My first week has already passed by in a blur of British accents, delicious pastries, and many rides on double-decker buses.
I’ve spent the last few days getting used to traveling within Bristol because my accommodation is in a small neighborhood in the North Village called Stoke Bishop. All undergraduate students living in this area are provided a free university bus pass that lets them travel from their residences into campus and into City Centre. I’ve found this very useful as the bus stop is right outside my accommodation and they run on a very frequent schedule.
It was a little nerve wracking taking the bus for the first time, but I went with a group of friends which made it easier. I’ve now taken the bus by myself to campus and back multiple times and have found it so much fun sitting on the upper level.
Bristol’s campus is set up very similar to Drexel, where the campus buildings are amongst other offices, shops, and schools, making it a very busy city-campus. I took a trip to the shops the other day and picked up some basic groceries, then stopped by the pharmacy and picked up free lateral flow covid tests (bi-weekly rapid self-tests are encouraged by the university). I also walked around and located all my class buildings so I’m prepared for the first week of classes next week.
The University of Bristol also has Welcome Week filled with student events, parties, and welcome villages. Many students also have Welcome Talks hosted by their department, however most study abroad students don’t have ones to attend as we are “non-course” (non-major) students. Instead I’ve spent the week attending all the events hosted by the Global Lounge, which is the university’s international students society. It’s been fun meeting other students from all over the world, including a couple Americans. They usually have prepared games and activities, but I’ve had the most fun just relaxing in their common room area and chatting with new friends.
Welcome Week ends with the Welcome Fair held on Clifton Grounds (a massive park right outside of the campus area). Tents are set up and each student society (club/organization) is given a table where they can recruit students to join and pass out free treats and small items.
Societies have also started having “taster sessions” where you can come in and try out the activity before deciding if it’s an organization you want to take part in. They range from dance, drama, sports, to even pre-professional and academic based ones too. There’s definitely something for everyone, and I’ve decided to try the societies that are completely different than the ones I belong to at Drexel!
One of the biggest benefits I’ve noticed to studying abroad through an exchange program such as the University of Bristol, is that it’s not much different than home. It’s nice to experience the term as a regular student, attend sporting events, join societies, and find the best spots around campus to hang out with friends. Slowly, but surely, Bristol is definitely becoming my home away from home.
A Message from the Office of Global Engagement:
The safety and security of Drexel students is a priority for the University. As part of the efforts to support Drexel students that are studying abroad during the COVID-19 pandemic, the Office of Global Engagement has conducted a rigorous review of programming and provided additional support to participating students with customized pre-departure orientations and regular check-ins during the required self-isolation period and the term.