World Refugee Day

by Aimee Andrew, Residential Life Advisor

June 20th marks World Refugee Day which is an international day designated by the United Nations to honour refugees around the globe. It is a day to celebrate the strength and courage of people who have been forced to flee their home country to escape conflict or persecution and to build empathy and understanding about this important issue.

When I was at university, I volunteered with Student Action for Refugees at a hostel for incoming refugees in Birmingham. This was an incredibly rewarding experience in which we ran a children’s playgroup to give parents some respite from childcare duties and to provide a welcoming and hospitable face in the hostel. I enjoyed this experience so much, and would recommend this to everyone, as it felt great to be able to make a tangible difference in the lives of newly arrived refugees.

I’ve also used the language skills learned in my Spanish degree to become a voluntary translator for Translator’s Without Borders. This has given me an outlet to keep practicing my second language while using my words to help translate key texts for humanitarian causes and NGOs. For anyone studying a languages degree, or who speaks more than one language, I would wholeheartedly recommend TWB.

For this year’s World Refugee Day, I wanted to draw people’s attention towards some of the amazing ways in which you can get involved with supporting refugees in Bristol. Bristol is such an inclusive and diverse city so there are plenty of ways you can get involved:

STAR – Student Action for Refugees @ Bristol SU – Have you seen the Student Action for Refugees society at Bristol Uni? Join them for the opportunity to volunteer at local refugee projects such as Homework Club and Conversation Club and join their campaigns to improve the lives of those seeking asylum.

b.friend (bridgesforcommunities.com) – This is a Bristol run volunteer project in which you can sign up to volunteer and you will be matched with an asylum seeker or refugee in Bristol to provide them with companionship and support.

Volunteer | Borderlands – This is a similar Bristol volunteer project in which you can become a one-to-one mentor for refugees in Bristol

Translators without Borders – Do you speak a second language? Translators without Borders is looking for you! TWB is a global community of voluntary translators who provide translations for non-profit organizations in areas of crisis relief, humanitarian aid, health and education

Donate your items — Aid Box Community – Why not donate your old clothes and unwanted items to a refugee in need? Especially with the end of term clear outs coming up – check the link for a list of items they are currently looking for.

Cook-alongs – 91 WAYS – This innovative social enterprise works with a wide range of community cooks from across the globe, as well as teaching you how to make a delicious meal, the cooks will deepen your understanding of their culture and the place food holds within it.

Bristol Refugee Festival – Celebration Information Intergration – Did you know that Bristol has it’s very own Refugee Festival with a whole programme of events annually from 6th-26th June? Take a look at their website and see if anything takes your fancy! From cooking classes, to craft and conversation and more

If you would like to donate to a local organisation that helps refugees in Bristol, consider Bristol Refugee Rights. They have been helping regugees in Bristol since 2006. You can read about their current work supporting LGBTQ+ people seeking asylum here: Pride Without Borders – Bristol Refugee Right

A blog about Loneliness

by Freya Selman, Senior Resident

Freya is studying Social Work MSc and is in her 4th year at UoB, and her first year being a Senior Resident. Coco is a 2 year old miniature poodle. Freya was not able to get Coco’s explicit informed consent too share these pictures, as she is still working out how to go about it!

Loneliness is a horrible feeling, and it is definitely not as simple as just ‘deciding’ to not be lonely. It’s also something that people don’t often talk about. When feeling lonely, it’s so easy to see other people with all their apparent friends and assume that we are the only ones. We aren’t though. In fact, the more I’ve spoken to people, and tried to be more open about feelings of loneliness, the more I realise that there are very few people (if anyone at all!) who doesn’t feel lonely. Ironically, you are never alone in feeling lonely, and there will always be someone out there who will help you to feel supported. With time, you can also become that person for yourself. (more…)

Loneliness

by Santiago Ayuso Arcas

“It’s ok not to be ok” or “it’s normal not to be normal” are two quite concurrent mottos we can all see or hear around us. I myself have seen several promo posters in both train stations, Temple Meads and Lime Street, in my last trip to Liverpool. Having said this, one may well wonder, is it normal to be a loner? Is it ok to seek loneliness from time to time? Or, if I’m a loner, must I always find refuge in loneliness? Well, here I will throw a couple of reflections based on my experience as a PhD student, which means a “part-time” mandatory loner. (more…)

The Power of Small Wins

by Alex Mcconville, Chief Resident

Sometimes I can’t be bothered to work. Even though I know I need to. However, once I get going I can really get into the flow of it, and always get that sense of achievement after I finished what I set out to do. But the problem is always starting.

