Why Netflix’s Heartstopper is the positive representation the LGBTQ+ community needs

By Josh Littleford – Student Champion

I’m sure many of you have watched, or at least heard about, Netflix’s newest hit Heartstopper. If you haven’t, it’s the story of two guys at an English secondary school who end up falling in love, and is adapted from the graphic novels of the same name by Alice Oseman. It consists of an amazing cast of LGBTQ+ characters going through issues that will be relatable for most LGBTQ+ people. It does this in a way which makes it incredibly heart-warming and doesn’t follow the usual tropes of many LGBTQ+ love films which tend to end in heartbreak.

Heartstopper is such an important show for representation and bringing certain issues and aspects of being LGBTQ+ into the mainstream. It spreads a message that LGBTQ+ people don’t have to settle for bad relationships but are able to find happiness. It gives positive bisexual and transgender representation, which is often lacking compared to gay and lesbian representation. The show also tackles the issue of being LGBTQ+ in sport – something that still faces lots of stigmas.

But Heartstopper isn’t the only heart-warming show out there that gives positive but relatable representation to LGBTQ+ characters and relationships – even if many articles I’ve read are suggesting it is the first to do so.

Love, Victor – a spin off from the 2018 film Love, Simon (which itself was adapted from the book Simon vs the Homosapien Agenda by Becky Albertalli) – is airing its third and final season this month. It follows the story of Victor as he begins life at a new school, whilst also starting to question his sexuality. Whilst the first season focuses on the idea of sexuality and coming out, the second and third seasons explore the idea of life of a young LGBTQ+ person after coming out.

Another favourite of mine is Young Royals – a Swedish show on Netflix. Even if you’re not a fan of subtitles, it is so good that you won’t mind. The show follows the fictional Prince Wilhelm of Sweden whilst he attends boarding school and falls in love with one of his classmates. He is second in line to the throne and doesn’t want his family to go through any more scandals. It’s a show that you won’t want to stop watching, until you realise you’ve finished the first season and have to wait months for the second to be released.

In the world of animation, both She-Ra and the Princesses of Power, and The Owl House are notable mentions for their vast array of LGBTQ+ representation and strong story telling. She-Ra and the Princesses of Power, which is the reboot of a He-Man spin-off, featured multiple bisexual, lesbian, and transgender characters – even if some of their identities weren’t really referenced within the actual show at all and those that were referenced weren’t until the last season. It focusses on Adora as she joins the Rebellion to fight the Horde, after gaining the power to transform into She-Ra – a 6ft warrior woman. If you want a show that is fun and silly and yet still provides strong characters and emotional moments, then it is definitely worth a watch. The Owl House follows Luz the human as she stumbles through a portal into the Demon Realm, where she trains with Eda the Owl Lady in the ways of magic. Luz herself is bisexual, and the show also features an array of LGBTQ+ characters – including Raine Whispers who provides notable non-binary representation. The show is made by Disney – a company who have been lacking in any form of LGBTQ+ representation in the past. These two shows allow children to grow up seeing LGBTQ+ representation on their screens, which is vital for young people to see that its okay to be LGBTQ+, whether they are LGBTQ+ or just allies.

In wider media, shows such as The Haunting of Bly Manor, Our Flag Means Death, and Sense8 give some amazing representation too. The Haunting of Bly Manor is a horror show on Netflix that tells the stories of the many people – both living and dead – who inhabit Bly Manor, when a new au pair arrives at the house. Whilst being haunted, an LGBTQ+ romance blooms. Our Flag Means Death is a recently released action/comedy about pirates from director Taika Waititi. Hilarious hijinks ensue when Stede Bonnet leaves the life of an American aristocrat to become a pirate captain and then meets the feared Captain Blackbeard. The show features a diverse range of LGBTQ+ characters  (with prevalent non-binary, gay and bisexual representation). Sense8 follows a group of 8 people from around the world who one day are suddenly able to communicate with each other through a psychic link that forms between them. It features a diverse set of LGBTQ+ and non-LGBTQ+ characters who are all well written with meaningful relationships and impact on the plot.  These sorts of shows normalise LGBTQ+ characters by not really focussing on the fact thatthey are LGBTQ+. The characters are LGBTQ+ but aren’t treated any differently for it, which makes them well-written characters who provide some very good representation.

