National Student Money Week 2023

27 February is the start of National Student Money Week and this year’s theme is Navigate the Numbers: Coping with the Cost of Living. We know that living costs remain a focus for many of you, so our Student Champions wanted to share some of their top tips with you to help.


Sainsbury’s Smart Shop and Nectar – by Sophia 

With Sainsbury’s being the most convenient supermarket for many students, it’s great to know ways to save some money on your food shop. Many students have been seen scanning their nectar card at the checkout to get their points but Smart Shop allows you to complete your shop on your phone. You scan the items as you go and then simply pay at the checkout. Not only does this save time, but you can also see how much you are spending as you do your shop which is helpful when you are shopping with a budget in mind. The best feature is that Smart Shop tracks your shopping habits and begins to offer you cheaper prices on items you buy regularly, as well as more points which can eventually be used as money off coupons too. For instance, my favourite cheese is usually around £4.50 to buy, but with Smart Shop it’s £2.94! So, I highly recommend you make use of it.

Money saving apps- By Jennifer

As a student, it’s always a challenge to save money. From buying groceries to paying bills, it can all add up quickly. However, there are a few apps out there that can help make your life easier and save you money! Here are two apps that have been particularly helpful to me.

Too Good To Go

Too Good to Go connects users with local restaurants and cafes who have leftover food at the end of the day. Instead of letting that food go to waste, the restaurants offer it at a discount through the app. It’s a win-win situation: you get a great meal at a lower cost, and the environment benefits from less food waste! I’ve used this app several times and have never been disappointed.


UNiDAYS is an app that offers student discounts at a variety of stores and restaurants. It’s completely free to sign up and offers discounts up to 50% off at popular stores like Nike, Deliveroo, and Apple. I’ve used this app for everything from clothes to electronics, and it’s definitely helped me save some money when making online purchases.

Better budgeting – by Esha

When it comes to budgeting, tracking previous expenses to see where you have spent the most money is very useful. Recognising patterns of overspending can help you to understand where you can make changes. Try to define your spending categories clearly and allocate a maximum allowance to each of them, and stay within that! Do not try to set unrealistic budgets because you will tend to be disappointed. Instead, try to reduce how much you spend on a category slowly or over time, if needed. For example, I have always overspent on food. To cut down on my expenses, I reduced the number of times I got takeout from twice a week to twice a month by opting for ready to eat meals from grocery stores instead. It involves a lot of trial and error though, so do not worry if you cannot get it right the first time!

Money advice and funding

Student Funding at the University now has a new name Money Advice and Funding, who are available to help with your money questions or worries and offer twice-daily drop-ins with a Money Adviser. There is no need to book, just use this link at 10 am to 11 am or 2 pm to 3 pm and someone will be available to answer your questions.


Why do we celebrate LGBTQ+ History Month?

By Student Champion, Josh

Pride Staff and Students Photoshoot, University of Bristol

LGBTQ+ History Month takes place every February in the UK, and this year the focus is ‘Behind the Lens’ – to look at LGBTQ+ people’s contribution to film and TV. You might ask yourself, but why is LGBTQ+ History Month important, after all gay marriage has been legal in the UK for almost 10 years and being gay was decriminalized back in 1967.

First and foremost, there are still a lot of countries in the world where LGBTQ+ people do not have basic human rights. Only 33 countries recognise same-sex marriage, and there are 6 countries where being gay can result in the death penalty by law. There are also then the issues of rights around gender recognition, discrimination and hate crimes, adoption/parenting, blood donations and so on. This shows how important it is that people still fight for their fundamental human rights, and by looking back at our history we can determine how best to secure others their future.

It is so important that everyone sees people like themselves in the classroom. In 1988, Margaret Thatcher introduced Section 28 – a law that prohibited schools from ‘promoting the teaching of the acceptability of homosexuality as a pretended family relationship’. This meant that most schools ignored the mention of anything to do with LGBTQ+ people and their history. This year marks 20 years since it was abolished in 2003, but the stigma of talking about LGBTQ+ topics has been hard to combat. This means that while students are taught about LGBTQ+ people of history (Alan Turing, Virginia Wolfe, Oscar Wilde, and Leonardo Da Vinci to name a few), their sexuality/gender identity is often ignored or even taught incorrectly. This ‘straight-washing’ is common, and this kind of erasure means that LGBTQ+ young people grow up feeling isolated, as they have no one that they can look up and relate to.

