Search the internet and plant a tree

This blog was written by veterinary students Hannah and Elspeth. They have successfully campaigned for the University to adopt Ecosia as our default search engine on all open access computers across campus.

During a time when it is essential to make changes towards a more sustainable lifestyle, we knew the University of Bristol needed to switch to Ecosia, so our campaign started. With the University declaring a climate emergency in 2019, and committing to carbon neutrality, the move to Ecosia fits with becoming a more sustainable campus.

Ecosia is a search engine, which uses its revenue to fund tree planting in twenty different projects across the world, where trees are needed most. This not only has huge environmental benefits but also social impact for the surrounding communities. Trees absorb carbon dioxide, preventing excess greenhouse gases building up in our atmosphere, they also…

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Find your Balance

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

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

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

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

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Find your Community

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

Student experience

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

Photo of Andre

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The Bristol PLUS Award is 10 years old! Could you be rewarded?

The University’s Employability Award for students and researchers, Bristol PLUS, exists to recognise students who develop skills through extracurricular experiences alongside their degree. This includes activities such as part time work, volunteering, student representative roles and (many!) more.

We are celebrating the Awards’ 10 year anniversary by sharing stories from some of the 5000 + students who have achieved it. One of which was current UG Education Officer, Hillary Gyebi-Ababio, who used work experience as a Telethon Fundraiser, and a society committee position to gain the Award alongside her Social Policy degree. This is what she says about her experience.

“Taking part in the Bristol PLUS Award made me a stronger candidate for my career. I honed my skills in organisation, communication and most importantly for myself – leadership. It enabled me to feel confident in realising my potential in the future career I hope to have.

Attending the workshops and career events helped me to identify the qualities that came naturally to me, which assured me that a career in the public or third sector is where I would thrive and really enjoy my work. The various skills I learnt, for example bringing my CV up to a professional standard, allowed me to secure an interview with a top organisation in the third sector. Being able to show off my skills and personality in an interview setting was something I had always struggled with, but the Careers Service events gave me the tools to improve this. The interview skills workshop enabled me to pinpoint what parts of my personality and character I should highlight at an interview and what aspects I should build on. The reflective report allowed me to identify the key parts of the PLUS Award that I felt were most beneficial to me, and in turn evaluate how much I felt I had gained from undertaking such a valuable scheme.

Being able to take initiative and be confident in myself, my work and my ideas are very important to me and I feel that I have really thrived in achieving this goal through Bristol PLUS. The Award allowed me to step out of my comfort zone and work on myself on all fronts; academically, personally and mentally. It was an invaluable experience which I would highly recommend!”

You can read more student stories on the Careers Service blog.

So what does the PLUS Award look like in it’s 10th anniversary year?

· More than 1300 students have registered so far. 252 are PGTs, 52 are PGRs. The largest group of students on the Award are 2nd year UGs with 494 registrations.

· Upon registering, 91 students told us they had no idea what they want to do in future. 297 told us they had a good idea of what they want to do. The vast majority fell somewhere in between. Wherever you are with your personal development and career planning, the PLUS Award can help.

· The PLUS Award is not meant to be onerous – almost half of students registered (562) had most of the evidence they needed to achieve the Award upon registering. They used the process to reflect and maximise their value.

· 218 students achieved the Award between October and Christmas.

 

The registration deadline for this year is Friday 14 February so it is not too late to take part – visit our webpage to book an introductory talk and find out more.

Adventures in France: my year abroad

Jaw-dropping scenery; unique personal development; enriching relationships with people from across the world; a year practically dedicated to eye-opening, inspirational experiences: doesn’t sound like a bad year, does it?

My name is Steve, and I’m a 4th year, studying Music and French. Having spent my year abroad in Bordeaux and Lyon, I returned to Bristol to see last year’s year abroad students swarming the streets again. Our first conundrum: how do we approach *that* first conversation?

If you’re late for a lecture, it’s option A: ‘yeah, the year abroad was good thanks!’ Option B is the elaborate five minute epic poem describing everything that has seismically shifted over the year. Nope – five minutes is never enough!

