How I settled into University life

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by Salma, BSc(Hons) Architecture

I’ll never forget my first trip to get groceries. I had just arrived in Bristol and as I was heading to Lidl, I may or may not have walked into random strangers’ backyards trying to get there. It was also my first-time using Google Maps and my, what an invention!

People who don’t see the need to use maps and rely solely on signs scare me.

Luckily as I got to know my flatmates, we started going grocery shopping together. Soon, what seemed like an hour-long walk felt like nothing. It started out with a simple text in our group chat that went something like, “I’m going grocery shopping tomorrow, would any of you like to join me?” It’s very normal for the first few weeks, or sometimes even the first couple of months to be awkward, but these little walks to Asda or Lidl really helped me get to know my housemates better.

Cooking with flatmates

In my first year at UWE I lived in Wallscourt with fellow international students and one thing I learnt from living with people from different cultures is that offering to try your food is the best way to make a friend. You also get to try theirs the next time, so it is a win. Living in a multicultural house also gave me the opportunity to celebrate things like Eid, Diwali, and Chinese new year’s. These were also opportunities to cook together, share a meal and educate one another about our cultures. It is a gradual process.

During the lockdown last December, I decided to stay in university accommodation so I spent the Christmas holidays mostly in my room and with my flatmates. We would hold movie nights and bond over some popcorn and crisps. One of my favourite recipes to make for my flatmates was these quick and easy cinnamon rolls .

Eating well

Before coming to university, the closest I got to ‘cooking’ was ramen noodles. But now I’ve learned some recipes from my flatmates, I’ve come to really enjoy cooking!

There’s something about having your own stuff, which has it’s own place in the kitchen that also makes cooking much more appealing. And when you’re in charge of your own food, it’s much easier to make healthier changes to your diet that you’ve always dreamt of. I switched to brown bread, gradually reduced my sugar intake and switched to plant-based milk cutting down my dairy intake. This did wonders for my skin and if my skin is happy, I’m happy!

Joining a society

During my first year, I joined the BAME society and the Built Environment society. I wanted to join societies that catered to both my social identity and my academic side. Joining these societies helped me get used to university life, as I met students from other years who’d had more experience and could give me advice. Although covid restrictions limited my interaction with other people, joining a society and meeting my course mates during the campus workshops, allowed me to make those all important connections and build my own community.

Mindfulness and meditation

During the lockdown last December, I decided to stay in university accommodation so I spent the Christmas holidays mostly in my room and with my flatmates. We would hold movie nights and bond over some popcorn and crisps.

Day to day though, I like to keep a routine and it’s important for me that I start my day by dedicating an hour or two to myself. I normally start by having toast with coffee/tea and then read a portion of a book and then watch some vlogs and cooking videos on YouTube. I also try to reserve 20 minutes before going to bed to meditate and I’m an avid believer of spiritual healing through prayer.

It’s important to remember that there will always be days when everything gets overwhelming and it’s not easy to stay focused no matter what you do. On such days, I just let myself feel the feelings and remember that it’s ok to have a good cry if needed.

For more advice on how to settle in and start your year well visit the Feel Good webpage!

Moving into the community

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Are you moving into the community soon? Well we want to make the transition as easy as possible! We’ve pulled together a list of helpful advice along with top-tips from BA Hons Marketing student Deppy and The Students’ Union.

Introduce yourself

Introduce yourself to your neighbours (in person or pop a note in their mailbox) – it’ll make all the difference if you know who’s living next door and it’s important to try and get on with those living around you. Plus, it’ll help when you have you go and collect a missed delivery!

Listen to Deppy’s top-tips for moving into the community.

Respect your neighbours

Try to keep the noise down. You might enjoy a late night, but those around you might not. If you’re walking home at night, remember that the local residents might have children or need to get up early for work – everyone’s entitled to a good night’s sleep!

If there is one, join the neighbourhood WhatsApp group and try to stay active on it. Let your neighbours know if you’re going to have a later night than usual.

Bins and recycling

Make sure you put your bins out at the right time and bring them in so they’re not blocking the pavement. You can check the bin collection dates for Bristol and South Gloucestershire online.

It can be tempting to just chuck what you don’t want in the bin rather than recycle, but every time you choose recycling over rubbish, the planet thanks you!

Keep safe

Make sure your doors and windows are closed and locked when no one is home, and register bikes and valuables so you can track them if stolen.

Get contents insurance – many providers offer student cover, so do your research!

And be aware of who you bring home and who your flatmates bring home – and look out for one and another.

Advice Centre

The Advice Centre offers friendly, non-judgemental and confidential advice – and it’s totally free too! Speak to them for advice on housing, rent, bills and financial queries.

And finally, enjoy being part of your new community and be proud of it! Even just picking up litter that you see on your walk home, saying hello to a neighbour or taking the bins out will go a long way to making your community a place where everyone loves to live.