Starting the exam period!

Exam timetables have been released and dissertation and coursework deadlines are a thing of the past. Revision season is here! As a joint honours language student, this year I have twelve exams over the month of May. However, it’s not as scary as it sounds since each of them individually only counts for a small percentage of my degree, which takes the pressure off on the day.

Although some revision will be intense, for example grappling with theorists for the literary and cultural units, revision for oral and aural exams includes listening to podcasts, watching films and reading up on current affairs in your chosen languages – so it’s not all doom and gloom!

To stay immersed in French and Portuguese language and culture I’ve downloaded an app called ‘Overcast’. You can use it to listen to popular American podcasts and BBC radio as well as worldwide French and Portuguese-speaking stations and programmes at any time of the day. It helps me keep up with the French election, listen to a variety of Portuguese accents from Africa to Brazil as well as being great entertainment. Whether or not you study languages, I definitely recommend it!

As I’m sure you know, it’s easy to lose perspective during this stressful period so it’s good to learn how to balance your work with a good social life, exercise and free time. There is a lot of support and encouragement at the university in order to make life easier in this way. Lots of people try and spend the whole day (and sometimes night!) in the library but this can be completely counterproductive.

To keep level-headed here in Bristol I make sure I still go for a run on the lovely Downs at some point in the day (as long as it’s not too cold and rainy) and meet up with friends who do different courses in the evenings to avoid obsessing about those looming exams!

– Alba

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Making the most of the remaining months

It’s now the first week back after what felt like quite a luxurious Christmas holiday and assessment period. I chose essay-based courses last term, which left me in the very fortunate position of having two exam-free weeks both to relax and also start on some reading for the term ahead.

It wasn’t all plain sailing though: having deadlines on consecutive days meant I had to organize my time really well and also start to plan and prepare my essays earlier than I once would have. As soon as I finished one essay, it was on to the next.

However, once those deadlines came and went I was able to have some time to reflect on how I am now entering into my final few at Bristol.

It’s hard to believe how time flies and with that in mind, I got started on my 2017 Bristol Bucket List! I thought of all the venues, restaurants, bars and museums I hadn’t been to, but had heard so much about.

Already by the end of reading week I had seen a play at the legendary Bristol Old Vic Theatre, been to a gig in the impressive Victorian building home to The Fleece in Redcliffe and had a delicious jerk chicken wrap from Biblos in Stokes Croft. All in all, it was a very enjoyable and productive week!

I have had enough time off to be fully prepared for what I’m sure is going to be a very demanding term. But, in the words of my French Renaissance professor: ‘It’s your last chance, so make the most of it!’

I plan to make the most not only of the poetry of Pierre de Ronsard, which she was referring to, but also the wonderful city of Bristol and everything it has to offer.

– Alba

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Beginning at Bristol

It seems strange now to think that I only moved into my halls of residence two months ago. Time has flown by!  Although I initially found the prospect of moving to a new city, the next ‘big step’ in my life, quite a daunting one, I’ve settled into Bristol incredibly quickly. My halls, Clifton Hill House, have been everything I hoped for, with a wonderful student support team and great new friends who have made the transition to university life that bit smoother.  I’ve found Bristol itself to be an incredibly exciting and cultural city, full of many exciting things to see and do, but I still have much more to explore!

Now that I’ve found a routine, I’ve started to enjoy all aspects of my degree in Italian and German. The Italian and the German departments have both been so helpful and willing to engage with students about any initial issues we may have had. As an ab initio student, I struggled with German at first, since it’s very different from the languages I had studied before. However, now that I’ve started to get my head around it, I’ve been having a lot of fun, even if the language programme remains quite intense. There have also been all sorts of events put on within the School of Modern Languages, which have helped to deepen my enthusiasm for my subject. I particularly enjoyed the screening of ‘Influx’, a new documentary about Italian immigrants living in London, organised by the Italian department. After the screening there was a lively discussion about some of the issues raised in the film with the director, Luca Vullo, and it was fascinating to hear people’s opinions, especially those of Italian staff and students living and working in Bristol. I then wrote an article about this event for the Italian student magazine, La Civetta.

Outside of my studies things have been rather hectic but fun, having joined the JCR at Clifton Hill House a few weeks ago, meaning that I represent the student body and help to organise events and entertainment. We are very busy planning our Christmas party at the moment, which we hope will be very successful, although we are increasingly feeling the pressure as the date approaches! I also applied to be on Bristol’s University Challenge team for 2017, and although I made it to the last twenty, I didn’t quite go through the final stage of selection. Despite this, it was still a great experience and I intend to try out again next year. I’m having a great time here at Bristol, and can’t wait to see what the next 3 years hold!

– Thomas



Posted in General, German, Italian

Returning from the Year Abroad

It’s been a busy start to the final year, but it’s so nice to be back in Bristol and to see friends again after the year abroad. This week is reading week and I think it’s the first reading week that I’ve been in the library by 10:30am every day! I have an essay due in next week for a unit called “African Narratives of Migration”. It’s a really interesting course looking at African literature with themes of journeys, exile and the world’s African diaspora. It seems that, so far this year, there’s been a recurring theme of Africa in my work. In my other optional unit I’m exploring films by French and Maghrebi (north African) directors. Similarly, the themes are of migration, crossing borders and journeys to and from Africa and Europe, which feel very topical at the present time.