Mind you, five minutes is ample to make observations about what has changed. Most returners are human adverts for what their year abroad experience has brought to them. Some are wiser and more confident; others are more open-minded; many have been completely inspired. Thereafter, each will treat you to a different story of how it all unfolded… just like this:

Build me up, build me up…

Needless to say, the year abroad experience can be a huge challenge. In fact, those first three months of my time abroad were some of the toughest of my life. Plunged out of my comfort zones of city, family and friends, the expression ‘fish out of water’ comes to mind. Would I have opted for a more convenient, relaxing placement to have avoided those tough first three months in Lyon? Non, absolument pas, because it’s all an exposure which forces you to develop in unique ways. At the end of the year, the fish returns to the river having learnt how to breathe air, and I enjoy being an air-breathing fish. This unique personal development is pretty much a given when forcing your brain to adapt to a new language and culture for as much as one month, let alone eleven.

Inspired

I’ve chosen the subtitle ‘inspired’ for a specific reason, which involved something more special than a bit of personal development…

Imagine a typical 21st birthday party. You may picture a marquee in the garden with everyone dressed up, or perhaps party balloons and a juggler. Well, I’m all for clowns and gowns, but as a June baby on a placement that finished in July, I needed to think outside the box when 17 June came around.

It had all the hallmarks of an underwhelming day. I had under-slept, having submitted my year abroad essay the night before a Monday at work; I was translating tourist information; and I had no evening plans. So, I hurriedly got in touch with my friends who hadn’t yet left the city: ‘Quais de Saone, tonight at 8 pm?’

The scene was set: the sun was going down over the Fourvière Basilica, and a smattering of my dear friends gathered round me in the late-night summer heat. On another day, the sunset may have inspired me. Or perhaps the view of the Basilica, reflected in the torrents of the river. This time, the real cherry on the birthday cake was the people that came.

Today’s news bombards us with stories of nations in conflict with nations, and the struggle of integration in multicultural communities. Meanwhile, here were 10 people representing Lithuania, Sweden, the UK, Colombia, the Netherlands, Germany, Spain and Italy using words, not weapons; laughter, not threats. The uniqueness of their humour, their intriguing philosophies and their cultural insight didn’t collide or clash, but combined in beautiful harmony that I had never witnessed before. It was conversation for conversation’s sake, and laughter for laughter’s sake, with contrasting backgrounds, races and religions, and we never once risked any dissonance or discontent.

I took a step back, felt the warm breeze, and gazed over the river, the view and the sunset, contemplating this moment that only a year abroad experience could produce – one of the most utopian I’d ever witnessed. The sun was setting over my year abroad experience, with a moment to remind me what a heartening asset multiculturalism is to modern society. Since then, I have still been seeing those same dystopian stories of warfare and persecution around the world. But at least now I have hope that one day, the planet may have the same universal harmony as those 10 people on the riverbank.

Find out how you can study, work or volunteer abroad at the Global Opportunities fair on 22 October.

Find Your Balance. Part 2.

Bristol is going to be your home for at least the next three years, and we may be pretty biased, but we think it’s one of the greatest places to be a student. There is so much on offer from both the University and the city as whole.

Live it up in the Living Room 

Located on the fourth floor of Senate House, the SU Living Room is a space to relax and unwind. Look out for the Welcome Week events in the Living Room such as café crawls, meet-ups and gaming tournaments.

Give it a Go and get a wristband

From Monday 30 September – Sunday 13 October the SU will be running Give it a Go! – giving you the chance to try out different clubs, societies, networks and volunteering projects.

For those of you who enjoy nights out, nightclubs and neon – the SU has you covered! With purchase of your Welcome Week wristband you are guaranteed entry to three massive club nights as well as discounts in the Balloon Bar throughout Welcome Week and the whole of October.

International Welcome Lounge

Come and meet students from all around the world at our International Welcome Lounge. Check out our programme for the week.

The Welcome Lounge is also offering a Language Café taster session on 24 September where you’ll be able to help others practise your language (including English), and can also immerse yourself in another culture by learning a different language with native speakers

Volunteering

Want to give back to the community, meet new people and visit new places? Try volunteering! It’s a great way to learn new skills such as teamwork, communication and leadership, as well as giving you the chance to try something that you may not have done before.

