Living at home while studying at university, sounds boring doesn’t it?! You might think it means not as many friends or not a big social life. As a stay at home student myself, I’ve lived to tell the tale, and boring isn’t the case. In fact, I would describe my first year at university as quite the opposite – fun.
To choose to live in Bristol as a student is to choose to enter into a completely different way of exploring, moving, creating and living. There isn’t a corner of the City that isn’t signed with some form of creativity and individuality, and they’ve left no room to question the authenticity of the people and appreciation of the history.
Bristol has mastered a way of being all-inclusive
Bristol has mastered a way of being all-inclusive — from the party-goers to the theatre-goers, to those who prefer artisan coffee shops and a good page-turner, to those who are desperate to keep the kids entertained for half-term, to the history fanatics, to those who love a good shaded spot on the grass with good company, to those who love a bit of ‘me time’ — there is something here for everybody.
To all of the foodies out there, you won’t be left disappointed. I’m yet to find a cuisine that doesn’t have its own place. They’re dotted all over the City too: Harbourside, Stokes Croft, Gloucester Road, Clifton, Cabot Circus, Cribbs Causeway — thank me later, and “Bon appetit!”
Creatives, whether on your own or with a group, a whole weekend can be planned to get the creative juices flowing. You can go to places such as the Arnolfini or Spike Island, or get lost in the fresh air up at the Clifton Suspension Bridge, or even in the array of quirky cafes to plan your next project.
Bristol has an amazing understanding of community
Bristol has an amazing understanding of community, and it’s almost as if everyone and everything is working in tandem to keep the buzz of the City alive. Every campus has a different atmosphere, but all comfortable in their own right, and you can feel the drive of each student independently yet collectively working together to create two of the best Universities in the UK.
No matter where you’re coming from, Bristol is definitely a home away from home — and the more you put in, the more you’ll get out of it.
Engaging with your course is about more than just making sure you attend lectures and complete course work (although it does play a part), its also about interaction with others and having the the right mindset to do it for yourself. In my first year I found that the more you put in, the more you get out, whether that is socially or on an educational basis.
Engaging with your environment is so important when wanting to benefit fully from university, however it isn’t easy for everyone to just throw themselves into, which was definitely something I struggled with at the beginning. Hopefully this will tell you how I did it and show you how you can too.
Engaging with your environment is so important when wanting to benefit fully from university
Firstly, the more groups you form and surround yourself with, the easier you’ll find it. A way that I went about approaching this and that went great for me was connecting to people through societies related to my course. These societies perfectly pair both social and educational engagement in a very fun way. This also goes for other groups you can take part in. For me it has been pro-bono groups in law, that allowed me to do actual legal work, connecting me with people from inside and outside the university whilst having a great focus on my legal degree. Groups will also get you involved in web pages and group chats that can also be a great help. I also applied to be a student ambassador which is a really great way to not only get work but also allowed me to form relationships with people who were like minded.
When I first moved to this university I knew very few students and all my flat mates were on a different course. This made lectures quite daunting as I would attend alone and knew no one and it made me less engaged with my course and the university as a whole. However purely just by attending frequently and sitting in the same place you meet others around you who are also doing the very same, making that daunting environment a comforting one. This also gets you into a mental routine which allows you to be more rigid with yourself, so you don’t begin to fall into the downward spiral of not attending lectures and workshops.
There are many ways that will allow you to engage at university, it’s just down to you to take those opportunities.
I discovered that the more you engage with others around you the more comfortable they will feel talking to you and this is something that you can benefit from. For example, when I was first set coursework I went away and worked without discussion and kept my thoughts to myself. My work came back okay but it turned out it had been similar to the others and did not stand out. However, when the next set of coursework came around, I made use of the social connections I had established with my peers and discussed the topic with them. This allowed us to cover areas through in-depth discussion that we might not have otherwise had and corrected one another when we were wrong. This significantly improved our coursework.
It’s my opinion that commitment is key to engaging as well. Commitment opened the door for me to be able to consistently be in the loop, preventing myself from isolation and becoming unfamiliar with my work and those around me. I find it difficult to be able to learn and work to my full potential when other things are on my mind and so feeling settled and comfortable in lectures has helped me focus more on my studies.
My main message is that there are many ways and opportunities that will allow you to engage with your course, it’s just down to you to take those opportunities. Hopefully this has shown you just how easy such opportunities can come about and how you can make the most from them and how you will benefit as a result.
