How I found my ideal study space at UWE Bristol.

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By Mercedes, BA (Hons) Drama and Creative Writing

How and where we study is different right now and so it’s more important than ever to find a place where you feel safe and supported, so that you can focus on getting the most out of your course.

‘The Ideal Study Space’ is different for everyone. Some prefer to be in the comfort of their own space, (These people are fascinating to me, like, how do you not nap…At all?!) Some prefer a coffee shop type setting, and some prefer the calm outdoors.

As for me, I get too distracted in all of those settings, but I’ve found that studying on campus actually really works for me!

Mercedes

I’m currently studying Drama and Creative Writing and am based at UWE Bristol’s City Campus.  Contrary to most belief, doing a Drama degree is a bit more than remembering lines and getting bruises from Physical Theatre exercises — there’s a lot of ‘behind the scenes’ knowledge that needs to be learned. Using the City Campus Library makes me feel like I’m at home, but with a fresh element of productivity that helps me get stuff done.

The library is a great space for me to concentrate, with staff and resources on hand if I get stuck. It’s usually open pretty much all day (although it’s subject to some extra regulations at the moment due to Coronavirus restrictions), so you can get a good day’s work in without worry of having to leave early evening, and the space is perfect for group work in the main area as well as a section for silent study with a view of the Ashton Grounds to keep you at peace.

Here’s my favourite feature…You may or may not have heard of a software called Adobe Creative Cloud, you know…the one that costs a pretty penny to get for yourself? Well in the library at UWE Bristol they offer FREE use of the full package! In fact they’ve provided a wall of MacBooks that you can take out for the day to use on site, and you have access to all of the apps. I’ve found this so useful for my course and am pleased UWE Bristol makes the effort to cater to the needs of the student, whilst providing great places for focus.

UWE Bristol makes the effort to cater to the needs of the student, whilst providing great places for focus.

Mercedes

Even after the workload has gone down, you’ll still find someone chilling there with their music and a book, or groups of students planning a creative project on one of the roundtables, or someone making beats in the corner, or someone editing photos from their shoot — It’s a space for everyone to use!

So, where do you prefer to study? If, like me, nothing really works for you, why not give the UWE Bristol spaces a try?

Find out more about our campus and facilities.

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.

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 I found my support network

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by Desirée, BA(Hons) English Literature

Moving away from home to start university is an exciting experience. Everyone is ready to make friends, join societies, meet new flat mates and learn as much as possible, to make the most out of this new stage. However, some of us can find it a bit more challenging, but asking for help when we need it is always the right option.

What support is on offer?

At UWE Bristol, student mental health and well-being is considered a priority. Because of this there are a great variety of support options available.  They can work face to face, online, or even over the phone. Many of them are available 24/7, allowing you to feel heard and understood anytime.

As someone who came from a whole different country, as well as dealing with anxiety in past years, support and counselling were the first things I looked up when enrolling for my degree. Fortunately, the Wellbeing Centre provided everything I needed. For me, therapy was divided into six sessions and spread throughout the whole year.

In terms of staff, the university provide experts and professionals whose job is focused on attending our needs. For example, you can choose whether you want to be counselled by a man or a woman; and you can switch therapists so you can find someone whose clinical advice can fit your needs. Everyone has been trained to be understanding and non-judgemental, providing us with useful tools to deal with the challenges that we might face.

The right support for me

The first thing I did was speak to someone at an Information Point, there’s one on every campus. They will point you in the direction of the right type of support for you.  Because I wanted to speak to a counsellor, I needed to fill out a registration form, provided by UWE, which assessed what my needs were and gave an initial idea of what we’re dealing with.

The therapy sessions that I experienced lasted around an hour and fifteen minutes, and took place in Felixstowe Court, which is a cosy and relaxed environment.  When the six sessions are over, the therapist who has been working with you, is also able to refer you to other experts, outside the university.

A different option, is contacting the Out of Hours team at UWE. It is run by a minimum of two members of the university staff, who have also been trained to listen to you.  The service is considered Out of Hours because it works from 7pm to 6am every night. Again, this choice of support can be used over the phone or in person. Whichever you choose, there is always someone ready to listen down at the Farmhouse on Frenchay Campus, a space specially designed to be used as a safe place for students to relax and socialise, maybe even grab some tea and a nice book!

The Farmhouse on Frenchay

Other resources encouraged by the university are Kooth, an online platform of counselling created specifically for young people and students and if you’re really distressed, UWE crisis text line, which can be accessed by texting ‘UWE’ to 85258 anytime.

At UWE Bristol we offer a wide range of different types of mental health, wellbeing and academic support. For Desiree, counselling through the Wellbeing Service was the best option, but this won’t be right for everyone. But, that doesn’t mean that you won’t need some help from us whilst you’re here, and that’s ok.

You may need support with your studies and this can be accessed through a variety of sources including your Academic Personal tutor, faculty staff and our peer to peer support system (PAL). You’ll also have access to student support advisors and a wide range of additional support services such as our disability service and UWE cares. No matter what your worries are there will be someone here to help you thrive at university.

All of our support is accessed through the Information Points, which are located on all campuses and are the first point of contact no matter what your question or concern might be. That makes it nice and easy for you.

Find out more about support at UWE Bristol

Learn how students support each other through the Peer Assisted Learning (PAL) scheme.

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Elizabeth tells us about being a PAL leader. What it is and how it’s helped her make friends and grow in confidence. PAL stands for Peer Assisted Learning and is a scheme where students support each other throughout their studies.

Hi, I’m Elizabeth and I have been a PAL leader throughout my second year here at UWE Bristol. I used the PAL scheme during my first year and found it a really good way of helping me settle in and get to know people. It was good to talk to people who had been through it already and learn from their experiences. My brother had also been a PAL leader before me and so it was something that I really wanted to get involved in.

As an academic PAL leader I run a range of study support sessions. These are timetabled and group based and can be attended by students from all years. I run workshops to help students with academic skills and guide them to get any other support they may need.  Other PAL leaders run sessions to help with emotional resilience and careers and employability.  We make the sessions fun with interactive activities and games, so they’re a great way to get to know people.

We get to design the workshops based on our own experiences, along with help and support from staff and the senior PAL leaders who are in their third year. We find that workshops are particularly busy just before exams  where we talk a lot about coursework and how best to prepare.

Being a PAL leader has really increased my confidence. You are responsible for making sure you get to the sessions on time, sticking to deadlines and deciding what to talk about. I’ve also developed my presentation and organisation skills and used work based tools such as power point, which will look great on my CV.

I’ve made lots of friends through being a PAL leader. It’s a great way to widen your circle and get to know new people.  You get to talk to staff around the University which is a great confidence boost and it’s great fun as well.  I really want to become a senior PAL leader next year and would recommend getting involved in this scheme either as a leader or for the great support and advice it offers you.

Find out more about Peer Assisted Learning