Explore

Bristol has all the perks of city life with wide open green spaces only a short distance away. The entire city is bursting with culture, flavours, music and opportunities to get involved. From the alternative Stokes Croft to the bustling Shopping Quarter to the tranquillity and nature at Leigh Woods – you will never be short of something to do.

 

Next week: Find Your Potential

Top tips for getting the best out of your studies

Find Your Balance

Both this week’s posts are all about the extracurricular; things you can get involved with when you’re not studying. Getting the right balance between studying and other activities is important and will help you to get the most out of being a Bristol student.

Let’s Talk Sport

Sports are a great way to make new friends. There are over 60 sports club at the University of Bristol – from traditional team sports such as football, rugby and basketball – to the more unusual Quidditch, Korfball and Krav Maga. For those who enjoy non-team sports there is also a range of activities available including martial arts, archery and clay pigeon shooting.

“[During Welcome Week] was also the first time I met some of my best friends when I joined the women’s football club, something that ultimately made my university experience.”

– Amy Brook, Sport and Student Development Officer

If you enjoy fitness or just want to get to the point when Bristol hills won’t leave you breathless (don’t worry, you get used to the hills eventually), our Indoor Sports Centre is the perfect place for you. Located on Tyndall Avenue at the heart of the University campus, the Sports Centre is home to an open plan fitness suite, free weights, fitness studios and a double-court sports hall. Or if you’re a water baby, our swimming pool, located on Queens Road, is home to a variety of clubs such as water polo. You can even do lifesaving lessons as well as pay as you go swimming.

Get stuck in with societies and networks

University gives you the chance to meet new people, experience new things and learn about yourself. Bristol Students’ Union (SU) helps students run over 290 societies from A cappella all the way to the Vegetarian and Vegan Society. There is a society for everyone; and if you think there isn’t a group for you, set one up!

“…I got involved with quite a few societies through the SU and by the end of my degree I sat on 3 committees and made the best friends I could ask for. Starting at uni is really tough, and taking your time settling in and getting involved with everything on offer can really help you in your first couple of months.”

– Jason Palmer, Equality, Liberation & Access Officer

The Bristol SU offers networks too; these enable students to build communities and create change. For example, there is a Postgraduate Network which is a student-led initiative for all postgraduate students that gives you a chance to develop the Bristol postgrad community. There is also the PGR Hub which is run by Bristol Doctoral College, based in Senate House, where you can connect with fellow researchers from other parts of the University.  You can find out more about what’s on offer at our Welcome Fair on the Downs on 27 September.

“I enjoyed the Welcome Week Fair because it gave me an opportunity to meet new people from all over the world and make new friends as well as to register with clubs and societies which I was interested in like African Caribbean Society, Debating Club, East African Society, and Bristol Model United Nations.”

– Julius Muga Ogayo, International Students Officer

If you want to find like-minded students before you move to Bristol and Welcome Week begins, you can also join our Freshers Facebook page.

Look out for our next post later this week with some more ideas of things to do beyond your studies.

It’s time to Find Your Bristol!

Congratulations on securing your place at the University of Bristol. The countdown is now on until you join us! We’re really looking forward to welcoming you very soon.

No doubt you’re full of questions as you start out on this new, exciting chapter. Well, you’re in the right place. This is the first of a series of weekly blog posts to help answer some of the questions you may have about preparing for your arrival in September and beyond.

Current third year students, Rosie and Kaylan, share their tips on where to find further information.

Top places to find info 

New student webpages

For really useful checklists on what to do next and what to do when you arrive, check out the new student webpages. If you’re an international student, take a look at our information for new international students which includes an international student handbook.

Welcome pack and guides

Undergraduates – look out for your Welcome pack in the post, similar to the one above. Postgraduate students – you’ll receive your welcome guide on arrival, either a printed version or via an online link provided by your Faculty. You can also expect to receive an email or two from us in the next few weeks updating you on all the important things to remember.

Start connecting

Official Bristol University Freshers 2019 Facebook group

You may have already joined the Official Bristol University Freshers 2019 Facebook group. We’ve joined forces with Bristol Students’ Union to host this group so it’s definitely worth joining to find out about the big events taking place and start meeting people. Watch out for unofficial Facebook groups and events set up by external organisations. Bristol SU is the only ticket seller for the official Welcome Week programme. You can find out more about this here.

