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The Bristol Bum, Free Salsa Dancing and Saturday Pop Confessionals: The Insider’s Guide to Bristol Uni

By Vasilisa Skorokhod – 8th August 2023

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Wondering what the Bristol Bum is? Or how to try out kickboxing and salsa for free? What even is a Saturday Pop Confessional? You’ve clicked on the right article. This is the ultimate insider’s guide to what Bristol Uni is really like, coming from someone who was a nervous fresher less than a year ago.

The City

Bristol is one of the most vibrant and colourful university cities in the UK. It’s one of the main reasons I was drawn to Bristol Uni in the first place, as there’s always something going on. The liveliness of Bristol may be both exciting and intimidating to anyone coming from smaller towns - but you’ll be a convert by the end of your degree!

It is incredibly hilly. They say that walking around Bristol gives you the Bristol Bum, and I’ve also found myself saying a few times that it’s a good substitute if you don’t feel like joining the gym!

Bristol isn’t a campus uni, so the buildings are spread out, but I’ve found it all to be the perfect walkable distance. You can easily pop into Sainsbury’s on your way to a lecture or head to the pub after a particularly rough seminar (joking - sort of).

If you walk down Park Street from Wills Memorial building, you’ll find a number of cute eateries along the way, as well as College Green at the end of the street – just one of the many popular spots for students to sit and have a good gossip.

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Bristol is one of the most vibrant and colourful university cities in the UK.

Studying

Of course, the studying part of life at Bristol is key. But believe it or not - going somewhere to study in Bristol can be enjoyable too. The range of study spaces available are exactly what you need for all types of people and times of the year.

Wills Memorial library is the face of Bristol Uni and it has a really nice historical feel - and it’s practically opposite one of my favourite sushi places in Bristol: Nya Sushi (not an ad unfortunately). Beacon House, on the other hand, has more of an office vibe and there’s great snacks in the café below.

My favourite spot for studying as well as chilling is definitely the SU Living Room in Senate House. It has beanbags, enough plants to rival a plant shop (but doesn’t feel cluttered), book exchange corners, and even a little kitchen where you can heat up your lunch or make some tea. It's super easy to library hop if you feel like a change of atmosphere, or meet up with friends for some food in one of the many surrounding cafes and student spaces.

It's super easy to library hop if you feel like a change of atmosphere

Societies

Walking around Bristol doesn’t just give you the Bristol Bum - it also exposes you to the incredible array of societies available at your fingertips.

Make sure to keep an eye out on the Student Union website at the start of each term, as societies run “Give it a Go” sessions, where you can do anything from Martial Arts to Pole dancing, for free. It’s great for figuring out what you like and for meeting new people- I made a great friend just by us both running late to Ballroom and Latin Give it a Go! We didn’t end up joining but we both went on to go to dance classes together throughout the year.

The Bristol SU also runs thrift sales at the start of each term, where you can snag bargains and support the environment, whilst befriending likeminded shopping enthusiasts.

Apart from trying out new things and making friends, Bristol societies can also give you great opportunities. Bristol Law Club runs events such as talks with Magic Circle firm partners and Negotiation and Mooting Competitions. But if you think that studying and career events won’t leave you with time for travel, then you’re mistaken. I got to go explore Barcelona with the Spanish Society for the weekend and all it took was a bit of planning ahead to still get my work done on time. The best part is you can easily get involved in societies or groups you’re interested in - for example now I’ll be on the Spanish committee next year and help plan the next trip!

The Bristol SU also runs thrift sales at the start of each term, where you can snag bargains and support the environment.

Clubs and Balls

It wouldn’t be an article about Bristol if I didn’t mention the nightlife. And it definitely deserves a mention!

Bristol boasts a range of clubs which themselves also have a range of events. Predictably, my favourite is probably the most well-known – Thekla. Thekla’s main selling point is that it’s a club on a boat, which is really cool. Check out Saturday Pop Confessionals at Thekla, where they play early 2000s hits, and theme nights like Abba Night are ones to look out for. After a few drinks, be sure to head to one of the many photo spots around Bristol Uni, particularly taking an iconic tipsy picture in front of Wills Memorial at night, which lights up in different colours. And if you want to end your night in typical Bristol fashion, be sure to hit up the kebab vans - the most renowned being Jason Donervan.

For those who aren’t into clubbing but still want to dress up, there are loads of balls. Prices vary depending on what society or accommodation throws the ball, but last year my accommodation threw Winter and Spring Balls which were 10 pounds each, with food and drinks included!

It wouldn’t be an article about Bristol if I didn’t mention the nightlife

Bristol Uni truly lives up to its colourful reputation, where you can join societies and explore eateries and cute study spaces, whilst also getting a degree from a top rated Russell group University. If you’re an incoming September Fresher, be sure to hit up these places when you arrive - and if you’re a prospective applicant - make sure you head to an Open Day at Bristol. No doubt you’ll bump into me if you end up heading to Nya Sushi!

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