I wanna go home – how a homesick international student deals with loneliness Part 2 of 2

As part of Mental Health Awareness Week, Student Champion Victoria writes about how she deals with homesickness. This is part two.

Connect with Home

The most obvious advice I can give you is to connect with home through the means we’ve got. Facetime, Netflix party, Zoom calls, and overseas gifts can all be ways of feeling closer to home.

  1. Call your family. I’m serious, no one is going to think you are “lame” for calling up your family members. I literally talk to my mom every other day or ring her randomly to show her something I’m excited about. I’ll also call family when I’m cooking something from home to get their input and tips, but also catch up and feel closer to them.
  2. Reach out to friends from home. I for one get a lot of FOMOs (fear of missing out) when my friends are all hanging out in our home city but knowing I can always call and catch up makes me feel happy and less homesick.
  3. Try out a home dish with your Bristol friends. Whenever one of us in the friend group feels homesick, we will all meet to cook something from their culture. This is a simple and fun way of connecting with home while sharing it with your friends.
  4. Wash your clothes in similar scents. Using washing powder that smells of home or a certain scent that reminds you of home can be a small thing that can make you feel back in your childhood bedroom.
  5. Listen to the Top 50 songs in your home country. Whether you are a Spotify, Apple Music, or YouTube user (or anything else, again, no judging here), all these platforms have playlists with the trending songs back home. Listening to these makes me feel closer to home and keep in the loop of what songs are popular when I return.

Find “Me Time”:

As an introvert, all my blogs tend to include some Me Time tips; I love spending time with myself. I am a very busy person and tend to have a full schedule, so feelings of homesickness can sometimes strike me, and I will not deal with them because I won’t even have time to assimilate them. This is why “Me Time” is so important. This is the time I take to reconnect and reflect on how I’m feeling and take care of my mental health.

  1. Take a walk. I have a podcast from home I absolutely love, so getting out of the house and going for a walk to listen to the podcast is a great way for me to get myself active again and reconnect with my home country. The walking part is to get you out of the house and moving, whatever you decide to do in your walk, is up to you!
  2. Look at old pictures. Embracing feelings of loneliness and homesickness is necessary to be able to deal with them. Looking at old pictures can help you change your mindset from “I don’t want to be here anymore” to “I’m excited for what is waiting for me at home”. Knowing that there are people, food, and activities waiting for you at home can be comforting and help you deal with loneliness at university.
  3. Watch a movie from your country or set there. I find that every time a show or movie mentions “The Dominican Republic” I feel a sense of satisfaction. Watching something that is set in your country or deals with topics from your country can help you deal with your homesickness.
  4. Engage in activities you enjoy. Me time can also be going to a comedy show, trying a pottery class, or participating in sports. Doing something you enjoy can help you take your mind off the negative feelings and enjoy your time at university

 

 

I wanna go home – how a homesick international student deals with loneliness Part 1 of 2

As part of Mental Health Awareness Week, Student Champion Victoria writes about how she deals with homesickness.

As we get closer to summer the idea to go home and see loved ones becomes more tangible, but this isn’t the reality for all of us. The Student Housing Company reported that three-quarters of students at UK universities feel homesick. Although homesickness isn’t an isolated event that only happens to international students, as a Latina away from home, I know that it hits different when you feel homesick and don’t know when you can go home.

After three years at university, I have noticed that homesickness hits me at the weirdest and most unexpected times. It sometimes happens when I see family pictures and wish I were there, or I eat something and am reminded of how good it is at home, or smell a certain scent and I am taken back to a memory. Navigating these feelings can sometimes be overwhelming, but remember, you are not alone. I hope that by reading this you will better understand why we feel homesick and also find some suggestions of what to do next time you find yourself feeling this way.

What is Homesickness?

Symptoms of homesickness vary from person to person and are not always associated with “home”; it can be related to people, food, experiences, or a feeling of nostalgia for a time in your life. Many times, these symptoms include feeling tearful, sad, isolated and, at times, trapped.

At other times, many people may be feeling “emotionally wobbly” and not be able to identify why, and it can be a repressed feeling of homesickness. This can translate into anxiety or depression-like feelings as well, as thinking of home makes us scared of the unknown of our new environment.

Homesickness can be exacerbated at different stages of university life. Freshers’ week is a time when first years are adapting to student life and may wish for home often. Seeing everyone find a group and fit in easily may also affect us and make us feel even more homesick and wish we could run home. Over holidays like Christmas or Easter, when the city empties out of students going to see family, staying behind can be hard for many of us. I for one hosted my first Christmas, and although it was loads of fun, I would be lying if I didn’t confess seeing the Christmas pictures on the family group chat didn’t make me tear up. As international students, we also have different holidays and traditions that we may miss from home, and when those dates roll around, we might be hit with a feeling of homesickness and a yearning to participate in these important activities.