Peer mentoring

Many students choose to get involved with our Peer mentoring scheme. A peer mentor is a current student usually studying a similar subject to you, who can help you to settle in to University. You can ask them any questions you may have about your course or about university life in general.

Don’t forget that all new students are in exactly the same boat as you are, so asking questions and making links with fellow new students, may help to calm those nerves.

Welcome Week

Welcome Week will be taking place from 23 – 27 September and we’d encourage you to get involved in as many activities and events as possible. It’s a great way to start finding your way around campus, meet new people and settle into your new home and the vibrant city of Bristol. You’ll see lots more about Welcome Week in the coming weeks including the University Welcome Ceremony, held in the iconic Great Hall of the Wills Memorial Building. The University will welcome you more formally and introduce you to what it really means to be a student here.

Next week’s blog…

Recent graduate Cameron (Politics and International Relations, 2019) will be sharing how he felt about moving into Halls plus more around accommodation.

Reliving my time at Bristol

“An experience which I am more than happy to relive and narrate over and over again”

My time in Bristol began in September 2015, joining the Foundation Program (CELFS) and graduating onto the undergraduate Bachelor of Laws degree programme. My journey while in Bristol has indeed been a unique experience; an experience which I am more than happy to relive and narrate over and over again.

Let us see if I can do my journey the justice it deserves…

“Being away from home can be very hard at times, but I have found that having a strong network of good friends and supportive teaching staff around you, helps a lot.”

Being an International student from Kenya, East Africa, I was extremely nervous coming to a foreign country to undertake my studies. Would I make any friends? Would I love the food? Will anyone like me as a person? These were just a few of the questions that were running through my mind. Being away from home can be very hard at times, but I have found that having a strong network of good friends and supportive teaching staff around you, helps a lot.

“In my understanding, university is a space where you can take on everything and anything, and challenge yourself.”

Having a keen interest in Politics as a career, I quickly took up the opportunity to run as President of my JCR in Clifton Hill House 15/16. After being elected, I was able to organise fundraising events to help build a community and increase a sense of belonging. I was also elected as the Law Course Rep, where I had the privilege of representing the interests of my fellow Law students for three years consecutively (Year 1 to Year 3). This position allowed me to interact with various students from all over the world, understand Law as a degree and most importantly, it helped me understand the relationship between students and staff, as I was the chief correspondent between those contributing to enhancing the student experience.

In my understanding, university is a space where you can take on everything and anything, and challenge yourself. This attitude led me to joining the University’s rugby team (UBRFC), where I played for the first two years of my life in Bristol, building close relations with my teammates who went on to become some of my closest friends and housemates. Not only did I play rugby, but I also decided to join the Law football team – UBLC FC – in my final year. This allowed me to visit different cities and universities around the country during various Varsity Series.

On top of these extra-curricular activities, I wanted to create a space where I could share the rich and diverse culture of East Africa, as well as provide a society for students in the area to congregate and socialise, to help them with the transition into studying abroad. Consequently, I formed the University’s first East African Society under the umbrella of the Bristol Students’ Union. Currently, we have over 70 registered members and numbers are expected to escalate with the new Freshers’ September Intake.

“Bristol is a fantastic place that provides various opportunities to realise your full potential…”

Education is a key part of our success; hence I decided to run for the Faculty Representative for Social Science and Law in my final year. This role enabled me to understand the relationship between different schools under a faculty, and mitigate issues between students and staff on a faculty level as Chair of the Faculty Staff-Student Liaison Committee. Other committees I stood on include the African Caribbean Society (Events Rep), Standing Committee (Faculty Rep SSL), Law Committee (Course Rep), and the East African Society Committee.

Bristol is a fantastic place that provides various opportunities to realise your full potential, which is demonstrated by the 400+ societies and student groups. My advice to any prospective students thinking about coming to university would be: do not limit yourself. Do everything and anything. You are here for three years, so make the most of your time.

Bristol also recognises extracurricular efforts alongside your studies. For example, I am a Bristol Plus Award winner for showcasing extraordinary extracurricular skills alongside studies, coupled with exemplary employability skills such as communication, integration and resilience among others.

