Is Bristol everything we were promised? Halfway point reflections from a first year

What I would tell myself in September, to avoid making so many mistakes


We are officially over halfway through the year, as first years we have managed to navigate the overwhelming, exciting, drunken, fun-filled jump from school to university. To mark the occasion I have compiled a list of things I would tell September-me to advise her and give her an insight into what Bristol life would look like. Here’s to all fellow first years, cheers to TB2 and even more brizzy fun – do not take the rest of the year for granted; sh*t gets real next year.

All hail the U1

Perhaps the biggest blessing of being in Bristol, specifically in North Village, is the U1. I hereby nominate the U1 for the best bus service in the country. Running into the early hours of the morning, picking me up from a heavy La Rocca night and then delivering me safely to my 9am approximately five hours later, it truly is a godsend. Often showered with Jason’s chips, empty pouches of tobacco and forgotten Ucards, no one can deny the reliability and all-round comfort of the U1. Not to mention the rush when a real member of the public is sat next to you. September-me did not realise I was signing up for 20% of my uni time to be spent on the U1, but January-me could not be happier.

Do not be put off by the rah, embrace it (or not)

I distinctly remember seeing TikToks that seem to satirize the average Bristol student, little did I know that they were perhaps not all that satirical. It does seem that every private school student in the country ended up in Stoke Bishop, evidenced by the skinny scarfs, rugby culture and social smoking – of course not to mention every boy in Hiatt Baker claiming they’re a DJ. My biggest advice to silly freshers, released from the comfortable gates of state school, is to find the fun in the North Village bubble without letting it consume you. At the end of the day, we’re all the same, all seeking a fun and drunken first year.

Jason Donervan

A Bristol essential; Jason Donervan simply is top tier and a Bristol night out is not complete without it. Surely you have heard the calories in Jason’s are imaginary and do not count, but in a similar vein, the money that is spent at Jason’s defies any budgeting ties you may have subjected yourself to. I promise you now the hangover after a night that ended with Jason’s is a breeze compared to one that did not. You are not better than people just because you say no to Donervan.

Resist the afters temptation

I would implore September-me to stay out of the afters habit. As hard as it may be to resist, especially when fuelled by six VKs or 10 Jaegerbombs, the night can end with a kebab and bed, it does not have to consist of kitchen dance parties or seven people in one room until 6am- stay out of it and you will thank yourself massively in the morning.

Picking the perfect study space

Knowing where and when to study is something we all have to crack as Bristol students. Will’s library, the Hawthorns and Beacon House all have their perks, but Senate House at 2pm on a Tuesday or the ASS at 7pm on a Thursday during exam season are not suitable locations to wear pyjamas and get into study mode. Getting into the habit of early morning library trips and fully understanding every corner of Senate House and when it fills will be a worthwhile use of your time.

It really is as independent as they say

This validation-seeking, lifelong teachers’ pet was not happy at the lack of gold stars and housepoints offered by the uni upon my arrival. Yes, you are expected to be a pro at referencing within the first two days, and will be asked to write 4,000 on a topic you heard of yesterday, of course! The first year of university is a time of no real responsibility, and you are allowed to perform poorly academically but it is also a completely humbling experience – trust me your three A*s mean very little. Use the means of help that are available to you, PASS and office hours will ensure your need for academic validation is satisfied.

That marks the end of my halfway point reflections. I’ll be sure to write again in the summer with all the lessons we will learn in TB2. I hope you have all had as much fun as I have!

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