“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.

As an international student from Nigeria, thousands of miles away from my home country, I feared the idea of not having any one around me. With the sudden shift from in person to online learning, I thought that I would feel alone, but this could not be furthest from the truth. I have received an overwhelming amount of support and love from my family, friends, colleagues, and university staff too, through constant messages, phone calls, zoom calls and pretty much every online platform there is. I received calls from relatives I had not spoken to in years and invites from friends to move in with them momentarily. It has all been so heart-warming.

Keeping myself busy has also proved beneficial during this time. Besides studying, I joined the 2020-2021 committee for the Engineers Without Borders Society, I am part of a book-club that virtually meets every Tuesday and I am a volunteer UKCISA Student Ambassador. Virtual lunches, virtual talent shows and challenges/competitions, I have been a part of it all, my accommodation makes sure to leave no room for lethargy amongst its residents. After exams, I look forward to engaging more in my community through a job or internship (remotely of course!) and maybe I will enrol onto an online course to learn a new skill, the options are endless.

Let us embrace the change and keep moving. In a moment of uncertainty that is all we can do.

#WeAreTogether is a new social media campaign involving students and staff from UK universities, students’ unions, pathway providers and organisations across the sector. It highlights the full range of activity the sector is engaged in to combat Covid-19, and bring all those involved in UK higher education in together in a positive online community, to share messages of solidarity, support and gratitude.

Follow #WeAreTogether_UK on Instagram

Zak gets his work published in one of the UKs leading journals

Current undergraduate student, Zak Eastop, has had an article published in German Life and Letters, one of the leading journals in the field of modern languages in the UK. This is an incredible achievement by someone who hasn’t yet graduated!

We ask Zak a few questions about his recent success, life at university and what he plans on doing next…

Hi Zak – tell us a bit about yourself

Hi! I’m Zak, I’m 22 and come from East London. I’m in my fourth year and I study French and ab initio (beginner’s) German. I’m heavily involved in the university’s music societies. I conducted the BUMS Brass Band in my second year, as well as an opera double-bill with BOpS. I’m also the current principal trumpet of the Uni Symphony Orchestra and lead trumpet with the Bristol Hornstars. It keeps me busy for sure, though I also climb quite regularly (when the Gyms are open at least).

What is your article about and what inspired you to write about this topic?

Because of the nature of journal articles in the Arts and Humanities, my paper is on some pretty niche stuff. In broad terms, I start by reopening a discussion about Diderot’s influence on Schiller’s play Don Karlos, and then trace this influence through Verdi’s adaptation of the work, looking at how opera as a genre can improve otherwise flawed narratives by affording their composers use of other sign-systems…[yawn].

Really, the main take-aways are that Diderot is important, Schiller changed his mind a lot, Operas are weird, and Verdi was a pretty clever dude.

I had written a smaller essay on the topic for a second-year module on anti-establishment German Enlightenment theatre. It did really well and someone (I think jokingly) suggested I might one day like to write it up to full-length. During the long summer before I went on my year abroad, I spent around 300hrs reading and writing in the British Library and… well… tadah.

What support did you recieve from the Uni or department?

I acknowledge a few people in the first footnote of the paper but I can’t thank Ellen Pilsworth, Steffan Davies, Debbie Pinfold, Marianne Ailes and Rowan Tomlinson enough. All helped a huge amount, not just with this paper, but with the work I undertook that year, and their constant encouragement.

The mere fact I’m able to read Schiller (or any German at all) is in large part down to the language staff in the department. 

Also, an important shout-out MUST go to Damien McManus in the library. While he wasn’t hugely involved in this particular project, the other work I have on the go wouldn’t be particularly possible without his help and I wouldn’t be able to work on the things I do without his assistance. He’s like an obscure literature magnet and will (and has) move heaven and earth to get you the book you need. That guy is a hero.

How did you find out that your work was being published?

