The weekend is here!

Wow, what a week! We hope that you’re all coping well during the current national lockdown – remember to look after yourselves and each other, and check in on your friends, family and loved ones.  

Just because we’re in lockdown, it doesn’t mean you can’t have fun!  

Here are some ideas for this weekend: 

Bristol Harbourside in autumn

Go for an autumnal walk with your housemates, Living Circle or one person from another household

There are so many great spots around Bristol for a (chilly) walk; Harbourside, The Downs, Ashton Court Estate…we could go on forever. Please remember to social distance if you are meeting with one person from another household.

Man on phone

Video call someone who you know needs a friend right now

Do you have any mates who live alone or know are not looking forward to the lockdown? Why not give them a call this weekend to check in? 

Set up a shared Spotify playlist and sync with your friends

Who doesn’t love dancing in their kitchen? Exactly! Get a great playlist sorted, share with your friends and hit play at the same time. You could give them a video call too and pretend you’re in your favourite club in Bristol. Motion not open? No problem! 

Have a sort-out

OK, this may sound boring but it’s good to do from time to time. There has got to be some old clothes you never wear or a drawer full of old stuff you don’t need. If you’re feeling super productive this weekend, have a sort through and get a bag of donations ready for when charity shops open up again. 

Sleeping cat

And most importantly…chill out!

If some or none of the above are your thing, just take some time to rest and chill this weekend. Whatever works for you. If that’s playing video games (we have some gamers in the Student Comms team too), binge-watching your favourite series, baking, reading or anything else, just do it! 

Weekend and future events

University and Bristol SU virtual events for the weekend, next week and beyond are listed on our website. Our Resilife Team also have lots of events listed on their Facebook page.

Here are a few of our upcoming event highlights: 

  • On Wednesday, you can Celebrate Diwali with the Bristol Hindu Society.  
  • Next week, Bristol COVID-19 experts will be answering questions on the virus. The event will be chaired by Bristol West MP Thangam Debbonaire and everyone is welcome to attend virtually and submit a question beforehand. Learn more about it here.
  • Join the Multifaith Chaplaincy for their annual Faith Crawl on Wednesday.
  • We’ve teamed up with Mind, the leading mental health charity, to pilot their new Mentally Healthy Universities programme. View the events here.

We hope you all have great weekends 😊 

Your Student Comms team x  

My COVID-19 university experience outside of student life

I’m George and I’m studying BSc Politics and International Relations.

What volunteering I’m doing whilst studying

Whilst at university I’m volunteering as a Special Constable with our local police force, Avon and Somerset Police. In this role, I hold the same powers as a regular police officer and patrol alongside them by preventing and detecting crime to help keep the community safe. Engaging with the community through my volunteering has allowed me to engage with the wider community, which is great because I learn something new or exciting about Bristol every day. I volunteer at least 16 hours a month, however I recognise the importance of breaking the study cycle at university so often commit to more hours.

How I balance this with new university life under blended learning

Under the new blended learning approach, I have used the best of a challenging situation to use the recorded lectures and reading requirements of my course to commit to more volunteering hours. Further, at times in the working week where I may not have been available in the past, I am now able to help my local policing team, using weekends to study. My volunteering has helped me become more independent and develop my people skills. It can be hard to balance at times, but I have been learning to manage studying, social activities and volunteering under what is sometimes a stressful time.

Photo of Brandon Hill
Brandon Hill is a great place to meet friends at a distance

Following the rules

While our university experience is different to what we’re all used to in the previous years, it’s for a reason. We’ve all seen the amazing work our NHS have done this year and would not want to put extra strain on our hospitals or emergency services who are having to deal with coronavirus cases. We all definitely would not want to put vulnerable members of our community at risk. So please stick to the rules and remember to social distance from course mates and other households, whether it’s at Brandon Hill enjoying some fresh air near the campus or shopping up on Whiteladies Road.

“My Bristol community has really come together during this time”

Hi everyone, my name is Michelle and I’m a second year Civil Engineering student.

Never in a million years would I have guessed that I would finish the rest of my academic year online in self isolation because of a global pandemic, but if there is anything these past two months have taught me it’s that, every cloud has a silver lining. From the weekly zoom calls/meetings to the increased online group forums, my Bristol community has really come together during this time.

 

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My experience of lockdown in Bristol

Hi I’m Gurjot and I’m studying Development and Security (MSc).

When life throws stones at you, you have two options. Either you can choose to get hurt by their crushing impact or if you are bold enough, you can collect those stones and build strong bridges. The Coronavirus lockdown is a challenging time but I hope to use this time to try new things and gain perspective on what is important in life.