Sometimes we set ourselves unrealistic goals about how much we can get done in a day, or get overwhelmed  by the sheer volume of work that needs to be done during our degrees, masters courses, or PhD’s. And that doesn’t even include tidying your house, washing your clothes, eating better, and doing more exercise. (more…)

Keep up your wellbeing during exam season

by Srood Salih, Chief Resident

Connect

With exams and coursework heavy in May, take care that you don’t drown in deadline season! It can be crucial for your own wellbeing to ensure that you fit in adequate breaks, and a really good way to do this is to connect with others.

If you are studying in a group or with a partner, fit in some time where you can take a walk or go and grab some coffee or a snack. Any down time where you can connect with other people and your friends, even if its just by having a chat can really help to take your mind off studying and keep your spirits up.

There are also plenty going on in societies, the SU and within ResiLife which you can see by visiting the What’s On webpage, reading the ResiLife weekly newsletter and following @UoBResiLife and @Bristol_SU on socials, if you are struggling for a way to connect with something.

Be Active

Covered walk on the Langford Campus

Physical exercise is a great way to destress and boost some much-needed serotonin. It can be intense at the gym or going off on a run around the downs but it doesn’t have to be so!

A simple walk in the park can be amazing, or instead of getting a snack out of a vending machine; walking to the nearest coffee shop is a great way to break the monotony of work and sneak in some physical activity.

Indeed, instead of taking a voi to and from the library, walking the route can offer some relaxation and benefits after a long studying session!

Take Notice

Take notice of what is around you and try your best to stay in ‘the moment’ as this can really help to strengthen and broaden your awareness.

Take notice of your workspace and try to keep it clutter free as a clear tabletop can really help you to focus in on the task at hand. Maybe spice up your desk by getting a new plant or several! You could also change your routines and maybe try something new at lunch or go somewhere else to eat.

Being aware of yourself and your goals can really help you stay motivated this exam season and these small changes to your day can really help it feel different and keep you in ‘the moment’, aware and motivated.

Exams and essays are difficult and stressful. However, it’s more important than ever to take some time for yourself and ensure that you stay recharged and on top of your work. Organise yourself and make sure you have plenty of time to avoid leaving things to the last minute and feeling overburdened. No matter how hard you feel things are right now, remember there is always a tomorrow. Good luck for your exams, do your best and everything will be alright.

Laptop Buying Guide

by Usman Sikander, Chief Resident, West Village

Usman’s top tips for laptop purchasing:

Are you looking for a new laptop and don’t know where to start researching for your next big purchase? I have got you covered! When you look at the technical specifications of the machine, you will find there is a lot of information out there and sometimes it gets tricky to decide what to purchase; should I go for a better battery life or a better performing machine? Is 1080p a good display or shall I spend some more and get at least 1440p? Is the body of the laptop sturdy enough? What are the hinges like? And the list goes on! Here are some of the tips that we think would help you understand better how to break down the specification and get the right equipment for you. (more…)

Be Safe at Night

by Gianna Gavriel, Senior Resident, Badock Hall, North Village

Do you sometimes feel afraid or unprotected during nights out? Do you sometimes get second thoughts whilst walking alone in the dark late at night around Bristol? Well, you are not alone in this, as the majority of Bristol students feel the same way. This is especially true nowadays where blind dates via apps are a thing and can occasionally result in uncomfortable situations. To avoid getting yourself involved in such unpleasant situations, there are a number of things you can do.

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LGBT History Month: Reflecting on Queer Art

by Jamie (he/they), JCR Equalities Rep, Winkworth House, West Village

Photo credit: Jamie; art displayed on his corkboard.

This year’s LGBT History Month theme was ‘politics in art’. I wanted to write this short piece to focus on my own queer experience in Bristol, and how queer artistry has shaped that.

I came to Bristol knowing I wanted to get more involved in the queer scene here. I knew there was a lot to explore, and I started that exploration from the comforts of my new room. At my accommodation, we have a fairly big corkboard, which I spent a couple weeks intricately filling with iconic queer artistry, whether that be a painting of St Sebastian, a photo from a Gay Liberation Front march, or the more sombre ‘Perfect Lovers’  (1991) by Felix Gonzalez-Torres: two clocks that started in synchronization, but slowly drift apart due to batteries running out, representative of two lovers falling out of sync as one passes from AIDS.

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My top three pancake spots in Bristol

by Tania Nzembela, Senior Resident in Riverside, East village

Illustration by Tania Nzembela, Senior resident in East village @TaniaBe1a

Shrove Tuesday is a Christian festival celebrated before the start of Lent, click here for a short video explaining the significance of these days to Christians across the world. This day is also known as “Pancake Day” or “Pancake Tuesday” and is widely acknowledged across the world. I will suggest some spots you can go to for delicious pancakes with friends on Pancake Day – or any other day. These are not listed in any particular order – they are all great places to go!

