My Bristol memories as a final-year student

Hi everyone, my name is Kiki and I have just finished my final year of BA French and Spanish. In February, I featured in the University’s undergraduate film Find Your Focus, which lead me to reflect on my time at Bristol and the different memories from over the years.

Bristol, my university city.  As a finalyear student in my final term, I find myself looking back at my experiences over the years at Bristol – it’s a strange feeling. It has, however, made me really appreciate all the opportunities that I’ve had within and outside the University and the amazing city.  

Bristol skyline

My Bristol experience has been majorly enhanced by my involvement in societies. They are access points to meet likeminded people and make friends for life. There are endless societies here, including some very niche ones, like MagicSoc, to the classic sport societies. There are even societies for different regions in the UK (unfortunately there isn’t a Midlands soc 🙁). I joined the football society in my first year and it was one of the best things I ever did at uni.  

Being interested in sports since a young age, the football society became an integral part of my first year, not only keeping up my competitive sports but also being involved in the socials that take place every Wednesday and getting to know members from across all years. Having support from older peers who have similar interests really allows you to feel comfortable and accepted.  

Group of students in Budapest
Football tour to Budapest 2017

The many trips offered through the University have been some of the highlights of my entire experience. From football tour to the famous university ski tripwhich sells out in minutes to over 1,000 students every yearthere have been many opportunities to explore other countries. No sleep combined with nights of partying – it’s no wonder that these trips are so popular!  

Students skiing
Ski trip 2018

Bristol is so unique and diverse. From the edgy nightlife in Stokes Croft to the bustling student atmosphere on the Triangle, to the peaceful seaside vibe down at the Harbourside. Being part of the undergraduate promotional video Find Your Focus and filming down at Harbourside brought back so many memories as it’s my old home and one of my favourite areas. I love the bustling atmosphere that you find there day and night.  

Closeup of Kiki
Kiki in the University’s 2020 film Find your Focus

I really haven’t had the chance to explore half of what I wanted to in Bristol, and that’s after three years! There really is something in this city that appeals to everyone.

Banksy artwork

Looking back on my experience at Bristol, it has offered me much more than I could have ever expected walking into the uni four years ago. Despite not being able to round off my experience the way most students have, I am forever grateful to have picked Bristol as my university.  

Banksy mural
Banksy’s mural making a statement

How our community are being kind during lockdown

Every May we in the United Kingdom celebrate and observe Mental Health Awareness Week. It is a chance to raise awareness of mental health problems and the importance of taking care of ourselves. It is an opportunity to inspire action, share experiences, and end the stigma that still surrounds mental health.

This year’s theme is kindness. Being kind to ourselves, being kind to others and being kind to our communities and planet.

In honour of Mental Health Awareness Week, last week we asked our Instagram followers to share with us how they are practising kindness during lockdown, here are some of their responses, and some tips if you want to do similar things.

Giving food and blankets to homeless people

Understandably the current situation with COVID-19 is difficult and stressful for everyone. We miss normality, our family, our friends, travelling, getting haircuts etc. However this situation is also incredibly stressful for some of our more vulnerable members of society, particularly the homeless. If you feel that you would like to, or are in a position where you are able to, donate food and blankets in your local communities, that can be a great way of spreading kindness. Likewise, if donating money is something that you are able or would like to do, take a look at the following charities who are working hard in Bristol, in the UK and internationally.

Caring in Bristol – Caring in Bristol work in imaginative and creative ways with people experiencing or at risk of homelessness, with the public and community partners to bring about lasting change in Bristol and beyond.

Shelter UK – Shelter helps millions of people every year struggling with bad housing or homelessness through our advice, support and legal services.

Habitat for Humanity – As an international charity fighting world poverty and homelessness, Habitat’s  vision is a world where everyone has a safe place to call home. They believe that a decent home helps to permanently break the cycle of poverty and allows families to achieve strength, stability, and self-reliance.

Also there are a bunch of really cool comedy shows and online quizzes that donate a portion of your ‘e-ticket’ to charity.

Cooking meals and snacks for loved ones and key workers

 

If you enjoy cooking, are trying to cook more during lockdown, or simply are bored of takeaways, the making and sharing of food is a great way to show kindness to yourself and others.

Jack Monroe has a range of recipes on their website that can cater (pun intended) to those of us who may be on tight budgets, lack time or only have access to a microwave, whether you are a meat eater, vegetarian, vegan, or gluten free. Visit their website and see what you can cook.

Check out our previous blog post where second year History student Elaura shares her yummy ginger biscuit recipe.

The BBC Good Food website also has a section specifically designed for students, the meals are quick and cheap to make, and definitely worth a try.