Connect with your culture in Bristol

Bristol is not just a very diverse city; it is a cultural hub with different options to engage with different cultures. There are over 180 nationalities in Bristol and at least 90 languages spoken throughout the city. There is bound to be something for everyone!

  1. The SU: The Student Union has so many societies as we all know, but these include cultural societies that might encompass your culture or interests. I am part of the Latino Society, and can confidently say, there is nothing like knowing I can just text “The Latinos” and I will have someone be there for me. They truly are a family away from home.
  2. Visit the Global Lounge: This fun cultural hub in the heart of campus (Senate house) has so many activities throughout the year, celebrating many cultures represented among the alumni of UoB.
  3. Bristol Meetups: Download the Meetup app and start finding mingles and activities around the city with people who share your interests and cultures.
  4. Go out to eat something from home: Bristol’s cuisine is so diverse and rich, thanks to its huge cultural diversity. Go to La Ruca for authentic South American cuisine, Caribbean Croft for amazing Caribbean dishes, Bristanbul for some Turkish delights, Mayflower for homecooked Chinese or read more options here for different nationalities.

Top 10 tips for being more sustainable

Hello, my name is Lottie, and I am a first-year student, studying French and Spanish. In support of the Climate Emergency Day of Action, I have considered how we can slightly alter our daily routines so that we live more sustainably and ultimately combat climate change. Here are my top 10 tips for living an environmentally friendly life at university!

1. Natural toothbrushes

We can start helping the planet as soon as we wake up in the morning. Most toothbrushes are made of plastic, which is a material that does not decompose. This means that every single plastic toothbrush we have ever used is still on this planet right now! As a result, many people have started to use organic bamboo toothbrushes instead. These toothbrushes are biodegradable, and they also often arrive in sustainable packaging. As well as this, studies show that they can whiten your teeth and improve your oral hygiene. It’s a win-win!

2. Reusing in the kitchen

After brushing your teeth, you might be tempted to have a smoothie or an iced coffee to start your day. Although it is tempting to use plastic straws, many people do not realise that after using them, they often end up in oceans and waterways, harming wildlife as well as contributing to pollution. Metal straws are an excellent substitution because they are reusable which means they can help you save money, as well as combating climate change. If you get thirsty during the day, I would also recommend that you bring a reusable water bottle with you. There are lots of water fountains on campus and this is a money-saver as well!

3. How should we commute?

It is important to consider how we should travel to university if we want to live sustainably. The fuel from cars has a huge negative impact on the environment, which is why it might be better to car share with your neighbours if you are all heading in the same direction. However, the best modes of transport, which are environmentally friendly, are walking or cycling. Maybe you could challenge yourself and try to walk everywhere for a week? Who knows, you might enjoy it.

4. Sustainable studying

While you’re at university, I would recommend that instead of using Google, you use a search engine called ‘Ecosia’. Ecosia uses its income from advertisements to plant trees across the globe. Therefore, whenever you click ‘search’ you are essentially saving the planet! 

5. Go paperless

With the recent advances in technology, it is surprisingly easy to go paperless. Rather than printing out pages and pages of articles and readings, maybe you could create a university folder on your laptop so that everything is easily accessible? Paper waste takes up the most space in landfills (also trees are chopped down to produce paper) so it is especially important that we do not overuse it. We can easily implement this throughout our daily lives too – when was the last time you actually needed a shopping receipt?

6. Reduce waste

Next time you’re buying fruit and vegetables, perhaps you could buy them in a 0-waste food store! These are shops which were specially designed to reduce waste. In Bristol, you can find them on Regent Street, North Street, Whiteladies Road and Gloucester Road.

7. Shopping bags

Did you know that all plastic bags in the supermarket cost at least 25p? This law was introduced in 2015 to reduce litter and general pollution and studies show that this has been successful so far. If you want to help the environment, whilst saving money, you can use your own bags to carry your shopping home. I would recommend foldable shopping bags (which you can find on Amazon) because you can easily store them in your university bag during the day.

8. Where to buy clothes?

Fast fashion is a huge problem for the environment. Brands such as Zara, H&M and New Look all contribute to the pollution of water and produce waste, due to the manufacturing process of clothes. Therefore, as students, we can easily buy our clothes elsewhere so that we can live more sustainably. As well as apps like Depop and Vinted, there are various vintage and charity shops in Bristol which sell clothes which are in great condition and relatively cheap. I would recommend the Vintage Thrift Store on Park Street and Shelter in Clifton.

9. Reusable makeup wipes

At the end of a long day, if you’re a makeup user, it is always very tempting to use a wipe to remove that last bit of makeup off your face. However, due to the plastic packaging of these products, wipes can become very harmful for the environment. I would personally recommend using reusable makeup pads, which are made from organic materials, such as bamboo cotton. These can be found in the Body Shop and Boots – they are also great for your skin! 