With these positive thoughts in my mind, I decided to not to travel back to India and stay here in Bristol. Reflecting upon my time in lockdown so far, the main things I have discovered are:

Learnt new skills

Apart from completing my university assignments, I have tried to utilise my lockdown time in Bristol to polish my culinary skills, hone my guitar lessons, improve my cyber knowledge and write some new topics about life in my weekly diary.

Value time, loved ones & online community

I have started valuing the importance of ‘time’ and ‘family’ even much more in my life and become interested in doing exercise, yoga and meditation which was rare earlier. Separated by physical distances, but united in social solidarity, the online classes by the subject unit tutors and other cool events like Virtual Language Café, run by Global Lounge, etc. are proving to be great stress-busters and uplifting the collective spirits of the students.

Appreciate Bristol

As an international student, I consider myself to be very lucky to be a part of the city of Bristol which weaves magic upon you through its colourful landscapes, Banksy’s artworks and lovely, unpredictable weather.

Indeed, the one thing which I have really learned from lockdown is that we need be adaptable and respond positively to whatever challenges we face in our lives.

Bristol’s cultural scene goes digital!

Missing Bristol? Whether you have left Bristol or are here under lockdown you can still take virtual tours, join in live steams and access collections from some of the city’s iconic cultural venues.

There are lots of great resources and events that are accessible, right from your desktop or smart phone, to make you feel connected to our Bristol community, and beyond.

We have put together some of Bristol’s top cultural resources to access watch online:

1. University of Bristol Special Collections – This holds more 5km of books, archives, photographs, and artefacts dating from the eleventh to the twenty-first century. Visit the Online Archive Catalogue and explore what’s available.

2.  The Watershed – Watch amazing livestreams from the comfort of your own sofa. Find out films are available on the Watershed website. You can also stream films you wanted to watch at the Watershed for free with a trial of BFI or MUBI.

3. Bristol Museum & Art Gallery – There is a variety of online exhibitions, from Japanese prints to British tattoo art. Discover these exhibitions on the Bristol Museum & Art Gallery website.

4. Bristol Old Vic At Home – This opens the curtain to a digital theatre platform which features some of Bristol’s most-loved theatre shows and work by exciting emerging artists. Visit the Bristol Old Vic At Home website for more information.

5. Bristol Cathedral – Take a virtual tour of Bristol Cathedral and find out more about its history and heritage.

6.  Film and TV programmes filmed in Bristol –  The Pale HorseSanditonPoldark and Doctor Who all filmed scenes in Bristol (click on the links for more information). See Visit Bristol for a map of movies filmed in Bristol locations too.

What are you missing about Bristol? Share your favourite memories, places to go and photos of Bristol by using #WeMissYouBristol on Twitter and Instagram. We’ll retweet our favourites and look forward to visiting them again after lockdown!

Ways to curb lockdown boredom

Hi guys, my name is Elaura and I’m a second year History student! Here are some of my tips and recommendations on how to stay productive and positive during the COVID 19 lockdown!

It’s now the third week of national lockdown from the COVID 19 pandemic and we’re all starting to become climatized to life indoors. At some point during this experience, we will all have days where we struggle a bit more and find it difficult to think positively and be productive. So, it’s important that we all look out for one another and find ways to make the long-haul of self-isolation manageable and enjoyable if we can help it. I’ve used this space to share some ideas on how to stay positive, things I’ve found to do with my household to pass the time, and things you can incorporate into your routine to boost productivity.

Things to try at home

Work out

Exercise is a pretty obvious one that I’m sure everyone is doing, but scheduling time to do a routine with family members, or even by yourself, helps pass time, release endorphins and make you feel rewarded after. There are loads of YouTube follow along videos, Live streams from channels via Uni Days and 30 day challenges you can find and try to complete!

Virtual Pub Quiz

As of last week, Jay Flynn created an online pub quiz via Facebook that turned into a massive success. I did it with my family and it was really good fun, I think he’s doing another one soon so keep an eye out!

Online Board games

Something I’ve really enjoyed doing with friends over group calls is play online versions of board games. You can find pretty much anything online from Chess, Pictionary, Cards Against Humanity, the list goes on. It’s great fun and a nice break from chatting about coronavirus.

Bake/cook

Baking is a brilliant way to pass the time if you’re able to get the ingredients right now, if not then offering to cook for your family, cooking new meals for yourself, making the most out of what you have in the cupboards and getting creative is a brilliant way to practise self-care as well as sustainability.