I was the one who submitted it, so I knew it was being considered, but I was not expecting the email I got from Steffan Davies who, alongside being my utterly excellent personal tutor, happens to be one of the journal’s editors. At the time, I was on my year abroad, working as a teacher in a school in Vienna. I literally jumped up and down on the spot with joy and got some pretty weird looks from some of my colleagues. It was the staff room: a place which, as any teacher will tell you, is not often a setting for ecstatic displays of joyful celebration.

Can you offer any study tips or advise to other students?

You’re at Bristol – you aren’t a moron. Don’t be scared to have your own ideas. Make notes in a notebook, it’s better for information retention. Be organised, but not in a mad way. Be lovely to your lecturers and maybe engage them in conversation once in a while. Be interested and love what you study – if you don’t enjoy it then it is hard to care about. Download a citation manager – I like Zotero. It will change your life, trust me.

Most importantly though, back yourself.

This must be one of your university highlights- what else has made your time at Bristol so special?

A lot of my most dizzying highs were linked to performances in some way. The curtain closing on the opera double-bill I conducted was a wonderful feeling. We went over-capacity in the Winston and had a huge queue for tickets which went out the door of the SU… for Holst!? That was seriously special, as was conducting the Bristol Uni Brass Band’s winning performance at the Unibrass competition in 2018. However, my degree highlight was during my Year Abroad. I was lying in a hammock on the Danube Island in Vienna in the warm shade surrounded by a group of wonderful Viennese friends whom I would never have met were it not for my degree. That was a truly beautiful moment in my life.

What are you planning on doing next?

My overall aim is to try and add to the general theory about what constitutes an ‘adaptation.’ Why is it that when Colin Firth dresses up as a bit of a fop and runs around a field in the north of England, we call it an ‘adaptation’, but when Jodie Comer runs around assassinating people, it is just a show? Both narratives come from novels, but one is generally thought of as adapted and the other isn’t. What if the adaptation makes changes to bits of the original? Is it still an adaptation? I will also be continuing my work on Rabelaisian operas during my research master’s next year.

Finally, how have you been keeping yourself busy during lockdown?

Forget keeping busy, it’s enough keeping remotely sane. Solidarity with all the other students and staff in lockdown alone. We will get through this. Es geht sich aus.

 

My experience of lockdown in Bristol

Hi I’m Gurjot and I’m studying Development and Security (MSc).

When life throws stones at you, you have two options. Either you can choose to get hurt by their crushing impact or if you are bold enough, you can collect those stones and build strong bridges. The Coronavirus lockdown is a challenging time but I hope to use this time to try new things and gain perspective on what is important in life.

With these positive thoughts in my mind, I decided to not to travel back to India and stay here in Bristol. Reflecting upon my time in lockdown so far, the main things I have discovered are:

Learnt new skills

Apart from completing my university assignments, I have tried to utilise my lockdown time in Bristol to polish my culinary skills, hone my guitar lessons, improve my cyber knowledge and write some new topics about life in my weekly diary.

Value time, loved ones & online community

I have started valuing the importance of ‘time’ and ‘family’ even much more in my life and become interested in doing exercise, yoga and meditation which was rare earlier. Separated by physical distances, but united in social solidarity, the online classes by the subject unit tutors and other cool events like Virtual Language Café, run by Global Lounge, etc. are proving to be great stress-busters and uplifting the collective spirits of the students.

Appreciate Bristol

As an international student, I consider myself to be very lucky to be a part of the city of Bristol which weaves magic upon you through its colourful landscapes, Banksy’s artworks and lovely, unpredictable weather.

Indeed, the one thing which I have really learned from lockdown is that we need be adaptable and respond positively to whatever challenges we face in our lives.

Senate House update from Julio (Bristol SU’s Union Affairs Officer)

A lot of things have changed very quickly in the last few weeks and months – and that has impacted all of us in lots of different ways.

We chat to Julio Mkok, Bristol SU’s Union Affairs Officer, about how the new spaces at Senate House are taking shape, why these spaces matter now more than ever, and tips for coping during lockdown.