10. Sustainable shower products

Before going to bed, we must be mindful of the products we use. It has been scientifically proven that most shampoo bottles are not recycled correctly. Companies, such as Lush, have created products, like shampoo bars, which do not use plastic. According to the Lush website, almost 6 million plastic bottles have been used due to these shampoo bars! In 0 waste stores (mentioned earlier) there is also sometimes the option to refill your own shampoo bottles from home.

Thank you so much for reading my top 10 tips today! I hope that you learned something new! What are you going to implement into your daily routine to lead a sustainable lifestyle at university?

Written by Student Champion – Lottie Aikens

Red Nose Day 2022

It’s Red Nose Day! You know what that means – a fun night of watching short sketches and performances on the BBC, whilst everyone wears fun (but uncomfortable) fake noses. It’s one of those days that we all get involved with every year when we are children, because schools always hold fundraising events, but stop getting involved once we leave secondary school.

For that purpose, I have created this guide of some fundraising ideas. Remember that when it comes to Red Nose Day, the sillier the idea, the better it is. Why not hold a Bake Sale or Open Mic Night? Or maybe you want to do a charity run or cycle – and why not dress up to do it? There’s always the standard option of having a bath of baked beans. Or you could cash in on primary school nostalgia and hold a Sports Day – and it could feature a Red Nose and Spoon race.

So, what are you waiting for? Go out and raise some money – Comic Relief accepts donations all year long so don’t feel like you’ve missed your chance if you can’t get involved today.

By Student Champion Joshua Littleford

 

 

 

Food Waste Action Week Challenge – Lottie

Hello! My name is Lottie and I am a first-year student here at the University of Bristol. I was given a challenge in support of the Food Waste Action Week campaign, to spend only £15 on all my food for 5 days!

I must admit that I am not usually the kind of person who budgets. I normally go to the supermarket without a list and buy whatever I like the look of, often gravitating towards the bakery section or the pre-prepared food like grated cheese packets or overpriced smoothies. Therefore, I knew that this task would be a real challenge for me.

As well as this, I am a vegetarian, so I still had the objective to eat a balanced diet and make sure that I was receiving all the nutrients which I need.

Shopping for food

The night before the big shop, I created a list of everything that I intended to buy. I normally claim that I do not have enough time to plan my meals, imagining it to be a long, laborious task with little benefit to my life. However, after writing a shopping list and planning my meals for the next 5 days, I soon realised that this in fact saved my time.

When shopping, I was always conscious of my budget. Rather than buying pre-cut vegetables in packets, I was buying raw carrots, onions and courgettes which proved to be a lot cheaper. I also had to erase some items off my shopping list, such as lotus biscuits, because my priority was to buy ingredients for nutritious and filling meals.

My total was thankfully £14.96 so I was just under budget. If only lotus biscuits were 4p!

Breakfast

For breakfast, I simply ate bananas. I am not a huge ‘breakfast person’ so I luckily did not feel the need to buy cereals or toast!

Lunch

On Day 1 of my challenge, I cooked what I like to call a ‘pizza wrap’. Essentially, it is a pizza, but the base is a wrap! It is ridiculously easy to make, and I chose spring onion as my topping.

I decided to branch out on Day 2 and have a jacket potato for lunch. The secret to an amazing jacket potato is to microwave it for 6 minutes first and then pop it in the oven. Trust me – it makes a world of difference! On top of my jacket potato, I used cheese, fried courgette, and chilli flakes.

On Day 3 I tried out a new recipe which I had found on BBC Good Foods: vegetarian enchiladas.

Although, due to my budget, I could not follow the recipe exactly (I could not top them with low- fat yoghurt), I was still incredibly happy with the outcome. As a result, I kept some in the fridge and had them for lunch on Day 5 too!

Finally, for lunch on Day 4, I created some omelettes with cheese and spring onion. I know it does not sound particularly appetising but as far as omelettes go, it did not taste too awful!

 

Dinner

On Day 1, I cooked one of my favourite dinners to make, which is a Kidney Bean Curry. This consists of frying onion and then adding chilli flakes, followed by chopped tomatoes and kidney beans. The best thing about this meal is that you can make lots of portions and then refrigerate them for another day. Therefore, I ate this meal on Day 3 and Day 5 as well! I always add cheese and eat it with either rice or a wrap.

Day 2 was nice and easy because I made a quick stir fry. I fried carrots, courgette and onion and combined them with rice, chilli flakes and soy sauce.

The meal on Day 4 was rather similar to stir fry but this time, I added egg to make egg fried rice. I had also used up all of my carrots by this point so had to use solely courgette and spring onion. As you can probably tell, this meal was a combination of the ingredients which I had not used up yet!

