How volunteering with Enactus taught me something new about myself.

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by Irene, MSc Human Resource Management

It’s important to take advantage of the many extracurricular activities available at UWE Bristol. There’s something for everyone, from sports clubs to societies, and even volunteering opportunities. Here’s my experience of volunteering with the social enterprise society, UWE Bristol Enactus.

Continue reading “How volunteering with Enactus taught me something new about myself.”

Understanding your UCAS application

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by Lucia, BA(Hons) English Language and Linguistics.

The moment you decide that university is the right ‘next step’ for you, things can be very daunting. From choosing a course to receiving an offer, it can become stressful and even confusing. That’s why I’m here to explain the application process and give you some student-style top tips.

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Advice I would give to my first-year self

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by Rapha, BSc(Hons) Urban Planning

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!

Get out and explore Bristol! I love the harbourside and Clifton but even just an autumnal walk, on your own through the city centre is great!

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.

Côte Brasserie (left) and The Athena (right)- two of my favourite restaurants in Bristol!

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!

My room one week after moving – you can see why I lost things!

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!

To find out more on how to prepare for university visit the preparing and arrival page.

What I’ve learnt during lockdown

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by Chanté, BSc(Hons) Occupational Therapy

The gift

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.

My quarantine ritual

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.

How I adapted to online learning

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by Imogen, BA(Hons) Fashion Textiles

Like most courses, my final term of year two was adapted to online submission. As I study Fashion Textiles at UWE Bristol, which is a largely practical course, there was a massive learning opportunity.

Using online software to create a virtual sketchbook

The new module brief included using online software to create a virtual sketchbook rather than a physical one, and designing a new collection online rather than making a garment.

Being able to access the UWE Bristol library online was a massive help to my research. I was able to access a large variety of resources such as books, e-journals and magazines. Typically, the library is somewhere I would be spending the majority of my time when doing sketchbook work and so the online library and my home desk was the next best option!

With access to the online library I was able to read up on the brand Kenzo, which I had chosen to design a new collection for and understand learn about their history.

My final collection project inspired by traditional Japanese fashion and 80’s retro.

Previously, Illustrator and Photoshop were software that I had used before but wasn’t confident in. But by having to create an online sketchbook and submit my work online, my digital drawing skills have really improved.

I also found online tutorials extremely helpful when I got stuck, and have started a notebook to record new techniques I have learnt for future reference. Having improved so much with my online skills, I’ve decided to use more virtual methods of presenting my work in my summer project and third year modules. These digital skills are also extremely useful for the fashion industry and this project has taught me how to use them creatively to present my work.

I’ve also been able to further develop the skills I’ve learnt during my course and experiment with them. Making garments using my pattern cutting skills and up-cycling old garments using different textiles skills such as dyeing, embroidery, crocheting and fabric painting, has been how I have stayed creative through lockdown. As hand embroidery is typically a very time consuming technique, lockdown has been a great opportunity to embroider for fun and see what I can create.

One of my favourite things I have made so far was this Tinkerbell crop top – I found some Tinkerbell material on my weekly food shop and just had to make something with it!

Looking forward, I’ve also started researching for third year and have been using virtual art gallery tours to get inspired! Typically, a trip to London would be my normal start to researching a project, but with the online gallery tours I’m able to visit galleries all over the world without travelling and for free. Here is a list of some of the best virtual toursBristol Museum has its own one too!

For my current summer project, I have been exploring Surrealism and have found an online Surrealist photography exhibition curated by Cris Orfescu. The online gallery tour has been a great source of inspiration and information. I would encourage anyone with a laptop and a spare half an hour to check out some of the online galleries!

Research for my summer project

Learning online and adapting to life in lockdown, has definitely allowed me to explore different creative mediums and develop new skills which I know I’ll take forward into my final year.

To keep up to date on University coronavirus guidance and information, visit the student guidance and FAQ page.

Enhancing my employability from home

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by Chloe, BA(Hons) Fashion Communication

Now my three years of studying at UWE Bristol has come to an end, I’m in the same position as many other graduates, wondering what we can be doing during the pandemic to boost our employability, from home.

Leaving education was a scary feeling and to ease the transition into job hunting, I decided to continue to educate myself whilst seeking employment. For me, I wanted to use this time to build and grow myself as an individual by learning new skills.