Q: How have you found adjusting to all the recent chances? Any top tips?
A: Transference is inevitable. It’s been very hard adjusting. We are coming from a way of life that flourished on human interaction and now we are moving into an era that doesn’t support or encourage the basic human interaction.

We all need each other to fully appreciate the joys of life. But, despite being so far from everyone else, there a few tips that could help you just the same way they’ve helped me ride out this wave. Daily exercises and a healthy routine that prioritises your wellbeing have really helped me. I for one am trying yoga for the first time…. I would highly recommend it! 😊

Q: You’ve recently been re-elected. What would you like to achieve during your time in post?
A: Having been re-elected for my second term as Union Affairs Officer, my main aim is to make sure that the Campus Heart Project is delivered with the interest and suggestions from the student body at its core.

The way that things are taking shape at Senate House is really exciting – we’re working on a new food court, known as the Market Place, and the Beckford SU bar – all right at the centre of the campus. We’ll have a Dining Room to accompany the Living Room at Senate House!

Of course recent events have meant delays to the project overall, but we’ll do everything we can to keep you updated on what’s happening, when. Even if we can’t come together now physically, the time will come that we will be able to be together again, safely. Spaces to help build communities will become even more important.

Q: Why do spaces like Senate House matter, especially in light of the pandemic?
A: The University of Bristol is one of the few Russell Group universities without a social space exclusively for students at the heart of campus (excluding libraries and other academic areas).

Senate House will provide a space for students to come together to socialise, play games and interact with different non-academic aspects that the University has to offer.

Q: What other changes would you like to see happen on campus? Or what are you excited about what’s already happening on campus?
A: The University’s main responsibility is providing academic excellence and support to its students. However, what is mostly forgotten is the “university student-experience” that most people always look forward to when coming to university.

I would like to see more non-academic projects that improve and support the student experience such as the Senate House Project. Additionally, we are all hoping that sometime in the future everything will go back to normal and the possibility for all of us students to come back together and continue with our day to day shenanigans.

It is on this note that we need the right spaces to be able to facilitate, diversify and improve this interaction.

Stay connected

Now, more than ever, it’s important to keep our online community strong.  

You can tap into some of the fantastic online resources which will keep you connected to other students and the University! 

Social Media

Bristol SU 

Sport & keeping active

Bristol’s cultural scene goes digital!

Missing Bristol? Whether you have left Bristol or are here under lockdown you can still take virtual tours, join in live steams and access collections from some of the city’s iconic cultural venues.

There are lots of great resources and events that are accessible, right from your desktop or smart phone, to make you feel connected to our Bristol community, and beyond.

We have put together some of Bristol’s top cultural resources to access watch online:

1. University of Bristol Special Collections – This holds more 5km of books, archives, photographs, and artefacts dating from the eleventh to the twenty-first century. Visit the Online Archive Catalogue and explore what’s available.

2.  The Watershed – Watch amazing livestreams from the comfort of your own sofa. Find out films are available on the Watershed website. You can also stream films you wanted to watch at the Watershed for free with a trial of BFI or MUBI.

3. Bristol Museum & Art Gallery – There is a variety of online exhibitions, from Japanese prints to British tattoo art. Discover these exhibitions on the Bristol Museum & Art Gallery website.

4. Bristol Old Vic At Home – This opens the curtain to a digital theatre platform which features some of Bristol’s most-loved theatre shows and work by exciting emerging artists. Visit the Bristol Old Vic At Home website for more information.

5. Bristol Cathedral – Take a virtual tour of Bristol Cathedral and find out more about its history and heritage.

6.  Film and TV programmes filmed in Bristol –  The Pale HorseSanditonPoldark and Doctor Who all filmed scenes in Bristol (click on the links for more information). See Visit Bristol for a map of movies filmed in Bristol locations too.

What are you missing about Bristol? Share your favourite memories, places to go and photos of Bristol by using #WeMissYouBristol on Twitter and Instagram. We’ll retweet our favourites and look forward to visiting them again after lockdown!

Digital learning resources available for you!

Although this is a difficult time for everyone, we are here to ease the transition to online learning and provide you with all the technical support and advice you need.   

