‘Tis the season to be sustainable

The festive break is almost upon us and we want to wish you all a very happy holiday season. Our ‘Tis the Season campaign launches this today and over the next few weeks we will be focusing on these three themes:

‘Tis the Season to…

  • be sustainable
  • give back to the community
  • look after your wellbeing

Each week we will be sharing tips, advice and resources on our student blog to ensure you have a wonderful winter break!

Top tips for a sustainable festive season

We are all aware of how important it is to be more sustainable, especially over the holidays. Check out our sustainability team‘s top 3 tips for a greener festive season below…

1. Gift shopping

Set yourself a challenge and buy your festive outfit second-hand in one of the many brilliant charity shops and vintage stores around the city. Buying fair trade gifts is another good way to have a greener Christmas, supporting farmers and organic growing practices – check out Traidcraft for ethical gift inspiration.

You could also let your friends and family know you’re more than happy to receive second-hand items for Christmas, or for them to make a charitable donation on your behalf. You could even ask to have a tree planted to offset some of your carbon footprint!

2. Party season

Swap the beige buffet for tasty vegan hors d’oeuvres, vegetable tapenades and fruity sorbets to surprise and delight your guests while reducing your carbon footprint. You can also forget about floppy paper plates and disposable table clothes – hire all your tableware essentials from the Party Kit Network, sometimes for free!


3. All that glitters…

Avoid cheap plastic, glittery decorations and use what you already have wherever you can. Save money and go natural by making wreaths from foliage. If you have holly branches, berries or ivy growing in your garden you can use these or go out for a walk and collect some locally (make sure you have permission). This can then be composted after the Christmas period. If you plan to send Christmas cards, go for those without microplastics and glitter and choose FSC sourced and Fair-Trade cards that support a charity.

Coming up

Keep an eye out for next week’s ‘Tis the Season blog which will be focusing on ways that you can give back to the community this winter. This will include volunteering opportunities around Bristol as well as stories from students who have been getting involved in the local community. There will also be information about the new food box in Senate House and details of how you can contribute!

Activities – Competition Four

What activities have kept you going this autumn?

Cabot Tower, Brandon Hill in Autumn
Cabot Tower, Brandon Hill in autumn

We know it can be hard to stay motivated this time of year as it gets darker and colder. So, for our fourth and final transition to university competition, we asked you to share your stories of what’s helped you ​stay motivated and settle into university life.

We received lots of amazing emails with fantastic tips and motivational stories. You can read this week’s winning answer below, along with some of our other favourite stories.

If you are struggling to stay motivated this autumn, remember there is still plenty going on in both the university and in the city to help you stay active, keep motivated, meet new people and try out new activities. If you are looking for inspiration, we have a list of events and resources in our first transition to university blog post.

This week’s winning answer…

Our winning answer this week comes from postgraduate student Carol:

“I am keeping vlogging my daily life on video channels to record my life in Bristol and the UK. I have been an international student since my undergraduate. I recorded my travels from home to the UK, the Christmas travel in France and Italy, my return “escape” from the UK to China during the pandemic, and my second return back travel from my home to the UK this September, and so on. I knew that they were just little pieces of my UK student life, which is trivial. But when I recall my life in totally different cultures and countries, it is incredibly meaningful to me. The previous experience is like a movie shot in my mind. I gained happiness and a sense of satisfaction from it. Also, I encourage my friends around me to try to record their lives. It will be a kind of treasure for your future life.”

We love that Carol is documenting her university experience in her vlogs! What a great way to keep motivated and have a record of your university life to look back on.

More motivation stories…

Amber, an undergraduate student, tells us that learning a language has helped her stay motivated this autumn. If you’re interested in learning a language like Amber, make sure you check out our Global Lounge Language Café.

