Things I wish people had told me I didn’t need to take all the way from China to uni!

eby Juntao, Senior Resident

I still remember the day  I was packed for my Masters, packing for an exciting adventure to a different country, different culture, and of course, a completely different food system from China. My mum was standing next to me, muttering about all the things I should squeeze into my poor suitcases: clothes, shoes, stationery, sanitary pads, skincare, eye drops, rice cooker, tableware, woks, quilts, pillows… Then there was the day when I was carrying two giant 28-inch suitcases and one boarding case, struggling all the way from the train station in my city to the airport in Shanghai, to the airport in London, and then finally to Bristol. Oh, yes, how can I forget the day when I finally submitted my dissertation and started to pack my things and leave for home, I looked at my wardrobe, sighed, and wished someone had reminded me not to bring this stuff!  

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International student Q&A

Starting university is both nerve-racking and exciting, especially when you are travelling from a different country and culture to do so.

Earlier this week we posted an Instagram story asking our incoming international students to tell us what they wanted to know about life as a Bristol student.

Here are a few of their questions!

1. Can we work while studying? 

Yes! International students on a Student Visa can work while studying, providing you are able to balance your job with your studies and social life. 

Many businesses in and around Bristol are happy to hire students and work around your schedules. There is also the option to work for the University in roles such as student ambassadors or event stewards. 

For more advice about working visit the careers service website

2. Can we get the food we like from our countries?

There are many international stores around Bristol, selling a range of foods including halal meat, eastern European delicacies and Asian spices. Also, most large supermarkets such as Sainsbury’s, Asda, and Tesco have international aisles, but the selections may be limited in comparison to specialist markets. Likewise, most supermarkets have vegetarian and vegan selections too. 

Bristol prides itself on its multiculturalism as such there are many restaurants with international cuisines near campus and some that are just a short bus or bike ride away. 

Our friends over at UWE have put together a list of international food stores in Bristol

3. Which shops accept student discount? 

Many stores in Bristol and the UK accept student discounts, however there isn’t a website naming all of these, so you are better off going into a store and asking. 

Stores within Cabot Circus, the Galleries, Broadmead and the Arcade that accept student discount are listed here: bristolshoppingquarter.co.uk/offer/student-discounts/ 

There are also third-party discount providers such as TOTUM, Student Beans and UNiDAYS, who provide you with a card that will entitle you to discounts on everything from restaurants, retail, tech, travel and everything in between.   

4. Will there be other students from my country?

The University of Bristol is home to students from all over the world, with everyone being welcomed into our community, so chances are that there will be someone from your country. 

Bristol SU has an International Students Network which is a chance for all international students to come together. There are also social groups for students from specific backgrounds such as the African & Caribbean Society, Filipino Society, Arab Society, Latino Society and Chinese Society. If there isn’t a society for you, you can always try and start one.

5. Are there lots of cycle routes?

Bristol is a very bike friendly city, with lots of cycle paths and cycle routes. Visit Bristol has a very handy list of maps for cyclists, as well as a lit of where you can rent bikes, and cafes that even offer extras for cyclists such as repairs and bike storage.

6. What do people wear? How do I dress for the weather?

People should wear whatever they feel comfortable in. Feel free to express yourself with your fashion choices. 

The autumn and winter months in the UK can be cold and rainy so you should have warm clothes such as jumpers and cardigans as well as a waterproof coat. It rarely snows here, but if it does there is never more than a couple of inches and it normally melts away within a day or two. 

This summer has been very warm with some daily temperatures of 30 degrees Celsius, in this weather it is common for people to wear t-shirts with shorts or jeans, or dresses etc. In 

The weather in spring and summer can be unpredictable, so it might be handy to carry a small umbrella in your bag even if the sky looks blue when you leave the house. 

 Our campus sits at the top of some hilly roads so comfortable shoes such as trainers, boots, flat sandals (for the summer months) are recommended. 

