Happy Thanksgiving

A colourful and festive celebration was enjoyed by all in attendance at this year’s Thanksgiving event, with fantastic food, activities and a presentation giving insight into the history of this annual holiday.

Organised by Bristol SU’s USA Society, the sold out event started with a presentation by Founder and President, Blake Makuuchi, about the history of Thanksgiving, how it’s celebrated and what it means to those who participate each year.

Hearing about how meaningful this holiday is to those who celebrate, gave attendees an authentic insight into part of the US culture, and Blake’s presentation touched on the personal importance of the holiday – from Friendsgiving, to calls with loved ones on the day when away from family.

‘I enjoyed speaking to students who attended and being part of an event which people were clearly enjoying. I also liked that there was an element of education / learning about the cultural significance of the event,’ Sarah Price, staff member.

Afterwards, attendees got to enjoy a sit down dinner of turkey and stuffing, along with a vegan option, with roasted sweet potatoes, vegetables and stuffing, and pumpkin pie for dessert – which was certainly a highlight for everyone!

After dinner guests could enjoy activities like ‘match the football logo to the American football team’, adding what they’re thankful for to the ‘Thanks recognition wall’ and also making use of the photo opp wall with friends.

‘I enjoyed the food and the activities (especially the American football game). It was a great place to hang out and celebrate Thanksgiving with my friends, especially as I will not be able to attend Thanksgiving this year with my family,’ Emile Brunet, Undergraduate student.

Many attendees stayed until the end of the event, and the Global Lounge was very pleased to host another successful Thanksgiving led by the USA Society.

‘It is always a pleasure working with the Global Lounge team: stress-free, organised, great communication! I loved the decorations, ambience and the food. It was a lovely event!’ Blake Makuuchi, Undergraduate student and USA Society President

Thanks to everyone who came and a very happy Thanksgiving to you!

Day of the Dead celebration

We partnered up with Bristol SU’s Mexican Culture Society to host the traditional Mexican celebration ‘Día de los Muertos’, or Day of the Dead, on 2 November. Held yearly to honour the deceased, it’s a celebration full of joy, food and music!

Tickets were so popular, we decided to host it in the Anson Rooms so there was space for everyone. As well as colourful decorations, there were tons of fun activities to get involved in.

Queues formed quickly at the face painting stall, where Global Lounge Ambassadors showed their artistic flair painting intricate designs. Over at the crafting tables there was the opportunity to ‘build your own Calavera’ and make a traditional face mask.

‘I cannot express how happy we were yesterday being able to share some of our traditions with you all, and at the same time being able to create, in some way, a space that made us feel closer to home.’
Paulina Govea, Research Assistant, School of Chemistry

After tucking into some tasty burritos, we enjoyed fantastic dance performances and interactive games, including energetic games of musical chairs.

Despite the torrential rain outside, the Anson Rooms was filled with a lively cohort of students and staff. Thank you to the the Mexican Culture Society for their fantastic contribution, the Global Lounge Ambassadors for helping the event run smoothly, the hard work of the Global Lounge team and to all the wonderful attendees who enjoyed the evening!

Watch the video
Bristol SU volunteer, Maddie Green, asked Day of Dead attendees how they would describe the Global Lounge in one word, and this is what they said!

Diwali celebrations with the Vice-Chancellor

We joined forces with the wonderful students from Bristol SU’s Indian Society to host an exciting Diwali celebration in the Lounge.

As well as over two hundred home and international students, we were delighted to have the University’s Vice-Chancellor, Evelyn Welch, attend the festivities.

Students who celebrate annually wore beautiful traditional dress, with many spending their first Diwali away from home. For others who were less familiar with Diwali, the event was a fantastic chance to learn more about the ‘Festival of Lights’, it’s history and traditions.

Students celebrate Diwali in the Global Lounge with the University’s Vice-Chancellor, Evelyn Welch
Students celebrate Diwali in the Global Lounge with the University’s Vice-Chancellor, Evelyn Welch

Society members spoke about how Diwali is celebrated in different parts of India and traditional refreshments were enjoyed by all. Attendees were also treated to a range of fun activities, including henna tattoos, crafting and painting Rangoli designs.

By the end of the evening, the colourfully-decorated Lounge was filled with dancing, singing and traditional music. Thanks to everyone who came and made the event such a great success.

Diwali celebrations
Current students, Global Lounge staff and Ambassadors celebrate Diwali together

Fancy coming to our next event? Sign up to our newsletter or visit our events page to find out what’s coming up.

📷 Ola Drummond



Open Iftar

On the 28 and 29 of April the Global Lounge, and friends, welcomed students and staff to the Wills Memorial Building for a grand, two-night ‘Open Iftar’ celebration.