Whilst Heartstopper is a great show for presenting positive LGBTQ+ characters and relationships, it is by no means the first to do so and let us hope it won’t be the last. There also exist many more examples of well-written LGBTQ+ characters in TV but, unfortunately, I cannot list them all. Happy Pride Month!

Summer solstice – 21 June, 2022

By Student Champion – Victoria Cornelio

As a self-identified nerd and history enthusiast, I have always found natural phenomena interesting due to how they relate to historical events. The summer solstice is related to a lot of celebrations and historical meaning to different cultures, which I personally find intriguing and worthy of knowing about.

What is the Summer Solstice?

The summer solstice is known as the longest day of the year, meaning it is the day with the most hours of sunlight – hopefully, this will mean a lovely sunny day for Bristol this year. This is also the official day of transition from spring to summer. The word is made up of sōl which means “sun,” and sistere which means “to stand still.” We get the most sunlight this day due to the positioning of the Earth in relation to the sun, as the Earth’s geographical pole inclines the most towards the Sun.

Ancient Civilisations: The solstice has been important to many ancient civilisations around the world.

Northern Europe 

In Northern Europe, the summer solstice is known as the midsummer, or by Wiccans and other Neopagan groups as Litha, after the Sun God. Civilisations of northern Europe welcomed the solstice with bonfires, believing this would boost the Sun’s energy and guarantee a good harvest. Bonfires were also believed to be magical, to help banish demons and evil spirits. Some Christian churches commemorated this day as St John’s Day, celebrating the birth of John the Baptist.

Ancient Greece and Rome

Ancient Greeks used the summer solstice as the start of the New Year and the start of the countdown to the opening of the Olympic games. They also held a festival to celebrate Cronus, the God of Agriculture, where social codes changed, and slaves could participate as equals in society alongside their masters. Ancient Romans held a religious festival in honour of Vesta, goddess of the hearth, where married women could enter the temple and leave offerings in exchange for blessings for their families.

Other Ancient Civilisations

It is believed Neolithic humans may have used this day to figure out when to plant and harvest crops, and Ancient Egyptians associated it with the rise of the Nile River. Also, from the view of the Sphinx, the sun sets right between the Great Pyramids and Egypt’s Gia Plateau, which was seen as a divine sign from the God of Sun, Ra. In Ancient China, the solstice celebrated the Yin, the feminine force associated with the Earth. Native Americans performed rituals, some of which are still around today, such as the ceremonial sun dance around a tree.

Celebrations in the UK

The summer solstice is celebrated by many pagans across the world, including in Britain. Paganism used to be a term associated with all who practised a religion other than Christianity, Judaism, or Islam during the end of the Roman Empire.  Now, it is used to refer to those who seek to incorporate beliefs or practices from outside main religions. Gatherings at Stonehenge on this day have been a tradition for many Britons for the last 4,000 years. Stonehenge used to be an important religious site, and on the summer solstice, the Central Altar at Stonehenge is parallel the Heel Stone (the entrance to the stone circle), and the Slaughter Stone (named after the red water that stains the stone) which align with the rising Sun in the Northeast. In the present, thousands of people, including new-age druids and pagans gather to celebrate in this historic place, where formal spiritual ceremonies take place while tourists and non-spiritual visitors can enjoy food trucks, boombox music and dancing. This celebration starts at sunrise, as the first rays of dawn illuminate the centre of the circle.

There are also celebrations in Avebury, where musicians and dances put on a show around sunset and partying continues until dawn.  There is a complex of Neolithic sites (the West Kennet Long Barrow, and the mysterious, manmade Sillbury Hill) that make the watching of the sunrise more spiritually charged. In Wales, Bryn Cellin Ddu in the island of Anglesey, features peaceful celebration and meditating on the spiritual significance of the changing of the seasons. In Scotland, the islands of Shetland host a colourful Midsummer Carnival where the sun barely sets at all throughout the day.