Many people who are homophobic will claim that being LGBTQ+ is a modern thing from the last 50 years. But by teaching LGBT History, we can prove that there have been LGBTQ+ people for as long as there have been people. The recent 2021 UK Census data shows that 6.91% of 16 to 24-year-olds are LGB+, 3.16% of the total population are LGB+ and 0.5% have a gender identity that is different to their sex assigned at birth. Increasing representation, teaching of LGBTQ+ history, and greater societal acceptance is clearly resulting in more people feeling comfortable enough to come out.

As a society we need to keep moving forwards, but we cannot forget those who fought to gain us the rights we have now. As the famous quote says, “those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it” – George Santayana. Given the recent surge in anti-LGBTQ+ discrimination around the world, particularly online and in the media, LGBT History Month is as important as ever.

Check out these links below for some more information on LGBT History:

International Mentoring Day

Tuesday 17 January is International Mentoring Day. To celebrate, we wanted to remind you of the great Peer Mentoring programme available to students at UoB.

What is a Peer Mentor?

Peer Mentors are students with a bit of experience of the University and of Bristol. They are usually in their second or third years and can give guidance to our new students, who might still be learning their way around the city and University. Where possible, we aim to match new students to mentors studying a similar subject to them. However, you may choose to be matched based on a protected characteristic; this could be:

  • LGBTQ+ identity
  • Faith, ethnic or cultural background
  • Care leaver or estranged student status
  • Mature student status.

How can a Peer Mentor help me?

Mature students chatting over coffee

Peer Mentors can help point you to services and support if and when you need it. They can also help with practical advice, such as:

• What to bring to university
• Local amenities and attractions
• Help finding societies and events
• Meeting for a chat
• Giving you a campus tour.

What can being a Peer Mentor do for me?

Being a Peer Mentor can help with:

• Training & skills development
• Influential reference for future employment
• Work experience which can count towards the Bristol PLUS award
• Increased confidence and self esteem.

Feedback from 2021/22 showed that students who had been peer mentored felt more settled at university. 78.3% felt the programme had Improved their student experience and 73.9% felt more confident at university!

Thoughts from current Peer Mentors

‘University is a scary, exciting and new time. Having someone kind to guide you through it can make a huge difference.’ – Leanne Price, Senior Peer Mentor

‘Peer Mentors offer amazing support to new students. Mentors understand that starting university can be a daunting experience, and thus, ensure that they pass on their knowledge and experience, making it much easier to settle in. They are also always available to listen to any issues, and will provide suitable advice, either directly, or by signposting to other support services.’ – Current Senior Peer Mentor

Do check out the programme if you’re interested in finding out more.

My thoughts on studying…

By Student Champion, Emily.

It goes without saying that not everyone is a fan of studying. It’s hard to endure hours of focus (and often fidgeting) and procrastination seems to be just as inviting as a cosy bed. But then the guilt sinks in and your cosy sheets morph from paradise to a prison and that is when you realise, studying has just got to be done.

I myself struggle with focus and motivation, but there are ways to combat days where you do not feel up to anything productive. A good place to start is by making a list. A list that consists of everything you need to achieve in the day, for example, brushing your teeth, going to Senate House, or what work you need to do. Positivity is increased when you see a list of tasks you have already accomplished, it is also better for organising your day in general.

Now you may think studying consists of hours of unwavering attention, but this is wrong. You should take a 10–20-minute break every hour, unwind, drink water, and enjoy a snack. Allowing time for your brain to refresh is important, by scheduling breaks you can focus better and allow your concentration to flow instead of taking random disruptive 5-minute breaks every time you feel like it. If your task is to write an essay, schedule your break before you read through it, often a fresh pair of eyes and a clear mind are better for checking your work.

When it comes to exams, repetition never fails never fails! Putting information and facts down in your own words and reading them aloud helps your brain to absorb information, and if you have a willing friend (or a good enough imagination), teaching them what you are studying can help you understand the content and is a fun way to change up your studying technique!