“I couldn’t have asked for a better experience”

Earlier on this year, the Bristol Law School funded my attendance to The International Students Conference from Africa 2019, where I was awarded with the ICONS Award for Outstanding Achievements in this past academic year 2018/19. The award was presented by Dr Akanimo Odon, CEO of the XN Foundation and organiser of TISCA 2019.

I am now due to graduate with a Bachelor of Laws Degree, having enjoyed every moment of my time in Bristol. I am heading on to the next chapter of my life as the elected Union Affairs Sabbatical Officer at the Bristol SU 19/20, having won the student general elections in March 2019. The Union Affairs Officer represents students in terms of how they interact with Bristol SU, ensuring that Bristol SU communications and services are effective, accessible and relevant for students – including those provided for societies, volunteering and RAG. They also act as lead officer on Bristol SU democracy. I couldn’t have asked for a better experience.

Thank you, University of Bristol.

“The crowd hung onto his every word.”

Student winner, Monica Taylor, shares her experience of the Alumni Awards Gala Dinner.

– Monica Taylor

Having never won so much as a raffle in my life, I never expected to receive an email saying I was to attend the Bristol Alumni Awards Gala Dinner in London with Sir David Attenborough! Anna and I cleared our schedules for Tuesday 12th March, dug out our best cocktail dresses and spent the rest of the day jumping up and down in excitement!

Alumni Awards Gala Dinner competition, Student winners.

When the date rolled around, we met the other student winners and their guests on the coach and headed off to London along with the Bristol Gospel Choir – who sang beautifully all the way there, rehearsing for their performance that night. Descending on Mansion House at 6pm, the evening kicked off with a champagne reception in the Salon; an elaborately decorated room with sky high ceilings adorned with a stunning row of crystal chandeliers. It was like stepping into Buckingham Palace!

“One couple shared their heart-warming story of meeting as students many years ago, and going on to call Bristol home ever since.”

Red carpet covered the floor and glorious bouquets of flowers hung left, right and centre. The room was filled with University of Bristol alumni of all ages and professions, including the Lord Mayor of the City of London, who was hosting the event. On the sound of a gong, everyone began to migrate into the Egyptian Hall, an even grander room with giant columns supporting an immaculately gold-decorated ceiling.

We were seated on a table with some lovely alumni who we got to chat to throughout dinner. It was amazing to hear all their stories of being a University of Bristol student and the adventures they’d been on since graduating. One couple shared their heart-warming story of meeting as students many years ago, and going on to call Bristol home ever since. They were all keen to hear about our current MSci Biology projects and future aspirations.

“The love for the University and the city of Bristol shone through in every speech.”

Dinner started off with beetroot, goat’s cheese and marjoram, molded beautifully into a sphere. This was followed by a honey and lavender glazed duck fillet and finished off with a dessert of mandarin and mascarpone cremeux. The wines had been carefully selected to complement the food, and each dish really was a work of art!

The awards were given out between courses and each recipient gave a short speech, expressing their gratitude to Bristol for some of the best years of their life and reminiscing about old times. The love for the University and the city of Bristol shone through in every speech and it was an honour to cheer them on as they were recognised for their achievements. The final award of the night was presented to the legend himself, Sir David Attenborough, celebrating a lifetime achievement. We cheered him onto the stage with a standing ovation; the atmosphere was incredible and the crowd hung onto his every word.

 

“Sir David has inspired generations of people and he had an important message for the younger generation…”

He spoke with modesty and gratitude, describing how although he is the voice behind the well-known BBC natural history documentaries, the real stars of the show are the film makers and the talented people on the ground who spend years following groups of animals – skillfully recording every detail of their behaviour. Sir David has inspired generations of people and he had an important message for the younger generation; one which urged us to come together to save the planet. His conclusion was hopeful, insisting that if we all take action, there is still time to save this beautiful planet and the species that inhabit it.

The night’s finale was a stunning performance from the balcony by the Bristol Gospel Choir, after which we said our goodbyes and shared well-wishes with our new-found alumni friends, snapped a few final photos under the beautiful chandeliers and headed back to the coach.

WHAT A NIGHT!

Thank you so much University of Bristol for such a wonderful, memorable evening. We haven’t stopped talking about it since!