“Joining uni later than most (20) was quite daunting so I found socialising a little difficult at the beginning – especially as I’m a commuter from home. So the activity that’s kept me going during the first months of university has to be my Korean language class! Our teacher Miss Young is phenomenal, and the class itself has a mixture of ages and people from many different degree paths. Therefore, I’m neither the oldest nor youngest which helped lessen my fear of being older and starting university.Each week we learn something new and the open calm environment means no questions are off limits. I cannot recommend her class enough! Thank you so much Young nim!!”

Grace, an undergraduate student, sent us a very inspiring story, detailing her past struggles with getting into university and how she kept herself motivated. Here is an inspirational quote from her story:

“Everyone goes through different things and what is difficult to one person may be fine for another – however I think it is important to remember that all struggles have value and reason. Despite all these challenges however, we’re all here. We all made it to, hopefully, where we wanted to be! Whether that took two years, three years, or like me, two years of 6th Form and then an additional two years!”

Thank you

We would like to say a HUGE thank you to everyone who took part in our transition to university competition. We received some amazing stories, recipes, pet pictures and motivational tips. You can take a look back at our previous blog posts and competitions here:

A quick guide to student health services

Many of our international students may not be familiar with how the UK health system works and so here is a very simple guide to help.  A list of some local services for Bristol and Bath is included at the end of this post. 

A lot of our health services are provided by the National Health Service (NHS). 

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, many services have been disrupted, so in non-life-threatening situations, you will not be seen immediately, and services may be limited. 

Details of services available to Bristol and Bath students can be found at the end of this post.  

Accidents and Emergencies – available 24 hours a day. Call 999 

If you have a serious accident or need urgent medical care for a life-threatening condition, you should call 999 from your phone and ask for an ambulance. Or it is safe to do so, you can go to your nearest hospital Accident and Emergency room (often referred to as A&E). You will be seen by a receptionist when you arrive and then you will be assessed by medical staff before you are seen for further treatment/investigation. 

You should expect to wait to be seen – average times vary but can be up to 4 hours, depending on the seriousness of your situation.  

Not sure if you should visit A&E or would like some advice? Call 111 or visit https://111.nhs.uk/ 

The NHS 111 service is available 24 hours a day. When you call, you will be asked several questions about yourself and your condition and you will be told what to do next, which could be to see a doctor, go to A&E or they may make you an appointment at an urgent treatment centre/minor injury unit. They may also advise you to see a pharmacist to get some medication. 

Urgent treatment centre/minor injury unit 

These are separate from A&E and you can go to an urgent treatment centre if you need urgent medical attention, but it’s not a life-threatening situation. These services are open at least 12 hours a day, every day – details below.  

Doctors – by appointment only 

In the UK, medical doctors working in the community are referred to as General Practitioners or GPs. They are often the first point of contact when we feel unwell and work out of GP Surgeries or GP Practices. 

You cannot go to a GP surgery/practice without first registering and then making an appointment. 

How you make an appointment will depend on the surgery. Some will offer an online system, others will need you to call them directly – you may be kept on hold, while you wait to speak to someone.  

When it’s your turn, you will speak with the receptionist first and you should be prepared to explain why you need to see a doctor – this helps them decide which service you require. Sometimes you may be offered a telephone appointment, where the doctor will call you or you may be offered an in-person appointment at the surgery with a doctor or nurse.  

Depending on how serious your condition is, you may have to wait to see a doctor, it could be up to two weeks. 

Student Health Service 

If you live in the practice area you will be able to register with the Student Health Service, which offers a full GP surgery to university students and their families.  

If your condition changes or gets worse, whilst you are waiting to see the doctor, you can call 111 for advice or 999 if life-threatening. 

If you no longer need to see the doctor, please cancel your appointment. 


If your doctor decides you need medication, you’ll need to collect it at a pharmacy. Your doctor will write a prescription which they can give to you or can send directly to your nominated pharmacy (you may have nominated one when you first registered at the surgery)  

If you are feeling unwell or have a simple problem – a cough, common cold, flu-like symptoms, mild eye or ear infection. –  you can go directly to the pharmacy and ask for their advice as they can offer a variety of medicines without a prescription.  

