Adventures in France: my year abroad

Jaw-dropping scenery; unique personal development; enriching relationships with people from across the world; a year practically dedicated to eye-opening, inspirational experiences: doesn’t sound like a bad year, does it?

My name is Steve, and I’m a 4th year, studying Music and French. Having spent my year abroad in Bordeaux and Lyon, I returned to Bristol to see last year’s year abroad students swarming the streets again. Our first conundrum: how do we approach *that* first conversation?

If you’re late for a lecture, it’s option A: ‘yeah, the year abroad was good thanks!’ Option B is the elaborate five minute epic poem describing everything that has seismically shifted over the year. Nope – five minutes is never enough!

Mind you, five minutes is ample to make observations about what has changed. Most returners are human adverts for what their year abroad experience has brought to them. Some are wiser and more confident; others are more open-minded; many have been completely inspired. Thereafter, each will treat you to a different story of how it all unfolded… just like this:

Build me up, build me up…

Needless to say, the year abroad experience can be a huge challenge. In fact, those first three months of my time abroad were some of the toughest of my life. Plunged out of my comfort zones of city, family and friends, the expression ‘fish out of water’ comes to mind. Would I have opted for a more convenient, relaxing placement to have avoided those tough first three months in Lyon? Non, absolument pas, because it’s all an exposure which forces you to develop in unique ways. At the end of the year, the fish returns to the river having learnt how to breathe air, and I enjoy being an air-breathing fish. This unique personal development is pretty much a given when forcing your brain to adapt to a new language and culture for as much as one month, let alone eleven.

Inspired

I’ve chosen the subtitle ‘inspired’ for a specific reason, which involved something more special than a bit of personal development…

Imagine a typical 21st birthday party. You may picture a marquee in the garden with everyone dressed up, or perhaps party balloons and a juggler. Well, I’m all for clowns and gowns, but as a June baby on a placement that finished in July, I needed to think outside the box when 17 June came around.

It had all the hallmarks of an underwhelming day. I had under-slept, having submitted my year abroad essay the night before a Monday at work; I was translating tourist information; and I had no evening plans. So, I hurriedly got in touch with my friends who hadn’t yet left the city: ‘Quais de Saone, tonight at 8 pm?’

The scene was set: the sun was going down over the Fourvière Basilica, and a smattering of my dear friends gathered round me in the late-night summer heat. On another day, the sunset may have inspired me. Or perhaps the view of the Basilica, reflected in the torrents of the river. This time, the real cherry on the birthday cake was the people that came.

Today’s news bombards us with stories of nations in conflict with nations, and the struggle of integration in multicultural communities. Meanwhile, here were 10 people representing Lithuania, Sweden, the UK, Colombia, the Netherlands, Germany, Spain and Italy using words, not weapons; laughter, not threats. The uniqueness of their humour, their intriguing philosophies and their cultural insight didn’t collide or clash, but combined in beautiful harmony that I had never witnessed before. It was conversation for conversation’s sake, and laughter for laughter’s sake, with contrasting backgrounds, races and religions, and we never once risked any dissonance or discontent.

I took a step back, felt the warm breeze, and gazed over the river, the view and the sunset, contemplating this moment that only a year abroad experience could produce – one of the most utopian I’d ever witnessed. The sun was setting over my year abroad experience, with a moment to remind me what a heartening asset multiculturalism is to modern society. Since then, I have still been seeing those same dystopian stories of warfare and persecution around the world. But at least now I have hope that one day, the planet may have the same universal harmony as those 10 people on the riverbank.

Find out how you can study, work or volunteer abroad at the Global Opportunities fair on 22 October.

Graduation and the Global Lounge

Staying in Bristol after I graduated certainly wasn’t part of my plan. I had the dream of a post-university gap yah – travelling around Australia and New Zealand for 6 months and generally just taking some time to catch my breath. After coming straight from school into university, I wanted that break. I needed that break.

With a brain freshly fried from my 10,000-word dissertation, you bet I was excited to pack those last boxes into my Mum’s car and drive home for the summer.

A month and a half later, I was back.

So, what went wrong? Or maybe, what went right?

I guess it’s important to know that while I was studying, I worked as an International Student Ambassador. The perfect job for any student – it mostly required me to give the occasional tour and welcome new international students throughout the months of September and January. In the end, it was this role that helped me get my current job as Global Lounge Assistant in the International Office. That, and the Temporary Staffing Service (TSS). One application form, an online test, and an interview later, here we are. Wearing my multi-coloured lanyard around the campus has never felt so cool.

