The benefits of living at home during your degree

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by Emily, BA(Hons) History

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.

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Why choose Bristol?

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by Mercedes, BA(Hons) Drama and Creative Writing

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

Mercedes

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

Mercedes

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.

Find out more about living and studying in Bristol

Top tips on how to engage with your course

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by Ethan, LLB(Hons) Law

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.

Find out more about how to engage with your course and why it’s so important.

Why my course was the best thing for me

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by Mercedes, BA(Hons) Drama and Creative Writing

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!

Find out more about our Creative Arts courses

UWE Bristol’s got your back

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by Rapha, BSc(Hons) Urban Planning

How UWE Bristol supports my studies

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. “

Rapha

Tutors

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.

IT services

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. ”

Rapha

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.

Find out more about support at UWE Bristol

My UWE Bristol room tour

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by Dan, BA(Hons) Business (Team Entrepreneurship)

During my first year at university I lived in Quantock Court in the Student Village on Frenchay Campus. Before I moved to UWE however I remember having quite a few questions about what my accommodation would look like so hopefully my blog and vlog will help give you the answers you need if you’re deciding or have already got accommodation confirmed!

Your room

In your room you have a bed, closet space, desk and en-suite (some accommodation options have shared bathrooms). The desk is a good enough size to fit all the essentials and if you are like me you can also fit your printer and two monitor screens as well as the normal space for writing. You also have shelves above your desk for books or personal belongings. Overall it’s a nice little room which is big enough for one person.

Communal space

If you’re living in the Student Village you will be living with 6 other people and sharing the communal area. This area includes a kitchen and living/ socialising area. The kitchen has an oven, kettle, toaster and sink. Each person has a cupboard for their own thing as well as there being enough room for pots and pans. Some accommodation options have sofas in the social area and others have individual chairs, but either way it’s a nice space to socialise in and there’s plenty of room for everyone.

I hope this gives you a good idea of what to expect if you’ve chosen the Student Village as your accommodation or if you are still making your minds up.

Find out more information on accommodation options.

Top tips for completing your UCAS application

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by Mercedes, BA(Hons) Drama and Creative Writing

Applications: combatting the complications

So, we’re assuming you’ve clicked on this blog post because you need a little bit more guidance on how to apply for university, right? Well, that’s very wise as the whole application process can be pretty overwhelming, especially when you’re amongst lots of students across the world trying to make the same good impression. To start you off, here are 7 tips to ease the blow of UCAS applications. Keep these in the back of your mind so you can write a personal statement worth reading!

1. Research, research research!

A crazy amount of applications are submitted each day, and tutor’s sixth sense can always pick up when someone has made the effort to research the course they’re wanting to study for the next few years. So, go to the websites of your university choices and read the course information to know what they’re looking for— it’ll help you in the long run for specifics!

2. Pick the necessary

Mentioning your cat and how he has two different coloured eyes might be great for interview conversation, but won’t really be much of an incentive for your course leaders to accept you for September, especially when you’re applying for a Maths degree. Choosing relevant and necessary information makes an easier read, and helps you to present a better image of yourself.

3. Promote yourself

Think about it — 1000s of applications a day, hours dragging on, and the pile’s only getting higher. How do you show yourself off even though they haven’t met you yet? Add some personality and tell them why they should choose you! If you’ve run a club at school or sixth form, tell them. If you won an award in your chosen subject, tell them. If you took a gap year and went travelling with charities or did volunteer work, tell them. If you’ve done extra-curricular activities to get more experience in your chosen subject, tell them. This is your chance to get their attention!

4. Check ur spilling miscakes and grammer?

This one is the most tedious but it really goes without saying. You’ll definitely need a second and even third pair of eyes to go through your application and check for mistakes, but your spelling, punctuation and grammar are actually very key. No ‘LOL’s, ‘TBH’s or anything like that this time around, keep it professional. If you need help with these things, never be afraid to ask your peers and teachers — it’s what they’re here for!

5. Get to the point

You know when you ask someone a fairly simple question and they take ages to answer it? Yeah. It can be very easy to write the first things that come to your head and before you know it, you’ve reached your word limit. Try your best to not be that guy. Your question is “Why should we choose you for this course?” Enjoy yourself whilst you answer it!

6. Make sure your referee has your back!

The last thing you need after you’ve poured your heart out about your talents and grades is a referee that begs to differ. Choosing the right person to write your reference is also very key to submitting a successful application. They need to have enough belief in your future in order to write the truth that’ll help convince admission that you’re worth the place!

7. Keep your eye on the clock and deadlines

We’d hate for you to put all that hard work and effort in for your application to not be looked at in time. The same way you set time for homework, coursework and Love Island, take time out of your day to focus on your application.

It can feel like the work will never end, and can sometimes even be a struggle to complete but if you utilise the help around you, you’ll get it done in no time. Now, go and show them why you deserve to study in September!

Find out how to apply to UWE Bristol

Joining in and making friends

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by Ethan, LLB(Hons) Law  

I work as a student ambassador at UWE Bristol, and the most frequently asked question from both students and their parents is “did you make friends easily here”, and of course the answer is yes. Its hard not to with everything UWE provides and supports with,  from social areas, to funding, to the 140 plus societies. Having a social life is not something you need to worry about when you’re at UWE Bristol.

Is sport a good way to make friends?

For the athletic type, sports is by far the best way for making bonds with others at university and  so I would advise you to sign up for as many sessions as possible. Even if you don’t know whether you will be any good.

The variety at UWE allows for anyone who might want to be part of a sports team to try something new. Sports vary from motor sport, to paintball to gymnastics, alongside the big sports like American Football.

There are loads of people that haven’t done certain sports before so you won’t be alone and there are many free activities and taster sessions to try during your first few weeks.

