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.

Happy 2022 & Welcome back!

Welcome back! We hope you had a refreshing and enjoyable break over the winter holidays. We’d also like to wish a very warm welcome to the new international students joining us this term – we’re delighted to welcome you to our University and amazing city, and hope you will enjoy your time here.

Keeping yourself safe

With increasing cases of Omicron COVID-19, we need to do all we can to keep ourselves and others safe. We encourage you to make sure your vaccinations are up to date as it’s the best way to keep yourself protected. Please also make sure you take a lateral flow test before returning to campus, and then continue to test twice a week, every week. You can access lateral flow tests via the NHS website and from Estates Assistant Lodges in University buildings. Don’t forget to record your results on the NHS website too.

You may have already heard that the UK Government has recently changed the rules around testing for COVID-19. Under the new rules, which take effect from next Tuesday 11 January, people without symptoms can start their isolation from the day of their positive lateral flow test and will not need a follow-up PCR to confirm.

The aim is to prevent prolonging isolation for people who may have been waiting for a confirmatory PCR result. You can read more about the isolation guidance on the government website.

Please remember to wear face coverings when inside all University buildings, including in teaching spaces, when walking around corridors, and if you have any in-person exams. Be aware that staff may remove their face covering when delivering teaching.

Assessment arrangements

For our returning students coming back to assessments, we wish you the very best of luck.  Please take a few minutes to read through our assessment support page and familiarise yourselves with relevant details about the exams and remember we have a range of study resources to help you. The SU has put some top tips together about looking after your wellbeing during assessments and you can also make use of our online wellbeing resources.

If you need medical support

We know that our hospitals are currently under a lot of pressure.
If you feel unwell and are not sure where you should go you could:

  • phone 111 for advice
  • visit your local pharmacy
  • make an appointment with your GP (local doctor).

If you have an injury and think you may need medical attention, but it doesn’t seem urgent, you might find going to a local Minor Injury Unit more helpful than going to the Accident and Emergency (A&E) Department at the local hospital.

You should only phone 999 or attend the local A&E department in an emergency when you need urgent medical care that can’t wait.

For new international students, please visit our Students Health Service web pages for advice about registering with a GP (local doctor) and lots of useful information about looking after your health and where to go for help when you need it.

Things to do

If you are new to Bristol, there’s lots going on to help you settle in including Bristol Student Union’s  Refreshers events programme. Make sure you also visit the Welcome Lounge run by our friendly Global Lounge Team where you can meet other students as well as get advice and support to help you get started.  We also produce a regular newsletter for international students, so watch out for it in your University email account. You’ll find useful information to help you get used to the uni at our Student Services website.

If you’re planning a night out, it’s important to look out for one another as unfortunately, further incidences of spiking were reported before Christmas. Remember to follow the Bristol Rules to have fun and keep safe. Read the SU’s blog post about safety at night and find out what your elected officers are doing to support safer nights out.

We’d also like to remind you that you can now access your teaching timetable and loads of other useful information through the University of Bristol app. You can download it from the app stores, or update to the latest version if you have downloaded it previously.

Things to look forward to this term include:

  • Source cafés across campus offering tasty plant-based meals and snacks for ‘Veganuary’
  • Refreshers events programme  — 21 to 30 January
  • Time to Talk Day – 3 February. We’ll be planning some activity on starting conversations about positive mental health.
  • SU elections – nominations open between 1 to 23 February. Your chance to elect union officers, course and faculty representatives, network chairs and more.
  • 5K run at Coombe Dingle — 20 March
  • Climate Action Day — 29 April. Keep an eye on the SU website for further details.

We hope you have a happy and healthy spring term.

‘Tis the Season… To look after your wellbeing

It’s important to remember that whilst the holidays can be exciting – with the gifts, delicious food and rushing around to see people – it can also be super stressful!

Also, not everyone celebrates in the same way and what you enjoy doing could be completely different to someone else.

So, as we wrap up this year’s festive campaign, we’re focusing on some things you can do to help manage your mental and physical wellbeing over the next few weeks. Later in the week, we will also share some posts from our Student Champions with some more helpful tips and advice.

Know where to go for help

There are lots of resources available to you if you need help over the holidays. Our Winter wellness page has lots of useful information or you can check out the support in the holidays page if you are looking for more advice and University opening times during the break.

Getting ready for January

If you want to get ahead on some studying whilst you have some free time, some library services are available over the break.

Thinking about what’s next?

The Bristol PLUS Award gives you a great structure to reflect on the new experiences you have alongside your studies.