“But Fran,” I hear you say, “what happened to the gap yah?”

Well as much as I would like to just jet off to Vietnam for the foreseeable future, I unfortunately need the money to do so. Oh reality, you are truly a cruel master!

It’s not all bad news, turns out I’m a dab hand at writing emails and copywriting. If you want to see my latest masterpiece, check out the Global Lounge website at www.bristol.ac.uk/global-lounge.

Plus, you can’t deny that it is pretty wholesome stuff watching new students make friends. I’m glad I can be part of a team that helps make a difference to student experience. As the Global Lounge grows and develops, I have no doubt that its events will foster community and create a sense of belonging for both home and international students alike. With projects like the Language Café – set to create spaces in which students can learn and practice new languages (including English) – there’s lots of exciting stuff on the horizon for us.

The role has been non-stop too. Three weeks of our Welcome Lounge, a launch event attended by Professor Hugh Brady himself, and hundreds of emails later, there’s no denying that I’ll have a lot to talk about in any future interview.

Because that too is a reality of working with the university on the Temporary Staffing Service (TSS) – the contract is temporary. And, as much as I worried about the impending sense of doom that this would bring, the truth is exactly the opposite. It is a position that gives graduates the opportunity to apply internally for permanent roles, or, in my case, get valuable work experience and save up some money in preparation for a gap yah. It was a risk that has paid off for me.

So then, what is my advice? Firstly, don’t panic about the end of university. It’s okay to not have a plan, or for your plan to go out the window.

Secondly, as an obligatory plug, keep an eye on the Global Lounge web page for some of our upcoming events! There will be plenty of fun activities to fill your term, including the new Language Café and celebrations from Day of the Dead to Diwali.

Finally, and most importantly, enjoy the time you have here. However many more weeks, months, or years you call this city your home, take the chance to make some lasting memories. You never know what (or who) is waiting for you!

 

Written by Fran Carroll, Global Lounge Assistant

 

Find Your Potential

Six top tips for study success

You did it! You got your place! And right now, you’re probably packing and thinking about what you’ll need to start student life in Bristol next week. You might be wondering about what life at university will be like; whether you’ll need one saucepan or four; thinking about who you’ll meet and which societies to get involved in.

With so much to think about, studying may not be right at the top of your list right now! But do read this later for top tips to help you build great study skills to keep on top of academic life right from the start.

 

Tip 1: Get to know your personal tutor

Your personal tutor – everyone has one— will help you to get the most out of your time here at Bristol. They provide feedback on your work and general info about your course, advise on study skills and choosing options, and help with personal development planning. Importantly, if you are struggling with financial, health or other problems, they can also signpost you to our support services to get the help you need.

At the moment, we’re also looking for new 1st year undergraduate students to help us develop personal tutoring further – Visit our website to find out more.  

Tip 2: Start your Personal Development Plan early

Personal Development Planning (PDP) helps you reflect on your skills, attributes and achievements, and plan for your future personal, academic and career development.  As part of this, you should create a PDP portfolio to record your progress as you move through your degree. Your personal tutor will help you with this. Find out more on the PDP tab and check out our Bristol Skills Framework to get started.

Tip 3: Expand your horizons with our Optional/Open Units

Some of our degree programmes are flexible so you can choose from a range of optional/open units and explore topics outside your discipline. Bristol Futures Optional Units will help you develop new perspectives studying themes such as global citizenship, big data, innovation, and sustainability. Alternatively hone your language skills with our University-Wide Language Programmes – and if your degree doesn’t allow you to choose these units (check with your School office), you can always follow one of our Bristol Futures open online courses, starting 19 October 2019. You can apply for your open/optional units via the Online Open Unit Selection form during Welcome Week (open from 9 am, 23 September to 12 pm, 25 September). Visit our website to find out more.

Tip 4: Study Skills for you

Studying at University may feel a bit daunting at first, but make use of our Study Skills Service, offering workshops, online training and other useful resources. In particular, check out our Upgrade to University course to develop a suite of study skills to help you through your degree.

Tip 5. Represent your Students’ Union

As well as getting to grips with studying at University, you could also think about becoming a student representative for the SU, responsible for raising academic concerns for students. First year course reps, Junior Common Room (JCR) reps, the Postgraduate Network Chair and committee members are among the opportunities up for grabs. Find out more on the SU website.

Tip 6: Follow the Library on social media

Checking up on the collections!