In the UK most people have to pay for their medicine/prescriptions, however, you can check to see if you are entitled to free prescriptions here.  

If you think you have a more serious condition, you can call 111, arrange to see your doctor, or if severe, go to A&E. You should not put off seeking help if you are unwell. 

For further information on health services for international students, please visit: http://www.bristol.ac.uk/students-health/international-students/ 

For further info on general student health services, please visit: –  http://www.bristol.ac.uk/students-health/international-students/health-services-in-the-uk/ 



Student Health Service 

Hampton House, St Michael’s Hill, Bristol BS6 6AU. 

Accident and Emergency 

  • Bristol Royal Infirmary – Marlborough Street, Bristol BS2 8HW 
  • Southmead Hospital – Southmead Road, Westbury-on-Trym , Bristol, Avon, BS10 5NB 

Urgent medical care centres 

  • Bristol Urgent Treatment Centre, Hengrove Promenade BS14 0DE 
  • Yate Minor Injury Unit, 21 West Walk Yate BS374AX 
  • Clevedon Minor Injury Unit, Old Street Clevedon BS21 6BS 


Accident and Emergency  

Royal United Hospitals, Bath, Combe Park, Bath, Avon, BA1 3NG 

The minor injury unit is also next to the A&E Department.  

To find a GP – if you cannot register with the Student Health Service 


To find a dentist 


Comfort Food – Competition Three

Thank you, once again, to everyone who shared their stories with us this week.  You sent us some  delicious-looking recipes, and even though we haven’t had time to try them all out yet, we have been really inspired by the mouthwatering pictures and descriptions.

Some of you will have seen our polls about Comfort Food on Instagram and Facebook and you probably won’t be surprised to hear that “Food from home” was a clear favourite. It tells us that we don’t need to be master chefs to create a meal that makes us feel warm inside. It’s more about being in a nice environment and sharing something familiar with people we care about, and we really hope everyone finds the opportunity to do that sometimes. We are very lucky in Bristol to have access to ingredients from around the world, whether in international supermarkets, the street food stalls in St Nick’s market, or one of the many restaurants found across the city. So, if you want to recreate flavours from home, or get adventurous with new ones, we are sure you will be able to find what you are looking for.

What did surprise us was that twice as many of you voted for savoury food as for sweet.  And what’s even more crazy is that we have chosen a sweet recipe as this week’s winner.  Why would we do such a thing?  It’s not even an actual meal!  Well, we loved the descriptions, the fact that absolutely anyone can try this out for themselves, and the clear passion behind the preparation of this hug in a mug.   Congratulations to Dana for this entry:

Hot Cocoa!

What better to warm a heart and some cold feet than hot chocolate on a winter day?? One of the main ingredients of chocolate as we all know is something that makes one’s mood brighter and happier aka, serotonin. It’s basically a fact that this is the best thing to have during winter.

I used to always buy this delicious hot chocolate powder from the supermarket until they unfortunately stopped selling it here. That was when I decided to take matters into my own hands and make my own hot chocolate at home.

It’s a simple recipe; The first step is to get your choice of milk chocolate! Mine is The Swiss classic Lindt or Ritter Sport milk chocolate. Then, get a mug and fill it up mostly with milk and a little bit of cream (a quarter of the mug should be cream). Heat the mixture and when it is warm enough, put pieces of your chocolate in the milk and stir, after that add a pinch of salt to enhance the flavour and a splash of vanilla extract.

At the end, don’t forget to top off your warm drink with whipped cream and sprinkles or mini marshmallows! Enjoy a delicious homemade hot cocoa


Another contender for the title was Zuri’s Tortilla de patata.  This one will take a little more time to make, but it will provide you with “ultimate comfort” (and you do get to flip your tortilla like a pancake).  Please give it a try, and let us know how you get on!

My name is Zuriñe and my favourite comfort food is tortilla de patata! Though a simple Spanish recepie this recipe is a reminder of my family, my culture and overall my safe space. Yet, it is one of those carb filled, warm indulgent treats you can’t resist. Making it the ultimate comfort.