 

Snacks

I love a good snack so during this challenge, I had to be inventive with the ingredients I had. If I ever got hungry between meals, I had a cheese wrap, spicy egg fried rice or ‘banana ice cream’ (frozen mashed up banana). These snacks were actually healthier than what I normally go for!

Did I face any challenges?

Although I successfully completed this challenge, it is true that I did struggle in some areas.

I found that my meals were lacking variation. The only fresh vegetables that I bought were onions, courgettes, and carrots so I found that I had to incorporate them into most of my meals so that they were nutritious. This soon became repetitive.

I am also going to put my hands up and say that I am not a good chef … at all. The omelette that I ate on Day 4 for lunch was actually my second attempt. The first time I tried to make it, it was somehow raw and burnt at the same time. I did not feel good about this mistake because it completely went against what Food Waste Action Week stood for!

Another challenge for me was being in the university environment. On campus, I was so tempted to buy a snack in between classes, and I also missed the social aspect of going out for meals with friends.

Conclusion

Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed this budgeting task, despite the challenges which I faced. I believe that from now on, I will always look for cheaper alternatives when shopping and I will also make sure to write a list in advance!

I think it would be hard for me to only spend £15 every week on food but after this experience, I will make sure to cut down on any unnecessary purchases (including lotus biscuits!).

Written by Lottie Aikens, Student Champion

Food Waste Action Week Challenge – Adam

The Challenge: To prepare three meals a day for the next five days on a budget of no more than £15.

Hi, I am Adam, and I normally spend around £30 on groceries a week. This challenge meant that I had to reduce that to half. Probably the best piece of advice to start with is planning. A meal plan with a shopping list makes the whole process much more efficient. It minimises the number of times you need to go shopping, reduces the time you spend there, prevents you from buying unnecessary things, and helps you save money. You will also not have any leftovers that you would have to throw away.

Every Sunday, therefore, I try to plan my weekly meal plan. With this challenge, it was basically essential.

Once the plan was done, I wrote down things I needed. For the list, I use the NOSH book app. I genuinely recommend buying a cookbook as it really helps with ideas on what to cook. NOSH is also very student-friendly, and it comes with an app in which you can browse recipes and automatically add everything to a shopping list. The ‘Broke but hungry’ chapter of this book with affordable recipes was particularly useful for this challenge.

With the shopping list done, it was time to head to Sainsbury’s to do the shopping. My tip here is to use their Smart Shopping app that not only makes the shopping more efficient because you can scan as you go with your phone, but it also helps you to save money as you get some personalised discounts with your Nectar account.

When shopping, my tip would be to look for reduced stuff. Things like bread that can be frozen can often come at a fraction of the price. Another tip is to look at the bottom shelf for cheaper brands or own-label products. Marketers often put the products that are premium or have the highest margin on the eye level, leaving the more affordable brands at the bottom. Also, fresh vegetables can be quite expensive so look out for the Imperfectly tasty series that is more affordable.

<-This is what my shopping looked like at the end.

Note: As I was not able to use any things I had at home, I had to include the cost of things like oil, salt, curry powder, pasta and rice – things that last for longer once you buy them so shall I continue the challenge the next week, I could buy more different products.

With the shopping done, it was time to start cooking.

Day 1

Breakfast

SUPER QUICK PORRIDGE

Ingredients: Milk, Oats, Peanut butter, Banana

1.     Combine some milk and oats, and simmer until it thickens. Remove from heat.

2.     Add sliced banana, a spoon or two of peanut butter, and your breakfast is ready. You could use plant-based milk too!

Lunch

POTATO HASH

Ingredients: 4 medium diced potatoes, 400g baked beans, Oil, Cheddar cheese, Ketchup (optional)

1.     Put the potatoes in a pan of boiling water and simmer for 8 minutes. Drain, return to the pan and squash them a little with a fork. Do not mash them.

2.     Stir in the beans.

3.     Heat some oil in a frying pan and tip the mixture in. Don’t stir, allow it to dry and brown on the bottom. Once browned, using a spatula, stir all the browned bits up from the bottom, leave again to allow the rest to brown. Stir in the browned bits again.

4.     Serve with some cheese on top and optionally add ketchup.

Dinner

FRIED RICE

Ingredients: a mug of rice, 4 eggs, 3 chopped spring onions, half of the pepper, chopped carrot, soya sauce

  1. Cook rice and let it cool.
  2. In a wok, heat some oil and on high heat stir-fry 2 spring onions, carrot, and pepper for 2 minutes.
  3. Add rice and stir-fry for another minute.
  4. In the meantime, fry eggs in a separate pan.
  5. Add soya sauce to the wok and stir-fry for 1 minute.
  6. Serve the rice and put the fried eggs on the top. Add some finely chopped onion on top. You can add some more soya sauce if needed.