Following the Library Twitter feed is a must! A super useful  source of information about where to study, it’s a great way of getting to know our many libraries and study spaces, with options for group and individual study, and where to find chill out zones for those all-important breaks. It provides interesting facts about our collections, our knowledgeable and dedicated library staff… and some of our special custodians. (Reader, I draw your attention to Mort the resident skeleton in the Medical Library). It’s also worth checking out the Library’s other social channels: Facebook and Instagram to keep in touch.  And read the Library’s special welcome to new students.

That’s it from us for now! In the meantime….happy packing! See you in Bristol!

One of our former students has written you a welcome letter – look out for this on our Freshers’ 2019 Facebook group later this week!

Find Your Balance. Part 2.

Bristol is going to be your home for at least the next three years, and we may be pretty biased, but we think it’s one of the greatest places to be a student. There is so much on offer from both the University and the city as whole.

Live it up in the Living Room 

Located on the fourth floor of Senate House, the SU Living Room is a space to relax and unwind. Look out for the Welcome Week events in the Living Room such as café crawls, meet-ups and gaming tournaments.

Give it a Go and get a wristband

From Monday 30 September – Sunday 13 October the SU will be running Give it a Go! – giving you the chance to try out different clubs, societies, networks and volunteering projects.

For those of you who enjoy nights out, nightclubs and neon – the SU has you covered! With purchase of your Welcome Week wristband you are guaranteed entry to three massive club nights as well as discounts in the Balloon Bar throughout Welcome Week and the whole of October.

International Welcome Lounge

Come and meet students from all around the world at our International Welcome Lounge. Check out our programme for the week.

The Welcome Lounge is also offering a Language Café taster session on 24 September where you’ll be able to help others practise your language (including English), and can also immerse yourself in another culture by learning a different language with native speakers

Volunteering

Want to give back to the community, meet new people and visit new places? Try volunteering! It’s a great way to learn new skills such as teamwork, communication and leadership, as well as giving you the chance to try something that you may not have done before.

Explore

Bristol has all the perks of city life with wide open green spaces only a short distance away. The entire city is bursting with culture, flavours, music and opportunities to get involved. From the alternative Stokes Croft to the bustling Shopping Quarter to the tranquillity and nature at Leigh Woods – you will never be short of something to do.

 

Next week: Find Your Potential

Top tips for getting the best out of your studies

Find Your Balance

Both this week’s posts are all about the extracurricular; things you can get involved with when you’re not studying. Getting the right balance between studying and other activities is important and will help you to get the most out of being a Bristol student.

Let’s Talk Sport

Sports are a great way to make new friends. There are over 60 sports club at the University of Bristol – from traditional team sports such as football, rugby and basketball – to the more unusual Quidditch, Korfball and Krav Maga. For those who enjoy non-team sports there is also a range of activities available including martial arts, archery and clay pigeon shooting.

“[During Welcome Week] was also the first time I met some of my best friends when I joined the women’s football club, something that ultimately made my university experience.”

– Amy Brook, Sport and Student Development Officer

If you enjoy fitness or just want to get to the point when Bristol hills won’t leave you breathless (don’t worry, you get used to the hills eventually), our Indoor Sports Centre is the perfect place for you. Located on Tyndall Avenue at the heart of the University campus, the Sports Centre is home to an open plan fitness suite, free weights, fitness studios and a double-court sports hall. Or if you’re a water baby, our swimming pool, located on Queens Road, is home to a variety of clubs such as water polo. You can even do lifesaving lessons as well as pay as you go swimming.

Get stuck in with societies and networks

University gives you the chance to meet new people, experience new things and learn about yourself. Bristol Students’ Union (SU) helps students run over 290 societies from A cappella all the way to the Vegetarian and Vegan Society. There is a society for everyone; and if you think there isn’t a group for you, set one up!

“…I got involved with quite a few societies through the SU and by the end of my degree I sat on 3 committees and made the best friends I could ask for. Starting at uni is really tough, and taking your time settling in and getting involved with everything on offer can really help you in your first couple of months.”

– Jason Palmer, Equality, Liberation & Access Officer

The Bristol SU offers networks too; these enable students to build communities and create change. For example, there is a Postgraduate Network which is a student-led initiative for all postgraduate students that gives you a chance to develop the Bristol postgrad community. There is also the PGR Hub which is run by Bristol Doctoral College, based in Senate House, where you can connect with fellow researchers from other parts of the University.  You can find out more about what’s on offer at our Welcome Fair on the Downs on 27 September.