‘The Bristol Plus Award has pushed me to engage in so many activities within the university and outside that I wouldn’t have even thought about’ – Kemi Talabi, Maths and Philosophy, 2020-21 PLUS Achiever. 

‘When I look ten months back I see a lot of difference in myself as compared to then. I have learned so many new skills, gained knowledge and experience which will definitely help me in my career and life’ – Dr Maryam Sultana, Public Health, 2021-21 PLUS Achiever

Keeping Active with Sport, Exercise and Health

The opening hours for all University Sport facilities will change over the winter holiday. Details of opening hours for each of our facilities can be found on our website. They also have a winter offer running, the Winter Warmer sports pass will give you unlimited, anytime access to the gym, swimming pool and fitness classes. A two-week pass costs £20 and is available to purchase from 11 December.

They have also written a blog on 5 ways to stay motivated during the colder months.

And, for those so inclined,  registration is now open for the University of Bristol Run Series 2022. Beat the crowds and sign up (for free) ahead of the new year so you can kick-start your training over the festive period with friends, family or flatmates.

Keeping Busy

Getting involved with activities outside of your course can be a great way to expand your networks, try something new, and boost your wellbeing. Check out myopportunities for loads of ideas of events you can get involved with.

The Students Union also has a list of some events going on in Bristol over the holidays.

And our friends the Global Louge have written a blog on some of the tastiest places to eat global in Bristol

Finally, a personal favourite of ours. Grab a book or podcast, find yourself a comfortable chair, (preferably away from the craziness) a glass of something nice and a mince pie or two (if you have room) and spend an hour by yourself, to chill out and recharge.

Happy Holidays!

Dan, Olivia, Roz, Tye and Laura

Current Students Team

 

A quick guide to student health services

Many of our international students may not be familiar with how the UK health system works and so here is a very simple guide to help.  A list of some local services for Bristol and Bath is included at the end of this post. 

A lot of our health services are provided by the National Health Service (NHS). 

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, many services have been disrupted, so in non-life-threatening situations, you will not be seen immediately, and services may be limited. 

Details of services available to Bristol and Bath students can be found at the end of this post.  

Accidents and Emergencies – available 24 hours a day. Call 999 

If you have a serious accident or need urgent medical care for a life-threatening condition, you should call 999 from your phone and ask for an ambulance. Or it is safe to do so, you can go to your nearest hospital Accident and Emergency room (often referred to as A&E). You will be seen by a receptionist when you arrive and then you will be assessed by medical staff before you are seen for further treatment/investigation. 

You should expect to wait to be seen – average times vary but can be up to 4 hours, depending on the seriousness of your situation.  

Not sure if you should visit A&E or would like some advice? Call 111 or visit https://111.nhs.uk/ 

The NHS 111 service is available 24 hours a day. When you call, you will be asked several questions about yourself and your condition and you will be told what to do next, which could be to see a doctor, go to A&E or they may make you an appointment at an urgent treatment centre/minor injury unit. They may also advise you to see a pharmacist to get some medication. 

Urgent treatment centre/minor injury unit 

These are separate from A&E and you can go to an urgent treatment centre if you need urgent medical attention, but it’s not a life-threatening situation. These services are open at least 12 hours a day, every day – details below.  

Doctors – by appointment only 

In the UK, medical doctors working in the community are referred to as General Practitioners or GPs. They are often the first point of contact when we feel unwell and work out of GP Surgeries or GP Practices. 

You cannot go to a GP surgery/practice without first registering and then making an appointment. 

How you make an appointment will depend on the surgery. Some will offer an online system, others will need you to call them directly – you may be kept on hold, while you wait to speak to someone.  

When it’s your turn, you will speak with the receptionist first and you should be prepared to explain why you need to see a doctor – this helps them decide which service you require. Sometimes you may be offered a telephone appointment, where the doctor will call you or you may be offered an in-person appointment at the surgery with a doctor or nurse.  

Depending on how serious your condition is, you may have to wait to see a doctor, it could be up to two weeks. 

Student Health Service 

If you live in the practice area you will be able to register with the Student Health Service, which offers a full GP surgery to university students and their families.  

If your condition changes or gets worse, whilst you are waiting to see the doctor, you can call 111 for advice or 999 if life-threatening. 

If you no longer need to see the doctor, please cancel your appointment. 

