International student Q&A

Starting university is both nerve-racking and exciting, especially when you are travelling from a different country and culture to do so.

Earlier this week we posted an Instagram story asking our incoming international students to tell us what they wanted to know about life as a Bristol student.

Here are a few of their questions!

1. Can we work while studying? 

Yes! International students on a Student Visa can work while studying, providing you are able to balance your job with your studies and social life. 

Many businesses in and around Bristol are happy to hire students and work around your schedules. There is also the option to work for the University in roles such as student ambassadors or event stewards. 

For more advice about working visit the careers service website

2. Can we get the food we like from our countries?

There are many international stores around Bristol, selling a range of foods including halal meat, eastern European delicacies and Asian spices. Also, most large supermarkets such as Sainsbury’s, Asda, and Tesco have international aisles, but the selections may be limited in comparison to specialist markets. Likewise, most supermarkets have vegetarian and vegan selections too. 

Bristol prides itself on its multiculturalism as such there are many restaurants with international cuisines near campus and some that are just a short bus or bike ride away. 

Our friends over at UWE have put together a list of international food stores in Bristol

3. Which shops accept student discount? 

Many stores in Bristol and the UK accept student discounts, however there isn’t a website naming all of these, so you are better off going into a store and asking. 

Stores within Cabot Circus, the Galleries, Broadmead and the Arcade that accept student discount are listed here: bristolshoppingquarter.co.uk/offer/student-discounts/ 

There are also third-party discount providers such as TOTUM, Student Beans and UNiDAYS, who provide you with a card that will entitle you to discounts on everything from restaurants, retail, tech, travel and everything in between.   

4. Will there be other students from my country?

The University of Bristol is home to students from all over the world, with everyone being welcomed into our community, so chances are that there will be someone from your country. 

Bristol SU has an International Students Network which is a chance for all international students to come together. There are also social groups for students from specific backgrounds such as the African & Caribbean Society, Filipino Society, Arab Society, Latino Society and Chinese Society. If there isn’t a society for you, you can always try and start one.

5. Are there lots of cycle routes?

Bristol is a very bike friendly city, with lots of cycle paths and cycle routes. Visit Bristol has a very handy list of maps for cyclists, as well as a lit of where you can rent bikes, and cafes that even offer extras for cyclists such as repairs and bike storage.

6. What do people wear? How do I dress for the weather?

People should wear whatever they feel comfortable in. Feel free to express yourself with your fashion choices. 

The autumn and winter months in the UK can be cold and rainy so you should have warm clothes such as jumpers and cardigans as well as a waterproof coat. It rarely snows here, but if it does there is never more than a couple of inches and it normally melts away within a day or two. 

This summer has been very warm with some daily temperatures of 30 degrees Celsius, in this weather it is common for people to wear t-shirts with shorts or jeans, or dresses etc. In 

The weather in spring and summer can be unpredictable, so it might be handy to carry a small umbrella in your bag even if the sky looks blue when you leave the house. 

 Our campus sits at the top of some hilly roads so comfortable shoes such as trainers, boots, flat sandals (for the summer months) are recommended. 

7. Will teaching be online this year?

At the moment, we are planning to deliver as much in-person learning as we safety can. This includes seminars, laboratories and even some lectures. At the same time, the past year has taught us the benefits of a blended approach and we will be taking the best of online and adding it to a mainly in-person educational offer. 

Our planning is informed by government guidelines, Public Health England and by our very own scientific advisory group. Therefore, you can be assured that your safety and the safety of our community remains our priority. We have plans that mean we can respond effectively to any changes in circumstances. 

We look forward to welcoming you to campus and our amazing city! 

8. What is the cost of bus travel?

Students can benefit from discounted fares of up to 30% off bus services across Bristol and further afield.  

The best bus fares are normally available as mobile tickets which can be bought and stored on your mobile phone using the mTicket app (just search ‘First mTickets’ in your app store). More information about bus fares can be found on our website.

A range of special passes and fares are available for the Bristol Unibus U1 and U2 services linking the North Residential Village and Langford to the Clifton Campus.

Further fare information is available on the Bristol Unibus website.

9. What is council tax, and do I need to pay it? 

As a university student you are exempt from paying council tax. However, the council will normally ask for proof of your student status this can be requested from your school administration.  

If you live in a household with non-students, they will be likely to qualify for a discount.  

There is more information available on the Bristol City Council website 

10. Where does the best pizza in Bristol? Where can I get the best coffee?

Websites like Secret Bristol and Best of Bristol regularly post lists of the best places in Bristol for food and drinks.  

TripAdvisor is also a good source for rankings as you can see a lot of reviews from different people.

But I think the best and tastiest way to find your perfect pizza or coffee is to try as many as possible!  

11. Does the university have a canteen? 

There are lots of places to eat and drink on campus. From smaller cafes serving takeaway food and drinks, to the Senate House Marketplace where you can go for breakfast, lunch and dinner. 

12. How do we claim back PCR test costs? How do I get food in quarantine?  

Information about covid testing kits and quarantine packs can be found on the following pages of our website.

International travel: restrictions and quarantine

Tests and quarantine for travel

13. Is Bristol expensive? 

Living in any major city does tend to cost more they people think. However, life in Bristol doesn’t need to break the bank, so long as you are sensible with your money. 

We have put together a rough guide how much it costs to live in Bristol.

14. Can you recommend any good restaurants?

We could (and probably will) dedicate a whole blog post to eating in Bristol as it’s so amazing!  

You can probably find an example of food from nearly everywhere in the world and some of our restaurants are in the Michelin guide. However, if you want to get a snapshot of what the city has to offer, head for Cargo at Wapping Wharf. It’s down by the harbour, just behind the MShed (which is a very cool museum!) You’re bound to find something tasty to eat there! 

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