Iftar is the meal eaten by Muslims after sunset while they are fasting for Ramadan (iftar literally means to ‘break fast’). The Global Lounge was delighted to hold the event in person, following virtual celebrations in 2020 and 2021.

Great hall Bristol universityWomen chat animatedly at the eventIftar dinner servedMany people pray togetherSomeone giving a speechHappy Ramadan Mubarak signDiners smilesA plate of datesPeople chat and smileIftar diners chattingPeople eat at low tables

The lively, free event brought hundreds of Muslim and non-Muslim members of the university community together in the specially decorated Great Hall to share a traditional meal and learn more about Islam. Both events included a prayer for Muslim guests, a home-cooked dinner and speeches from six guest speakers. The space looked even more magical than ususal, lit up with green lights, to symbolise new life and growth.

‘The energy and the spirit level from everyone, from the student ambassadors to our advocate, was incredible. I am so proud of what we have achieved.’
Robiu Salisu, Student Inclusion Officer (BAME)

From undergraduate and postgraduate to staff, all guests had the chance to mingle and share ideas while enjoying a delicious meal cooked up by the Somali Women’s Kitchen. Following Islamic tradition, the meal started with dates, before everyone tucked into some hearty beef samosas and delicious beef and vegetable curries.

Of course, the Global Lounge could not have held such a successful event without the hard work of its fellow organisers:

Alison Golden-Wright, Director of Student Health and Inclusion, was impressed with the turn out, and said: ‘I’d like to say how much I enjoyed Thursday’s Open Iftar. It was a lovely event and great to see so many people in attendance. Well done to everyone involved – all the hard work really paid off!’ News of the iftar event spread beyond the university; it was great to see the celebrations captured on camera by BBC Breakfast and also featured in the Bristol Post.

What is Ramadan?

Ramadan is the most sacred month of the year in Islam. Muslims observe the month of Ramadan by fasting (not eating or drinking during the hours of daylight) and paying special attention to their charity-giving and helping others.

What is iftar?

Iftar is the meal eaten by Muslims after sunset whilst they are fasting for Ramadan (iftar literally means to ‘break fast’). It is the second meal of the day; the pre-dawn meal is called suhur. Traditionally, in emulation of the Islamic prophet Muhammad, three dates are eaten to break the day’s fast before the meal.

A plate of dates
Dates are traditionally eaten to break the fast.
Many people pray together
Muslim attendees prayed before eating




Fancy coming to our next event? Sign up to our newsletter or visit our events page to find out what’s coming up.

📷 Christy Nunns




Global food fiesta

Our global food fiesta brought the University of Bristol community together on Thursday 24 March in celebration of something that’s always popular in the Lounge, food!

But the celebrations didn’t stop there, attendees were also treated to musical performances, Bollywood dancing and a spirited set from Indian-fusion student band, Taal. The variety of entertainment and tasty selection of international cuisine attracted around 150 students and staff, all in all a great success.

People Bollywood dancingSociety students poseFood being served to studentSamosassmiling students pose for cameraCrowd chatting at the fiestaTray of sushiStudent plays chinese instrumentMexican food dishTaal band plays guitarbubble tea

It was inspiring to hear lively conversations taking place between students from all over the globe. The food stalls in particular sparked many discussions about the cultural significance of the unique foods served up.

The wonderful Bristol societies who shared a feast of international fare included:

The Bangla Society cooked some delicious home-made Bengali street food which proved a hit, and the Tamil Society expertly crafted veggie tinga for all to enjoy.

Students chat at fiesta

Whilst tucking into their choice of snack, attendees were entertained by performances from talented Bristol students. As well listening to Taal, everyone had the opportunity to hear beautiful music played by Dan Qin and Chenyi Xuan on the ‘Pipa and ‘Guqin’ (traditional Chinese instruments).

An energetic routine from the Bollywood Dance Society (performed by Sophiya Joseph, Maliha Mubarak, David Johnson and Sujith Kannan) was also a highlight.

The fiesta didn’t just unite people over food and spark conversations, it provided a great chance to learn about a fascinating variety of culturally and historically significant cuisines.

Thanks to those who came, hosted stalls, performed, and organised such a wonderful event, and to the Lounge’s talented volunteer photographers, who expertly captured the bustling atmosphere in their images.

Fancy coming to our next event? Sign up to our newsletter or visit our events page to find out what’s coming up.


📷 Kyun Wang and Vidu Chandrasena

If you’d like to volunteer as a photographer at Global Lounge events, get in touch.


Volunteer for our ‘student life’ webinars

Dear Global Lounge community, we need your help!

In May, the Global Lounge will be recording a virtual series of ‘student life webinars’ and we need volunteers to ask questions during the online presentations.

