How stepping out of my comfort zone has helped me to create my best future.

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By Rapha, BSc(Hons) Urban Planning

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. 

Gaining confidence at UWE Bristol

Hi, I’m Rapha and I’m an Urban Planning student here at UWE Bristol. Stepping out of my comfort zone has allowed me to explore my interests through events, societies, competitions and through people I’ve met. I’m so glad I’ve pushed myself, as it’s helped me to gain so much confidence and be the best person I can be. 

Trying new challenges outside of my course 

When you take on a new challenge, it can sometimes feel like walking on a tightrope, filling you with fear. However, below the rope there’s a safety net, ready to catch you if you fall. For me, UWE Bristol is the crowd of people cheering me on, encouraging me to finish and celebrating my every step. The safety net is the support I feel from everyone at UWE Bristol. 

For example, when I participated in the Business Case Competition, I had no business insight or experience whatsoever. However, the SU President and others encouraged me to try, have fun and learn from the experience, regardless of the outcome. We were in teams of four and had 24 hours to create a presentation to improve the business we were given a case on.  

Within three hours of the competition my whole team quit, however I decided to stay and continue. I felt so intimidated by the business students in the opposing teams. Throughout the competition, I felt very supported by the event management team and the SU President as they frequently checked on me and encouraged me to keep going. I managed to get my presentation done within the deadline.  

By the end of the competition, I knew the whole staff team and became friends with them all. Although I didn’t win, I found the learning experience and the opportunity to meet new people more rewarding than any trophy. The competition taught me more about myself and my ability to persevere. Now, every time I’m going through a challenging time, I’ll remember how resilient I can be. 

Making the most of my course opportunities 

There have been so many times when UWE Bristol has had my back, such as when I participated in a student conference as part of my course. I presented my research topic, ‘The correlation between our moods/emotions and surroundings’, in front of a room full of people. As I was looking around the room, trying to remember the data, I saw my lecturers and mentor at the corner of the room, with their thumbs up and the biggest smiles. It made me feel proud and supported. 

My lecturers have also provided lots of workshops to help us develop new skills, network with industry contacts and learn as much as possible. One of my lecturers, Nick, frequently forwards interesting opportunities or events to his students. I’ve taken part in many of the opportunities I’ve discovered through Nick’s emails, such as volunteering at the Bristol Open Doors event and attending Regeneration Brainery.

Lastly, I was unsure whether to do a placement year as I was concerned about “falling behind” by not graduating with my peers. I spoke to Nick about it and he encouraged me to apply and see what opportunities appeared, then decide based on that. I applied for a few placements, expecting my applications to be rejected. I was pleasantly surprised when I was invited to some interviews and even received a few offers.   

I received a placement and a summer internship offer from Savills, as well as offers from the UK Government, Planning Inspectorate and more.  Stepping out of my comfort zone has been so rewarding for me in all aspects of my life – socially, academically and professionally too. Gaining confidence has led me to do things I didn’t think I was capable of, such as becoming the Media Manager for the Planning Society.  

How UWE Bristol and my faculty have supported me 

UWE Bristol has made me unafraid to speak about my opinions, to stand up for others when something isn’t right and ask for justice. The communities at my faculty have made me more aware of issues that I should know about and should stand for. 

My faculty has helped me to be the best I can be because there are amazing students and staff members who encourage you to be authentically yourself. They educate you about many topics, from current global issues to how to be financially smart.

“UWE Bristol has given me the tools to become the person I always wanted to be – the best version of me.” 

I’m forever grateful and glad I chose to study at UWE Bristol. I feel this is a place where I fit in, thrive and have the best time with the best people. I surprise myself every day with my abilities and I’m constantly reminded of how kind everyone is in this community. 

Find out more about wellbeing support at UWE Bristol.

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