Life of a Bristol Student

by Native Bristol, Apr 16, 2018

We've got diary entries from students at universities around Bristol to expose what life as a student is actually like.

University life. It’s advertised as the best few years of your life, making friends for life and setting yourself up for a strong career in the real world after graduation. Bristol has several student establishments, and the city itself is very welcoming for academics from across the country.

You may find a prospectus which says that Bristol University has the second-best student rating in a recent survey, or that UWE’s sports facilities are consistently in the top five in a league table.

But what’s it really like, once you scratch under the surface? We’ve got a few diary-like entries to summarise what a day in the life of a Bristol student is actually like.

University of Bristol: Academic Life - Daniel Brashaw

As a third-year social science student, my average day at university consists of very little actual uni. I only have 7 contact hours a week, so normally my morning begins with my five-minute commute to the library. Having dodged SU workers, marxists and evangelical Christians all trying to get their message across on Tyndall Avenue, I enter the ASS (that stands for Arts and Social Sciences Library, get your mind out the gutter), and grab myself a desk.

I then tend to spend the time until my next lecture procrastinating heavily, devoting too much attention to listening to music and nowhere near enough to my dissertation. I might manage to sneak in the odd paragraph or two but before I know it, it’s time to actually go to one of my very expensive contact hours.

I study Economics and we don’t have our own building so my lectures are dotted all over the place. This term all my lectures take place as far away from my house as possible, halfway down Park Street in a lecture theatre that is always five degrees too cold.

But I feel like I’m complaining too much. My lecturers are great, and Bristol is a fantastic city to live and study in. It’s a lot of work but it’s a lot of fun.

University of the West of England - Melissa Karim
It all starts with the heart-breaking affair people call ‘waking up’. After a quick freshen up and bite to eat, it’s off to catch the bus, but where to? The University of the West of England (UWE) has four campuses, so you have to make sure you don’t end up lost in the wrong campus.

It’s usually Bower Ashton, though. Yes, the campus that has deer right outside its doorstep. Speaking of which, did you know the plural of deer is deer? You’re welcome.

In class, I sit there half wishing I was at the beach and half mind-blown at how little I know. Thank god for those people who try to educate us.

With class over, it’s time for lunch, and with that I always have one prayer: “please have a bake sale!” My parents think I go to university for the education but, to be fair, it’s for the cheap bake sales. How can one resist?

Okay, maybe I over exaggerated. I also go to university for the workshops. I recently acquired a film camera, and guess who was giving a free workshop on using film cameras? UWE! What’s better than a workshop? A free workshop!

With my day at UWE concluding, I leave slightly smarter, a little fatter and all the more confused with what I’m doing with my life.

Bristol BIMM - British and Irish Modern Music Institute - Caitlin Buller

Being a student at BIMM is unlike being a student anywhere else. Of course there are pros and cons, but for the most part being at this university allows for creativity to flow and for talents to be nurtured. BIMM can get you a qualification as a musician (vocals, drums, bass, guitar, song-writing) and in business (music business, events management). I’m a third-year business student, and this is my typical day…

7:30am: Wake up. Remember that you’ve never had a single 9am class your entire time at university. Fall back asleep.

9am: Class in one hour. Make a coffee to go because, even though coffee is always promised via email from your lecturer, it never actually materialises, so best bring your own.

10am – 1pm: Two classes, and both make you feel extremely uneasy about your workload. It’s dissertation time, but you’re also exploring your emotional development as a person; music business is a more complicated degree than you would think.

Afternoon: You try and work from the BIMM ‘library’, sometimes with little success. Due to space/funds, the library is in fact two bookcases (plus online resources). Sometimes there will be a cool masterclass on with an industry professional or famous performer. Most recently, Bastille did a Q&A with BIMM, and these sorts of things happen throughout term. One massive positive of studying at BIMM is the amount of one to one time with staff. You can book loads of tutorials and can get really great advice and assistance on your work.

Evening: Once you’re done worrying/crying over your dissertation, and you’ve eaten your fourth pasta meal of the week, it’s time to get out. There’s a choir at BIMM who (luckily for me) accepts all singing abilities, and we work on gospel tunes and popular songs. It’s fun, and a creative way to blow off steam. There’s also tons of gigs happening every week at BIMM. Chances are half your mates are in a band (or three), so you’ll get to see lots of live music.

Tips for surviving the day: drink caffeine, bring headphones, avoid temptation to visit the pub across the road.

University of Bristol: Extra-curricular life - Hannah Green
Having paid an extortionate amount for both my badminton membership and the fees involved merely for accessing the sports facilities, one would think that when my alarm goes off at 6am to wake me up for an early Tuesday morning badminton session I would be raring to go.

However, I, like my fellow well-meaning but ultimately lazy badminton compatriots, simply press snooze and turn over for another 3 hours of sleep. Luckily, there remains the option to book out the sports hall at various times during the day when we can play far from the critiquing eye of the sport’s ‘Performance’ and ‘Development’ squads - even amongst the ‘Social’ group, our collective badminton ability places us firmly in the comic relief tier.

Instead of a morning of worthy sports endeavours then, free time before lectures is passed in coffee shops up and down Park Street, under the vague notion that this will "help me work". Boston Tea Party, Pinkman’s Bakery and, of course, old favourite (pay your taxes please!) Café Nero have seen me and my friends come and go, ordering coffees, diligently setting up laptops and stacks of books and proceeding to gossip/plot media domination for the next two and a half hours.

After barely surviving a mostly silent seminar about the collective works of Sir Francis Bacon, it’s time to neglect my degree some more. I tell myself that extracurricular writing is in some ways furthering my future career - after all, Epigram, Inter:Mission, and of course Native are all begging for my journalistic prowess (joking, obviously - they all very sweetly allow me, and for the most part anyone who fancies it, to squeeze in an article here and there). Possessing absolutely no dramatic ability myself, happily I have friends who do, and knowing people involved in the student theatre world is a great place to start for weaselling your way into shows for free under the grand title of ‘reviewer’. After smashing out a review about the previous night’s performance, it’s time to return home to the glorious Unite House to fight for a cooking space before heading off into the night.

Evening finds me and my friends in the bustling Stokes Croft, where we feast on pitta and hummus before working up the courage to descend into the basement of the Arts House Cafe, where Helicon Society host regular life drawing sessions. For just £3, I can spend the evening attempting to draw a naked person who, disconcertingly, is only a few feet away.

After a long hard day of doing anything but work, I can plot the next few day’s activities - some more articles maybe? A ceramics workshop? Anything to keep me from the collective works of Sir Francis Bacon.

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