So, University? Well, I can do nothing but congratulate you on your decision, as you’ve decided to take this route and start a new journey filled with adventure, exploration and memories. However long your course is, it flies by so quickly that you sometimes forget to make good use of what’s being offered to you. But UWE Bristol has some of the best facilities I’ve seen, has impressive networking connections that can get you some more experience under your belt, and some of the most supportive and down-to-earth staff I’ve met — it’s very hard to miss out!
There’s a moment in every students life, where you absolutely regret every decision you’ve made to lead you up to this point. Maybe you aren’t adjusting to the pace and weight of everything just yet, or maybe you haven’t made as many friends as you’d anticipated, or you’re just plain old homesick. It happens. Are you even a student if at some point you don’t question everything though? University is an amazing time, but a challenging transition in your life. During my gap year, I wasn’t even sure if I wanted to accept the offer they’d given me anymore due to fear of not giving it my all; Nevertheless, finding the courage to make that jump has changed my life for the better, and I know for a fact that UWE Bristol was the best for me.
The Campus was so full of energy and people just being themselves. What more could I ask for?
I remember coming to the Open Day on my own,
really nervous and really vulnerable and it wasn’t like I had to speak to over
200 students to convince them that this course was the best one — my only job
that day was to show up! I remember sitting in a room full of strangers who
seemed to already know each other and waiting for the presentation to begin. I
remember sitting there and thinking “You know what? Maybe this isn’t for me.”
But, then I remember the course leader standing centre stage (Being a drama
course, they do set the atmosphere for you. You’ll see what I mean),
introducing himself and I kid you not, I knew there and then that this was
where I was supposed to be. The course structure was genuinely what I needed
(No written paper exams and a choice to perform my dissertation? Um,
hello?!), all of the module leading staff were so welcoming and their
presentations sounded so interesting, and the Campus was so full of energy and
people just being themselves. What more could I ask for?
Drama and Acting is such a jam-packed course,
and there are very little gaps for anyone to say that there isn’t anything for
them! They make their modules so interesting that you don’t even realise that
you’re learning half the time, and in such a subtle way they allow you to
evaluate not just how the task worked practically, but personally how you
connected to it. They’ve found a very intrinsic way of connecting the personal
to the practical so you know what works best for you, which helps you in
the future with catering study to your needs. Secondly, their connections with
theatres all over Bristol give you some awesome venue choices to make and
perform your work. It’s like this big, odd but fun family in the City Campus
where everyone’s doing their own thing and it’s somehow working together to
create this magnetic energy.
UWE Bristol makes you more confident, more determined and more open.
After many conversations with my bedroom wall and ceiling in the late nights, I remembered that my future was just that — mine. There’s something quite freeing with being a student, it’s as if you have this backstage pass to so many opportunities that can cater to your course, and things that have nothing to do with it. You meet so many people from completely different walks of life, and University is the perfect place to allow your mind to open; your way of living isn’t the only way! Honestly, second year in, it can still be quite daunting being around so many new people, in a completely different city, but believe me — it gets so much easier and so much better. Your independence increases each year and with that freedom comes more adventures to take in order to pursue your career. UWE Bristol has this great way of allowing the student to dictate their career choices and the level of excellence they want to get. This place makes you more confident, more determined and more open. If you need stretching without dictating force then this is the perfect place for you.
Explore. Save your money (please). Make friends. Live a little. Laugh. Cry, seriously. Join the societies. Study, most importantly and enjoy yourself. Your future is yours, it’s up to you to get it!
In July 2019 I graduated from BA (Hons) Architecture and Planning with a First Class degree. Looking back now, I can’t believe that I ever doubted my decision to study in the UK and in particular to study Architecture and Planning at UWE Bristol. I feel super lucky and am glad I chose to follow my inner voice.
Why go to university?
I feel that my degree gave me a kick-off start to my career and also my personal development. It started with a great supportive and diverse bunch of people that I was studying with, and our brilliant lecturers. To be honest, coming from Russia, I did not expect to form such strong bonds with lecturers that made me feel worthy, valued and heard. These four years (it was a four-year programme for me as it is a sandwich course) changed my attitude towards myself. I can tell that I ended up feeling more confident and able to aim high. A lot of that was a result of lecturers being very attentive and open-minded, encouraging students to make their own decisions and take their own paths with a careful guidance from the university environment.
How to make the most of your university experience.
I have been heavily involved with out-of-curriculum activities that university has to offer. Some of the things I have enjoyed most were:
Taking part in a range of societies, mainly as a part of the committee (ESN Exchange society and Built Environment Society). I particularly enjoyed being on the other side of the events held, by getting involved and helping to organise them.