Lastly, studying all day and night may seem productive, but your brain will not retain the information, nor will it run efficiently on coffee alone. Do not burn yourself out before your exams even begin. A solid night of sleep and plenty of water will cultivate a more absorbent brain. As a uni student, you’re most likely to have studying rituals you rigidly stand by, but a lot of students forget that what they are foremost is human. So, my final piece of advice is no matter what you achieve be proud of yourself for all that you have accomplished and get yourself a cake.


Celebrating the Lunar New Year away from home

By Student Champion, Jennie

As the Lunar New Year (LNY) draws closer, some of us who celebrate it may start longing for the comforts of home. Growing up, I’ve always looked forward to going back to Malaysia to celebrate LNY with my family. This year, however, things will be a little different for me as I will be celebrating LNY in the UK for the first time. It’s easy to start feeling homesick and overwhelmed; but at the same time, it’s a chance for us to create new traditions and make the most out of our time here!

If you are also celebrating the LNY away from home, here are some tips that might help you feel connected to our traditions and culture:

  1. Reach out to your loved ones back home. Whether it’s through a phone call, video chat, or even just a text message, staying in touch with your family and friends can help you feel connected and supported.
  2. Get creative with your celebrations. If you can’t do things exactly how you would back home, think of new and unique ways to bring the holiday to life. For example, you could host a LNY feast with your friends. I know I’ll be cooking up a storm in the kitchen to prepare some of my favourite traditional dishes. This includes dumplings, spring rolls, and, of course, a big pot of luck-bringing noodles! Or, spice up your dorm room with red and gold decorations. Red and gold are the colours of the LNY, and they are believed to bring luck and prosperity.
  3. Join LNY events in Bristol! The Global Lounge will be hosting several traditional activities throughout the holiday season—as of now, they’re planning to provide sessions on kite making, lantern making, Mahjong, and calligraphy—why not join in the fun? The Bristol Museum & Art Gallery will also be hosting a special 2-day event filled with performances and activities to welcome the Year of the Rabbit.
  4. Take some time to reflect on the holiday’s meaning and significance. The LNY is a time for new beginnings, so use this opportunity to set intentions and goals for the year ahead.

Overall, the LNY is all about celebrating and coming together with loved ones. Whether this is your first time away from home or your umpteenth, there are always new ways to make the most of this special occasion. I hope these tips help you to celebrate LNY in your own way; if you’re celebrating the LNY away from home, don’t be afraid to embrace it – you never know what amazing experiences and memories you’ll create.

Wishing you all a happy and prosperous Lunar New Year!

Bringing ‘home’ to Bristol…

It’s nearly the end of term – and we hope you have had a good one!

Many of you will soon be leaving Bristol to see family and friends, but when you return will it feel like you are coming home? And if you are staying in Bristol, does that mean Bristol is already home to you, or will you be wishing you were somewhere else… maybe somewhere warmer?

We asked our student champions Josh and Lottie about what they’ve done to make Bristol feel like home. For Lottie creating a playlist was the key to comfort, and for Josh it was about making his room a place to relax in.


To make my uni room feel more homely, I like to bring plenty of stuff from home to decorate with (and sometimes I go a bit overboard). I have photos plastered all over my walls (using blue tack alternatives to not stain the walls of course), and my shelves are chocked full of books, plants, and Lego.




Music really helped me transition to university at the beginning of first year. Before moving into my accommodation in September, I spent some time putting some playlists together so that I could carry a bit of home with me wherever I went.

My dad always plays music when we have a family meal together on a Saturday night and he has a very specific taste! I created a playlist with all of his favourite songs, mostly consisting of music from the 70s and 80s, and whenever I listen to it, it brings me comfort because I’m reminded of my family and all of our great memories together.

I really recommend doing this because you can listen to the playlist whenever you want: in the library, on the way to lectures or at night before bed!


Let us know what “home” means to you by sending in your pictures and stories to

In the meantime, we hope you have a happy and healthy winter break. If you’re staying in Bristol for the holidays, remember that the Residential Life team is running daily events, open to ALL students. And while the University is officially closed between Friday 23 December and Wednesday 4 January, you can still access some services if you need them. You can also request wellbeing support during this time if you need to do so.