Quay Street Diner

Photo credit: @quaystreetbristol

This high-spirited diner can be found in the heart of Bristol and is encapsulated by vibrant street art. They serve traditional and authentic American and Mexican dishes e.g., burgers and tacos, throughout the day alongside a variety of desserts and drinks. Their vegetarian “Pancake Stack” can be served with bacon or blueberries and is topped with maple syrup. You can also customize your meal with other toppings. Pancakes can be ordered from the “Weekend breakfast and brunch” menu between: 9am-3pm on Saturday and 9am-5pm on Sunday. Click here for menu.

This diner is a ~6-minute walk from the Riverside accommodation! It is even more close to other East Village residences e.g., New Bridewell and The Courtrooms.

Chez Marcel

Photo credit: @chezmarcelcreperie

No need to take a trip to northern France for the finest crêpes, Chez Marcel offers an authentic crêperie experience right here in Bristol. Head over to Chez Marcel and try their great selection of crêpes or Breton galettes (square crêpes in Chez Marcel Instagram post). The main difference between galettes and crêpes is that they are savoury rather than sweet. Most galettes are made from buckwheat, which is suitable for vegan and gluten-free diets and you can switch the savoury toppings for sweet toppings. Click here for menu.

Boston Tea Party

Photo credit: @btpparkstreet

There are 5 BTP cafes in Bristol, but the Park Street café was the very first BTP to open in 1995. It has a secluded garden, which is open to customers, which is a great place to chill with friends during the summer. They serve pancakes with two different topping combinations. As seen in the BTP Instagram picture, the blueberry compote, vanilla Greek yoghurt & maple butter is suitable for vegetarians. The blueberry compote really takes these pancakes to another level – maybe that just because I find regular blueberries on pancakes a little basic. The other topping selection is maple syrup and maple butter with smoked bacon – typical pancake toppings that hits the spot every single time. BTP’s menu will satisfy your appetite with its healthy meal options and drinks. Click here for menu.

Thank you for reading this blog post, if you do check out any of these restaurants, I hope you also have a positive experience.

Random acts of kindness

by Gautam Jindal, Chief Resident, Nurselim Tekin, Senior Resident and Neha Bullywon, Senior Resident

Today, February 17th, is observed as Random Acts of Kindness Day to celebrate the generosity of strangers and loved ones alike. This initiative was started in 1995 by the Random Acts of Kindness Foundation, which believes: Even the smallest act of kindness can have a profound effect. It is scientifically proven that the act of doing good can be as powerful as receiving good.

On Random Acts of Kindness Day, please be kind and grateful – it costs nothing. Words of encouragement, a listening ear, a smile or even just a kind expression can make a huge difference to those who need it most.

You can perform these random acts of kindness on this Random Acts of Kindness Day:

  1. Say Hello to someone: Often we don’t or miss calling the people who are important to us or someone who is outside your work routine, would make someone’s day. 
  2. Compliment someone: Our jobs help us earn a living, they enable us to live better lives for ourselves and for our families. However, not everyone has the pleasure of experiencing the wonder that a genuine compliment can be. It can boost someone’s morale. It will start a kind of altruistic snowball effect!
  3. Donate books: A book is a window to the world. Instead of dumping old books in the trash, you could bind them and donate them to the nearest library, cafe or school, where the worn pages might open someone’s eyes to a new world.
  4. Buy an extra item from the supermarket and donate: You might want to buy staples in a little more quantity the next time you’re at the grocery store. It won’t cost you anything, and the poor will certainly benefit. If we have a little more than others, let’s contribute to spreading a cheer among the less fortunate.
  5. Ditch Plastic: Everyone in the world is affected by it!
  6. Spend time with the elders: Volunteer to work at a care home for a day or even just have a nice day with your grandparents. After these difficult times, they were impacted the most. A listening ear and a warm heart can do wonders for their mental and physical health.

And, lastly – Being kind to yourself is the best act of kindness you can perform without spending any money or exerting any effort. Don’t berate yourself for things you can’t change. When speaking to oneself, be polite to yourself and focus on what you can do rather than what you can’t. Kindness to oneself will automatically lead to kindness to others.

Again, participating in an act of kindness and witnessing how it makes someone feel can help us recognise how our actions affect those around us. It gives us a sense of belonging and value in the larger community by making us feel like we’re a part of something bigger than ourselves. Being nice is also a fantastic foundation for forging connections, forming relationships, and expanding one’s social network, all of which help to alleviate feelings of loneliness and isolation. It also keeps things in perspective to allow you to understand and enjoy life when times are grim.