If you decide to experience any summer solstice celebrations, please remember to always be respectful of the spiritual meaning this event has to those who treasure it.

Celebrating Pride in Computer Science

I’m Jack Bunyan, Equality and Diversity Officer and Computer Science Society (CSS) Officer in the Faculty of Engineering. My job is to make sure that people from all backgrounds are represented in both the Computer Science Society and the Faculty at large. This means making sure that events are inclusive, running social events for people to meet or promoting discussions about issues affecting Bristol students. As an EDI representative at the University, I am proud to represent all students and to help build an inclusive and welcoming community for all. (more…)

I wanna go home – how a homesick international student deals with loneliness Part 2 of 2

As part of Mental Health Awareness Week, Student Champion Victoria writes about how she deals with homesickness. This is part two.

Connect with Home

The most obvious advice I can give you is to connect with home through the means we’ve got. Facetime, Netflix party, Zoom calls, and overseas gifts can all be ways of feeling closer to home.

  1. Call your family. I’m serious, no one is going to think you are “lame” for calling up your family members. I literally talk to my mom every other day or ring her randomly to show her something I’m excited about. I’ll also call family when I’m cooking something from home to get their input and tips, but also catch up and feel closer to them.
  2. Reach out to friends from home. I for one get a lot of FOMOs (fear of missing out) when my friends are all hanging out in our home city but knowing I can always call and catch up makes me feel happy and less homesick.
  3. Try out a home dish with your Bristol friends. Whenever one of us in the friend group feels homesick, we will all meet to cook something from their culture. This is a simple and fun way of connecting with home while sharing it with your friends.
  4. Wash your clothes in similar scents. Using washing powder that smells of home or a certain scent that reminds you of home can be a small thing that can make you feel back in your childhood bedroom.
  5. Listen to the Top 50 songs in your home country. Whether you are a Spotify, Apple Music, or YouTube user (or anything else, again, no judging here), all these platforms have playlists with the trending songs back home. Listening to these makes me feel closer to home and keep in the loop of what songs are popular when I return.

Find “Me Time”:

As an introvert, all my blogs tend to include some Me Time tips; I love spending time with myself. I am a very busy person and tend to have a full schedule, so feelings of homesickness can sometimes strike me, and I will not deal with them because I won’t even have time to assimilate them. This is why “Me Time” is so important. This is the time I take to reconnect and reflect on how I’m feeling and take care of my mental health.

  1. Take a walk. I have a podcast from home I absolutely love, so getting out of the house and going for a walk to listen to the podcast is a great way for me to get myself active again and reconnect with my home country. The walking part is to get you out of the house and moving, whatever you decide to do in your walk, is up to you!
  2. Look at old pictures. Embracing feelings of loneliness and homesickness is necessary to be able to deal with them. Looking at old pictures can help you change your mindset from “I don’t want to be here anymore” to “I’m excited for what is waiting for me at home”. Knowing that there are people, food, and activities waiting for you at home can be comforting and help you deal with loneliness at university.
  3. Watch a movie from your country or set there. I find that every time a show or movie mentions “The Dominican Republic” I feel a sense of satisfaction. Watching something that is set in your country or deals with topics from your country can help you deal with your homesickness.
  4. Engage in activities you enjoy. Me time can also be going to a comedy show, trying a pottery class, or participating in sports. Doing something you enjoy can help you take your mind off the negative feelings and enjoy your time at university

 

 

I wanna go home – how a homesick international student deals with loneliness Part 1 of 2

As part of Mental Health Awareness Week, Student Champion Victoria writes about how she deals with homesickness.

As we get closer to summer the idea to go home and see loved ones becomes more tangible, but this isn’t the reality for all of us. The Student Housing Company reported that three-quarters of students at UK universities feel homesick. Although homesickness isn’t an isolated event that only happens to international students, as a Latina away from home, I know that it hits different when you feel homesick and don’t know when you can go home.

After three years at university, I have noticed that homesickness hits me at the weirdest and most unexpected times. It sometimes happens when I see family pictures and wish I were there, or I eat something and am reminded of how good it is at home, or smell a certain scent and I am taken back to a memory. Navigating these feelings can sometimes be overwhelming, but remember, you are not alone. I hope that by reading this you will better understand why we feel homesick and also find some suggestions of what to do next time you find yourself feeling this way.