With the very best festive wishes from the Student Comms team. We look forward to hearing from you in 2023!


Festive films to watch

Winter is the perfect time to snuggle up under blankets, watch films and eat yummy snacks.

Earlier this week we asked you what your favourite films are for the festive season, here are some of your suggestions.

The Muppet Christmas Carol (1992)

A Muppet Christmas Carol lego scene

The Muppets perform the classic Dickens holiday tale, complete with Scrooge, Bob Cratchit, ghosts of Christmas past, present and future and Miss Piggy doing what she does best. Is a miserable old man capable of redemption and happiness?

Nativity! (2009)

A British schoolteacher tries to convince his ex-girlfriend, who now works in film production in LA, to come back to Coventry to film his school’s nativity play.

Love Actually (2003)

Love is all around – and so is heartbreak – as multiple couples navigate romance, family, weddings and airports at Christmastime.

Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone (2001)

Harry Potter scene made with lego

An orphaned 11 year-old enrols in Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, here he learns the truth about himself, his family and the terrible evil that haunts the magical world.

The first of the eight Harry Potter films is perhaps the most festive, with the Great Hall full of trees and treats, homemade Christmas jumpers and snowy scenes, however that isn’t to say you can’t watch the entire series over the course of winter break.

The Lighthouse (2019)

Maybe not the most traditional of Christmas films, but in the Victorian Era ghost stories were an integral part of the season, with families gathering round the fire to tell tales of terror.

In The Lighthouse, two lighthouse keepers try to maintain their sanity while living on a remote and mysterious New England island in the 1890s.

Die Hard (1988)

Not considered a Christmas film by everyone, but Die Hard has become a staple holiday viewing for many.

New York City policeman John McClane is visiting his estranged wife on Christmas Eve. He joins her at a holiday party in the headquarters of the Japanese-owned business she works for. But the festivities are interrupted by a group of terrorists who take over the exclusive high-rise and everyone in it. Very soon McClane realises that there’s no one to save the hostages – but him. Yippee Ki-Yay!

Rise of the Guardians (2012)

Generation after generation, immortal Guardians like Santa Claus, the Easter Bunny, and the Tooth Fairy protect the world’s children from darkness and despair. However, Pitch Black, a bogeyman that generates fear and nightmares, plans to overthrow the Guardians. It falls to a winter sprite named Jack Frost to thwart Pitch’s plans and save the Guardians.

La La Land (2016)

Sebastian and Mia are drawn together by their common desire to do what they love. But as success mounts they are faced with decisions that begin to fray the fragile fabric of their love affair, and the dreams they worked so hard to maintain in each other threaten to rip them apart.

Lego Santa Claus with reindeer and presents

Other notable film suggestions include:

  • The Grinch (2000)
  • A Christmas Prince (2017)
  • The Holiday (2006)
  • Polar Express (2004)
  • Christmas with the Kranks (2004)
  • Tales from the Crypt (1972)
  • Home Alone (1990)
  • Bad Santa (2003)
  • Elf (2003)

Many of these films are available on Netflix and Amazon Prime, or from Bristol Library for a £1 fee for a week’s loan.

If you are staying in Bristol over the course of Winter Break, ResiLife have events on every day for all students, whether you live in Halls of Residences or not. There is also support available throughout the entire winter period if you need it.

Images provided by student champion Josh.

What happens when you mix a CLO with an SLO?!


Izzy Russell – your Student Living Officer – recently met up with Steve Smith – your Community Liaison Officer – to talk about their objectives for 2022-23 and find out whether they have any shared goals.



Accommodation and community living

Izzy: One of the things I am asked about most is finding accommodation in Bristol that is affordable and in good condition. We are partnering with the University’s Accommodation Services and external partners such as Shelter to help with housing issues and I wondered whether you’ve also found this to be an area of concern for students?

Steve: Yes I have, and part of my role is helping students understand what is in their tenancy agreement and helping them out with any issues they have with their agency or landlord. I also work with eight local residents’ associations and they really want to welcome students into the community – all people really want is a clean street and a quiet neighbourhood! However I had 750 complaints last year and these were mostly about noise and waste, so I am working with residents’ associations, lettings agencies, landlords and students to create good relationships on all sides.