7. Will teaching be online this year?

At the moment, we are planning to deliver as much in-person learning as we safety can. This includes seminars, laboratories and even some lectures. At the same time, the past year has taught us the benefits of a blended approach and we will be taking the best of online and adding it to a mainly in-person educational offer. 

Our planning is informed by government guidelines, Public Health England and by our very own scientific advisory group. Therefore, you can be assured that your safety and the safety of our community remains our priority. We have plans that mean we can respond effectively to any changes in circumstances. 

We look forward to welcoming you to campus and our amazing city! 

8. What is the cost of bus travel?

Students can benefit from discounted fares of up to 30% off bus services across Bristol and further afield.  

The best bus fares are normally available as mobile tickets which can be bought and stored on your mobile phone using the mTicket app (just search ‘First mTickets’ in your app store). More information about bus fares can be found on our website.

A range of special passes and fares are available for the Bristol Unibus U1 and U2 services linking the North Residential Village and Langford to the Clifton Campus.

Further fare information is available on the Bristol Unibus website.

9. What is council tax, and do I need to pay it? 

As a university student you are exempt from paying council tax. However, the council will normally ask for proof of your student status this can be requested from your school administration.  

If you live in a household with non-students, they will be likely to qualify for a discount.  

There is more information available on the Bristol City Council website 

10. Where does the best pizza in Bristol? Where can I get the best coffee?

Websites like Secret Bristol and Best of Bristol regularly post lists of the best places in Bristol for food and drinks.  

TripAdvisor is also a good source for rankings as you can see a lot of reviews from different people.

But I think the best and tastiest way to find your perfect pizza or coffee is to try as many as possible!  

11. Does the university have a canteen? 

There are lots of places to eat and drink on campus. From smaller cafes serving takeaway food and drinks, to the Senate House Marketplace where you can go for breakfast, lunch and dinner. 

12. How do we claim back PCR test costs? How do I get food in quarantine?  

Information about covid testing kits and quarantine packs can be found on the following pages of our website.

International travel: restrictions and quarantine

Tests and quarantine for travel

13. Is Bristol expensive? 

Living in any major city does tend to cost more they people think. However, life in Bristol doesn’t need to break the bank, so long as you are sensible with your money. 

We have put together a rough guide how much it costs to live in Bristol.

14. Can you recommend any good restaurants?

We could (and probably will) dedicate a whole blog post to eating in Bristol as it’s so amazing!  

You can probably find an example of food from nearly everywhere in the world and some of our restaurants are in the Michelin guide. However, if you want to get a snapshot of what the city has to offer, head for Cargo at Wapping Wharf. It’s down by the harbour, just behind the MShed (which is a very cool museum!) You’re bound to find something tasty to eat there! 

Find your Support

Hi everyone! Khadija here, chair of the BME network, elected by BME students to represent BME students at a university and SU level.

Many students struggle with finding support, and in my role, I particularly find this as an issue for BME students, who often find it difficult to see how to access the university’s services. As such, I’ve become familiar with what is available, and have had some great discussions with the staff behind them already to incorporate the needs of all students, including those from racial and ethnic minorities! How to Find your Support:

1. Student Wellbeing Service

This is your first port of call if you’re struggling, and includes a range of services, from:

Student Wellbeing Advisors, who can help direct you to where you need to go.

TalkCampus app, giving you online peer-support any time of day and night.

– Self-help resources, including the FIKA Covid-19 support app, which is designed to help you learn practical mental and emotional fitness approaches which you can apply to your everyday life.

The Student Counselling Service, including a specific BAME Counselling service run by NILAARI, which the BME Network supported being expanded into the university last year.

– The uni are working with Bristol Drugs Project too and ‘The Drop’ harm reduction service. If you’re thinking about trying drugs or if drug use has become a problem, reach out via email thedrop@bdp.org.uk find them on Instagram above or call 0117 987 6000.

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Find your Balance

You’ve likely heard by now that uni is a great place to try new extracurricular activities and continue with the things that you’re passionate about. We’ve got you covered at Bristol with a huge array of options so that you can strike the right balance between your studies and making the most of being a Bristol student.