What is Homesickness?

Symptoms of homesickness vary from person to person and are not always associated with “home”; it can be related to people, food, experiences, or a feeling of nostalgia for a time in your life. Many times, these symptoms include feeling tearful, sad, isolated and, at times, trapped.

At other times, many people may be feeling “emotionally wobbly” and not be able to identify why, and it can be a repressed feeling of homesickness. This can translate into anxiety or depression-like feelings as well, as thinking of home makes us scared of the unknown of our new environment.

Homesickness can be exacerbated at different stages of university life. Freshers’ week is a time when first years are adapting to student life and may wish for home often. Seeing everyone find a group and fit in easily may also affect us and make us feel even more homesick and wish we could run home. Over holidays like Christmas or Easter, when the city empties out of students going to see family, staying behind can be hard for many of us. I for one hosted my first Christmas, and although it was loads of fun, I would be lying if I didn’t confess seeing the Christmas pictures on the family group chat didn’t make me tear up. As international students, we also have different holidays and traditions that we may miss from home, and when those dates roll around, we might be hit with a feeling of homesickness and a yearning to participate in these important activities.

Connect with your culture in Bristol

Bristol is not just a very diverse city; it is a cultural hub with different options to engage with different cultures. There are over 180 nationalities in Bristol and at least 90 languages spoken throughout the city. There is bound to be something for everyone!

  1. The SU: The Student Union has so many societies as we all know, but these include cultural societies that might encompass your culture or interests. I am part of the Latino Society, and can confidently say, there is nothing like knowing I can just text “The Latinos” and I will have someone be there for me. They truly are a family away from home.
  2. Visit the Global Lounge: This fun cultural hub in the heart of campus (Senate house) has so many activities throughout the year, celebrating many cultures represented among the alumni of UoB.
  3. Bristol Meetups: Download the Meetup app and start finding mingles and activities around the city with people who share your interests and cultures.
  4. Go out to eat something from home: Bristol’s cuisine is so diverse and rich, thanks to its huge cultural diversity. Go to La Ruca for authentic South American cuisine, Caribbean Croft for amazing Caribbean dishes, Bristanbul for some Turkish delights, Mayflower for homecooked Chinese or read more options here for different nationalities.

Assessment Do’s and Don’ts!

Here are some top tips from students on preparing for assessments.  Let us know if you have more to add! Student-comms@bristol.ac.uk 

 

DO 

Get enough sleep.  Yes, we know you’ve heard this before, but we can’t say it enough.     
Sleep is your best friend when it comes to performing well. 
(Read the Sleep Foundation’s Guide to Getting Sleep During Exams.)

 

 

DON’T 

Forget to eat and drink.  You brain needs energy as much as your body does.   
See what the BBC recommends for breakfast on the day of your assessment.

 

DO 

Ask your friends and classmates what they are working on and how they are preparing.  
You will probably feel reassured – or realise anything you may have missed.
 

DON’T 

Try to pretend you’re feeling ok if you’re not.  Talk to someone.  
A friend, a mentor, or JustAsk.  You are not alone.
 

 

 

 

 

 

DO 

Give yourself breaks.  You are better off clearing your head and planning your revision in manageable chunks of time than trying to keep going for hours and hours and hours… 

DON’T 

Put off taking your assessment.  It may seem tempting to give yourself more time but in reality you are just prolonging a stressful situation.   The resit period in August is a safety net if things go wrong the first time round.  Don’t rely on that as your one chance to progress.  

DO 

Familiarise yourself with the format of your assessments.  For in person exams you can look at past papers, and for a lot of online assessments you will have a practice test in the Assessment, Submission and Feedback area of your unit on Blackboard

DON’T 

Forget that there is more to life than assessments!  Not everyone has the same idea about what “success” means and getting good grades is only a tiny part of that picture. 

