Friday, 5 April 2013

Why I love being a Bristol Uni Student

Clifton Suspension Bridge on a cold but sunny Winter day

I didn't even do this but it's so true
It was around Easter-time a couple of years ago that I got my offer from the University of Bristol - the fifth and final uni to respond to my application - and I sure am glad I did. I loved Bristol straight away upon visiting for the first time, but I wasn't by any means always certain it'd be my top choice.

For a long time I was completely stuck between Bristol and King's College London and just couldn't decided which one I'd prefer to study at for four years of my life - as you'd expect from yours truly, a very detailed (and colour-coded) pros and cons table was drawn up. Eventually I decided on Bristol, and it may just have been the best decision of my life thus far. I LOVE BRISTOL!

Here's a fun fact for you: The University of Bristol was the first higher education institution in Britain to admit female and male students on an equal basis. Good work, Bris.

I imagine many a sixth form pupil have now got their university offers, and as I remember wanting to hear genuine students' views on their unis, I'm here to tell you just why I love being at Bristol so much. I haven't been asked to write this for the uni, nor is this the type of thing you'll find in the prospectus, it's just me: a second year student studying French and German, and absolutely loving it.

The City

St Nicks Market
One of the main reasons I chose Bristol over KCL is the chances are I'll live in London later in my life, but if I hadn't moved to Bristol for uni, it's unlikely that I ever would have. That would have been a grandiose shame, as Bristol is fabulous. As the capital of the South-West (for real, I didn't make that up), Bristol is big enough to have loads going on, but not so big as to be overwhelming. It's sufficiently studenty, but not like one of those cities where the students pretty much are the majority of the inhabitants. Durham, I'm looking at you.

The Royal West of England Academy of Art
I never wanted to go to a campus uni, and one of the things I particularly love about Bristol is the fact that the uni is actually in the city. I mean properly in the central zone. This means I get to walk through Bristol's bustling centre among beautiful buildings pretty much every day. I love the buzz of the city, and I think it has a really youthful, exciting vibe which you don't find everywhere.

The lovely Park Street at Christmas
I'm not going to be a tourist guide here, but Bristol does have everything on offer: high street shops, a ridiculous number of vintage shops, markets, clubs, green spaces, theatres, cinemas, intimate music venues, big music arenas, snazzy restaurants (for when your parents are visiting, obvs), adorable independent cafés, museums, galleries (not to mention Banksy artwork to look out for on the streets)... You name it, we've got it. And our version is probably cooler. Bristol's pretty edgy like that. No, really. I've never seen so many café-vintageshop-musicvenue combos in one city. And as there are a lot of students in Bristol, there are a lot of student discounts. HOORAH!

Also, both Ribena and the world's first chocolate bar were invented in Bristol. Pretty cool, eh?

The People

I can't deny that the majority of Bristol students seem to come from London - most people consider me a Northerner, despite being from the Midlands *gasp* - but there really are people from all over. Although that's the case at most unis, I'm not sure every uni has the same type of student. Allow me to explain...

The Victoria Rooms AKA the music dept
As Bristol really is one of the UK's (and - as I'm deffos not biased - I'm going to even say the world's) best universities, all the students have at least a few brain cells up in their noggins, and a work ethic to match. Sure, just like pretty much every other student in the UK, we can be lazy, we like to party etc etc, but I think at the end of the day and when it really comes down to it, Bristol students put the work in when it counts. Come exam time, everyone knuckles down and works really hard. I think this is a jolly good thing.

We've got a lot of books. Not only on Germany, I promise.
Oh, and everyone I've met has been just down right LOVELY.

The Standards

This is a science building.
I've kinda already said this, but you know you're getting a high-quality education from top researchers/lecturers/professors, as well as super duper facilities at Bristol. Meh. Go and read the prospectus for more.

