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.

Mental Health Awareness Week starts 13 May

University life is full of ups and downs. To help manage these stresses and strains it’s important to be aware of your physical, emotional and mental health and take active steps to look after your wellbeing.  

It’s Mental Health Awareness Week from 13 – 19 May, a good opportunity to think about how you’re feeling and look at what you can do to look after yourself.

Keep talking

Connect – with friends, family, colleagues and neighbours. These relationships can help you to feel happier and safer. Talking about the way you feel with someone you know and trust can ease the pressure. Even if they can’t help, just being listened to is a positive step. In return, if you’re caring and supportive to others you might be making a big difference, simply by listening.

The Bristol SU Living Room is a great place to relax and unwind and there’s a weekly programme of events open to everyone. They’re completely unobtrusive, so if it’s not your thing, you can just come along and chill or have a game of foosball or ping pong.  

If you’d prefer, there are lots of people to talk to at the university or via our resources, from student welfare support, to peer support at the Big White Wall and Just Ask – the Bristol SU’s advice and support service. Visit the ‘Where to get help’ page for more information about the support available to you.

If you’d like to share your thoughts on how we can continue to support the wellbeing of our student community, we’d welcome your input in the Student Mental Health and Wellbeing Survey. You don’t need to have experienced mental health issues to take part. It takes about 15 minutes and is entirely anonymous.

Stay active

Recent graduate and netball superstar, Eboni Beckford-Chambers, shares the benefits of keeping active and why extra-curricular activities will enrich your life.

You don’t need to be a high performance athlete to benefit from staying active, even just a gentle stroll will help; all activity is clinically-proven to improve mental health.

During the summer term (29 April – 15 June), all B:Active Campus sessions on the timetable are completely free so if you haven’t already, why not check out what’s on offer? There are plenty of B:Active initiatives that don’t take up a lot of time or require a membership, specialist equipment, or commitment to training sessions, so do have a look. There’s also the B:Active Healthy Minds programme – tailored to helping students who are experiencing mental health difficulties – which is well worth looking into.

As Eboni says…

“You just need to seek out what it is you want to do, what you can fall in love with, and roll with it.”

Balance study and leisure activities

At this busy time of year, help to maintain a healthy frame of mind by sleeping and eating well, taking regular breaks away from your screen or desk and making time for yourself. Doing something you enjoy can improve your self-confidence and lift your spirits; whether it’s cooking, seeing friends, doing something creative or learning something new. Helping someone else, through volunteering for example, or setting yourself a realistic challenge can help you to feel positive about yourself too.

Bristol SU’s Mind your Head events are running into June and are a great excuse to take a break and try something different. Library services are also offering opportunities to get crafting and creating during the Summer assessment period. 

If you like the theatre, honorary graduate Jonny Benjamin will be performing ‘Stranger on the Bridge‘ – an inspiring tale of human kindness, mental illness and redemption. See this moving portrayal of one man’s determination to find the Good Samaritan who changed his life at the Tobacco Factory, 14 – 18 May.

Study support

Need help with revision? The study support pages provide loads of information about where to find study spaces and how to access useful resources. 

However you’re feeling or whatever you’re up to, remember to take time to look after yourself.

“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!

Campus Heart Fest – our favourite moments

On the first day of Spring, the very first Campus Heart Fest saw hundreds of students and staff coming together at the heart of the campus for a day of fun.

Hosted in partnership with Ignit10n, a sporting event that’s run every year by the SU’s Sports Network, more than £6,500 was raised for Bristol charity Above & Beyond.

Students buckled down for 10 hours of tough sporting challenges, and visitors could sample the winning cake in the PGR Hub’s Bake Your Thesis competition. Congratulations to Elisa Coraggio for winning the Bake Your Thesis competition, and Mary Jenkinson-Finch for winning the People’s Choice vote!

Visitors also took part in creative workshops and pop-up stands throughout the day, including the Careers Service, a stand about the New Library and the Global Lounge.

Please keep your eye on the Campus Heart website for future plans.  Here are some of our favourite moments of the day:

 

 

City sights: Your best bits of Bristol

We asked students their top spots to unwind, grab a bite, discover something new or meet friends around town. Here’s what they had to say:

Harbourside

Bristol harbourside

Joseph (MSci Mathematics) told us, ‘My favourite spots are on the harbourside, which not only has loads of cool bars and restaurants, but is also one of the prettiest areas of Bristol at night.’ From independent cinema at Watershed to art at Arnolfini, this area is a cultural hub as well as a central place to catch a drink with friends or watch the boats go by.