Izzy: I know a lot of students try to manage their waste properly, but they can’t because their bins get stolen!

Steve: Yes I’ve come across that. But they can order new ones on the Council’s website. If they’ve damaged the bin they will need to pay for a new one themselves – but if it’s been taken or gone missing they can get a free replacement.

Harm Reduction

Izzy: I’m really interested in continuing work on harm reduction, and making sure students are safe, even if they engage in drug use. Is that something you get involved in as part of your role?

Steve: Yes, I am particularly concerned by students who find themselves getting into financial difficulty because of the amount of money they are spending on drugs, but are feeling too awkward to talk to anyone about the situation. I’m also aware that there are people who are putting themselves into situations that make them vulnerable, for example lone females going to pick up supplies from people they don’t know in unfamiliar places. We signpost them to people who can help such as Bristol Drugs Project and Student Services.


Izzy: One of the SU Officers’ shared priorities for 2022-23 is sustainability. Are there any community schemes being run which would help us with this objective?

Steve: Definitely. Most of the residents’ associations run initiatives around gardening and litter picking – the High Kingsdown Community Association is a good example, but the others are also active and have newsletters which students can sign up to if they want to get involved. There are lots of other things going on like the Chandos Road Festival and the Window Wanderland. It’s a great way to meet your neighbours, have some fun and feel good about what you’ve achieved!

If you would like to get more involved with your local community please email

If you have questions about housing check out the SU’s My Rent, My Rights campaign headed up by Izzy.

If you need advice about your health and safety please see the range of support on offer.


University of Bristol researchers attend the UN climate conference in Egypt

2 researchers standing in front of the COP27 sign in EgyptThe Cabot Institute for the Environment is working to ensure that University of Bristol researchers have a voice at COP27, the 27th Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, which is taking place from 6 to 18 November 2022 in Sharm El-Sheikh, Egypt.

A team of climate researchers will share their expertise at the world leaders’ summit, which marks the 30th anniversary of the adoption of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) at the Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro, 1992.

With more than 300 Cabot Institute climate scientists and researchers following the COP27 proceedings and sharing their insights with the media, three of our colleagues will be there in person – taking Bristol University environmental research to the international arena.

Dr Rachel James focuses on African climate systems, using science to inform climate change policy.

“With the war in Ukraine and a cost-of-living crisis, it would be easy to lose sight of the importance of climate action. But we can’t afford to wait; the urgency of addressing climate change has never been greater. And that’s particularly true for African countries, which are projected to experience some of the most damaging impacts of climate change.” 

Faces of two researchers travelling to COP27
Alix Dietzel and Colin Nolden

Dr Alix Dietzel, senior lecturer in climate justice, will observe government negotiations and reflect on whose voices were heard and whether themes such as loss, damage and a fair transition to a net zero economy were considered in the negotiations.

“It is increasingly clear the effects of climate change are highly unequal and we have to look to those who have caused the most damage to ensure people are compensated, while also ensuring we move forward on climate change in a fair and inclusive manner at the global and local level.” 

Dr Colin Nolden works on energy and climate policy. His research ranges from looking at how governments are reducing energy poverty for communities to implementing climate change initiatives internationally.

“Raising ambition to reduce carbon emissions and sharing the burden of the rapid transition of our energy, economic, and social systems that such rapid decarbonisation entails, is essential to limit global warming and its detrimental effects, especially among countries least responsible but most affected.”

Be the change

The machinations of the conference may seem far away but we can all contribute and make changes in our daily lives to reduce global warming, reduce waste and protect biodiversity. Sign up for our Be the Change campaign – and take the challenges. Can you take a 4-minute shower? Could you consider moving towards a plant-based diet? Have you got ideas for related events and talks? If you’re already involved and would like to share your story, get in touch by emailing the student comms team. Share your experience on social media #UobTheChange.

The Cabot Institute for the Environment has also commissioned a series of illustrations reflecting Bristol’s support for COP27, capturing local people’s messages in response to the climate emergency to leaders at the conference. Follow Cabot on Instagram @bristoluni_cabot_institute #COP27, and check out the blog to find out more about its work.

Read full media release about our staff at COP27.

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

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