What other societies can I get involved in?

Don’t worry if you’re not into sports as there are loads of other societies to choose from which have an equally great social atmosphere with a little less sweat. Nearly all societies are keen for new members and with weekly meet ups they are a great way for forming social groups.

Societies like the cocktail making society are known for generating a large number of student members, for obvious reasons, but create fantastic opportunities to make friends with others you wouldn’t come into contact otherwise with your university life.

In short, joining a society  is a great way to make friends. Don’t feel like you need to follow a crowd though, by all means give everything a try but don’t hide away from what you want. The beauty of UWE being so big is that you will find likeminded people who are passionate about the very same thing you are, so just be yourself. Whether you prefer to talk about sport, politics, anime or all of the above you have no excuse to not find others who are the same.

However, don’t feel like you must search for a social life solely through the societies here at UWE. Events at the SU and most notably during freshers week are a great way to mingle, grab a drink and get to know people.

How can social media help me connect with others?

Once you have made those initial connections and the joys of freshers have faded, the next thing will be maintaining them as you get on with other aspects of university life and study. One good practice comes through the form of group chats. Just making and joining chats allowing you to access friend circles is great to have. Facebook groups are also great in regard to finding people and events. When moving in there will always be chats that allow you to find your flat mates as well as the group pages and hidden society pages (which you will be invited to) will allow you to attend all kinds of events. Social media is another great way for maintaining a social group at UWE and by following the main handles of the university you can keep up to date with upcoming events.

How joining in helped me make friends

Personally, I took up a sport (American Football) which I had never played before with a group I never met before and by the end of 8 months I feel like I not only have friends but a brotherhood of which I belong to.

Joining a society is a great way to make friends. The opportunities are everywhere and all you have to do is take them and be yourself.

I came to this university knowing only one other student on a different course and its nothing to be intimidated about. The frame work of both subjects and Fresher’s enables you to have more people around you than you can remember in no time and you really don’t have to go actively searching for people either. The opportunities are everywhere and all you have to do is take them and be yourself.

Find out more about the social opportunities on offer at UWE Bristol

How to manage your money at university

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by Eden, BSc(Hons) Architecture  

Top tips to make your loan last

As a student, one of the most daunting aspects of moving to university is money. For most people, the maintenance loan given by the government leaves little room for extra expenditures such as going out for food or buying new clothes. One way to improve this is to budget and spend wisely. I began studying at UWE in September 2018 and quickly realised that I needed to budget in order to make my maintenance loan last for the entire year! This blog will give a few top tips which will hopefully have a huge effect on the amount of money that you will spend, and save, throughout your studies whilst also enjoying the student life!

1. Choose accommodation with shared bathrooms

At UWE, there are many different accommodation options depending on how much you wish to spend and whether or not you would prefer an ensuite or a shared bathroom. For my first year at University, I lived in UWE’s Wallscourt park on Frenchay Campus in a flat with shared bathrooms. In my flat, I shared 3 bathrooms with 8 people. Although many people do not want to share a bathroom, it really isn’t as bad as you might think.  Because there were 3 different bathrooms to use, even if your usual bathroom is being used, you can just use a different one! By staying in Wallscourt Park with shared bathrooms, I saved approximately £1000 when compared to my friends who stayed in rooms with an ensuite bathroom. This is a serious amount of money when you are trying to budget!

2. Shop wisely

When starting out at university, I had never really gone for a weekly food shop before. With many different shops around Frenchay Campus such as the University shops, Asda, Lidl, and Sainsbury’s, it took me a while to figure out how to save money on food and which shops to use. After shopping at each of the shops mentioned, I would 100% recommend Lidl. Lidl is the closest non university-owned shop to Frenchay campus and is by far the cheapest. On a weekly food shop, I would save around £10-15 when shopping at Lidl when compared to Asda or Sainsbury’s.

3. Choose a good student bank account

Another useful tip is to choose a student bank account which gives you a large interest free overdraft. When I began studying at University, I set up an account with Santander which gave me a 4-year free railcard, saving 1/3 on all rail travel, and an overdraft of up to £1500 interest free. This was incredibly useful when I was required to pay my rent before my termly loan instalments had entered my bank account. The overdraft is essentially the bank giving you money for free whilst you are studying. Though I chose Santander, I would recommend looking at some comparison websites before as different banks offer different overdraft limits and extras each year.

4. Take the bus or coach

Although this tip may seem obvious, I know so many people who travel home using the train or get an Uber/Taxi back home after a night in the city centre. The cheapest way to get to/from Bristol city centre is using the metrobus services. These run 24/7 and a night ticket only costs £2 which lasts from 7:00pm until 4:30am. That’s only £1 each way! The metrobus services are regular and stop at Frenchay Campus, it takes around 20 minutes each way from the campus to the city centre. By using these buses, you will save at least £10 when compared to if you take an Uber or a Taxi home. When travelling further, I would recommend looking into coach travel. This option does take longer, however, you will save money. I bought a coach card for £12 which allows me to save 1/3 off national express coaches for a year. As I travel from Bristol to Plymouth once a fortnight, this definitely saved me money. A return coach trip was around £20+ cheaper than if I took the train!

5. Get a job

Another obvious way to save money is to work. The university and shopping areas always have jobs available! There are direct bus services from Frenchay campus to both Cabot Circus and Cribbs Causeway. The University hires students to work in the campus bars, shops and cafes. Also, UWE hires student ambassadors which involves casual work to help the university at events such as open days and UCAS fairs. The university jobs all offer hours which may work around your studies, whilst also paying respectable wages! Vacancies from UWE may be viewed online on the Students union ‘Jobshop’ page.

Read more about your fees and funding options at UWE Bristol