If you’re still getting to know Bristol, the (free!) M Shed museum aims to tell the story of Bristol through quirky artefacts, personal accounts and interactive exhibits. Nearby Cargo offers an array of lunch options – from tacos to tapas – served out of re-purposed shipping containers.

Bristol Museum

Where to duck to escape the bustle of Park Street at lunchtime? Tamara (BA English Literature) said, ‘I love the Bristol Museum and Art Gallery. The architecture is beautiful and it’s so peaceful.’ From gilded Renaissance masterworks to Banksys, local wildlife to Egyptian mummies, there is plenty to explore.

Royal Fort Gardens

Royal Fort Gardens in bloom

This lush green space is a firm student favourite for the way it brightens up the middle of campus. The gardens feature a (seasonal) wildflower meadow and pond as well as unexpected art installations like the mirror maze sculpture ‘Follow Me’ and ‘Hollow,’ a modernist wooden grotto constructed from samples of 10,000 trees. When the weather warms, this is where you want to bring a book to study al fresco.

Mrs Potts Chocolate House

Mrs Potts is a wonderful place to escape reality for a while and just relax or have a chat,’ says Yasmin (MEng Mechanical Engineering) about the Park Street cafe. ‘The cakes are delicious (with a lot of vegan options), the coffee and hot chocolate warm you up on a cold day, and the interior is extremely cosy…When it’s not too cold, you can go downstairs to a picturesque courtyard with fairy lights and candles.’

St Nicholas Market

St Nicholas Market on Corn Street in the Centre

Established in 1743, this spot is home to the city’s largest collection of independent retailers. It’s a favourite of Muirne (MBChB Medicine), who says, ‘What I love most about St Nick’s Market is the sheer variety. There are tons of different cuisines available as street food, and most of it has amazing vegan and vegetarian options. There’s a mix of shops, from niche jewellery designers, to antique record and book shops, to boho-style crystal and incense stalls. And because of this variety, you get a wonderful mix of people there too.’

Christmas Steps

Draped in white fairy lights and dotted with interesting indie businesses, this spot gets your vote for atmosphere. An ornate wrought-iron sign announces ‘To Christmas Steps’ from high above the chimneypots before winding down layers of city streets – past artisan popups, an art-house video rental with mini cinema, and a popular board game café.

Have we missed any of your best bits of Bristol?

Celebrating 10 years of the Green Impact Awards

We’ve recently celebrated the 10-year anniversary of the Green Impact Awards, a University of Bristol-born environmental initiative, which has gone on to have national impact. It has been adopted by over 400 UK organisations such as University Hospitals Bristol NHS Foundation Trust, North Bristol NHS Trust and 50 universities across the country.

Green Impact Award winners 2018

The Green Impact Scheme challenges staff to implement several actions within their departments to help the environment: things like saving energy, volunteering, using more sustainable transport and recycling. The more actions teams complete, the more points are scored, leading to a Bronze, Bronze Plus, Silver, Gold or Platinum Award. Students can volunteer as Green Impact Project Assistants or Green Impact Auditors.

  • Green Impact Project Assistants: students receive certified NUS training and then use their new skills to help Green Impact teams complete their workbooks by improving the sustainability of their workplaces. This usually begins shortly after the launch of the scheme, and ends just before it closes. Green Impact Project Assistants provide ongoing assistance to teams during this period.
  • Green Impact Auditors: students receive certified NUS training to carry out the official end-of-scheme audits of Green Impact teams and their workplaces to make sure teams have completed all actions logged in their submitted workbooks. Training and audits usually take place in one day following the close of the scheme.

“The Green Impact Awards are a fantastic testament to how the efforts of individuals and teams can combine to achieve instrumental positive effects on our environment. We’re immensely proud to have created a scheme that has gone on to be adopted across the country and of all of our staff and students whose work has contributed positively on our environment.”

Martin Wiles, University of Bristol Head of Sustainability.

For 2019, the Sustainability Team are busy planning how the Green Impact Awards will work alongside other sustainability schemes at the University. Keep an eye on the Green University pages for further updates.

Get your voice heard through your course rep!

Bristol Students’ Union and our University work together to give you the best university experience possible. Student course reps are an important part of the picture; they play a key role in sharing your concerns and issues with teams in the University who can make a difference.

Course reps are your ‘on-the-ground’ students, democratically elected to represent your academic interests and any concerns to the University. They can directly influence change in the schools they represent, making sure student voices are heard. Their job is to find out the things their course mates like or would like changed; anything from deadlines being too close together to not having enough bins in buildings.