There are plenty of useful online resources available to you.  

These include:  

  • Study from home – looks at ways to manage your time and workspace, how to work towards learning outcomes and how to get the most out of online study.
  • Online open-book exams guidance  – looks at ways to prepare for and answer open book exams effectively.
  • Student laptop and mobile clinic goes virtual – The laptop and mobile clinic is a free service to help current University of Bristol students who are having problems with laptops, tablets or smartphones. The clinic will run weekdays from 2.00 pm – 5.00 pm.
  • Study Skills blogs
  • Dissertation Writing Retreats and Study Loungesboth aimed at offering students an online environment to work “in the same space” as others. Throughout May, there are lots of workshops including specific ones about online study and online exams all bookable
  • Online tutorials, including help with maths and statistics – offer a great opportunity to discuss your work in a confidential, safe space with an experienced and professional tutor. 
  • Accessing IT systems from home – quick links to the University IT systems such as Blackboard, Collaborate, specialist software and more. 
  • Study Skills sessions – enhance your academic skills with our range of self-help online resources, get quick advice at our 15 minute drop-in sessions with Bristol Futures Advocates, choose from a range of workshops or book a one-to-one tutorial with a Study Skills tutor.
  • Free library online resources  – access free online resources, including ebooks, ejournals, and databases to help support you.
  • Top tips for working from home  – Bristol SU provide some useful tips for working and studying remotely.  

There is further information on the Teaching, Assessment and academic guidance webpage.

 

24/7 wellbeing services available for those in need of support

In these strange and uncertain times, it’s understandable that many of you will be feeling anxious, sad or even a little bit scared, which can be tough to say out loud. Don’t forget that there are many support services out there for you, with some offering a listening ear 24/7. 

TalkCampus 

TalkCampus is here if you need someone to talk to, about anything, anywhere, at anytime. The app enables you to message fellow students from all over the world, day and night. You can share your worries and thoughts with those going through the exact same struggles as you. 

This is a safe place where you can talk anonymously and get support for your mental health and whatever is on your mind. 

Download TalkCampus for free today using your University email address and make things a little bit easier. 

Alongside the app, TalkCampus have added 18 self-guide meditations for you on their Soundcloud, with a blog to supplement them. 

Big White Wall 

People come to Big White Wall for support with a range of mental health and wellbeing issues – from anxiety, depression, stress, to lifestyle changes and relationships problems. This digital support and recovery service provides an anonymous online community for you to share your thoughts and feelings with others who may share the same troubles.  

This safe space is monitored by trained professionals who are available 24/7. There are also lots of resources and learning activities available to help you deal with a variety of difficulties and challenges. 

Use Big White Wall today and receive support from an online community day and night. 

Shout Crisis Messenger 

Shout is a UK text service for anyone who needs to talk. It’s a place to go if you’re struggling to cope and you need immediate help. The service is available 24/7, with a team of volunteers helping those in need to go from crisis to calm. 

Text Bristol to 85258 to be connected to a trained volunteer. 

If you feel you need further support than what is offered above, head over to the Wellbeing pages to find further resources and services.  

 

Staying active while staying put

We’ve been in lockdown for nearly 4 weeks now, so understandably some of us may be feeling a little cooped up. Staying active, even for 30 mins a day or less, will give big benefits to our fitness, and overall health and wellbeing. At a time when so much is happening that we can’t control, putting things in place for yourself that you can rely on become even more important. Here are our top tips for staying active while staying put. All of these activities can be done in very small spaces, and with a minimum amount of equipment, so give them a go!

What you’ll need:

  • A yoga mat. If you don’t have one, a towel will do the trick as well.
  • Make-do weights. Use books, water bottles – anything you can get your hands on.
  • Resistance bands. If you don’t have anything to hand, you can do these moves perfectly well without them.
  • Plenty of water. This one’s crucial. Hydration is key so make sure you have plenty of water to hand.