“I enjoyed the Welcome Week Fair because it gave me an opportunity to meet new people from all over the world and make new friends as well as to register with clubs and societies which I was interested in like African Caribbean Society, Debating Club, East African Society, and Bristol Model United Nations.”

– Julius Muga Ogayo, International Students Officer

If you want to find like-minded students before you move to Bristol and Welcome Week begins, you can also join our Freshers Facebook page.

Look out for our next post later this week with some more ideas of things to do beyond your studies.

Find Your Flatmates

So you’re moving to a new city, into a new home with new people and new surroundings. Eek! You might be feeling excited by this prospect, nervous or a mixture of the two? Just remember that you’re not alone and many other students will feel exactly the same way.

Top tips from a few of our students 

Cameron Scheijde (BSc Politics & International Relations, 2019)

Recent graduate Cameron remembers how he felt moving to university:

“Moving to a new city is a daunting prospect – but you’ve already made the process easier by choosing Bristol as the place you will live for the next few years. When I received my A level results and found out I was off to Bristol, I felt as I am sure most incoming freshers will be feeling: excitement tainted with nerves and fears for the new start in strange and unfamiliar surroundings with strange and unfamiliar people. I imagined all the things I might be doing in my first week with the constant fear that I wouldn’t be able to make or find any friends. My fears were completely unjustified – from the first day, Bristol’s halls make you feel welcome and cared for. I was in Clifton Hill House, and while each Bristol hall has its own unique identity and feel, they are all set up in the knowledge that moving to uni, whether for the first time or the second, is an incredibly daunting experience.

Clifton Hill House’s family atmosphere meant that I, and the people who I shared corridors and lunchtimes with, were immediately part of a strong and welcoming community. Each hall has a packed social calendar and I would strongly encourage you to get involved in this – halls act as vessels for your own passions, and if you want to do something, whether it be sport, drama, music or something else, the hall is the best place to start.

Before all that, however, is the dreaded moving in weekend and the anticipation of welcome week to come! One of the best things you can do – sorry mums and dads – is say your goodbyes and unpack on your own. This way you can shape your new room yourself.

Also, more importantly, you can prop your door open while you unpack. In doing this, you are inviting your new neighbours to pop in and introduce themselves. I met some of my closest uni friends in these first exchanges – so pack a doorstop! It’s also nice to have some home touches – maybe a rug, desk lamp, photographs – to make your room feel homely.

Freshers’ week can often feel like a complete overload, so creating a space that you feel is safe and homely will be crucial for when you need an escape from freshers fun. Make use of the day time events especially – do not overlook the society ‘give it a go’ sessions or some of the Student Union’s more relaxing activities. These sessions can often be better for getting to know people, as you are immediately united by shared interests. Don’t fret if you don’t immediately get involved in the SU – there will be endless opportunities to get stuck in at a later date. Similarly, do not be intimidated by societies that seem like you need to have done it before to get involved. Every society in the SU is very welcoming to complete novices, and some – such as Quidditch – only have beginners in the first year. Some of the best times in your uni career may well play out in the societies you join.

It can be difficult to adjust after freshers’ week once the lectures start coming and the deadlines loom in the distance. The excitement of the first week means you’re probably too busy to do much thinking, but once the next few weeks start, things like homesickness and exhaustion, as well as freshers’ flu, can become real problems. However – it is important to remember these feelings will be completely normal and more or less universal across your peers. I’d absolutely recommend maintaining a good diet and exercise – even if just walking to lectures – as this will stop your body turning on you. Also, if things get tough, do not be afraid to talk to your academic department or staff in halls. These people are there to help you and will know exactly what you’re going through. Despite what some may have you believe, you’re not ‘doing uni wrong’ if you’re not having an amazing time, 100% of the time. Like anything in life, there are ups and downs. Enjoy the ups, but make sure to ask for help if you’re struggling during the downs.

Halls life is, for most, a completely new experience. Your new environment will shape your next few years and may well forge the friendships that sustain you throughout the rest of your life. I was terrified driving down the M4 in my mum’s heavy-laden car – but the fear was completely misplaced. It will be ok.”

Rosie and Kaylan (3rd year – History and Biochemistry)

Current students Rosie and Kaylan, share their packing recommendations for Bristol!

For any accommodation queries, contact the Accommodation Office.

See the new student webpages for lots of additional information about the items mentioned in this blog.

Next week’s blog…

Find Your Way will help you to feel more familiar with the campus with suggested places to explore and key locations to know about from the start!

 

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!

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