Being a PAL (peer assistant learning) leader, which means helping first year students with modules that I had already been through. (This is a paid role that really boosted my confidence and ability to speak in front of an audience)
Language exchange buddy – my Italian friend and I agreed to have weekly hourly sessions, during which she was teaching me Italian and I was teaching her Russian. (This was really useful when I was preparing for my Erasmus exchange experience that I talk about later on)
Green Team events and forestry volunteering – This environmentally-oriented team hosts a wide variety of events, including fortnightly meetings, that involve activities such as going to Stokes Park to clean up the forest. This is with a mix of other students from a range of different courses and years.
Being part of the UWE Bristol Jazz band as a singer allowed me to develop in that field as well. I was surrounded by talented musicians with whom I performed weekly in the Students’ Union bar and at a range of other events, such as at the Bristol Hotel and at the ‘We The Curious’ museum.
CV Boosting opportunities
In terms of more educational experiences, again, my course offered plenty.
Every Thursday during term-time, a guest speaker from industry came in to give a lecture. This was open to all and conveniently hosted in R block where all architecture and product design students are based.
My course had RIBA and RTPI accreditation which means that my peers and I have a free RIBA and RTPI membership. This allows us to go to a multitude of events in Bristol hosted by those bodies and take part in RIBA Mentoring scheme in the final year.
A quick showing off moment – my dissertation has been nominated for the RIBA Presidents’ Medal in 2018. This has been one of the highlights of my professional path and would not have been possible if my course had not been accredited.
Erasmus exchange – An opportunity that I have been delighted to be part of that allowed me to study in the University of Bologna for one year as a part of my course. This made my university experience even more full and rounded, allowing me to learn Italian language, culture and be introduced to Italian way of thinking about architecture and urban planning.
Hong Kong study trip with the Built Environment Society – a university-funded summer school which has brought twenty UWE Bristol students to a partner university in Hong Kong, allowing us to explore engineering methods used on the other side of the planet.
And imagine, these are only the highlights. In between these have been multiple competitions, site visits, ceremonies, nominations and, most importantly, full days of hard work. Yes, it was tough at times but totally worth it. All thanks to people and an environment that let me shine and feel happy throughout. Yes, it is all about feeling satisfied and accomplished with what you do, at least for me it is so. And UWE Bristol allowed me to have this worth-while experience that started me off well on my professional path as well as in other aspects of my life.
Support is something we all need from time to time. UWE Bristol has provided me with a range of support both when I was struggling academically and adapting to university life. I found support from all angles, from academic support to personal support, I have used PAL, tutors, student advisors, info and visa hub as well as the career advisors.
Moving away from home
Moving to a new place where everything is new, can be quite overwhelming. That’s why the more support you get the better your experience will be. In whatever area you might need help, there will be a support system available for you because UWE Bristol knows how stressful it can be at times with these big changes.
Here are a few aids I have used in the past, and will continue using when I need it:
Peer Assisted Learning (PAL)
This is a scheme where students from the year above help the newer students. For example, they will provide you with tips on how to cope with the work load but still have fun. They can try explaining some topics in a simpler way than lectures to give you a better understanding. PAL helped me from the beginning to the end of the year as it gave me a student perspective on the work load. I was then able to divide and conquer, and created myself a successful schedule. They also gave great tips based on the mistakes they had made. This really helps you settle in as you can ask them where things are or the questions you wouldn’t want to ask your lecturers. You can almost say they are like your academic lifeline.
“You could say that the PAL team are like your academic lifeline. “
I personally think that tutors were and are the best academic support for me. This is because they know your course, can give you advice on how to improve but also assist you on things like your coursework or exam preparation. Plus, they will know who to contact, if you need extra help and more.
My email account once got hacked right before my three main coursework assignment deadlines. Because of this I had to deactivate and block my account. However, this meant I still couldn’t login and that caused me to panic. I contacted the info hub who then contacted IT and within one visit they got the hacker completely out of my account, helped me resubmit my courseworks and taught me how to prevent this happening again. I couldn’t be more happy once I left the IT offices.
I have used many of the support services and resources throughout my time at UWE Bristol and I plan to continue using them because they are so good and are there for us!
“I am so glad to have chosen UWE Bristol. ”
They have helped me so much, through various situations and I felt like my transition from sixth form to university went much smoother because of it. I am so glad to have chosen UWE Bristol.