How to learn new skills after you graduate

During lockdown, I wanted to build my CV and show potential employers what I have been up to whilst the world paused. So, I went online and found several great websites which provide a range of courses and some are even free:

  • LinkedIn Learning – online training
  • EdX – 2,500+ online courses from 140 institutions
  • Future Learn – a variety of online courses from Business & Management, Creative Arts & Media, to Psychology & Mental Health

There is such a variety of courses available and something for everyone, I recommend checking these sites out!

I’m currently working my way through a Consumer Behaviour and Psychology course which is topic that has always interested me, I just hadn’t had the chance to learn about it. The opportunity to continue learning and expand my knowledge is really exciting and it also helps to give structure to my days.

More importantly though, doing the course has given me a real sense of achievement and feeling of growth, which has been great during a time where life has a lot of uncertainties.

Why not do an online course?

Reach out and get networking

Something I would advise all students and graduates to do is network. The ability to meet valuable contacts, engage in dialogue and open conversations will really help your journey into a career. And as a graduate living in a digital age, it is easier now more than ever to reach out and contact people across the world.

As a creative, I have found contacting people through Instagram a very successful method. By having conversations with other creatives or companies about their work and their journey, it has really opened up new paths for me. For example, during the pandemic, I have offered my design skillset to a number of local and regional brands to help boost their interactions with customers and remain both relevant and visible in the eyes of their audience.

How to network from home

You may think, but where do I start?

Consider this – is there a company you aspire to work for? Is there an individual or collective that inspires your practice and profession? Well, reach out!

  • Email – for the best chance getting a response from a company, try and find a specific named email and avoid “info@” addresses.
  • LinkedIn – find the company, job role and individual you want to directly contact.
  • Phone – this may seem a bit daunting, but simply picking up the phone and having a conversation with someone will get this networking process out there faster
  • Instagram – contact the individual who inspires you and show your interest in their work.

Once you have connected with someone, ask them questions. How did they get into this career? What advice do they have for graduates wanting to pursue a career in X? What are the stepping stones, or journey you need to take to get to that point?

And finally…

Securing the perfect job isn’t easy, but keep searching, learning and networking, and you’ll get there.

And remember, as graduates we will continue to have access to the University career services, including coaching appointments for 3 years after graduating and use of the Career Toolkit and vacancy search for life!

How to organise your work and study from home

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by Chloe, BA(Hons) Creative and Professional Writing

Going from a full or part time schedule at university, to completing our deadlines and coursework at home, can be a real struggle, especially when there isn’t a regular routine or timetable.

During my time in lockdown, I’ve thought about what’s worked to keep me motivated. So, whether you want to watch my vlog or read my blog below, here are my top tips on how to manage your workload and study from home.

Time management

It’s important to make your own timetable to keep on top of coursework, deadlines and assignments – this might mean putting aside a set number of hours or shorter sessions to finish a certain task. One method that you can use is a priority list where you write down your ‘top 3 priorities’ for the day. This helps split your day into three parts and gets you to focus on three main goals.

I also give myself bonus tasks – these are a few extra goals that I could get done if I have enough time. These tasks are what they sound like – a BONUS, they are non-essential and it doesn’t matter if they don’t get completed.

One of my priority lists – you can tick these off once you have done them and know you have been productive. Who doesn’t love a satisfying tick!

Find yourself a study space

As well as managing your time it’s also essential you find yourself a study space where you feel comfortable enough to work. Having the right environment when you study can be a contributing factor to your focus levels and overall quality of your work. So try to find somewhere that has minimal distractions, where you can concentrate and be calm.

My study space at home

Take care of yourself

Of course, we have all of this new-found time for studying and dedicating ourselves to our degree but remember to look after yourself. Don’t put too much pressure on yourself to work 24/7, be realistic and think about what you would be doing if you were actually in university. This is why priority lists have worked for me, as they split the day up for me.

Remember to take breaks! Taking breaks is actually healthy and allows your brain not to be over-loaded with information or stress – it’s been proven that sometimes shorter bursts of work can be more productive than longer periods of time. On your breaks, try and go outside for a breath of fresh air or stretch out, remembering to follow government guidelines when you do.