A great thing about studying at Bristol is that there are always so many events going on around the university. I have recently been to several complimentary talks hosted by student societies, the anthropology department and individual members of Bristol staff. One was a panel discussion held for Black History Month which questioned our curriculum, our perspectives and the notion of history concerning the black British community. Another talk discussed the impact of migration on the people who are left behind, focusing on Morocco. There were two or three more talks that were less relevant to my course choices but still very eye-opening and a refreshing and thought-provoking way of spending an afternoon (and a good excuse to not do any work but still feel productive!).

Away from my studies, I’ve been going to and making quite a few dinners and have also been enjoying the Bristol pub quiz scene… It seems that all the finalists have aged significantly over their years abroad… Gone are the days of clubbing at Motion; now it’s a few pints before an early night. After this first deadline I think that will change. This is the most heavily weighted year (grade-wise) and so once the first assignments are over, I think we’ll all get into the swing of it.

– Alba


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Christmas and post-Christmas at Bristol


Somehow, it’s already February and Christmas is becoming a distant memory! To be honest, that time of year is probably my favourite in Bristol. The lights when walking home down Park Street remind you of the approach of Christmas, and that’s just kind of exciting to be honest. But also because if you walk down to Broadmead, near Cabot Circus around that time, there’s lots of Christmas stalls up, it’s incredibly festive, and you can some of the best fresh doughnuts I’ve ever eaten. Totally recommended.


I needed the Christmas break. While December is my favourite time of year, it’s also one of the busiest, particularly the last couple of weeks of term.  As well as the usual work involved, watching a Spanish film, the news in Italian, revising the Italian passato remoto, which I’d almost completely forgotten existed, there’s all the extra-curricular events you want to attend. I debate at BDU (Bristol Debating Union), and it’s a good opportunity to have some fun, get a drink, debate with excellent speakers and take it a little easier. Oh and by the way, there’s applications to send off.


I’m hoping to go into law after my undergraduate degree, and that involves applying for training contracts, vacation schemes, and trying to perfect every single application. And on top of everything else, I had a 3000-word essay to write over Christmas, which involved preparatory reading, checking books out of the library, and making sure I had everything I needed for the vacation (which is not all holiday by any means!). And then there’s the short matter of actually showing up to lectures. The last thing you want is to get so distracted with other things you fall behind on your actual work, because that means more catching up and more time spent later.


Ah the student life. Though the days of drinking at most (all) hours of the day are long gone, there’s still time to enjoy myself and have fun, and spend time with good friends. To be honest, I love doing all of the stuff I’ve said here. It’s work that’s challenging and gives you an opportunity to learn about so much, and to do so at a place with amazing friends and wonderful people. That as much as anything, is the student life.


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Farewell and good luck

Hi everybody!
Sadly, we have come to the end of the year, and even my graduation ceremony in July seems a distant memory!
Many of us new graduates have never been so free since finishing school! Many will have gone away for holiday – I went to France with some friends – whilst many others will be throwing parties around the city. It is a moment to be savoured, perhaps, as many prepare to leave Bristol for the next stage of their life (London, for many).
As for me, I haven’t found myself a graduate job and my plans remain up in the air. I am considering whether or not to accept an offer to study Economics at the University of Warwick, and also looking for short-term work experience to fill my time during the summer. Economics would add technical skills to my credentials and benefit me in many contexts in business and beyond, but I may study law at graduate level instead (in order to train to become a solicitor). It all depends on where I want to be, but unfortunately that remains unclear! Languages degrees are very versatile and linguists can fit in with multiple professional environments. It is great that there is so much that I could do, but slightly irritating that I have so much choice! This is why I’m looking for short-term work experience… internships are a great way to understand how you feel about a particular profession/sector, and I am hoping that this search will help me decide on the professional route that I wish to take in the future.
But that’s all from me for now. Thank you all so much for reading, it’s been a really fun year. I’m sad to say that this is my last update with my present status!

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Accommodation after a Year Abroad

One potential worry for a languages student returning from his or her Year Abroad is finding accommodation and housemates for 4th Year. With your 3rd Year spent working and/or studying in far more exotic locations, it is often a problem that is overlooked but there are so many ways around it and it is worth thinking about before jetting off.

Firstly, just because you are a languages student, it doesn’t mean that you will definitely live with other languages students in your final year. Engineers, certain scientists and mathematicians, dentists, medics, as well as people who did a Year in Industry are all still here in 4th Year. If your friends from 1st and 2nd Year aren’t on a Year Abroad but will still be in Bristol in 4th Year then they can help hugely with the house hunting process (provided you trust them of course).

Another option, if you live with other language students, is to look online for properties and arrange a viewing for when you are back in the UK. A lot of places get snapped up in November and December so if you are planning on returning home at some point between your Year Abroad placements, it’s worth factoring in a trip to Bristol to house hunt.