Money can be scary. Some days, I look at my bank account and wonder where it all went. But it doesn’t need to be a scary prospect. There are things you can do and people you can speak with to make sure that you have the money to support you alongside your postgraduate study and help you to manage it well. So, don’t panic, I am here to point you in the right direction!
Fear can sometimes lead to avoidance, which means you could be missing out on help, funding or great tips and tricks to make your money go further.
Firstly, and quite possibly most importantly, there’s student finance options. Student Finance England (SFE) is probably where you went to get your undergraduate student loans, and it’s where you are going to need to go again for postgraduate. If you’ve used SFE before, your login is the same, but if not, you will need to create an account. Once you’re in, you just need to complete a few forms and then you are done! SFE will check all of your info, and then let you know how much money you are entitled to. But there is one crucial difference from the undergraduate loans: your tuition loan is paid to YOU, not to UWE, so remember to bear that in mind when you are budgeting!
Another option for funding is getting some paid work alongside your studies. There are plenty of options here: everything from retail to working for UWE (like yours truly). The great thing about postgraduate study is that the courses are more flexible – so much of a postgraduate course is self-directed study. This makes it easier to fit a job around your studies. Not only can you earn money for this work, but you can also gain valuable skills, especially if you can find a part-time role in your field of study! Two birds, one stone!
Last but not least there is also a plethora of options provided by UWE, such as the summer fund, which can provide some additional funding over the summer break and the emergency fund, which can provided when something unexpected happens (for example, I used it when I knocked my laptop off of my desk and smashed it!).
Budgeting is your friend!
So, you’ve got your money sourced, now what do you do with it? Budgeting is your friend! It doesn’t have to be fancy or formal or even all that detailed, but it really is useful to have one. Personally, I have mine on an Excel spreadsheet – I find it easier to edit and it does the maths for me, which is good because my maths skills are severely lacking – but you can do it however works best for you. Play around and experiment to see what suits your style best.
One of the biggest expenses in this world is food. It’s necessary, so it can seem like there’s no way to reduce that bill. But fear not! There are some really simple ways to cut down on that expense! First and foremost, branded foods are not always the best out there, so give the supermarket own brand options a shot and you might be surprised at both the taste and the savings. Secondly, keep an eye out for the reduced to clear sections in the major supermarkets. They tend to reduce the foods that are going to be ‘out-of-date’ soon at about 8pm every day, and most of these are absolutely fine to eat a few days after that date AND most of them can be frozen and eaten at a much later date. I’ve managed to grab pizzas, cakes, bread, vegetables, cheese and so much more for pennies using this method. Don’t be afraid to dive on in and grab what you need!
Alright! I think that’s all of my tips for managing your money as a postgraduate student. My last words of advice would be this: don’t be scared about money and funding. Fear can sometimes lead to avoidance, which means you could be missing out on help, funding, or great tips and tricks to make your money go further. So, take a deep breath, grab some chocolate (or other treat) and dive in! Good luck!
After successfully completing my undergraduate degree I was keen to begin a career in publishing. But after a summer of job hunting I realised that although my degree was beneficial, I needed more for my chosen career. I also had to take into consideration as a Tier 4 international student the job requirements for me are different to local students.
I chatted my options through with my parents and decided, quite last minute, to apply for a postgraduate degree in marketing at UWE Bristol. Because I applied late in the summer I didn’t have a chance to fully explore what postgraduate student life at UWE might be like. Even though I had lived in the area for a while and had a lovely group of friends, I was still worried about how I might fit in.
I also knew that doing a postgraduate degree was going to be a bigger commitment and it would be more intense than undergraduate. Looking back, this has been true, but my lecturers have been really supportive, which has made the transition from UG to PG much easier. For example, when I started the course we had a two day session with our tutors to understand how the course would work and who to contact. We also did a short exercise which gave us a great grounding in the course.
That said, we all need a bit more support from time to time and at the start of year I had a few issues, so I contacted the wellbeing team at UWE. The people there were so understanding and offered me resources and advice about my mental health, as well as how I could manage it whilst doing my degree. This was a refreshing change from the inconsistent support I received from my previous institution and I felt like I could really rely on UWE to help me when I needed it!
I’ve also found Bristol itself to be really welcoming. I recently attended Bristol Pride and it was a glorious event! As a queer student born and raised in a conservative environment and still trying to find their place in the world, it was an incredible thing to experience. Bristol’s queer scene has personally been one of the best ones I’ve been a part of. I know from experience that there aren’t many places as welcoming and open-minded as Bristol.
