being Well Living Well’, very useful indeed.  

I was the lead GP at the University of Bristol for many years, and now spend my professional life creating useful resources to support students and their wellbeing. I’m really proud to have been the UK lead advisor for this online course, which will be available to Bristol students. 

In developing the course, we worked closely with students and professionals from all over the world, and I personally wrote the ‘Stress, Anxiety and Depression’ module based on all my years of experience and expertise looking after Bristol students.

It was really important to me to try to help future students to ‘get ahead’ of worries, understand what was happening for them, and provide really practical suggestions about how to manage anxiety or low mood. Whether you are feeling on edge, sleeping badly, want to understand if you have anxiety or depression, or wish to support a friend who is struggling, you will find the ‘Stress, Anxiety and Depression’ module helpful.

I hope you will enjoy the animations and interactive quizzes and activities which we, and our student co-creators, felt made our advice clearer and more engaging. We also ensured a diverse range of students were represented and provided for in the course.

The other modules that make up ‘Being Well Living Well’ cover a whole array of issues that students can find challenging, from perfectionism, financial worries, how to study effectively and mental health problems. There will be something to help everyone within the course.

So whether you’re just curious, or struggling – we made this for you.

You can access Being Well Living Well on Blackboard – self enrol here

 

Find your Balance

You’ve likely heard by now that uni is a great place to try new extracurricular activities and continue with the things that you’re passionate about. We’ve got you covered at Bristol with a huge array of options so that you can strike the right balance between your studies and making the most of being a Bristol student.

Due to COVID-19 you’ll see a lot of these events and activities have gone virtual this year. There’s still much to enjoy on campus and we’ve made some changes to enable you to get involved safely, such as adapting our spaces and enhanced hygiene measures.

Explore societies, volunteering & much more at the SU Welcome Fair

Held on 7 October 12 pm – 8 pm, the Official Bristol SU Welcome Fair is going virtual for 2020 with registration opening on Monday 14 September.

At the virtual fair you’ll be able to chat to stallholders live online using the interactive chat, sign up to sports clubs and societies and look into volunteering projects. It’s a great way to find out more about Bristol SU and as an added bonus, commercial stallholders will be giving out freebies and discount codes!

Sport – there’s something for everyone

Sport and exercise can have a hugely positive impact on your student experience. It’s not only a great way to stay active and healthy, it can also improve your mental wellbeing, be a great way to meet new people, improve your confidence and help you learn new skills. There are 70+ Sports Clubs and Societies at the University of Bristol, from Performance level sports such as Rugby, Hockey, Tennis, and Rowing – all of which have men’s and women’s or mixed teams – to the more unusual sports including Spike Ball, Synchronised Swimming and Quidditch!

If team-sport isn’t your thing, check out the Indoor Sport Centre on Tyndall Avenue where you’ll find the University Gym and fitness studios. You can book gym sessions and classes online now too via the University of Bristol Sport App.

And, if you’re looking for something a bit more fun, with a bit less commitment, then B:Active might be for you. B:Active is our physical activity programme exclusively for students. The focus is on getting moving, having fun, being social and feeling included.

If your time on campus is going to be limited, make sure to check out the virtual and on-demand fitness classes and events that will be on offer this year from Bristol Uni Sport, and join the #WeAreBristol community from your own home.

Being Well, Living Well toolkit

Take a look at our new Being Well, Living Well toolkit for some great resources on ‘Living Well’, ‘Feeling Well’, ‘Staying Safe’ and ‘Spending Well’. These have been developed by a team of mental health experts, healthcare professionals, university students and staff to equip you with practical tips and tools that will empower you to manage your mental, physical, emotional, and financial wellbeing. It also includes where to seek further help if needed.

“We want you to make the most of your time at university and for you to feel settled and supported. The toolkit has a lot to offer with interactive modules, practice scenarios, student interviews and much more. I’d encourage you to spend some time exploring the resources and feel free to discuss and share with your friends.”

Professor Sarah Purdy, Pro-Vice Chancellor (Student Experience)

The toolkit helps build self-insight and understanding that you are not alone in experiencing challenges. It highlights useful aspects of your student life such as what to expect, adapting to change, how to manage your money, and build healthy relationships.