 

Top 10 tips for being more sustainable

Hello, my name is Lottie, and I am a first-year student, studying French and Spanish. In support of the Climate Emergency Day of Action, I have considered how we can slightly alter our daily routines so that we live more sustainably and ultimately combat climate change. Here are my top 10 tips for living an environmentally friendly life at university!

1. Natural toothbrushes

We can start helping the planet as soon as we wake up in the morning. Most toothbrushes are made of plastic, which is a material that does not decompose. This means that every single plastic toothbrush we have ever used is still on this planet right now! As a result, many people have started to use organic bamboo toothbrushes instead. These toothbrushes are biodegradable, and they also often arrive in sustainable packaging. As well as this, studies show that they can whiten your teeth and improve your oral hygiene. It’s a win-win!

2. Reusing in the kitchen

After brushing your teeth, you might be tempted to have a smoothie or an iced coffee to start your day. Although it is tempting to use plastic straws, many people do not realise that after using them, they often end up in oceans and waterways, harming wildlife as well as contributing to pollution. Metal straws are an excellent substitution because they are reusable which means they can help you save money, as well as combating climate change. If you get thirsty during the day, I would also recommend that you bring a reusable water bottle with you. There are lots of water fountains on campus and this is a money-saver as well!

3. How should we commute?

It is important to consider how we should travel to university if we want to live sustainably. The fuel from cars has a huge negative impact on the environment, which is why it might be better to car share with your neighbours if you are all heading in the same direction. However, the best modes of transport, which are environmentally friendly, are walking or cycling. Maybe you could challenge yourself and try to walk everywhere for a week? Who knows, you might enjoy it.

4. Sustainable studying

While you’re at university, I would recommend that instead of using Google, you use a search engine called ‘Ecosia’. Ecosia uses its income from advertisements to plant trees across the globe. Therefore, whenever you click ‘search’ you are essentially saving the planet! 

5. Go paperless

With the recent advances in technology, it is surprisingly easy to go paperless. Rather than printing out pages and pages of articles and readings, maybe you could create a university folder on your laptop so that everything is easily accessible? Paper waste takes up the most space in landfills (also trees are chopped down to produce paper) so it is especially important that we do not overuse it. We can easily implement this throughout our daily lives too – when was the last time you actually needed a shopping receipt?

6. Reduce waste

Next time you’re buying fruit and vegetables, perhaps you could buy them in a 0-waste food store! These are shops which were specially designed to reduce waste. In Bristol, you can find them on Regent Street, North Street, Whiteladies Road and Gloucester Road.

7. Shopping bags

Did you know that all plastic bags in the supermarket cost at least 25p? This law was introduced in 2015 to reduce litter and general pollution and studies show that this has been successful so far. If you want to help the environment, whilst saving money, you can use your own bags to carry your shopping home. I would recommend foldable shopping bags (which you can find on Amazon) because you can easily store them in your university bag during the day.

8. Where to buy clothes?

Fast fashion is a huge problem for the environment. Brands such as Zara, H&M and New Look all contribute to the pollution of water and produce waste, due to the manufacturing process of clothes. Therefore, as students, we can easily buy our clothes elsewhere so that we can live more sustainably. As well as apps like Depop and Vinted, there are various vintage and charity shops in Bristol which sell clothes which are in great condition and relatively cheap. I would recommend the Vintage Thrift Store on Park Street and Shelter in Clifton.

9. Reusable makeup wipes

At the end of a long day, if you’re a makeup user, it is always very tempting to use a wipe to remove that last bit of makeup off your face. However, due to the plastic packaging of these products, wipes can become very harmful for the environment. I would personally recommend using reusable makeup pads, which are made from organic materials, such as bamboo cotton. These can be found in the Body Shop and Boots – they are also great for your skin! 

10. Sustainable shower products

Before going to bed, we must be mindful of the products we use. It has been scientifically proven that most shampoo bottles are not recycled correctly. Companies, such as Lush, have created products, like shampoo bars, which do not use plastic. According to the Lush website, almost 6 million plastic bottles have been used due to these shampoo bars! In 0 waste stores (mentioned earlier) there is also sometimes the option to refill your own shampoo bottles from home.

Thank you so much for reading my top 10 tips today! I hope that you learned something new! What are you going to implement into your daily routine to lead a sustainable lifestyle at university?