As I move closer to graduating, I’m now starting to think about my career prospects and job opportunities again and I definitely feel like I am better prepared now. I’ve also started making enquiries with the international student careers team who I’m planning on meeting with soon to discuss the next steps and work through some of the issues I’ve had before.
I love the vibrant Swedish culture and whenever I visit I feel calm and at peace.
When applying for BA(Hons) International Business I was attracted to the study year abroad in third year. The year abroad is compulsory and UWE have multiple partner institutions over the globe spanning the US, Mexico and Taiwan. I have now been accepted at the University of Sweden to study International Marketing starting in August.
In July 2018 I took two weeks to visit Stockholm, staying with a family in Solna, just outside of Stockholm. I had a great time traveling by subway and walking to parks and villages. I enjoyed walking around the campus, noting its professional design and calm atmosphere. The fact that the Stockholm Business School welcomes 140 exchange students every semester means that there is a good buddy programme and small added extras like a welcome dinner to get us settled in. I really love that the campus reflects Stockholm with its elegant historical buildings and parks but then also has a modern, cosmopolitan spirit. I love the vibrant Swedish culture and whenever I visit I feel calm and at peace, appreciating the beautiful surroundings and sun sets etc. I would love to take part in the Swedish language lessons and really immerse myself into the culture and new opportunities.
Studying abroad will enable me to complete my degree which I am currently on track to secure a first class honours. In the future though I plan to work overseas or travel in my career as I love working with interesting people who are different from me. I’m hoping that by studying abroad I will gain a global awareness as I believe that having the ability to network globally is a great skill to have. I will also gain a new-found independence, knowing that this time I can travel and explore whilst partaking in a normal academic routine- building my self-confidence and self-awareness.
I’m also finding that my interpersonal skills are being developed when planning each detail of my year abroad in terms of travel, accommodation and university policies etc. Spending time researching the country’s currency and culture has helped me prepare for the year out, understanding that change will occur quickly and I need to be prepared to adapt quickly to the cultural and personal change which should put me in good stead for the workplace when project managing large tasks, being able to plan logically and think critically.
Most importantly though I feel like my year abroad will remind me that anything is possible!
by Sophia, BA(Hons) Marketing Communications, MSc Marketing
More than a degree
Going to university is a big decision and will shape the next three to four years of your life, so it is important to make sure that it is something you want to do. Continuing your education can be very rewarding not only in your professional development but also in your personal one. Many people who have gone to university will tell you that it was the best few years they have experienced and would recommend it to anyone.
Getting a degree is so much more than a piece of paper.
The most common reason why that time is so cherished is because, as well as attaining a degree, it was also the first step into adulthood for them. Moving away from home and living with strangers can sound scary but so many people have matured and have made lifelong friendships that way. This really is a time where you get to learn to become independent and build a future for yourself.
Getting a degree is so much more than a piece of paper, it’s having multiple opportunities to meet new interesting people, to become a part of a society, to learn how to cook, how to manage money and so much more. Whilst you’re working towards your degree, your university can also offer you to do some of that work abroad on an Erasmus programme, which is an amazing opportunity to learn a new language and experience a different culture. There is so much that you can benefit from getting a degree, you just need to take advantage of all the opportunities.
How can a degree help your employment prospects?
After three years of hard work, graduating and receiving that degree can be one of the most rewarding feelings. You feel accomplished and ready to step into the big world. Naturally, the next step is employment, and this is where you’ll realise that staying up late finishing all those assignments and the long hours of revising for exams haven’t gone to waste.
You’ll notice that one of the requirements of many employees is having a degree in a field of study related to the job. By having that you’re already at an advantage. Some would like to see some experience also, and many of you might think that it seems unfair to have experience and a young age if you’ve been in education the entire time, however choosing a sandwich course that entails being on placement for a year can give you that advantage as well as a lot of confidence and valuable experience.
Getting a well-paying job after attaining a degree is a great achievement, however it’s the journey that took you there that you’ll always remember and cherish.
Another way to start off a career is by doing a graduate scheme or programme, which is incredibly common amongst companies. These schemes are specifically designed for students that have graduated from university, they are a great way to start a career as it offers training, high earning potential and even global opportunities. In general, it is known that about 90% of graduates either get employed or go into further education, so there is a high likelihood of job security. Getting a well-paying job after attaining a degree is a great achievement, however it’s the journey that took you there that you’ll always remember and cherish. It’s a life experience that will shape the future you.