Now to get you started – here’s some inspiration to get you moving, right in your living room:

Exercise regularly

Put in a schedule in place for yourself to exercise regularly throughout the week. Don’t beat yourself up if you miss a session though; there is a lot happening right now that’s hard to keep up with. As long as you put in an effort to exercise as much as you can, you’ll still get massive benefits.

Reach out to your wellness community

Link up with your friends and family via Skype, Zoom, WhatsApp or Facetime, so you can work out together, if you’re home alone. You’ll be much more motivated to stick with something if you’re doing it together.

Try something new 

Have you always been a runner, or a cyclist? While you can still strap on your trainers and keep doing just that, consider using this time to do lots of core strengthening exercises / yoga to increase your flexibility and avoid injuries.

Find something for you

There is so much out there for you to try, from Yin Yoga (which is very slow-paced and very restorative), to very intensive HIIT classes that include lots of high-intensity exercises that can be performed on the spot.

Look at what suits you – and just start, somewhere

Don’t feel bad if you’re not performing like a fully-fledged athlete right off the bat. Fitness has to be built up. There are amazing services out there that will help you, and that are hosting online sessions delivered by local providers. Try MoveGB, FIIT or Freeletics. Make sure you share your experiences too, so people can find out more about them that way too.

Be patient and kind to yourself

Don’t try and do too much, all at once, especially if you’re new to regular exercise. Take it slow, especially at the start of your new exercise programme, and build up very slowly. There are lots of modifications that you can do to make exercises more accessible for you. As always, if you have any underlying health conditions that prevent you from exercising or aren’t feeling well – give high intensity exercise a rest for a while!

We’d like to pull together exercise activities for you to keep you moving – what would you like to see? Tell us what would help you staying active while staying put.

Ways to curb lockdown boredom

Hi guys, my name is Elaura and I’m a second year History student! Here are some of my tips and recommendations on how to stay productive and positive during the COVID 19 lockdown!

It’s now the third week of national lockdown from the COVID 19 pandemic and we’re all starting to become climatized to life indoors. At some point during this experience, we will all have days where we struggle a bit more and find it difficult to think positively and be productive. So, it’s important that we all look out for one another and find ways to make the long-haul of self-isolation manageable and enjoyable if we can help it. I’ve used this space to share some ideas on how to stay positive, things I’ve found to do with my household to pass the time, and things you can incorporate into your routine to boost productivity.

Things to try at home

Work out

Exercise is a pretty obvious one that I’m sure everyone is doing, but scheduling time to do a routine with family members, or even by yourself, helps pass time, release endorphins and make you feel rewarded after. There are loads of YouTube follow along videos, Live streams from channels via Uni Days and 30 day challenges you can find and try to complete!

Virtual Pub Quiz

As of last week, Jay Flynn created an online pub quiz via Facebook that turned into a massive success. I did it with my family and it was really good fun, I think he’s doing another one soon so keep an eye out!

Online Board games

Something I’ve really enjoyed doing with friends over group calls is play online versions of board games. You can find pretty much anything online from Chess, Pictionary, Cards Against Humanity, the list goes on. It’s great fun and a nice break from chatting about coronavirus.

Bake/cook

Baking is a brilliant way to pass the time if you’re able to get the ingredients right now, if not then offering to cook for your family, cooking new meals for yourself, making the most out of what you have in the cupboards and getting creative is a brilliant way to practise self-care as well as sustainability.

De-clutter your room

Now is a great opportunity to have a real sort out of your space. Dedicate time to sorting through clothes, products and other items to make room for new things when we’re able to go outside.

Read/Watch films

There’s now no excuse not to dive into the pile of books you bought and never got around to reading or start watching all the classic films you’ve been recommended. As a film fan, I recommend downloading the app Letterboxd and creating a Watchlist to get through. Similar apps for books can also be found- this is a great way of keeping record of things you loved and want to recommend to others.

These are just some things I’ve done that I’ve found work for passing the time well and mixing up my daily routine. Give some a try if you’re struggling for things to do, and hopefully it’ll encourage positive thinking and productivity around Uni work! Remember to keep safe and be kind to yourselves!

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