 The recipe is as follows:

  • 1) Peel and dice an onion.
  • 2) Heat a pan and add some olive oil and add the onions and some salt.
  • 3) while the onions sweat peel the potatoes, cut into quarter lengthwise, preferably into little pyramids!! And place them in the pan.
  • 5) Add in your cooking oil under all the potatoes are covered (it will take a lot but trust the process)
  • 6) turn the heat down, cover and let cook. This will take 25/30min for the potatoes to soften, but check regularly!
  • 7) Once the potatoes are cooked, measure out approximately 4 to 4 1/2 cups into a large bowl.

 Making the Tortilla!!

  • 1) Whisk the eggs and pour over the potatoes, fold together.
  • 2) Heat a non-stick fry pan over medium heat and add the oil. Once the pan is hot, add the potato and eggs.
  • 3) once the sides of the tortilla start to cook, give the pan a shake to prevent sticking!
  • 4) For the fun part! As soon as the edges of the tortilla start to brown, flip the tortilla over using a large, flat plate (Be very careful!!)
  • 5) Place the frying pan back onto the stove and drizzle with a bit more oil. Slide the tortilla, uncooked side down, back into the pan and tuck the sides underneath.
  • 6) Cook on medium heat for another 3 to 5 minutes. Use a large plate to flip the tortilla out of the pan. Allow the tortilla to sit for at least 15 minutes before serving

 Que aproveche!!💃🏼

Finally, another reminder of home, Yasmin’s vegetarian sausage casserole.  Easy and delicious – what more do you need?!

My favourite winter recipe is vegetarian sausage casserole, as it reminds me of a similar dish my mum used to make back at home. It’s good in the colder months as it warms you up, and it’s also very healthy, easy to make, and delicious.

This recipe makes about 3 or 4 portions (you can freeze some or share with flatmates)

Prepare: 1 chopped onion1 sliced courgette1 sliced pepper, and 6 chopped vegetarian sausages, (any veg that needs using up can also be added).

Fry them all in a big pan with oil until they are all cooked through.  Then add a tin of chopped tomatoes and stir in and let it simmer for a while.

Serve with a piece of bread and enjoy!


Competition Four – Staying Active

Next week will be our fourth and final competition for 2021.

At this time of year it can be harder to stay motivated and we are really interested to hear what’s keeping you going.  Maybe you’ve met new friends and tried new activities through B:Active?  Or perhaps you got involved with a Student Group?

Let us know what you are getting up to, and once again there will be the chance to win a £25 voucher.

Email your story, with images if possible please, to student-comms@bristol.ac.uk.

The deadline is 11am on Friday 19 November.

Celebrate your Pet – Competition Two

We have a winner!

Thank you so much to everyone who shared pictures and stories of their fabulous pets. We genuinely fell in love with all of them… however there is one particular animal who really needs to be recognised, not just by us, but by the whole of Bristol.

Actually, forget that, by the whole country.

In fact, she should be a global celebrity!

I am talking about Twix the cat.

Now, you may be thinking, I don’t see it.  What makes Twix so special?  At first, we had the impression that this feline is more interested in what is going into her stomach than what is going on around her.  (Sounds like me working from home…)  But please read her story to find out what it was that eventually impressed us so much.

“My cat saved my life. Perhaps that sounds a bit extreme, but it is technically true. A few years ago, in a county far far away, my family were resting after a long day. Our slightly over fed cat, Twix, came bounding into the living room from the kitchen far more animated than she usually is, meowing at a pitch previously reserved only for dinner time. She seemed insistent that we needed to come with her at once, or something terrible would happen. Normally we interpret this ‘terrible event’ as a lack of dreamies, but after she returned to the kitchen and came back a few times, only increasing in volume after each trip, we decided to indulge her and give her a bit of food. My mum and I followed her into the kitchen, but instantly smelled something. Somehow, our washing machine had caught fire and was filling the house with smoke. Twix continued to meow as we called the fire brigade, who managed to prevent the fire from spreading past the kitchen, but it was a close one, too much longer without Twix telling us and we may have been trapped!” 