Day 2:

Breakfast:

CHEESE ON TOAST WITH TOMATO

  1. Put some slices of cheese on to bread and put in the oven.
  2. Allow to melt
  3. Add some fresh tomato and spring onion on top

Lunch:

POTATO HASH LEFTOVERS

Dinner:

FRIED RICE LEFTOVERS

Day 3:

Breakfast:

SUPER QUICK PORRIDGE

Lunch:

CHANNA DHAL

Ingredients: Oil, 1 onion, finely chopped, 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped, Freshly grated ginger, ½ teaspoon, Curry powder, ½ x 400g can tomatoes, 2 tablespoons coconut milk, 400 g tin of chickpeas

  1. Heat the oil in a frying pan and fry the onions and garlic until they begin to brown. Stir frequently. Once brown, add the ginger and curry powder. Cook for 1 minute.
  2. Add the tomatoes, coconut milk and chickpeas. Season well with salt and pepper. Cook for about 5 minutes until the mixture begins to thicken.

Note: the leftover coconut milk can be used to make some sauce

Dinner:

CHANNA DHAL LEFTOVERS

Day 4:

Breakfast:

TOAST, CHEESE, TOMATO

This was the same as before, but I added two fried eggs.

 

Lunch:

CREAM CHEESE PASTA

Ingredients: 300g of spaghetti, Cream cheese, ½ of 400g tin of tomatoes, Broccoli, Cheese, grated

  1. Put the pasta on the cook.
  2. Boil broccoli until soft.
  3. In a saucepan on medium heat, combine the cream cheese, tomatoes, and cheese. Season with salt. Simmer until it thickens and combines.
  4. Add broccoli to the sauce and squash it a little.
  5. Add pasta and toss.
  6. Serve with some grated cheese on top.

Dinner:

CHANNA DHAL LEFTOVERS

Day 5:

Breakfast:

SHAKSHUKA

Ingredients: Oil, Onion, chopped, ½ of 400g tin tomatoes, 1 garlic clove, finely chopped, 2 eggs, ½ of pepper, chopped

  1. Heat oil in a frying pan put onion, pepper and garlic and cook until soft.
  2. Add tomatoes and stir until thickens.
  3. With a large spoon, make 2 dips in the sauce and crack an egg into each one.
  4. Put on a lid and cook for 6-8 mins on low heat.
  5. Serve with a toast.

Lunch:

CREAM CHEESE PASTA LEFTOVERS

Dinner:

CREAM CHEESE PASTA LEFTOVERS

Conclusion

I was positively surprised how much I could buy and how many dishes I could make while sticking to £15. Most importantly, at the end of the week, I was left with almost no leftovers which was the idea of the whole project. Utilising the things we have and not throwing out anything.

Written by Adam Balazi, Student Champion

Natural mental health boosters

As part of University Mental Health Day on the 3 March, we wanted to share some of our top tips for things you can do to help improve your mental health.

Get into nature

We’re really lucky that our city is full of wonderful green spaces. Sometimes being around nature can help settle a busy mind and Spring is just peeping around the corner so there will be a lot to see. Some favourite places include the Bristol Botanic Garden, the Downs and just over the bridge, you have Leigh Woods. If you want to go a little further afield then just up the M4 is Westonbirt Arboretum, containing some amazing species of plants and trees (they also offer a student discount!) If you want to see a little piece of California, head to the Redwood grove in Ashton Court, just down from the mansion house. Sitting amongst these giant trees is strangely calming.

Running

Getting outside for a run or jog can be a great way to relieve daily stress and boost your mental wellbeing. If you’re new to running, Couch to 5k is a great place to start. Alternatively, you could try out one of Bristol’s many Parkruns including Ashton Court and Eastville Park which start at 9 am every Saturday. If you’re struggling with motivation, try setting yourself a running goal, such as a 5k race and make sure you check out the Bristol Run Series.

Exercise your green fingers

Studies have shown that keeping indoor plants can boost feelings of wellbeing, with many plants having useful additional properties such as air purification, calming and improving cognitive function. Also looking after a plant is a good reminder to look after ourselves, to stay hydrated, get some fresh air and some sunlight. They also serve as a reminder that even after wilting they can spring back and continue to grow.

Low maintenance plants include: Spider plants, Aloe Vera, Snake plants and Pathos. Also, don’t forget about herbs, you can keep chives, basil, rosemary in a small window box.

Wildlife for wellbeing

As a city you may not think that Bristol would be the greatest place for wildlife spotting, outside of urban foxes, seagulls and pigeons, what else is there? Places like Arnos Vale, Conham River Park, Ashton Court Estate and the Avon Gorge are teeming with wildlife, from deer, voles, birds, and squirrels to perhaps the unexpected, goats, lizards, weasels and the odd seal. Bristol is also home to thousands of pet dogs so you will probably encounter some furry four-legged friends on any walks around the city.