Due to COVID-19 you’ll see a lot of these events and activities have gone virtual this year. There’s still much to enjoy on campus and we’ve made some changes to enable you to get involved safely, such as adapting our spaces and enhanced hygiene measures.

Explore societies, volunteering & much more at the SU Welcome Fair

Held on 7 October 12 pm – 8 pm, the Official Bristol SU Welcome Fair is going virtual for 2020 with registration opening on Monday 14 September.

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Find your Community

You will have so many opportunities to immerse yourself in different cultures and groups whilst at Bristol. After all, you’re joining a community of nearly 25,000 students, so do give yourself time to explore what makes you feel happy and settled and give things a go!

Student experience

Andre joined us from Indonesia in 2018 to study a MSc in Education (Learning, Technology & Society). Here he shares his experience as an international student and his thoughts about building your community:

Photo of Andre

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Find your Home

Congratulations on securing your place at the University of Bristol! This is such an exciting time – many of you will be moving to a new city, making new connections and experiencing a new way of life.

Colourful houses
Clifton Wood houses

Moving into university accommodation for the first time can be daunting. But don’t worry, we’ve got lots of tips and resources to help you. Just remember, everyone is in the same situation as you! Watch SU Student Living Officer, Ruth share their experience of living in Goldney Hall and the benefits of living in university accommodation:

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Stay connected

Now, more than ever, it’s important to keep our online community strong.  

You can tap into some of the fantastic online resources which will keep you connected to other students and the University! 

Social Media

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Top tips for student life

Welcome Week has now passed, and we hope you are settling in well! Here are some top tips from your University community on how to manage student life using their own personal experiences.

Making friends…

Sarah Ashley, Marketing Officer (Postgraduate) – Welcome Week is a great time to meet people, have fun and explore your new city but don’t worry if you don’t immediately click with people. I didn’t meet the people I’m still friends with now (10 years after graduation) until I was almost at the end of my second year.

Annie Avery, Student Living Room Coordinator – Don’t worry if you don’t feel like you’re having ‘the best time of your life’ give lots of opportunities a chance and you’ll find your people

Living in halls…

Robert Smart, Partnerships Manager – If in Halls, get to know your reception teams and staff. They are friendly and can make things happen, particular if you talk to them!

Paul Arnold , SU Head of Business Development – When you move into halls and are getting settled in to your room, pop your door open to let people know you want to say hi and make friends!

Jemma Harford, SU Student Opportunities Manager (Groups and Services) – Bring food to share, your new accommodation can be daunting but everyone loves food. Bring some homemade biscuits, local treats or cook a flat meal together that incorporates all of your favourite foods.

Studying…

Marton Balaz, Reader in Probability (Mathematics) – In my first weeks of studies I realized that difficult concepts settle. Material that seemed shockingly complicated in the first week became rather natural two weeks later. I just had to look back in my notes again. So, don’t panic! revisit difficult stuff regularly.

Susan Pettinger-Moores, Medicine Teaching and Learning Manager – Pop in and meet the admin team for your course – we don’t bite! We have lots of knowledge and really want to see students succeed.

Look after yourself..

Simon Gamble, Head of Study Skills – Don’t worry about trying to be perfect. It’s fine to get things wrong and it’s good to try new things, because that’s how we grow and learn.

Tom Wallis, SU Student Development Coordinator (Sports and Physical Activity). If you don’t immediately feel at home, work and broaden your horizons; your people and your place are somewhere and they’re waiting for you to find them.

Chloe Hogan, SU Events Coordinator – Don’t put too much pressure on yourself that “university is the best time of your life”. Enjoy each moment as it comes and don’t put pressure on yourself to do too much as this will burn you out!

Managing your time…

Elle Chilton-Knight, Undergraduate Student Administrator – Get everywhere 5 minutes early! You’ll get best pick of seats/equipment and it makes all the difference towards a calm, confident exterior. From there you’ll be chatting to people in no time!