Written by Student Champion – Lottie Aikens

Assessment tips from someone who knows…

It’s Week 23 and you are probably either buried in revision or planning your summer break.  Student Comms Officer Roz caught up with Dom who is in his fourth and final year of a Masters in Mechanical Engineering to ask him how he’s feeling about coming to the end of his course, and what assessments have meant for him.

So Dom, you’re working on your final dissertation which for you is a group industrial project.  Is that right? 

Yes, we’re doing a design and build, and building a product is always notoriously tight for time for engineers.  But it is coming along nicely.

Do you find it easier to meet deadlines when working in a group? 

Working in a group always comes with its challenges. You lose efficiency when you’re working in a team because there’s so much more to coordinate and so much more ground to cover. It can be hard to get the ball rolling, but the more you practice the better they tend to go.  By the time you’re in fourth year, group projects are going a lot more smoothly than they were in first year and that’s kind of the point of having them in first year because it’s a skill you have to learn as an engineer. 

If you’re managing deadlines just for yourself, do you have any tricks up your sleeve or tactics you rely on? 

A technique I use is creating your own calendar and then filling in all the time that you can’t be working, assigning time that you can be, and then dividing up the workload. You end up with this big A3 wall calendar with all the time divvied up how you need it, which is useful when you have, for example, five quite substantial exams.  It really helps to make sure that nothing’s being neglected. 

What’s been the main challenge of online exams? 

The biggest issue is time management as it appears you are set five hours’ worth of questions to do in three, and it’s simply not possible.  You also don’t have access to the years and years’ worth of previous papers so you’ll be going into online exams with less resources to prepare from than in person. 

And how did your experience of in person exams compare to the online assessments? 

So in person you would have a lot more “prove this, show this, derive this” questions that you could only really answer if you’d rote learn that technique.  Obviously, being open book and online, that’s no longer a thing that can be asked because you can just look up the solution. So it’s shifted away from those rote learn questions and more towards things that you’d have to actively think about a bit more, which is good, the way it probably should be. 

Is there anything you know now that you wish you’d known as a first year and might have done differently? 

OK, so I would say problem sheets and past papers is definitely the way to go because it’s very easy to find that you understand the topic, you’ve gone through all the lecture content, you’ve read the notes, and you’re like, I’m happy with this and then can’t answer a single question on it!  That’s a very common thing that can happen. You understand all the theory, but to actually get an answer and apply it is an entirely different level that needs to be practised through the problem sheets and past papers.  

When it came to online assessments, did you ever use a Blackboard practice area? 

Yeah, absolutely.  You want to know what the setup of the paper is and what’s expected of you before you go in.  It was good to have access and be like, oh, I’ve got ten of these questions, four of these ones, six of those, and two of the big ones at the end.  

Are there any other resources that you’ve used, for example exam stress workshops

I don’t think so. I think the only thing over the four years that I had used might have been some general study skills workshops in first year, but nothing exam specific.  

Do you find you get stressed about exams or are you quite relaxed? 

Obviously they’re stressful for anyone, but I think I’m a lot more relaxed than most.  I find it’s important to remember that if you’re getting yourself stressed out about it, you’re only going to make it harder to actually remember things in the exam. If you can just take a breath and relax it’s only going to help.  So long as you’re preparing for a good time beforehand and you know your stuff sometimes it’s good just to take a break just before going in and make sure you’re calm and relaxed. 

And how do you personally relax if you need to step away from your work? 

It would be just do something that’s not uni related, get a drink, go do something else, just not think about engineering for a little bit.

I know you’ve had Alternative Exam Arrangements and I just wanted to ask whether it was easy to arrange additional support and were you well informed about how it was going to be set up? 

So I’m dyslexic and after the age of 18 you need your adult diagnostic assessment. You need to get your psychologist report and then arrange an appointment with Disability Services who are fantastic. They’re really, really helpful. They’ll explain everything to you very clearly. They take you through your report and what arrangements can be made within your particular school.   