How to access Being Well, Living Well

You can access the toolkit anytime, using your single sign-on in Blackboard. You will be automatically enrolled a few days after your Blackboard account becomes active, but if you want to access the Being Well, Living Well content sooner you can self-enrol and access it now. Follow the self-enrol link, log in with your University ID and Password and you will be taken to a page with instructions for joining. If you don’t see the self-enrol button then you’re already enrolled. Once enrolled, you can find the Being Well, Living Well materials on the Blackboard homepage under the My Organisations section.

Spend some time looking through the toolkit to help you feel settled and successfully navigate your new uni life.

Chill out in an SU Living Room

The SU Living Rooms are a space to relax and unwind either on your own or with friends. You’ll find one on the fourth floor of Senate House plus four more in halls of residence. Follow the link and join the online living room to connect with others right now, ask any questions and have fun in one of the many events that are planned.

Get to know Bristol

Keep an eye on our social channels next week for lots more about ‘Bristol Living’ and tips on places to explore. Bristol has all the perks of city life with wide open green spaces only a short distance away – much within walking distance or a short bus ride. The entire city is bursting with culture, flavours, music and opportunities to get involved – you will never be short of ways to Find your Balance.

Find your Community

You will have so many opportunities to immerse yourself in different cultures and groups whilst at Bristol. After all, you’re joining a community of nearly 25,000 students, so do give yourself time to explore what makes you feel happy and settled and give things a go!

Student experience

Andre joined us from Indonesia in 2018 to study a MSc in Education (Learning, Technology & Society). Here he shares his experience as an international student and his thoughts about building your community:

Photo of Andre

“Many international students from different parts of the world come and study in Bristol, so we can share our knowledge and experiences as well as learning new cultures from one another. The University has a network of services to ensure every student has access to both academic and personal support throughout the course. There are also hundreds of student clubs and societies which you can join based on your talent and interests.”

Things to do

You should have received a welcome email by now from the International Office. This contained lots of useful information about what to do before you arrive, and then everything from travelling to quarantine to welcome events.

Here are a few actions for you to take now if you haven’t already:

Download The University of Bristol Welcome app in the Google Play Store or the App Store – there are lots of useful resources and information on here.

Check out the new international students’ webpages to learn more about what you’ll need to do before and after arriving at Bristol.

International sponsored students, remember that you need to provide the university with a sponsorship letter by 6 September.

Save the date: 7 October – it’s the SU’s virtual Official Welcome Fair 2020. This is your opportunity to sign up to different clubs, societies and volunteering projects. You’ll be able to chat to stall holders live online using the interactive chat, with video, audio and text options

Take a look at the Global Lounge’s Language Café video. The Global Lounge is a place where both UK and international students can connect and socialise. They will be running regular virtual events throughout the academic year.

Join the Official Bristol Welcome 2020 Facebook group and start to meet fellow new students!

Safe travels

We wish you a safe journey to the UK and Bristol. We’re really looking forward to welcoming you to our city and community and hope you’re just as excited as we are!

Find your Home

Congratulations on securing your place at the University of Bristol! This is such an exciting time – many of you will be moving to a new city, making new connections and experiencing a new way of life.

Colourful houses
Clifton Wood houses

Moving into university accommodation for the first time can be daunting. But don’t worry, we’ve got lots of tips and resources to help you. Just remember, everyone is in the same situation as you! Watch SU Student Living Officer, Ruth share their experience of living in Goldney Hall and the benefits of living in university accommodation:

Living Circles

Whether you are in university owned or private rented accommodation, our Living Circles will help you to make connections with other students. For those in university residences, don’t forget you can meet with those living in your Circle online before arriving at Bristol. If you’re in private rented accommodation, you’ll be placed into virtual living circles who you can meet with online.

Events

There are also plenty of opportunities to make friends outside your circle! Bristol SU are hosting a range of virtual events, including Netflix watch parties, quizzes and Zoom chats. Check out their packed calendar here.

Make sure you also check out our new Welcome app and the myopportunites hub for more events and opportunities. Myopportunities will be available once you’re registered and have a university log in. Bookmark it now, ready for when registration opens on 7 September.