Stay connected and reach out if you need help

If you find yourself in the position where you do need some pointers or there are things that you just don’t understand, reach out. There is no harm in asking a question. Message course mates with queries and check your module handbooks, the answers may be there. If you are looking for more support on your deadlines, reach out to your tutors or lecturers via email or blackboard. And if you’re feeling anxious and stressed, UWE Bristol has many health and wellbeing services that operate online and are there to help you.

Even though lockdown is daunting, it won’t last forever. Just try focus on your health and work hard and you will get where you want to be.

To keep up to date on University coronavirus guidance and information, visit the student guidance and FAQ page.

Tips on how to stay happy and healthy during lockdown

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by Jaymee, BA(Hons) Film Studies

Life is a bit strange at the moment. Things have been changing very quickly recently. It’s an adjustment for all of us, but don’t worry if you’re finding this a lot to process. It’s normal to be feeling scared, anxious or apprehensive, as there is a lot going on in the world and it can feel overwhelming.

But all this isn’t necessarily happening for the worst. It’s important that as many people as possible can stay healthy and safe, but there are positives to gain. The most comforting feeling through all this is that we are in it together. Society is gaining a sense of community and togetherness, (the weekly clap for the NHS is so heart-warming) and this is just the start of us seeing the beauty in a very hard time.

Learning how to control fear and anxiety is crucial and it is important to remember that no amount of fear or worry will help or change aspects of the universe that are out of your control. A time like this makes me realise what I took for granted in my life before, and will therefore make me more appreciative of afterwards. And I feel very grateful for having the chance to realise this.

Life for the foreseeable future may be very unusual and uncertain. Nevertheless, these are my tips for staying happy and healthy during lockdown.

Keep some structure and routine to your daily life

For me this starts with a good sleep routine. Whether it’s trying to wake up early to make the most of my day, or pushing myself to go to bed earlier to get a longer, better-quality sleep. I like to start the day with making herbal teas, tidying my flat, doing some yoga and taking time to make a delicious breakfast. I’d also recommend getting dressed every day, even though you won’t be going anywhere! Getting ready in the morning whether that means just getting dressed or putting makeup on, makes me feel more productive and good about myself.

Limit your time on social media and reading the news

The news will more often than not focus on the negatives of what’s going on in the world and it can feel overwhelming. I began to get hooked on reading statistics, yet I found I was a lot happier when I checked the news less. It is still important to be aware of what is going on in the world, but limit yourself to only checking the news as frequently as what works for you, without making you fearful.

Document how you’re feeling

This is a significant global event that we are living through. Writing down your day to day life and keeping some sort of diary of what you have been up to, can do wonders to making you feel a whole lot better. Especially if you are struggling. Find what works for you best, whether it be writing, vlogging or something different. Try different times of the day – I find that writing just before I go to bed really helps me wind down and clear my mind.

Try and focus on the positive things

This crisis is helping me learn new things about life, such as what I took for granted in life before and what I will appreciate more when it’s over. Life is on pause so take this time to reflect and take a step back. Think about where you are in life, what you want in life, what you want to do more of and what you don’t do enough of. Make a plan for when life returns back to ‘normal’.

Learn something new

Learn an instrument. Learn how to do the splits. Learn how to curl your hair or do the perfect eyeliner look. It could be anything! Take this time to do all the things you always wanted to do, but ‘never had the time’ for. I’m learning yoga at the moment which has been great for keeping up my fitness whilst staying indoors and its helping me with mindfulness and meditation. Whatever you do focus on your health and make self care your top priority.

Go for a walk or exercise

No matter what your reason for leaving the house, remember to stay safe and follow the government guidelines. If you can safely enjoy a few minutes outside however, whether it’s to go on a run or a walk then do. Sometimes a bit of fresh air and sunshine can do wonders.

I hope some of these tips and ideas help you to stay happy and healthy in this peculiar time. If you need more support, UWE Bristol has many health and wellbeing services that operate online and are there to help you.

To keep up to date on University guidance and information, visit the student guidance and FAQ page.

Stay safe and take care!

My tips on how to stay healthy during self-isolation

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by Belinda, MSc Marketing Communications

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.

Stay connected

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.

In case you still feel anxious and stressed, UWE Bristol has many health and wellbeing services that operate online and are there to help you.

To keep up to date on University guidance and information, visit the student guidance and FAQ page.

And finally, stay safe, stay at home and remember to support one another. We are in this together!