The Activities

Bristol Cathedral
THERE'S SO MUCH COOL INTERESTING FUN STUFF TO GET INVOLVED WITH I WISH I COULD DO IT ALL! Sorry, I got a bit too excited there. But I just can't help it. As I walk round uni and see all the posters up advertising shows, societies, events, clubs, sports, new publications, one-off lectures and goodness knows what else, I'm just blown away. I know a lot of universities have lots going on too, but I reckon we have some of the best to offer.

The Wills Building - I love walking past it on my way to work
As university students we have a wealth of opportunities right on our doorstep, and there's no better time or easier way to try new things. So even if you don't choose Bristol (I'm genuinely not trying to sell it to you, I just have a lot of love for the place), I encourage you to make the most of your time at uni, wherever you are. (Just check out my message to Freshers here.)

Oh, I feel I should also add that it rains a lot in Bristol, which kinda sucks. BUT everything else is AWESOME so it's fine.

The Suspension Bridge at sunset
I hope this has helped anyone considering studying at Bristol, and for those of you lucky enough to be already here, what have I missed?


  1. Hello Rachel,

    I'm a lucky valencia student who has been accepted at Bristol for a whole year inside the Erasmus programme. It's been hard to choose the best university I was offered, but after a year of investigation, I found out that Bristol is the right place for me. And you just have confirmed me that. I'm looking forward to going to Bristol and feel by myself what you are living right now.

    Thankyou for your post. I've found it really usefull and enthusiastic.


    1. Hi Car!

      Thank you so much for your lovely comment. I'm glad you enjoyed my blog and I hope you have a great year in Bristol! x

  2. WOOP WOOP! I love the rain!
    ....But I got a couple of questions:
    1. People say I'm loud and I'm not always as effective as I want to be when controlling it. Are Bristol students more placid and cool and collected and stuff, and is this something I'd have to get used to?
    2. I've heard that there's a slight xenophobia towards Americans. Is that true?
    3. How easy or difficult is it for international students to settle in among home students?
    4. (last question) Do you think Bristol University is more of a the-nail-that-sticks-out-gets-hammered kind of university or a the-squeaky-wheel-gets-the-grease kind of university?

    Thank you so much! You're so helpful. I know I have a lot of questions, but I guess I'm trying to make my own color coded pros and cons table. :P

    1. Hi Debbie,
      Thanks for reading and your questions... I shall try my best to answer them for you.
      1. I'd say while there are a lot of "cool" students around, there are also plenty of loud ones, so don't worry about that. In fact, there's basically every level of loudness on the scale, so I'm sure you'll find your niche.
      2. I haven't heard anything about xenophobia towards Americans! I had a Californian guy in my class last year and everyone got on really well with him. There are students from all over the world here :)
      3. I can't say I know THAT much about the experiences settling in of international students, but I think if you make the effort to integrate with everyone they'll all be really welcoming. I have friends from all over.
      4. Ummm... not really sure what you're on about with that last question, but people don't really judge people for being weird or anything here. There are some pretty edgy people ha ha.

      Hope that helps! And enjoy making your table ;) x

    2. And do check out my friend's answer below... much more useful than mine!

  3. Hey Debbie!
    I'm the Californian that Rachel mentioned in her reply, we had a German class together during my semester abroad. I thought I might be able to help you out with your questions, because I had the same questions before I headed over!
    1. Have no worries about being loud, I'm a fairly loud person and I fit in just fine. It's the same as in the US, some people are loud, others are quiet, like Rachel said, you'll be able to find a niche.
    2. Almost no xenophobia towards America anymore, most people who I talked to who thought that was the case were in England during some of our more difficult days, like the start of the Iraq War. People are curious about Americans, a lot of American programming is watched in England and people always seem to have questions like "Do you really drink out of plastic red cups at parties?" Or "How does American Football work?" I never felt threatened or ostracized when I was over there due to being American.
    3. There is definitely a slight culture gap, but it is a lot less than between us and some other countries, so don't be worried. I just asked a lot of questions, and people were always willing to help out the lost foreigner!
    4. Haha I'm not positive what you mean about this one, but if your question is whether or not you can be yourself, then I would say yes. The great thing about studying abroad in England is that you quickly realize that while there are some differences between the cultures, the people aren't as different as you might think. You get your crazy party animals and your quiet bookworms, and everything in between. Nobody is looking to hammer anyone, most people have the same cares and concerns as American students, and they're just trying to get by to graduation while having a good time!