Pharmacists 

If your doctor decides you need medication, you’ll need to collect it at a pharmacy. Your doctor will write a prescription which they can give to you or can send directly to your nominated pharmacy (you may have nominated one when you first registered at the surgery)  

If you are feeling unwell or have a simple problem – a cough, common cold, flu-like symptoms, mild eye or ear infection. –  you can go directly to the pharmacy and ask for their advice as they can offer a variety of medicines without a prescription.  

In the UK most people have to pay for their medicine/prescriptions, however, you can check to see if you are entitled to free prescriptions here.  

If you think you have a more serious condition, you can call 111, arrange to see your doctor, or if severe, go to A&E. You should not put off seeking help if you are unwell. 

For further information on health services for international students, please visit: http://www.bristol.ac.uk/students-health/international-students/ 

For further info on general student health services, please visit: –  http://www.bristol.ac.uk/students-health/international-students/health-services-in-the-uk/ 

Services 

Bristol 

Student Health Service 

Hampton House, St Michael’s Hill, Bristol BS6 6AU. 

Accident and Emergency 

  • Bristol Royal Infirmary – Marlborough Street, Bristol BS2 8HW 
  • Southmead Hospital – Southmead Road, Westbury-on-Trym , Bristol, Avon, BS10 5NB 

Urgent medical care centres 

  • Bristol Urgent Treatment Centre, Hengrove Promenade BS14 0DE 
  • Yate Minor Injury Unit, 21 West Walk Yate BS374AX 
  • Clevedon Minor Injury Unit, Old Street Clevedon BS21 6BS 

Bath  

Accident and Emergency  

Royal United Hospitals, Bath, Combe Park, Bath, Avon, BA1 3NG 

The minor injury unit is also next to the A&E Department.  

To find a GP – if you cannot register with the Student Health Service 

https://www.nhs.uk/service-search/find-a-gp 

To find a dentist 

https://www.nhs.uk/service-search/find-a-dentist 

Getting to know our University Police Officer

University of Bristol PGCE graduate, Sian Harris, tells us more about her role as our Universtiy Police Officer and how it differs from Security Services.

Sian Harris, University Police Officer

Sian joined Avon and Somerset Police in 2005 and has spent her Police career to date in uniform, either as part of the 24/7 response teams or neighbourhood policing teams.

Tell us more about your work and what it involves?

I deal with a wide range of incidents – both those reported to me by the University such as drugs possession and criminal damage or burglary, and those reported by students and staff, for example bike thefts, assaults and harassment. I also act as a liaison between Avon and Somerset Police and the University.

I’m part of the neighbourhood policing team which means that I have responsibility for a designated community, in this case the University. My role doesn’t differ to any other neighbourhood officer.

There is no typical day here – there never is in policing – but I try to create a good mix between desk-based work (answering email/phone enquiries, updating crime reports …) and being out on patrol. I patrol both on foot and by car and will include both University buildings and Halls of Residence.

How would you explain the difference between your role and a Security Officer?

Although, I work very closely with the security team, and we often respond to jobs together/work together to tackle on-going issues, criminal investigations are my responsibility. I liaise with victims, interview suspects just as any other Police Officer would.

Our joint aim is to create a safe environment for students and staff. Security Services will often be your first point of contact. Their knowledge of the site and access to buildings will mean that they are often the best people to contact in the first instance. Just like police, the security team have an emergency and non-emergency number and as you’d expect, emergency calls will always be prioritised. Security Officers will then contact other services if required. If they identify that a crime has been committed, they will take details and preserve evidence and then pass it on to police to continue the investigation and deal with the offence – often this is me, but could also be other officers on duty in Bristol at the time.

We also both wear body worn cameras, although Security Services only started wearing these from January 2021 to further protect students and staff and reduce crime on campus.

What’s your favourite part of the job?

It’s definitely the variety. You never know what each day is going to bring. I’m up for the challenge and enjoy making a positive contribution to this diverse community.

Sian is based in the Security Services building at Royal Fort Lodge and happy to be contacted via phone or email to answer questions and offer advice. Please do get in touch with her if you need to:

Welcome to the University of Bristol  

 A welcome message from Pro Vice-Chancellor for Student Experience Professor Sarah Purdy  and Pro Vice-Chancellor for Education Professor Tansy Jessop

We hope that you’re all settling in well and enjoying your time in our wonderful city – whether you’re a new student or returning to Bristol. As your studies have begun, we wanted to check in and remind you of a few things to help you get the most out of your time here.