Oli.N., School of Mathematics

Another of our favourites is Bella, who shows just how sensitive and super intelligent animals can be – even though she is a lager drinker!

“This is Bella. Bella is a springer spaniel, and she came into my life when she was 6, she’s now 8. I have an anxiety disorder and get panic attacks quite often, when I do, she knows and lies on my chest to calm me down, she really helps me regulate my emotions. It’s hard not to have her here with me, but we facetime every day. She loves the beach, especially chasing seagulls, and she’s the only dog I know that begs for lager or has no concept of “fetch”.”

Jess G., School of Veterinary Sciences


And we just have to give a shout out to Skittle, Pye, Cleo, Twiglet, Sparkey and Ali. Yes, you read that right.  Six cats in this household!

“These are my beautiful cats! I want to celebrate them because pictures of them help get me through tough days (or a video call!). They bring me such joy and I hope these pictures will for others too! They’ve all got their own personalities and can be such menaces but that means no day is ever boring! One of them will only cuddle me on the toilet (weirdo I know) but I’ve actually trained him to give ‘paw’ like a dog (Skittle). The two cats in hats are always in places they shouldn’t be creating mischief (Pye and Cleo), the little screaming one is always terrorising his big brother (Twiglet), and the the sleepy one Sparkey) and big eyed one (Ali) are my cuddly babies (I live for kitty cuddles). So if you’re missing your pets like me I’d advise either video calls, joining the cat or dog society at Bristol or there’s cat cafés around to get your floof fix!”

Fiona R., Global Wildlife Health and Conservation

Finally, here is a picture of all the pets that are giving you the feel good factor! 😊

Remember, if you are missing cuddles with a pet (or even a human), or just want someone to talk to, you can contact Wellbeing Services and you will be connected to the right support or service.  And if you missed our Transition to university competition blog then check it out for lots of events and resources on keeping well with the change of season.

Competition three – Comfort food recipes

Next week we are asking you to share your favourite comfort food recipes.  For many people this time of year means they are looking for something warming and filling.  But it could be a meal that reminds you of a special person, or brings back memories of a happy place.

Send your pics and stories to student-comms@bristol.ac.uk and you could win a £25 voucher!

The deadline is 11 am on Friday 12 November.

Stress Awareness Day: How to empty your stress container

by Sophie Saunder, Residential Experience Coordinator

I’ve just recently started my new role at the University of Bristol, working as a Residential Experience Coordinator in Residential Life. It’s mine and my colleagues’ job to make sure that you have a great time in halls and that your JCRs are working as well as they can be! November the 3rd is Stress Awareness Day, a day dedicated to raising awareness of stress, and ways to combat it. In this blog, I’ll tell you a little bit about my background and ways you can manage stress and overwhelm. 

Before I came to UoB I worked at Bath Mind, a local mental health charity that works to support the mental health and wellbeing of people living in Bath and North East Somerset. Prior to that, I studied German, Spanish and European Studies at the University of Bath so I’ve been in the wonderful South West for a while now!  

At Bath Mind, I worked on a student mental health project called the Mentally Healthy Universities program, a project that provided preventative mental health training for students in the form of online workshops. Throughout this process, I learned a lot about various tools and techniques that can support your mental wellbeing on a daily basis.  

One important topic that came up often in the workshops was stress. One way that we would imagine stress in the workshops is to imagine that all of your stresses collect into a ‘stress container’. Student life can throw a wide range of stresses at you, filling up the stress container: potentially living away from home for the first time, making friends, starting a new course, exams, essays and socialising can all add to stress levels. Sometimes, the stress container can overflow which can lead to overwhelm, burnout and low mood.  

It’s useful to think about ways to empty or relieve your stress container. For Stress Awareness Day and beyond, the ResiLife team have put together a self-care package for you to use on the awareness day and beyond to empty your stress container.   (more…)