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.

 

House Hunting Tips

If you’re starting to think about accommodation for next year, there are several factors that you should consider before making decisions on where and who to live with.

The Accommodation Office has put together some useful resources to help you find your student house in the private sector.

Watch the House Hunting for 2022/23 video

Private sector advisors, Louise and Tash, give their top tips for finding a student house in Bristol for 2022/23.

Six-steps to finding your student house

The Accommodation Office has put together six simple steps to help you find accommodation in the private sector.

  1. Work out your budget

Fees, deposits, bills – costs vary depending on the property you rent and who you rent from. Read our summary of the costs involved to work out exactly what you can afford. You should do this before you look at any properties.

  1. Decide who you want to live with

If you have a group of friends who you are planning to live with when you move into private-rented accommodation, there are a few important questions you need to ask yourself – and each other – first.

  1. Decide where you want to live

The many different areas of Bristol each have their own character and community, and deciding where you want to live, or perhaps more importantly, where you don’t want to live, is essential in narrowing down your property search.

  1. Find properties to view

There are seemingly endless places offering properties to rent that can seem overwhelming when you first start looking for a property. We can point you in the right direction in finding reliable lettings, and offer tips on avoiding scams.

  1. Choose the right place

Once you start viewing properties it can be easy to lose sight of what you originally wanted from your new home. Read our information on the important things to look for and questions that you should ask the landlord or agent.

  1. Sign on the dotted line

Found the place for you? Make sure you read our information on contracts and agreements first, as your tenancy agreement is a legally binding document. It is important to spend time reading and understanding it before you sign.

Further help and guidance

The Accommodation Office offers all students the help and expertise of trained private-rented sector advisors, who can advise on everything from budget to issues with a landlord. You can contact them at private-sector-accom@bristol.ac.uk.

 

Stress Awareness Day: How to empty your stress container

by Sophie Saunder, Residential Experience Coordinator

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

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

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

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

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

What to see in Bristol? Dive into Bristol’s deep history and see how you can get involved

by Alessio, Chief Resident

If you are coming from another city or another country, your years at the University of Bristol can become an opportunity to know the city, its traditions and its community: an experience which will remain in your heart and memory for the rest of your life. Let yourself be conquered by the vibrant atmosphere of this city! Bristol is an incredible blend of Georgian architecture, harbour traditions and street art. 

Read on for the six essential things to visit in order to live an authentic experience in Bristol.  (more…)

Taking care of your wellbeing

by Usman, Chief Resident

Mental and physical wellbeing is one of the key factors that enables us to overcome difficulties and challenges and to be successful, it is of vital importance that we take our wellbeing seriously. It enables us to grow and take charge of our routine, our mind and body, all at the same time. Wellbeing refers to being comfortable, health and happy. The fives ways of wellbeing include connect, keep learning, be active, give, take notice. It is now more than ever easy to practice these ways of wellbeing in daily life.   (more…)

My favourite places to see and activities I’d recommend in Bristol

by Kal, Senior Resident

Newfound freedom, new flatmates, and a new city. It may seem a bit overwhelming to figure out what to do first so here’s a quick guide on what there is to do in Bristol. 

Let’s start with some daytime activities 

First, for those who have never been to Bristol before some buildings are a must-see around the city from the Wills memorial building to the We Are Curious disco ball sculpture in millennium square. Download an architecture trail of all the buildings to visit. 

If architecture isn’t your cup of tea, then maybe you’ll prefer coffee with many independent cafés and bakeries in Bristol you are sure to find one you like. Some suggestions: Playground coffee house, Papadeli or Pinkmans.   (more…)

How to live harmoniously with flatmates

by Abhishek, Chief Resident

From creating a sense of home and comfort in a new space to working out a washing-up and cleaning rota, moving into student accommodation for the very first time is no easy feat.

Here’s a low down on how you can not only survive but thrive while living with fellow flatmates at university.

Be considerate at mealtimes

Communal student areas tend to become the busiest and most cluttered during mealtimes, particularly in the evenings when everyone looks to prepare and tuck into a home cooked dinner with fellow flatmates. It’s at this point of the day that students are hoping to relax and unwind following a busy class schedule. In order to live harmoniously with others, it’s crucial that students are courteous of each other during these points in the day as it’s during this time that students look to socialise and enjoy the company they keep.

Be respectful of those around during this time by not outstretching or being too noisy during mealtimes. While we want everyone to relax in their new home, putting your feet up on a table can be unpleasant for others trying to enjoy their meal or drinks in the communal living spaces, as too is shouting or singing whilst others are looking to initiate conversation. Leaving litter around or not cleaning up after themselves is another area students should be aware of if they want to get on and live harmoniously with those around them. It’s important to remember that if you keep the communal spaces clean and tidy, others will follow suit. Create rotas for cleaning, cooking etc. so that workload is shared evenly!

Assign responsibility to tasks early on

There are many essential responsibilities that come with sharing student accommodation with others. For example, the purchasing of washing up liquid, the hoovering of the communal carpets and the wiping down of shared surface areas. Instead of waiting for someone to find the urge to do this early on, it’s best to allocate these responsibilities to individuals who are sharing the space at the beginning of term. Not only will this ensure that essential responsibilities are split fairly amongst the group, it will also instil a sense of camaraderie among them and prevent any arguments or clashes occurring from things not getting done.

Spend quality time together

While inevitably, schedules will clash with fellow students during your first term at university, by organising weekly meetups and social get-togethers with flat mates, you’ll create a sense of community in the shared space with those you live with. These don’t need to be massive nights out but just something everyone can partake in once a week to ensure weekly bonding time in the living spaces. Activities such as movie nights, pizza making or card games, are a great way to get everyone together. Making the effort to socialise in a positive environment will not only ensure you make new friends but will also make it easier to discuss and delegate important tasks and responsibilities with fellow flat mates. You only get 1st year at uni once in your lifetime, so make the most out of it!

For tips on how to live harmoniously with your flat mates, look out for your kitchen meetings!

Four simple but essential tips to meet new people and make friends

by Jeongeun Park, Senior Resident

Starting university is a huge transition for all new students. It is a new adventure full of exciting opportunities as well as enormous challenges. Building a support network is vital in adjusting to university life. Making friends sounds easy, however, in reality, it can be daunting and requires active effort and skills. It is completely normal to feel anxious to leave behind close friends and make new ones. Here are four simple but essential tips that you can take to make this process fun and less stressful.  

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