During your time with us, we highly recommend that you explore Bristol, including the different areas beyond Clifton and the central campus. Bristol has so much to offer – diverse food, art, music, as well as museums, parks and waterways. Make sure you visit the newly refurbished Senate House, including brand new bar, The Beckford, and the Bristol SU Loft, which are great places to relax, unwind and connect with other students. While you’re on campus, check out the brand-new meningitis research mural near the Biomedical Sciences Building which aims to motivate and inspire the public to join the fight against meningitis and remember to familiarise yourself with the symptoms.

We all know life can be challenging at times, so we offer a comprehensive range of wellbeing services and support if you need it, including self-help resources and access to specialist services where you can speak to staff. We’ve also put together a study support package to help you develop excellent online and in-person learning techniques. We also encourage you to actively use available teaching rooms on campus, which can also be found on this web page – see the ‘Find a live learning space’ button.

To keep our community safe, we ask you to wear a face covering when inside all campus buildings, including teaching spaces, unless you are exempt. This includes walking around corridors and generally moving around inside buildings. Find out more about how to keep safe on campus.

We also want everyone to have a fun and safe time when out and about in Bristol. So, make sure you look after each other on nights out. Check in with your friends and let them know where you’re going, plan how you’re getting home and keep an eye on your drink. Read our blog post for some useful resources to help make your night out safe .

We hope you enjoyed Welcome Week and finding out about the University and Students’ Union. Please take a few moments to fill in the SU Welcome Survey and share your feedback on Welcome Week, so we can continue to improve our welcome activities!

We hope you have an amazing term with us – we’re really looking forward to seeing everyone on campus this year and to enjoying University life together!

Best wishes,
Sarah and Tansy

Professor Sarah Purdy             Professor Tansy Jessop
Pro Vice-Chancellor                  Pro Vice-Chancellor
Student Experience                  Education

 

Staying safe on a night out

The legendary Bristol nightlife is coming back to life again! 

Bristol is a city that knows how to have fun so here are some useful resources to help make your fun night out a safe night out.

  • The city of Bristol want you to enjoy the nightlife to the max. Bristol City Council have recently launched Bristol Rules – a campaign to encourage us to stay safe, respect each other and call out inappropriate behaviour. Here are their helpful links and tips on how we can all help each other to have fun and stay safe in Bristol. 
  • Bristol city council have also joined forces with Avon and Somerset Police and Bristol city Centre BID to address the serious concerns around drink spiking. The Stop Spiking campaign provides helpful advice on how to recognise when drinks spiking may have occured, what to do if you think a drink has been spiked and where you can get support in Bristol. Find out more here.
  • Bristol Students Union have listed some practical tips on how to stay safe this Autumn. Check out their useful links on seeking support around drugs or alcohol.  
  • Our Security Serivces are always on hand to support on campus too. They operate 24/7/365 to help us learn, live and have fun in a safe and secure environment. Find out here how you can contact them and read their useful tips on personal safety. Point number one is to add the Security Control Room number (0117 9287848) and emergency number (0117 3311223) to your contacts on your phone.  
  • Did you know we also have our very own neighborhood police officer to support Security Services? Read our recent interview with Sian Harris who gives us an insight into the role she plays at the University
  • If you, or someone you know, experience unwanted actions or behaviour, the University has teams in place to listen and support you. Find out how you can report unacceptable behaviours and what support is available to you here.   

Don’t forget, look out for each other, plan how you’re getting home, keep an eye on your drink and remember to respect your neighbours. Have fun! 

 

Joint University of Bristol and Bristol Students’ Union statement in response to murder of Sarah Everard (March 2021)

Dear student

The sad and shocking news of the death of Sarah Everard  (March 2021) highlights the vital importance of the safety and wellbeing of women and people of historically oppressed genders. The University of Bristol and Bristol Students’ Union are tackling gender-based harassment and violence together, and will continue this critical work to ensure all students feel as safe as possible wherever they are, both on and around campus.

Public sexual harassment and sexual violence at UK universities and across our society is a serious issue. We have a robust and confidential system in place to help students report incidents and to support anyone impacted by these recent events.

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My COVID-19 university experience outside of student life

I’m George and I’m studying BSc Politics and International Relations.

What volunteering I’m doing whilst studying

Whilst at university I’m volunteering as a Special Constable with our local police force, Avon and Somerset Police. In this role, I hold the same powers as a regular police officer and patrol alongside them by preventing and detecting crime to help keep the community safe. Engaging with the community through my volunteering has allowed me to engage with the wider community, which is great because I learn something new or exciting about Bristol every day. I volunteer at least 16 hours a month, however I recognise the importance of breaking the study cycle at university so often commit to more hours.

(more…)