LGBT History Month – A History of LGBT Representation in TV/Film

For many LGBTQ+ people, representation can help them to come to terms with their gender/sexuality and so it is important that positive representation exists in media. However historically, LGBTQ+ representation in film and TV has been lacking, with many characters conforming to stereotypes or enduring cruel fates.

With the introduction of the ‘Hays Code’ in the USA in 1934, LGBTQ+ characters were prohibited from appearing in film. Though homosexuality was never specifically mentioned, the law stated that movies must not “lower the moral standards of those who see [them]” – and at the time being LGBTQ+ was considered immoral. These were lifted in 1968, but this still left three decades with the only representation being queer-coded villains.

Rocky Horror Picture Show

Following the lifting of the ‘Hays Code’ and the Stonewall Riots of 1969, came the cult classic The Rocky Horror Picture Show in 1975. The musical featured an array of LGBTQ+ characters and introduced some much-needed positive representation. The 1980s unfortunately worsened the stigma around LGBTQ+ people due to the AIDs crisis. Nevertheless, in 1985 Desert Hearts was released, which is regarded as the first mainstream lesbian film with a happy ending.

In 1988, Margaret Thatcher introduced ‘Section 28’ in the UK – a law that prohibited “promoting the teaching of the acceptability of homosexuality” within schools – which wasn’t abolished until 2003. This meant for many people in the 90’s, TV was the only place they could go to learn more about the LGBTQ+ community. 1989 brought the first gay kiss on UK television in an episode of Eastenders, which was unfortunately followed by a slew of homophobic backlash. In 1997, Ellen became the first American show to feature a gay lead character, after star Ellen DeGeneres came out as a lesbian. In the UK, Queer as Folk aired in 1999 on Channel 4, which followed a group of out gay men in Manchester – and depicted the LGBTQ+ community as vibrant and alive. Other shows such as Will & Grace and Buffy the Vampire Slayer began featuring recurring LGBTQ+ characters.

Sense8 – Nomi & Amanita

In recent years, there have been numerous great examples of representation within cinema. In 2017, Moonlight was the first LGBTQ+ movie (and first with an all-black cast) to win an Oscar for Best Picture. Love, Simon (2018) is regarded as the first movie by a major Hollywood studio to feature a gay lead character. In the world of Superheroes, Marvel introduced theirfirst gay superhero in 2021 in Eternals –  whom director Chloé Zhao refused to censor from the film for foreign markets.

When it comes to television, Netflix’s Sense8 (2015-2018) featured several healthy LGBTQ+ relationships. In 2017, Bojack Horseman character Todd Chavez came out as asexual – and was the only asexual character in streaming in 2018 [GLADD]. Supergirl on the CW introduced us to DC’s first trans superhero with Dreamer, who featured as a major character for the final 3 seasons. In 2020, It’s A Sin shone a light on what it was like to live through the AIDs crisis in the UK.

Owl HouseEven children’s television is starting to gain more representation. DreamWorks’ She-Ra and the Princesses of Power featured a lesbian romance between lead characters, as well as a parental gay couple. Disney’s The Owl House features lesbian, asexual, bisexual, and non-binary lead and recurring characters. On Cartoon Network, Steven Universe features various LGBTQ+ characters and often combats gender stereotypes. This kind of representation being shown to children is so important, both for young LGBTQ+ people to be able to see that being LGBTQ+ is okay, and for non-LGBTQ+ children, as it normalises it and makes it easier for them to become good allies.

Since 2005, GLAAD has published an annual report to show how representation is changing in TV. In the 2005-2006 season, 1.4% of regular characters on broadcast primetime shows were LGBTQ+, whilst in 2020-2021, the figure was up to 9.1% – and over half of these characters were people of colour. It is important to remember though that more can be done – the most recent study found that 20% of these LGBTQ+ characters appeared in a series created by just 1 of 4 TV producers.

All in all, it is amazing to see how far representation has improved – particularly over the past 20 years – and hopefully, this trend will continue until there is consistent representation of everyone throughout the film and TV industries.

To end, I thought I’d provide a list of some other shows with great LGBTQ+ relationships and/or characters:

  • Schitt’s Creek
  • The Haunting of Bly Manor
  • Brooklyn Nine-Nine
  • Star Trek: Discovery
  • Love, Victor
  • Pose

Written by Joshua Littleford, Student Champion

Easy Meal Prepping Ideas

I wanted to give you a few ideas on how to keep up with eating healthy. Whether you’ve done a New Year’s resolution and have declared 2022 YOUR year, or just need motivation to actually eat substantial meals, I hope these recipes help you stay nutritious and full. In honour of Veganuary last month, there will also be options for making these meals vegan, since the vegan lifestyle doesn’t have to stay in January. Including some vegan meals in your everyday diet can have many benefits, like preventing diabetes, ingesting more nutrients, and reducing the risk of diseases. Below, I’ll link videos that take you to the preparation of these meals, and you can find the list of ingredients and description of these meals within this blog.

