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.

Continue reading “The benefits of living at home during your degree”

Christmas time at UWE Bristol

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by Meg, BA(Hons) Business Management with Marketing

With Christmas right around the corner, we asked Meg to create a vlog about things you can get involved in on campus and in Bristol to get into the festive mood.

Some of the events that were held by UWE Bristol were:

  • Christmas SUesdy – a Christmas Party held at the Students’ Union.
  • UWE Bristol Christmas Concert – an evening of music, held annually at the Bristol Cathedral, presented by students and members of UWE’s Centre for Music.
  • Winter Warmers – a free end of term celebration where you can build a gingerbread house, watch a festive film, grab some non-alcohol mulled-wine, mince pies and other festive treats.

If you’ve missed out – no need to worry, there are still Christmas events yet to happen at UWE Bristol:

  • Visit the Bristol Christmas market – 21 December – a trip to the city centre as a group to go and explore the Christmas market where you can explore up to 50 unique store and treat yourself to some food and drink.
  • Carols around the tree – 21 December – outside the Business Building and the SU there will be carolling which you are more than welcome to join.
  • Christmas Lunch – 25 December – Get in the festive spirit by joining other students who are staying on campus or in Bristol over the winter break for a delicious Christmas Day lunch followed by festive movies and board games.

For a full list of ongoing events visit here.

Winter on campus

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by Lydia Cerguera, BA (Hons) Creative and Professional Writing

There is something quite serene about stepping outside into the dark and breathing in the cool air as you leave campus after a long day.

How can we pause the thoughts that run through our minds of tasks to complete, of lessons we’ve learned, of when to fit in work before the next lecture?

Stand still for a moment. Breathe in the night’s sky. Look up for the moon.

Listen out for the birds who have yet to make it home to their nests. Feel the wind pass you before it rustles through the hedgerows. Take stock of your surroundings.

Winter can be a stressful time for students and staff at university. Deadlines need to be met and content has to be delivered. Take the moments in between to enjoy the nature around you and remember that it, too, is letting go of itself; trees are shedding their leaves, flowers are drooping down to their underground bulbs, and the regular rain aids minerals to spread across the land, nurturing the soil in preparation for spring.

If you’re looking for a place of quiet, the pond areas at Frenchay campus provide tranquility, where the fish rest on the pond beds to calm their hearts in the cold.

As well as enjoying our Frenchay campus’ natural comfort, a bus ride to Bower Ashton will take you to the doorstep of Ashton Court Estate, where deer wander freely and a trip through the woodlands to the top of the hill allows for incredible views across the Bristol landscape. Being wheelchair friendly, Ashton Court is a great place to appreciate Bristol’s terrain for everyone.

A ramble along the leafy paths will offer much entertainment as you watch the robins and blue-tits seek out insects.

Have you got a festive feast coming up in the holidays? Now is the time to take advantage of our Frenchay herb gardens! There are spots in the Walled Garden, and outside K Block and R2 Block, with labelled herbs available for all staff and students to pick and take home to cook with. Some rosemary and parsley with your roast potatoes, perhaps?

If you are finding the last week of lectures hard, then why not bring some nature back indoors with you to craft with in the evenings? You could collect fir cones, dry them on the radiator, paint their tips and dangle them on your bedroom wall with string. Or gather some fallen twigs, dry them out, and glue them into star/tree shapes as decorations.

An effective addition for your room at university would be to paint small stones you’ve found outside – either by creating the patterns yourself or by picking up leaves on your walk, drying them, painting them and printing them onto each stone. Not only is it free (you can ask for some paint at the Resource Centre), but crafting will help to soothe your worries during this busy time. Placing the stones in a dish or along a bookshelf in your room will make for a lovely feature.

There are plenty of ideas to find on Pinterest and other crafty sites, but make sure you only pick up natural items that have fallen – nothing still attached to trees as they are still vital to the network of our wildlife!

Wherever you are during the next few weeks, I would like to wish you a happy and well-rested holiday.

And don’t forget, there is always time to breathe in the night’s sky and stand still for a moment.

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.

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

How to manage your money as a postgraduate student

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by Nicole, MRes Social Science

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!

Find out more about financial support.

Preparing for my study year in Sweden

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by Hannah, BA(Hons) International Business

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!

Find out more about global study opportunities

What a degree can do for you

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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.

Find out more about getting career ready

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

How a degree can enhance your career prospects

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by Prisilla, MEng(Hons) Aerospace Engineering and Pilot Studies

The countdown begins. For some of you that might be when you start A-Levels or when you hear the ominous word ‘university’ or when you press submit on your UCAS application. Whatever it may be, going to university is a tough but rewarding decision to make. As someone who is on her fourth year of study (placement year) and has one final of year of Masters left to do, I have seen quite a bit of university life and the degree – the good and the bad times. So even though I am getting eager to leave university, I thought it might be good to tell you about what a degree can do for you through this blog.

A glimpse into your future career

To begin with, your chosen degree is your first glimpse into your future career. Through the lectures, the practicals and workshops, you will begin to know whether you want to continue in the chosen field/industry or if there is something else you enjoy. Most of the lecturers on campus are ex-industry employees, which means they have experienced the industry. So, you can quiz your lecturers about the good and the bad of the industry and maybe even open a chance to network with your future employer (if they have come from a company you are interested in). As you attend lectures and grow on your theoretical knowledge, your degree is helping you to understand the basics and core information. The practicals and workshops really get you stuck-in to the course, showing how theory works in reality. Depending on the module, the course and the coursework, the hands-on experience can vary with projects.

However, a degree is not just all work and no play. Most of the degrees have a dedicated society affiliated to it, which means you can take part in social activities and projects. It does not matter if you are a 1st year or in your final year; all societies love to have the extra help with their projects which means you get to have fun while learning a new skill. As a Student Ambassador, you can represent UWE at various events, gain extra interpersonal skills and showcase your knowledge – the great thing is you are paid to do it!

Get those career enhancing opportunities

Because you study at UWE, your entrance to the annual Employers’ fair is guaranteed. This fair, which takes place around October, brings you in direct contact with about 180 employers from all different industries. They bring with them opportunities of placements, graduate schemes and free goody-bags. If you are successful in applying and securing a placement, I would consider that as a great achievement. Going out on placement is a rewarding experience as not only do you put into practice what you have learnt in your lectures, but you get to see how a company interacts with political, social and economic changes. But it is fine if you don’t get a placement, as you can still get a job with what you’ve learnt in your degree, as 96% of UWE Bristol graduates are in work or further study six months after graduating.

If you are willing to take hold of everything UWE has to offer, you will not notice the time fly by!

The university listens to its students through student rep forums and makes sure their facilities are up to standard. Over the past years, I have seen the Frenchay campus grow in size due to new buildings for the faculties, which means more spaces to work in, more computers and more classrooms. With the added benefit of being able to download subject specific software and Microsoft Windows onto your personal computers, there really is no worry about not getting your work done on time.

Making connections with industry

Finally, in my personal opinion, it is through your degree that you make some great connections which last a lifetime. You not only meet students from all around the world and from all walks of life but you meet with industry professionals who will give you an insight into the working world and help you make the starting step into the field.

Want to see what a day at my placement looks like? Watch my Instagram takeover below!

Find out how to get those career enhancing opportunities at UWE Bristol.