De-clutter your room

Now is a great opportunity to have a real sort out of your space. Dedicate time to sorting through clothes, products and other items to make room for new things when we’re able to go outside.

Read/Watch films

There’s now no excuse not to dive into the pile of books you bought and never got around to reading or start watching all the classic films you’ve been recommended. As a film fan, I recommend downloading the app Letterboxd and creating a Watchlist to get through. Similar apps for books can also be found- this is a great way of keeping record of things you loved and want to recommend to others.

These are just some things I’ve done that I’ve found work for passing the time well and mixing up my daily routine. Give some a try if you’re struggling for things to do, and hopefully it’ll encourage positive thinking and productivity around Uni work! Remember to keep safe and be kind to yourselves!

Self-Isolation: A final year’s guide to coping

Hello everyone, my name is Kiki and I’m a final year student at UOB. I’m writing this blog to reach out to students during isolation. I am sure that this is a very anxious and stressful time for many of you. Being a final year student, my whole education has been turned upside down and I have no choice but to try and respond to it in the calmest way possible.

I am sure many of you will have heard a lot of advice on ways to stay sane, so I have included general advice at the end for anyone interested. I’m hoping however, that if you’re reading this, you’ll gain an insight into something that may help you during these incredibly challenging times as these are some of the methods that are helping me to remain positive and calm.


Staying as productive as is possible for YOU
The first thing I can recommend to students in to stay as productive as is possible for YOU. Of course, everyone’s individual situation is completely different and you have to evaluate what works for you and what things you feel you can do, and if that means simply staying in bed, relaxing and watching Netflix all day, there is nothing wrong with it!!

Listen to what your body and mind really need right now and don’t compare this to anyone else. Your situation is individual, as are your needs and you need to honour this in a way that is right for you.

That being said, I have found that creating a routine and checking off potential tasks really helps to keep me grounded and it gives a sense of normality and accomplishment that most of us seek in normal daily life. Here are some tips of what I have been trying to do to stop myself from falling into a slump. You have never and probably will never have more time than you do right now, so it’s a great time to get started on tasks/hobbies/goals that you may have otherwise pushed aside and focus on yourself.

TIP: Figure out the tasks you wish to complete and group them in a table:

1. Make a list of all the things you ideally wish to achieve in quarantine
2. Subgroup them e.g Work, Education, Fitness and Health, Hobbies, Helping Others, Self-Care, Chill (any category that works for you).
3. Make a table with the days of the week across the top and on the left-hand side write the different tasks/activities/goals. Upon completion tick off what you have done.
(I personally like to summarise the success of my task with a face or a comment so that when it comes to tracking my progression, I can clearly see how I felt after.)
4. At the end of the week look back on everything you have achieved and feel proud at anything that you may have
completed, even if it’s just one task!!

And Remember: It is ok and normal to feel stressed, demotivated, anxious and worried. You wouldn’t be human if you didn’t. However, putting into practice techniques such as these to measure productivity gives you a sense of purpose during this time when our purpose may feel compromised. You don’t have to spend every second doing something productive, nor every day. Visually seeing your achievements at the end of the week, however big or small, will motivate you to get up every day and keep going.


Do something to calm the mind
If like me, you suffer from anxiety, you will have days where you feel overwhelmed, agitated and distressed. It is difficult managing anxiety on a daily basis let alone amidst a global crisis. Every time I feel myself falling into a pattern of anxiousness or negativity, I remind myself that what is currently happening will pass. Of course, my parents’ obsession with the news is somewhat unhealthy and I do find myself sitting in the living room being sucked in by the negative and distressing impact of this crisis, which we are all very much aware of.

Whilst it is very important to keep up to date with the news and what is going on, it is important that we use the news to inform us and not consume us. Watch and read the necessary but don’t spend hours scrolling through stats or articles because this will not be beneficial to your mental health. This is not helpful to you or those around you. We need to remain positive in our lives, not just for our mental health, but for the sake of others too.

I too have been sceptical of some of these methods in the past. Being very inflexible and not understanding the practice meant that when trying yoga in the past, I was very impatient and quick to rule it out. However, after having a knee injury for a year, I found that the only active thing I could do for a while was yoga and so I decided to give it a second chance. I found myself not forcing myself to go but actually craving the session, because of how it made me feel after. Calm, stable and relaxed. And who doesn’t want to feel like this, especially in times like these.

What I love about yoga is that you really can start from anywhere (take it from me) and once you see progression, it motivates you to continue. It has helped me to learn about and appreciate my body even more and I can definitely see improvements in my body. My knee is strengthening, my posture is improving and my mind is healing.