Making an effort to talk to everyone

Having a quick (distanced) chat or even a “good morning!” with someone you pass in the street, park or shop can really brighten up your or their day. Of course, conversations with a stranger can’t replace the face to face contact with friends and family but it could make you feel a bit better and decrease loneliness slightly.

In the UK, we celebrate once a week with a “clap for carers“. People go to their front doors and clap in the street for a minute to show their appreciation for carers during this time. If you take part in this or there is something similar taking place in your home country, why not speak to your neighbours after and see how they are doing.

If there are elderly people in your area then you could become a neighbourly volunteer with Age UK. Volunteers can help as much or as little as they like. Just offering a phone call once a week to someone staying at home during the outbreak could mean a lot.

Other acts of kindness students shared with us include:

  • Checking in with family and friends

  • Sending cards to tutors

  • Sharing one positive thought a day

  • Shopping locally and supporting small businesses

For more kindness stories from across the UK, head over to the Mental Health Foundation website.

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

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

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

Hi Zak – tell us a bit about yourself

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

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

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

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

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

What support did you recieve from the Uni or department?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Most importantly though, back yourself.

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

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

What are you planning on doing next?

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

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

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

 

My experience of lockdown in Bristol

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

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

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

Learnt new skills

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

Value time, loved ones & online community

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

Appreciate Bristol

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

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

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

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

TalkCampus 

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

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

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

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

Big White Wall 

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

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

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

Shout Crisis Messenger 

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

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

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

 

Bored during lockdown? Try baking Elaura’s homemade ginger biscuits

Hi I’m Elaura and I am a second year History student.

As the pandemic of COVID-19 has trapped us indoors for the next few weeks, we should use this time to be creative, try new things and stay productive and positive. Ginger is supposed to be good at boosting your immune system, so I’ve had a go at making some simple ginger biscuits. They’re not perfect but taste pretty good and were fun to make, so if you like you can give them a go yourself by following this recipe.

Remember to take pictures of your creation and put them on your stories with the tag #UOBBakes !


What you’ll need:

  • 100g of butter
  • 75g of light brown sugar
  • 1 tbsp grated fresh ginger
  • 100g golden syrup
  • 250g self-raising flour
  • 1 ½ tbsp ground ginger
  • 1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • 1 small egg yolk

Method:

  1. First, pre-heat your oven to 190C and line two baking trays with parchment to stop the biscuit dough from sticking.
  2. Add the butter to a saucepan and melt it over a low heat, stirring it slowly. Then add the sugar, fresh grated ginger and golden syrup to the mix and stir. Once stirred, leave to cool.
  3. In a bowl, sift the flour before added the ground ginger and bicarbonate of soda. Stir altogether.
  4. Add the mix from the saucepan into the bowl and stir. Add the egg yolk and then stir until it becomes a dough mix. TIP- If the mixture feels too runny or sticky, then add flour until it forms more of a dough texture.
  5. Place flour on a countertop and roll the dough into small balls, of equal size in the flour. Press down on the balls to make a more disk shape but not completely flat.
  6. Place the prepared balls onto the baking tray and put them in the oven for 8-10 mins. Check after 6 mins to see if they are turning golden brown.
  7. TIP- to test if the biscuits are cooked, pierce the dough with a wooden skewer and if it comes out clean they are done.
  8. Place on cooling rack after they have cooked.

 

 

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.

Lydia’s MSc shaped her career path

‘I initially chose the MSc at Bristol as I wanted practical training in wildlife health and this course stood out to me. During my Masters however, I discovered that I really enjoyed the research side. I want to be part of the answer and provide useful research to inform wildlife conservation management on a larger scale.

I’ve just started a PhD at the University of Southampton where I’m researching hunting patterns in Belize. I managed to publish my thesis, supported by my excellent supervisor, which has really helped me to stand out from the crowd and secure this next opportunity.

My MSc has shaped my career path and I’m proud that my research will make a difference on an international scale.’

Lydia Katsis, MSc Global Wildlife Health and Conservation

Read about Lydia’s research in Kenya and how this is informing conservation strategy.

 

Read why Sam’s postgraduate studies enabled him to follow his passion

Having a good relationship with his project supervisor inspired Sam to progress from an undergraduate course to an MSc and currently a PhD, all here in Bristol.

‘It’s a really exciting time for nuclear robotics and I feel my path to date has led me to an industry I’m passionate about. I’m currently researching robotic scanning of nuclear waste which could address the issue of nuclear waste storage and make it more accurate and cost effective.

I chose to stay at Bristol as the positive and open ethos within the University lends itself towards innovation and the prospect of interesting and exciting future research.

I became friends with some really fantastic people during the course and I’ve extended my professional network too. I’m sure further opportunities will open up in this field in the future and because of my postgraduate studies, I’ll be ready when they do!’

Sam White, MSc Nuclear Science and Engineering / PhD in Nuclear Robotics

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