Getting involved…

Helen Dury, Portfolio Marketing Manager – University is the perfect opportunity to try new things. I joined a ski club and competed around the country and met someone I’m still great friends with now, nearly 30 years later!

Philip Gravatt, SU Finance Assistant -My tip would be to look into all the societies and clubs available at the Students Union. They’re a fantastic way of learning something new and easing academic stress.

Matt Humberstone, SU Student Development Coordinator – Join a student group! For many students, their student group becomes the best part of their university experience.

Jenny Reeve, Lecturer in Small Animal Medicine – Take every opportunity to get involved with new activities, skills or social events that you have not had the chance to do before – there is such a vibrant and diverse student population, it is a great way to meet others who share your interests. There is so much more to University life than your academic program – have fun!

Explore the city..

Robbie Fox, Alumni Mentoring Coordinator – Explore this amazing city! I came here as a student , fell in love with the place and have been here ever since! This video is a nice example.

Linda Gerrard, Residential and Hospitality Services – Get your walking shoes on and get lost! Around most corners there is something to delight, amuse or inform.

Hillary Gyebi-Ababio, Undergraduate Education Officer – My one piece of advice for new students would be to not confine themselves to the University bubble. Get out and discover new places and cultures in the city – Easton, St Pauls, and Stokes Croft are the perfect places to start!

Lauren Wardle, Student Wellbeing Adviser – Explore the city as a whole, and get involved in hobbies and interests that make you ‘you’! You might find your interests lead to new friends, or even some job opportunities down the line.

Services available to you..

Knut Schroeder, Honorary Senior Clinical Lecturer – Download our free Student Health App, which is listed on the NHS Apps Library. It’s been developed by the University of Bristol Students’ Health Service and University of Bristol students, and it’s packed with common-sense health advice that can make all the difference for your health and wellbeing. You can even customise the app for Bristol when you open it up for the first time.

Lauren Cole, Careers Information Advisers – Pop in to your Careers Service and get to know the support you can access. We can help you find and apply for part time work, internships and work experience, graduate roles, or start your own business!

Emily’s self-care tips

Emily’s back with some top tips for life after Welcome Week.

So Welcome Week has come to an end… what now? You’re actually here and things are getting real. It might seem daunting but I’m here to give you five self-care tips which might make things that little bit easier.

1. Go outside.
Bristol is renowned for its urban green environment. Why not go for a walk? You could get to know the campus to familiarise yourself with lecture venues.

Spotlight: Ashton Court.

Ashton Court offers 850 acres of land to explore. If you want some fresh air, this is where to go. Also, Ashton Court is a popular spot for dogs, so if you need a dog fix then this is the place for you!

2. Get some rest.
Put on your cosiest pyjamas, unwind with a nice warm drink and go to sleep! Can’t sleep? Read (don’t go on your phone! It doesn’t help!). Read something with no link to your academic studies, something which relaxes you. If the things you must do the next day are keeping you awake then write a list before bed, that way you know you won’t forget! Don’t feel bad about having some downtime.

3. Baking on a budget is not only easy but stress relieving. Why not bake a big dish for your flat mates? Not only is this a nice gesture but then you can all enjoy it together. Make sure you get some good food in that dish, that little bit of veg is going to make you feel so much better.

4. Organise!
If you don’t know what to do with yourself, why not make sure that your room is arranged in a way that works for you. You could create a timetable to give yourself some consistency in your new life at uni (you don’t have to follow it with great precision, it’s just nice to have some stability when you’re having a bad day). Here’s an example of mine…

5. So, you’ve followed all the advice and things still don’t seem right? Its okay to ask for help.
There are loads of ways you can get the support you need, from friends and family to university services. When things got tough for me – I talked to the uni which I personally found really helpful. At the end of the day, you know yourself. If things don’t seem right, speak up.

Self-care is laying the foundations for the life you want to live, make sure you’re living your best life in Bristol.

 

At Bristol you are not on your own, there is always someone to support you; in our residences, academic schools and on campus. It’s ok to not be ok – talk to us, we’re here to help.

bristol.ac.uk/students/wellbeing/

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!