Breakfast ideas!

Overnight Oats (Click here to watch a preparation video).

You’ve probably heard about this a million times, but when I tell you I am addicted, I am not kidding. This meal is very handy for when you just have to run out of the house or want to get a head start to your day with breakfast already made. Overnight oats are also healthier than regular oats because nutrients and fibre are higher in rolled oats as compared to instant oats, which are the general go-to choice. Also, because the oats aren’t cooked, the nutrients remain and make the oat more filling.

So… what do you need? These are the must-use ingredients.

  1. Oats (I know, shocker). But choose rolled oats over quick oats for better consistency and more health values.
  2. Milk. Plant-based milk or dairy milk works fine, so make it vegan if you wish!
  3. Yoghurt. I like adding it for consistency, creaminess, and that extra boost of protein. Plant-based or Greek yoghurt are my personal favourites.

And then, you can get creative! This breakfast is so dynamic and easy to mix and match, which makes it hard to get bored of. My favourite add-ons are:

  1. Sweeteners: Honey or maple syrup if you want to make it vegan! Oats tend to have a bit of a bland taste, so this makes them pop a little. Cinnamon is also a good one!
  2. You can literally add any fruits you want, but I personally love strawberries and blueberries, and bananas. Or banana chips to give it a crunchy feel.
  3. Jams and spreads. I like adding these because they mix well within the oats and makes them very tasty.
  4. And I mean it, nuts, chia seeds, almonds, nutmeg, anything you want to throw in there.

Some of my favourite combinations are:

  • Nutella and Bananas with Almonds: Maybe not the most nutritious, healthy, option, but a great treat to sweeten up the start of your day.
  • Strawberry and Peanut Butter: I counter the peanut butter taste with some strawberry jam and also dice some strawberry bits in there.
  • Blueberries and cinnamon: The cinnamon taste is so different to the blueberry, that there is something interesting about having them clash together and it’s so good!

Breakfast burrito (Click here to watch the preparation video)

So, with this one, you can either make it ahead or make it on the spot, whichever works for you and your time management. These burritos have a good balance and are a savoury meal to start the day with all the necessary nutrients you’ll need to function at high capacity.

You will need:

  1. A tortilla or wrap. Very straightforward, you need something to wrap the ingredients in.
  2. Scrambled something. You can use eggs or tofu as a substitute, and season to your liking. I personally like pairing with veggies like tomatoes and mushrooms and some onions.
  3. Breakfast sausages. Meat or vegan sausages, cook these on their own and cut them into bits to add to your wrap.

You can also add cheese, any sauces you like, breakfast baked potatoes, anything you fancy.

Lunch and Dinner ideas!

This category I’m putting together because I realise that sometimes these meals can be interchangeable or be one in two, like an early dinner or late lunch so here go three options for you! I’ll refrain from the general spaghetti and rice meals that we all have as our go-to’s and share some other options.

Stir fry noodles (Click here to watch the preparation video).

How about, instead of getting takeout, you make your own? You can easily get ingredients, sometimes precooked, and whip out a meal quicker than it takes the delivery to reach your place.

There are a lot of optional ingredients here like sauces, spices, etc., but these are the non-negotiables.

  • Noodles. I personally love egg noodles, but substitute for rice noodles to make it vegan!
  • Keep it a balanced meal by adding veggies. You can get precooked once at most supermarkets or chop up any of your liking to throw in there. I personally like broccoli, carrots, and courgettes with my noodles.
  • The protein. You can add pork chop or chicken, make it veggie by scrambling an egg in there and make it vegan by going with tofu or plant-based chops or mince.

Making loads of this in one go can save you some meal prepping time, store in the fridge and eat sometime in the next 5 days.

Rice or salad bowls. (Click here to watch the preparation video).

This is another idea that has so many ways of being made and can be very filling and nutritious. Just know, there are no limits to this idea.

  1. Salmon or Chicken bowl. Protein is very important, so add one of these options or change for eggs if you want to make it veggie. The three options of protein already give you an option to have three different bowls, brilliant! And a fourth vegan option, tofu, or legumes such as lentils.
  2. The Carbs. The carbs will make you feel fuller. You can go with rice, which can be high in fibre like brown rice or in proteins like wild rice. You can also substitute for couscous or quinoa or keep it veggie and use lettuce and spinach to make it a salad bowl instead.
  3. Again, get creative! Anything goes in this bowl, as long as you think it tastes nice.