Yoga itself incorporates meditation into its practice. Meditation is literally about focusing your mind on the body and the present moment and what better way to engage and practice this than connecting your mind and body in yoga. So, if you find it hard to concentrate during a solo meditation practice, then this kills two birds in one stone.

TIP: Another thing I also started recently was journaling. Having so many emotions and being overwhelmed by them, this is a great way to distinguish what you are feeling and why and then being able to separate yourself from this.

It’s a great way to work out what is going on in your head and working through it. From this you can create a mood tracker to work out what your feeling and solutions that helped you overcome this feeling/made you feel better.

So, if I’ve kept your attention this far in the blog, I hope you have found some of these tips helpful. There is no one way of staying sane during this time but it’s about finding what works for you. These activities and methods are definitely a great way of reducing stress and trying to combat it by actively doing something that engages your mind and body in a positive and calm way.

Whatever you’re doing, please don’t be too hard on yourselves if you are not getting up and doing what you normally would or if you’re struggle to find motivation to do anything. This is completely normal. Just try and stay positive, healthy and calm and soon we’ll soon be out of this – appreciating and enjoying a new life – having had the time to reflect on the small things that really do mean a lot to us.

In the meantime, stay safe, stay home, stay mindful and stay smiling.
Kiki xx


Other general tips (most of which I’m sure you are well aware of but I have included my advice anyways)

Cook proper, healthy balanced meals to fight infection. It’s so tempting to eat badly and believe me, I’ve surrendered to Ben & Jerrys and Pizza. Whilst it is definitely more than acceptable to treat yourself, we need to make sure we are staying health to fight off this virus.

Make sure to cook some nice and tasty recipes as well. Lots of students are big fans of mobkitchen and tasty and I know I like to watch food videos on the daily. Unfortunately, my laziness overtakes me and I am never motivated to get 100 different ingredients out and whip up one of their so seemingly tasty inventions. Now is the time to try new recipes, but with fewer ingredients!

Music is a great way to release stress. It is also a great mood lifter if you are feeling anxious/worried/sad. Evaluate what kind of music you are listening to and the vibe it gives off and if you feel like you are slipping into a place of fear and anxiety, bang on your happiest, most uplifting playlist even if it seems like the last thing you want to do as this definitely helps to keep spirits up.

Getting some fresh air is important. As much as I looooove my bed (which student doesn’t), the more days I spend under the covers the worse I feel. Even sitting on my terrace for 10 minutes when the sun comes out or dragging myself on a dog walk makes me feel better because I am breathing in fresh air that my mind and body needs.

5 books to get you through isolation

Hi I’m Jini and I’m a first year English student.

As we all know, it’s been a crazy couple of weeks. I’m sure we’ve all heard it a million times by now but just as a reminder, in keeping with NHS guidelines, it is imperative that we all, young and old, practice social distancing, self isolation and quarantining where necessary in order to stop the spread of this virus and return back to our normal lives as soon as possible. But of course doing the right thing isn’t always easy and staying indoors for such a long period of time can be very hard for most of us. With most schools out for the term, we’ve got a lot of free time on our hands, a great period to reflect on the year so far, pick up a new hobby, connect with our friends and family…. At this time it’s really important that we try to come up with fun, innovative ways to keep busy, keep healthy and keep active while also getting the sufficient amounts of rest I’m sure we all need.

As an English student, social distancing has been a good period for me to catch up on all my school reading in a far less pressured, more casual setting, where I don’t have to worry about pesky deadlines and quizzes from tutors. I’ve also been able to add in a few pleasure reads which have been on my radar for a while as a relaxed form of leisure to fit into random pockets during my day. Not to sound like a pre-school teacher, but reading really is such a great way to fill up your time while stimulating your brain, expanding your vocabulary and still a wonderful form of entertainment. And so, for all my fellow booklovers out there I thought it’d be a good idea to make a short list of some great books I’ve recently gotten into, and would highly recommend you dive into during this isolation period.


1. Mo’ Meta Blues by Ahmir ‘Questlove’ Thompson

This one’s for the music junkies and hip hop heads. An amazing autobiography written by none other than lead drummer of the legendary hip hop band, The Roots, this light-hearted read delves into the music connoisseur’s artistic journey with insightful reviews, hilarious anecdotes and more somber reflective moments. Mo’ Meta Blues is the type of book you can keep dropping and picking up again and never get bored of. An interactive read with a narrator who feels like an old friend, it really draws you in from the first page.