    I hope I answered your questions! I would just say that going to Bristol was an incredible experience for me, I made friends who I still talk to, and I have enough memories to fill up a book. I would absolutely recommend it!

    1. Thanks so much for writing this Tom and I hope all is really well with you :)

  4. Hello!

    I have just stumbled upon your blog by accident and I was absolutely THRILLED to learn that you go to Bristol! I graduated from there last year, and I miss it so much! Your photos and words have brought back SUCH fond memories of that awesome city and university - thank you very much! :)

    Leen x

    1. Thanks Leen, that's so great to hear! I think I too will miss Bristol so much after I leave. Really sweet of you to leave such a nice comment, and thank you for reading. X

  5. Also a fellow Bristol student, aren't we lucky to be in such a great city!
    Would love you to have a peek at my new blog..

    1. Hey Kiran, thanks for your comment. We definitely are lucky! I'm going to miss Bristol this year.
      Your blog is lovely - so jealous of your dinner at Le Manoir! Lucky girl :) x

  6. Hey Kiran, thanks for your comment. We definitely are lucky! I'm going to miss Bristol this year.
    Your blog is lovely - so jealous of your dinner at Le Manoir! Lucky girl :) x

  7. Hi! Just stumbled on your blog when I was researching for Bristol. My uni in Hong Kong offers exchange opportunities at Bristol but I am not sure if the place is right for me. Being an international student, I'm slightly worried about fitting in. Can you talk more about the general culture of studying in Bristol and how the students get along with one and other? Thanks!


    1. Hi Annie,
      Thanks for your comment.
      I think Bristol would be a great place to do an exchange! There are loads of international students don't worry, and like I said in the post, everyone studies really hard as well as having fun. Everyone gets along! Well, that's what I've found anyway.
      Hope that helps and good luck! X

    2. Thanks for your reply.
      Bristol definitely seems to be a place I want to live in from what I read online, it's so beautiful and different from my hometown. I've decided to put Bristol Uni as my top choice for my exchange program. Hope my wish would be granted :)

      Annie X

    3. Fantastic choice. Hope you get it too :) X

  8. I so agree with you; Bristol is fabulous! As a local girl (I live in Redland, so right around the studenty bits), I always miss how pretty the city is when I go back to uni in Nottingham - I definitely want to raise a family here when I'm older! At least, though you'll be missing Bris, Germany and France will have their own cool quirks so it'll still be exciting and a nice play to live.

    I'm just starting out with a blog on all things studenty(/mostly wittering) so if you could take the time to read it and have any advice that'd be very much appreciated! www.

    I love your blog, so please keep writing!

    1. Yes, it's such a pretty city, isn't it Jess!? You're so right about moving abroad.

      Your blog looks great! I can definitely relate to the Ikea/Wilkos trips and I think you made a great call on the apron :)

      Happy blogging and thanks for reading and commenting! X

  9. Hiii...
    .I got an offer for MSc degree in Transfusion & Transplantation
    Do you have any idea about postgraduate life there

    1. Congratulations on your offer! I'm afraid I don't but I'm fairly sure you'll have a great time :)

  10. Hello!
    I got an offer a few months back and am going to firm!! I was wondering where you would suggest as accommodation as I too do modern languages!!

    1. Congratulations Bella! Great choice :) Well I have to say it really depends what you're looking for... Catered or self-catered? There are no bad halls though so don't worry :) x


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