Advice

If you’re living in private rented accommodation, there’s lots of advice available on our website. Learn more about council tax, deposits and bills with the ‘Moving in’ module – it’ll only take a few minutes to read but could save you time and money later.

Not sure what to pack before the big move? Check out what Senior Resident, Salha has to say. She also gives you some tips on managing home sickness and making friends:

This video was recorded pre-COVID-19 so although some of the events she mentions may not be taking place physically this term, you’ll be able to meet new people through our Welcome events.

Your safety

We have put measures in place to ensure your safety in university accommodation. This means hand sanitisers at entrances and exits, one-way systems, maximum capacity for social areas and much more. Watch this short animation to learn more about our plans for you:

Although these measures are in place, it is important that you take responsibility and maintain social distancing with those outside your Living Circle. We understand that this is difficult, and you may want to visit others’ in their residences but unfortunately this isn’t possible right now. Remember, there are lots of green spaces around Bristol for you to meet friends outside at a distance.

Queen Square in Bristol
Queen Square

See you soon!

Many of you will have already received your offer for accommodation from our Accommodation Office (exciting!!) but don’t worry if you haven’t – there are a couple of stages of offers so yours should be coming via email soon.

We hope that you’re all excited to make the move to Bristol for your next adventure! Remember to download our app for the latest information and to find out more about the University and our support services.

“My Bristol community has really come together during this time”

Hi everyone, my name is Michelle and I’m a second year Civil Engineering student.

Never in a million years would I have guessed that I would finish the rest of my academic year online in self isolation because of a global pandemic, but if there is anything these past two months have taught me it’s that, every cloud has a silver lining. From the weekly zoom calls/meetings to the increased online group forums, my Bristol community has really come together during this time.

 

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My Bristol memories as a final-year student

Hi everyone, my name is Kiki and I have just finished my final year of BA French and Spanish. In February, I featured in the University’s undergraduate film Find Your Focus, which lead me to reflect on my time at Bristol and the different memories from over the years.

Bristol, my university city.  As a finalyear student in my final term, I find myself looking back at my experiences over the years at Bristol – it’s a strange feeling. It has, however, made me really appreciate all the opportunities that I’ve had within and outside the University and the amazing city.  

Bristol skyline

My Bristol experience has been majorly enhanced by my involvement in societies. They are access points to meet likeminded people and make friends for life. There are endless societies here, including some very niche ones, like MagicSoc, to the classic sport societies. There are even societies for different regions in the UK (unfortunately there isn’t a Midlands soc 🙁). I joined the football society in my first year and it was one of the best things I ever did at uni.  

Being interested in sports since a young age, the football society became an integral part of my first year, not only keeping up my competitive sports but also being involved in the socials that take place every Wednesday and getting to know members from across all years. Having support from older peers who have similar interests really allows you to feel comfortable and accepted.  

Group of students in Budapest
Football tour to Budapest 2017

The many trips offered through the University have been some of the highlights of my entire experience. From football tour to the famous university ski tripwhich sells out in minutes to over 1,000 students every yearthere have been many opportunities to explore other countries. No sleep combined with nights of partying – it’s no wonder that these trips are so popular!  

Students skiing
Ski trip 2018

Bristol is so unique and diverse. From the edgy nightlife in Stokes Croft to the bustling student atmosphere on the Triangle, to the peaceful seaside vibe down at the Harbourside. Being part of the undergraduate promotional video Find Your Focus and filming down at Harbourside brought back so many memories as it’s my old home and one of my favourite areas. I love the bustling atmosphere that you find there day and night.  

Closeup of Kiki
Kiki in the University’s 2020 film Find your Focus

I really haven’t had the chance to explore half of what I wanted to in Bristol, and that’s after three years! There really is something in this city that appeals to everyone.

Banksy artwork

Looking back on my experience at Bristol, it has offered me much more than I could have ever expected walking into the uni four years ago. Despite not being able to round off my experience the way most students have, I am forever grateful to have picked Bristol as my university.  

Banksy mural
Banksy’s mural making a statement