This can be a huge variety of things, like what extra time would be appropriate for you, what working method would be appropriate for you, if you’re in person, would you still be allowed to use a PC to do your exam?  It can also be making sure you’re in low distraction exam rooms, or making sure the exam room is near bathroom facilities or a whole range of different things that they can run through with you and see what can be altered to make it more supportive for students that need that extra support. 

And lastly, how do you plan to celebrate when it’s all over? 

Oh blimey.  After four years – two years in person, two years online – it feels strange to be coming to the end. I genuinely don’t know and I’ve just been so busy with the project work and also trying to think ahead.  For a

 lot of people that’s applying for work, but for me I think it’s going to be looking for a PhD.  I haven’t really thought about it too much yet. I will probably get to the stage I’ll just need to crash out and do nothing for a while. A holiday would be well needed by that point, I suspect!  But equally it will be good to celebrate with friends after four very, very tough years of both the course and COVID. 

I hope a well deserved break is on the horizon. 

Definitely.  I think that’s what the plan will be – chill out!     

 

Don’t forget that you can access a range of study skills and support to help with your assesssments. Good luck!

 

War in Ukraine: past, present and future

This blog post was written by Tom Tokovyi, a final year biochemistry student. Tom was brought up in Bila, Tserkva , Kviv region, Ukraine, and spoke at a recent event – War in Ukraine: past, present and future –  held at Bristol SU in March 2022. The aim of the event was to help us understand more about Ukraine, the current situation and how we can offer support.

“Perseverance – this is the first word that comes into my mind when I think about my home country.”

Tomas Tokovyi holding a microphone during his talk
Tom Tokovyi

It is hard to find a person nowadays who has not heard about the current situation in Ukraine. Nevertheless, not everyone knows about the deep-rooted history of the Ukrainian nation and the major events that led to the full-scale war with Russia. As a Ukrainian studying at Bristol, I felt a strong sense of duty to inform my friends and peers about the current situation at home, and share my knowledge of Ukrainian culture and history.

Together with my friends, I organised a large-scale event War in Ukraine: past, present and future which was attended by more than 250 students and staff. The event was divided into several parts which consisted of the talk – Past and present of Ukraine –  a discussion panel with professors about The future of Ukraine as well as a Q&A with the audience. (more…)

How to be a good neighbour

We asked our student champions for tips on how we can be better neighbours and better engage with our local communities, here is what they had to say:

“In order to create an engaged, supportive community, it is essential that everyone contributes to being a good neighbour. As students, we must consider the needs of the people around us, whether they are our flatmates or other members of the public, and we can easily do this through small acts of kindness. For example, we can keep the noise down at night, take out the bins and maintain cleanliness within shared spaces. These tasks require minimal effort but they can drastically improve relationships with our neighbours, allowing the community to become more close-knit and understanding.”

Lottie

“Being a good neighbour involves a few things that I would consider necessary. The most important thing first is respect. Showing and having respect for your neighbour is a fundamental aspect of building a good relationship with them. Once respect is established, the next step is being understanding.  Remember everyone has different personalities and lifestyles and therefore you have to be open to interacting with them. Lastly, I would say establishing boundaries to me is also key to being a good neighbour. When you establish healthy boundaries, you are less likely to then have future problems with your neighbour.”

Marvin

“A good neighbour is not just about the person but the personality & the authenticity. If the neighbour is caring, aware of the surroundings, and thoughtful, it describes how the neighbour is good. Similarly, if the neighbour is being the best and the most authentic person of themselves, it also strengthens the fact that the neighbour is good. A good neighbour can also be tangibly seen when you are around them. If you feel warmth, comfort, and you can be yourself without sugar-coating your personality, that means the neighbour is good because there is no such burden for you to feel.”

Alessandro

A good neighbour is considerate of noise: Do you play loud music or talk loudly in your garden/whilst walking down a street after 11pm?

A good neighbour is tidy: Do you always put your rubbish in a bin? Do you organise the recycling into the right bins and put it out the night before?

A good neighbour is respectful and helpful: If you see someone struggling with something, do you offer to help them? Do you smile back at the sweet old lady sat at the bus stop? Do you make sure not to push past people if overtaking them whilst walking down a narrow footpath?

Josh