If you are incredibly organised and know who you want to live with in your final year, you can do some viewings and even sign a contract at the end of your 2nd Year. This is especially convenient if you and your housemates are likely to be away for the whole year. It takes so much pressure off you and the landlord as well.

A final option is to “wing it” and back yourself to find a place upon returning to Bristol in September. This is better if it is only one or two of you, as most of the larger houses will have been secured months ago. There are lots of websites like Gumtree on which you can find spare rooms and the Bristol Accommodation Office can also help you.

Everyone has his or her own way of doing it but don’t forget, it has to be done. Leaving it to the last minute can cause a lot of unwanted angst as your embark on your final year.


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The End is Nigh!

Hello everyone! I hope that you are all happy and well, and hopefully some of you have already decided to come and study at Bristol next year!

Spring is here and the days are getting longer, but everyone can feel the pressure as we approach our last deadlines and final examinations. I for one am thankful that I submitted my last coursework last week – this relieves a lot of pressure and allows me to finally focus exclusively on revising for my exams.

I’d like to tell you about the exams that I will have this summer, as some of you may be intending to study languages at Bristol next year, whilst others may be considering it for the future. Languages students are examined in five components for each language that they study. These are Guided Writing (using the target language to express an English text either by precise translation, résumé or other means), Translation (from the target language into English), Grammar and Composition (essay writing and grammar in the target language), Oral (a 15-minute oral presentation) and Aural (a listening exam). Because I do two languages (like many others), I will have ten language exams. I have two more exams for two other units I study (French Renaissance and Interpreting), bringing me to the grand total of twelve exams that I will have to sit during the summer examination period. In previous years, the language exams were split across the January and May/June examination periods, but in final year they are all in May/June. It’s a lot of work, since each component tests a different skill – I thought it might be useful for you to know how it all works so that you can know what exactly it is that you’ve signed up for!

We are in a time of year of mixed emotions. It’s getting warmer and we can all feel the summer coming, but many will be scrambling to meet dissertation or coursework deadlines, and many others have important exams that are little over a month away. It’s nice that we are on the home stretch; we are almost at the end of the year and graduation is just around the corner. All that we hope for is warm weather and a happy examination period.


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Working in Bristol while I learn

Hi everyone! Thanks so much to all of you who managed to tune in to the University of Bristol’s Virtual Visit Day, we hope we were able to answer your most burning questions! Teaching block 2 has now begun, and we have new modules, new reading and new subjects to get our heads around! I’m particularly happy to be taking a module in Liaison Interpreting, a new and exciting way to develop my practical language skills.

I’ve also decided to continue with my internship until the beginning of May (the beginning of exam period) — I work at the Cabot Institute, which is one of the main research institutes here at the University of Bristol (alongside Elizabeth Blackwell and the IAS). It’s a work experience that I managed to find through the university’s careers service, and I’ve had the chance to meet some really interesting and amazing academics here at Bristol who lead research aiming to resolve issues relating to environmental uncertainty, natural hazards, food and water security, and energy. It’s been a great chance for me to learn about some of the wonderful things that Bristol is involved in. Did you know that a physics professor from Bristol helped build drones for the collection of radiation data from areas exposed to the Fukushima nuclear disaster in 2011? Or that Bristol has been named as the European Green Capital for the year 2015? There is plenty of effort this year, and university students and academics are playing their part to promote this international cause for environmental care and sustainability.

My work at Cabot gives me a chance to meet all these great people, be inspired, make new connections and gain new skills. I like to think that it goes to show what you could be getting up to in Bristol in the times outside of your usual studies. There are so many societies, clubs, and work experiences to add plenty of variety to your life, and Bristol is a hub of activity and opportunity. Many people come to Bristol from all over to work, study or live, and it is certain that you will enjoy yourself and have plenty to explore if you end up coming here next year.

That’s all from me for now, I’ll be back soon with another update — but thanks for reading, and bye for now!

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The second semester has started and the work is already beginning to pile up! It feels crazy that after three and a half years I’m getting close to finishing my degree! Things are getting stressful but I’ve also got plenty to look forward to…

I’ve been getting involved with the University of Bristol Mountaineering Society (I even have a hoodie!) and I’ve been climbing with them in the Peak District and Snowdonia, not to mention all the fancy dress socials I’ve been to! Our last social was with all the other outdoor societies (canoeing, expeditions and caving) and we were each dressed as an element. The climbers had to dress as “sky” which led to some… interesting outfits! There’s only one other arts student in the society so it’s great to get out there and meet people from other subjects. I’m also in the University of Bristol Wind Orchestra, and have just been made lead saxophone. It’s a brilliant unauditioned ensemble and we’ve played music from James Bond and Carmen in our concerts so far this year. Our next concert is coming up at the beginning of March so we’re practising every week for that. My family might even make the journey over from South Wales to see it!
It’s great to have activities like this to look forward to in times of stress and I’m especially excited about taking a trip up to Glasgow next weekend to meet up with all the friends I met working in France! Although last time I saw them I had bright pink hair, so let’s hope they recognise me!

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