These are my two-favourite bowls:

  • Rice Bowl: Salmon with wild rice, with a hint of lime. Include avocado, black beans, chickpea, and corn.
  • Salad Bowl: Lettuce and spinach as the base, topped with plant-based mince marinated in Cajun sauce, tomatoes, mushrooms, and aubergine.

Quesadilla Pizza (Click here to watch the preparation video).

This one is super-duper easy, and fun to make as well. You can add as many things as you want, or as little as you want. This is the only non-negotiable.

  • You need at least two, because one will be the base, and then you’ll put another on top.

That’s it. Add tomato sauce, cheese, meat, plant-based chops, tofu, olives, tomatoes, corn, cream cheese, pesto, whatever you feel like. The concept here is like you’re making a loaded quesadilla with a pizza shape. I like adding cheese on the top layer and using the first tortilla for spreads, veggies, and whatever protein source. This means the ingredients are held together by the two tortillas and the cheese melts on top.

Simple snackies!

Lastly, here are a few snack ideas that need no hard preparation and can be a good idea to have in your bag in case your day runs over, or you get a craving.

Hummus and whatever.

Literally whatever, hummus is so good with baby carrots, breadsticks (a personal favourite) crackers, pita, celery, etc. I saw someone eat it with a pickle outside the ASS the other day, so maybe there’s something to try.

Cheese and crackers

Cut some cheese pieces and pair with crackers, salted, plain, black pepper, any type. For example, as I write this, I’m munching on some garlic crackers with mature cheese slices.

Fruit Bowl

As someone who goes to the gym before studying, I tend to crave something refreshing. And yes, I shower at the gym so I’m not smelly next to other students, don’t worry. Anyways, I like cutting up some apples, oranges, and grapes, and adding some vanilla yoghurt to eat as a snack before I get cracking with work.

And there you have it! Some ideas to stay healthy and kick start eating nutritiously. Many times, when uni gets overwhelming, we forget to take care of ourselves, so making sure you’re eating the nutrients and proteins you need is essential for keeping up your performance and maintaining your wellbeing. All these recipes have vegan alternatives, which makes every recipe at least two meals if you think about it! Switching up ingredients and alternating can make eating fun and something to look forward to and motivate you to cook which will ensure you eat healthier and save money. What’s not to love?

Written by Victoria Cornelio Diaz, Student Champion

Valentines Tips

As part of Valentine’s week, I would like to share some tips on spending this special day of the year.

Start your day with a special homemade breakfast.

Is there a better way to start a day than by having some delicious breakfast? And what about breakfast in bed? Of course, you could go for a lovely brunch at many of Bristol’s fantastic restaurants, but if you want to make this day special, surprise your other half with some homemade pancakes or French toast. You could try these simple recipes, top it with some cream and strawberries, and enjoy this wonderful breakfast from the comfort of your bed.

Go for a romantic stroll.

Bristol offers some fantastic places for walks. Some of the most popular include St George Park, Brandon Hill, and Leigh Woods. A walk is not only great for mental health, but it’s also an excellent way to catch up away from your phones laptops. It is also one of few free things that you can do in Bristol for Valentine’s day, so take your loved one and explore the beauty of Bristol’s nature together.

Recreate your favourite date

Why not revive the memories from your favourite date? Whether it was your first date or the one you just really enjoyed. That restaurant with dim lights and weird food that somehow became a favourite place in your mind. It can also be a nice way to reflect on your memories together.

Bristol Aquarium

If you fancy experiencing something less usual, the Bristol Aquarium has all the sea life lovers covered. You will have a chance to see a range of unique creatures that emerge only after the closing hour. If you want to surprise your loved one, there is an option to have a bottle with a secret message sank into the giant aquarium. This will be retrieved, and you can read the message to each other.

Cook a dinner together

While many of us find this activity more of a necessity, cooking together can be great fun. So why not put together your cooking skills and prepare something special for the night. Decorate the room with some candles, dress up and enjoy the meal you have cooked together.

Or enjoy dinner at many of the fantastic restaurants.

If you don’t feel like cooking, head to one of the many fantastic restaurants in the city. Fancy some Indian Kari? Italian Pasta? Japanese sushi or something Persian? Bristol has you covered. Check out the options online, and don’t forget to make a reservation.

Go to a theatre

If you are searching for some unique gift, look no further. Bristol Hippodrome is one of the largest stages in the UK, becoming known as Bristol’s West End Theatre. With relatively affordable tickets, you can see all kinds of different performances, including the Lion King, the musical by Queen and many others.

Hot chocolate

You can hardly go wrong with this one. A nice warm cup of hot chocolate makes happy most of us. Bristol has to offer a few places where you could get one.

Written by Adam Balazi, Student Champion