Our PhD student, Rista, tells us about her experiences of studying a PhD as an international student and how she’s funded studying abroad. She also shares how UWE Bristol are supporting her career aspirations in academia through her postgraduate research study. Read more about Rista’s story.
Our student, Ilaria, tells us how the opportunities at UWE Bristol have helped her to make the most of her time of university. She shares how her learning experiences outside of her course have supported her studies, from guest speakers to internships. Read more about Ilaria’s story.
UWE Bristol student, Rapha, tells us how trying new things at UWE Bristol has helped her confidence to grow. She shares her experience of trying new activities outside of her course and how her lecturers have been an important support network. Keep reading to hear Rapha’s story.
by Razaan, MEng(Hons) Civil and Environmental Engineering
When asked what I love most about my course as a Civil and Environmental Engineering student, the first word that comes to my mind is: opportunities. Everything from educational trips* to actual hands-on projects, I’ve had experiences that I don’t think I’d be able to find elsewhere. Keep reading to find out about my engineering opportunities at UWE Bristol.
Last August, I made the move from Los Angeles to Bristol. I had no friends or connections out here, so I was worried I might become isolated. At the start of term, I started volunteering and I got so much out of it, including new friends. Here is my experience of volunteering with UWE Bristol.
There’s so much I would do differently if I could go back in time!
Not because of regret but because I know better now and the main advice I would give myself would be to live more and to bring fewer things from home.
By live more, I mean spend less time in my room, meet more people and spend more time outside exploring Bristol. I spent a lot of my first year trying to become a different person and constantly focusing in my insecurities. And to be honest this just made me think other people were focusing on my insecurities too. Like being self-conscious that everyone was going to talk about that one pimple I had on my forehead, which no one ever did? Unfortunately this meant I spent more time in my room and it stopped me getting to know Bristol as much as I wanted!
So if I could, I would tell my younger self to go out more, explore Bristol as much as possible with friends or even alone doesn’t really matter, but just go see the world outside!
It’s been nearly three years since I have been living in Bristol and I am yet to visit Bristol Zoo, Stoke Park as well as other many amazing places in Bristol that are so close by. So go explore! Especially when you’re a fresher, as this is the time when you should learn and see the most. Like attending events or trying new restaurants or cafes.
My second big bit of advice advice is when you move from home, be selective about what you bring. And I say this with experience! When I first moved in, I read many blog posts which advised to solely bring essential items. Items you will need for your daily basis, a limited but a calculated amount of clothes and some sentimental objects and so on.
Despite that, I made my self excuses like, what if I can’t go back home during a certain time? Or what if I want to make my room more homely? This led me to bring all of my six, year 10 scrapbooks and all of my snow globes (there were a lot of them). Spoiler alert I never touched them and by the second time I moved I had no clue where they even were!
At first, I was proud I managed to fit everything in the space given and my room looked nicely tidy and decorated. However, it only lasted a week until it was complete chaos because there were too many things and it was all being stuffed everywhere. At times, I felt like I was in a tug war with my drawers! That was not ideal, especially when you are running late, let me tell you that.
Therefore, I highly recommend being really honest with yourself when packing and be aware that you will most likely buy things and it will build up. So if you bring everything like me and end up moving places, you will be annoyed at yourself when packing and carrying endless piles of boxes around.
I can proudly and happily say that I have learned from those experiences. Since then I have donated, sold and taken many of my items home. Plus, I now attempt on visit somewhere new in Bristol or nearby at least once every two weeks to ensure that I keep exploring and live life to the fullest!
About three weeks into lockdown, one of my family members came tumbling down the stairs with what seemed to be a revelation. He sat me down and started rambling as if he’d found the solution to the pandemic – unfortunately, he had not.
He had instead discovered the key to personal growth in a time where I for one felt as though I’d been temporarily stunted. He began with saying that we’ve finally got ‘it’. ‘It’ being time. All we’ve ever asked for – or at least all I’ve ever asked for – is more time. This, however, is a very specific type of time. It’s one where you have minimal distractions and nowhere to go. It’s a time where you can sift through your thoughts (good and bad) and filter through your experiences. It’s a time to learn.