2. The Informers by Bret Easton Ellis

A heavier read, this page-turner by the ‘American Psycho’ author American writer chronicles the voices of the 1980s Los Angeles’ upper class teenagers and their parents. Written in form of interconnected short stories, ‘The Informers’ is a dark, nihilist’s satire of the pretentious of the elitist lifestyle. Mysterious and pensive, it is a story which stays with you long after you’ve turned the last page.


3. A Very Large Expanse of Sea by Tahereh Mafi

Some would love to deny it but deep down everyone’s a sucker for a good romance novel. This period piece set in the aftermath of the 9/11 American terrorist attacks is focused on two high school teenagers from different cultural backgrounds navigating first love in a tumultuous period. Mafi teaches us the importance of acceptance and sacrifice, and forces us to question just how big of a part stereotypes actually play in our everyday lives. In our current times, this is a book which is as relevant as ever.


4. Warcross by Marie Lu

Another young adult read, Warcross is the dystopian thriller you won’t want to put down. In a futuristic society where a virtual game is the world’s biggest obsession, teenage hacker

Emika cracks the code and is thrust into a whirlwind adventure which sees her becoming one of the game’s top competitors and uncovering a conspiracy that could potentially turn the entire Warcross phenomenon on its head. And if a fierce female protagonist with amazing character development isn’t enough to draw you in, the refreshing minority representation in this just might.


5. On Love by Charles Bukowski

A poetry collection by the reclusive Beat Generation writer pegged as ‘The Dirty Old Man of America’ and known for the mundane intimacy of his work and cynical subject matter, this collection deals with the complications and exaltations of love, in all its forms. It is a representation of its author; erratic, random and fragmented in ites expressions of love, lust, desire and family and yet brutally honest and reflective. Bukowski is not afraid to be vulnerable and flawed. This is great read for any poetry love, by delving into his mindset it makes me confront my own ideas of love and companionship.

How to look after your wellbeing during isolation

We understand that the current Coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak is extremely worrying. It is easy to feel overwhelmed and that’s why we have put together a few self-care tips for you during this time. 


Look after yourself 

Whilst staying at home, it is important that you take care of yourself and try to remain as healthy as possible: 

  • Try to maintain a routine and avoid sleeping too much. 
  • Exercise daily if you are feeling well enough – there are many home workouts available online, including these from Les Mills which are free for University Sports Centre members. 
  • Try and get some fresh air outside if you are able to. 
  • Stay hydrated and eat well. BBC Good Food have many recipe ideas. 
  • Avoid ‘fake news’ about the current situation. Instead keep up to date via our webpage, Public Health England and the NHS. 
  • If social media is making you feel anxious, take a break from it. 
  • Keep your room and home clean and tidy. A clutter free environment can help towards a healthy mind. 

Supporting those around you 

We can make a big difference by supporting the people around us and showing solidarity with our community: 

  • Check your phone list and see if there’s someone you have been meaning to catch up with for a while. Now could be the time to reach out to them. 
  • Treat everyone with empathy and compassion and come together to look out for others. 


Social distancing doesn’t mean you cannot be social  

Whether you are currently in Bristol or at home, it is really important that you keep in contact with family and friends to stay positive. Here are a few ideas for you: 

  • Video call friends and/or family (e.g. during meal times so you can eat together). 
  • Netflix party is a new way for you to watch series and films with loved ones. 
  • Create a joint playlist which you can listen to with friends at the same time. 
  • Join Facebook community groups for your local area and the SU’s online Living Room.
  • Follow Government guidance about social distancing – when this is all over, there will be time to get together. 


Wellbeing support 

If you need some support, here are a few resources: 

  • If you are worried about your studies or you feel you need help managing these changes, please contact our Wellbeing teams or email coronavirus-student@bristol.ac.uk. 
  • Talk Campus is an app which enables you to speak with fellow students from around the world for instant support day and night. 
  • Big White Wall is a digital support service you can access 24/7 and talk to others anonymously. 
  • Shout (crisis messenger) offers free mental health support. Text Bristol to 85258 to be connected to a trained volunteer. 
  • Mind have lots of useful tips if you are feeling anxious. 
  • Nilaari is a culturally appropriate counselling service providing help and support for Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic people.

Keep up to date 

Would you like to share your tips for self-isolation? Have you got a stay at home goal? Know any tips for exercising in small spaces? Got great recipes for tinned food? We would love to hear from you! Get in contact at student-comms@bristol.ac.uk and you could feature in our next blog.