Introducing the Education Network

We've got your back – especially when it comes to representing your academic interests! Here's a little introduction to The Education Network, which exists to improve all students' educational experience at Bristol.The Education Network is open to everyone, but automatically includes Academic Course Reps, Faculty Reps, Education Officers, and Academic Society Committees. You can join the Facebook group here >> http://bit.ly/2ThuEFO

Posted by Bristol SU on Thursday, 15 November 2018

Course reps share these items with University colleagues and work out ways that they can be changed – or find out why they can’t be. They have done amazing work to benefit students: for example, getting printer credits put on course accounts, feeding into building proposals, and moving the dates of reading weeks.

Staff in schools want to make student life the best it can be, but they often don’t know what the issues are. If you think of something, tell your course rep, so they can let University staff know. Find out who your course rep is on the Bristol SU website. 

Course rep elections, run by the SU, are held in March and October. Keep an eye out around campus for your chance to nominate yourself or to recommend a friend.  Being a course rep is an effective way of influencing change in your school and of getting a sense of what happens behind the scenes at our University. It also looks great on a CV.

Visit the Bristol SU Website to find out more.

Tis the season to…take a break.

Festive greetings from Professor Hugh Brady, Vice-Chancellor and President and the University Management Team.

The holiday season is almost upon us. Although the University closes for Christmas on 21 December, you can still access some of our facilities over the break. Take a look at the services and support available over the holidays.

Merry Bristmas!

Bristol SU Living Room

If you’re staying in Bristol during the holidays, there’s still plenty going on including seasonal activities at the newly launched Bristol SU Living Room taking place from 17 – 20 December. You can also hear more about events taking place in the local area while the University is closed and meet other students who might be staying in Bristol during this time.

Don’t forget to join the UoB Staying in Bristol at Christmas Facebook page. All students are welcome to join and you can find out more about other events such as the Christmas lunch with all the trimmings and a Boxing Day Tour around the historic listed Goldney Gardens and Grotto.

Relax and unwind

The holiday season is the perfect time to take a breather and unwind ahead of the New Year. You don’t need us to tell you about all the benefits of sport and activity; it’s well known how positive an effect it can have on your mental and physical wellbeing. For those staying in Bristol, the indoor sports centre will still be open part of the time together with the Students’ Health Service. You can find out about opening hours here.

Academic support

Ease the pressure of the January exam period by getting clued up on all the academic support and tools available to you on the Study Support pages. Brush up on your revision techniques and exam preparation with these online tutorials; Revision planning, Revision techniques, Exam papers & questions and Exams & Wellbeing. If you’re feeling overwhelmed with your studies, maybe take some time to reflect on what you think could help you when we reopen. Start a portfolio with Personal Development Planning (PDP) and jot down which areas you feel you could use some guidance on.

See all the Academic Support on offer for you through our Study Support pages.

Many of our services are still open while you’re away from your studies; even during the University closure dates we have study areas open and some of our services running. You can see the opening hours here.

Stay connected

We know that the festive season isn’t easy for everyone so if you want to talk to someone, you will be able to access support via our Residential Life Support Centre, open to all students for urgent issues, whether you live in Uni residences or not. There are also self-help tools to provide support, including Big White Wall.

While students are not officially back until 14 January, the University reopens on 3 January and we’ll be here for you if you have any questions.  You can contact your Personal Tutor, speak to our Information Point and use the libraries and study areas.

From all of us at the University of Bristol, we wish you a restful break. Happy Holidays!

#TisTheSeason 🌟

 

Tis the season to…be helpful.

If you need to know where to get advice or how to get around campus, drop in to our new Information Point at Senate House and someone from our friendly team will be on hand to point you in the right direction.

Second year English student Olivia Garner has been working at the Information Point since September this year.

Olivia stands in front of the Information Point desk with an iPad in her hands

While Olivia is used to providing information on everything from finance to academic support, this month she’s getting into the festive spirit. So if you want to know who stocks the best mince pies, need advice on how to trim your tree or the best way to wrap a present, the team at the Information Point might 😉 be able to help!*

*Being totally honest, they’re not 100% sure what trimming a tree even means –  better to stick to Bristol questions that they can answer🎄😆

Team of people stood behind Information Point desk
Some of the Information Point team

The Information Point is open in Senate House, Tyndall Avenue, Monday to Friday, 8:30 am to 5 pm during term time.

Although the University closes for Christmas on 21 December, you can still access some of our facilities over the break. Take a look at the services and support available over the holidays.

 

 

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