He continued to jabber on about how we have few excuses after this period. The only excuses we’d have are those that we have little control over or the ones we’d made for ourselves. From a very contrasting view, this quarantine period has been a gift. We’ve been gifted time to change the things we can and reflect, learn and adapt from those that we can’t.
“It’s a time where you can sift through your thoughts (good and bad) and filter through your experiences. It’s a time to learn.”
Up until this revelation, I’d been feeling an overwhelming amount of pressure to achieve something during this chapter. I felt as though I’d be a disappointment if I hadn’t written that novel I’ve always wanted to write or if I hadn’t learnt a new instrument. What I have learnt, however, is that achievements don’t only have to be a skill, career or a major award. An achievement can be learning something new about yourself, mending a friendship that had troubles or making the decision to change something that needed changing. It’s often many small achievements that make the biggest difference.
Although I haven’t learnt how to play the saxophone yet or written a single page of that novel, I’ve learnt how to be present. I’ve learnt that through all the chaos, It’s important to remind yourself that it’s okay to just be. It’s healing, its powerful and enriching.
“What I have learnt is that achievements don’t only have to be a skill, career or a major award. An achievement can be learning something new about yourself.”
I’m lucky enough to have spent lockdown in the English countryside surrounded by fields of rapeseed which dons the most beautiful little yellow flowers. As a quarantine ritual, I’d walk into the fields and just sit and surround myself with the yellow. I’d indulge in the smells and sounds of the fields. Although this sounds pointless and like a cheesy romcom scene, I knew I’d achieved something by this practice because I felt at peace.
I felt comfortable with myself and my decisions. I had used the gift of time. I had made those changes. There’s no doubt that there were periods were I was riddled with anxiety but I’d take my time, my deep breaths and process those thoughts. I’d remind myself that my present needs my presence.
I’ll leave it up to you, but as this bizarre phase of our lives is slowly coming to an end, make those changes because maybe my thrilled relative has found the solution to the pandemic after all.
If you need someone to talk to or just need a bit more support, UWE Bristol has many health and wellbeing services that operate online and are there to help you.
By Déborah Ribas, Creative and Professional Writing student
Our Creative and Professional Writing student, Déborah, tells us how she chose to study Creative Writing at UWE Bristol. She shares her experience of the course and her international work opportunity in The Gambia.
This is an exceptional time with the pandemic and most likely many of us are feeling overwhelmed, stressed, anxious or even sad. It can be hard to stay positive and it may be easy to forget to take care of yourself. The anxiety can be especially strong for those students who may be unable to go home or who live alone. So here are my tips on staying both mentally as well as physically healthy during self-isolation.
Stick to your routine
We all had a routine before self-isolating, so try to stick to it by maintaining a good sleep routine and setting tasks to do or goals to reach for each day. Even writing down a structure for each day might be helpful. For me this helps with getting assignments done as well.
Thanks to technology, staying connected to our loved ones is very easy. I used to go for a cup of coffee with my friends every week in Bristol but now we continue our habit from our homes while video calling each other.
Get outside and exercise
According to the government, going outside once a day for exercising is allowed, so use this possibility. Fresh air and movement will give you more energy and help with stress and anxiety. If exercising outside does not sound fun, there are many apps and home work out ideas to try now that gyms are closed.
Maintain a meal routine and have fun
Now is a good opportunity to learn new recipes while maintaining your regular meal routine. I tend to snack a lot when staying at home all day, so eating healthy meals regularly keeps me more energised for the afternoon hours.
Make time for relaxing and self-care
During stressful periods it is important to set some time aside and do something fun, relaxing or treat yourself. Here are some ideas: make a cup of tea and read (not course books), journal, paint, learn a new language or a skill, try meditation and watch a movie. For trying out new things, there are many apps and videos on the internet which is a convenient way to learn something new from the comfort of your home.
by Razaan, BSc(Hons) Civil and Environmental Engineering
Hi, I’m Razaan, and I am currently a third year student at UWE Bristol. I’ve been living in the city centre ever since I started studying here, and it has its pros and cons. In this post, I’ll walk you through what it’s actually like living in the centre as a UWE Bristol student.