What are student life webinars?

In these webinars, our Global Lounge Ambassadors will be delivering presentations on a range of topics surrounding student life in Bristol, providing new students with an introduction to university life and the city of Bristol. The webinars will give new students a comprehensive, (and fun!) insight into life in the city, from a student perspective.

How you can help

We need current students to ask ambassadors questions during the webinars, to delve deeper into the subject of the presentation. If you can’t think of any questions it’s not a problem, as you will be provided with one to ask.

Please note that these webinars will be recorded on Zoom, so you must be comfortable being on camera when asking ambassadors your question. We will be using these recordings for incoming students for the 2022/23 academic year.

Each student life webinar will last for 1 hour, and you will be given a piece of Global Lounge merchandise for each webinar you help us with!

To register your interest, please email global-lounge@bristol.ac.uk with ‘student life webinar volunteer’ in the subject title by 9 am, on 28 April.

We will get back to you soon with more information.

People chat at fiesta group shot


In partnership with the USA Society, a grand Thanksgiving feast was hosted in the Global Lounge on Friday 19 November 2021.

A history of Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving is an American holiday that is celebrated every fourth Thursday of November. It originally dates back to when the English Puritans first came to Plymouth, Massachusetts. As these Pilgrims were not used to the harsh New England conditions, they struggled to survive. The local tribe named the Wampanoag tribe helped the Puritans with harvesting food and making shelter. In order to show gratitude to the native tribe, the Pilgrims hosted a feast. This was the first Thanksgiving.

‘It is also time to reflect on the darker history surrounding the holiday’

Thanksgiving is a day where we give thanks to those who have helped us in our lives and give back to the community, with volunteering being a big part. It is also a time to reflect on the darker history surrounding the holiday. Following the Puritan’s arrival into America, colonization began to grow, forcing the natives out of their land. The colonizers would brutally torture and murder those who refused to leave. At the same time, disease from Europe plagued the natives, killing many of the population. This side of Thanksgiving is not discussed enough, and it is important to include it, as it is a key part of American history.

Thanksgiving dinner

The dinner at the Global Lounge began with a presentation given by the co-presidents of the USA Society, who spoke about the history of Thanksgiving. This included both the creation of Thanksgiving as well as the not so favorable parts.

‘It was my very first time to truly experience a Thanksgiving day’

Then, dinner was served! Massive thanks go to the Source Café at the University, for providing turkey – as well as a vegan wellington – for the main, and roasted potatoes, glazed carrots and red cabbage as a side. For dessert; a classic American Pumpkin Pie!

Games and activities

Throughout the night, past Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade clips were shown on the screens as well as American Football games. These programs are typically viewed throughout the day on Thanksgiving in the US.

‘The night was full of activities, food, and chatter. It was a great way to bring those interested in American culture together’

There was also a “What are you thankful for?” tree where people could write down what they feel grateful for and tape it to the ‘tree’, as well as a “’Pin the Gobbler on the Turkey’ game, which is similar to “Pin the Tail on the Donkey” but with a turkey instead!

The night was full of activities, food, and chatter. It was a great way for American international students, who aren’t able to celebrate at home, to sit down and share a Thanksgiving dinner with others. It’s also a great way to bring those interested in American culture together; Global Lounge volunteer photographer, Ke Li, said of the event: ‘it was my very first time to truly experience Thanksgiving day. I’m really thankful for the opportunity the Global Lounge provided to me, to have a such wonderful night to enjoy a different culture and delicious food.’

Blog by Nicole Walsh (of the USA Society), BSc Psychology in Education

Diwali 2021

Students came together on Thursday 4 November for the first in person Diwali celebration in 2 years – and – the first cultural celebration in the Global Lounge!

‘Diwali is one of the most exciting events’

Things kicked off with snacks and refreshments and some relaxing diya painting and rangoli, before the Bristol Indian Society gave a presentation on the tradition and history of Diwali, followed by a dance performance by the Bollywood Dance Society!

Students were able to get tattooed by a henna artist and, aside from all the activities, everyone thoroughly enjoyed socialising, celebrating Diwali with friends and also sharing the experience with friends and family back home via video call!

‘The rhythm of the music and the vibe of the dances are so attractively thrilling it made me almost feel like being part of the culture’

Many students who celebrate annually arrived in beautiful traditional dress – however the event was also enjoyed by others who have less, or no experience of the Festival of Lights. Towards the latter half of the event, students fully took advantage of the space in the Lounge – dancing and singing along to traditional music!

Photo by Kyun Wang

Global Lounge ambassador and volunteer photographer, Kyun Wang, had never attended a Diwali celebration and said of the event – particularly of the dancing:

‘This is definitely one of the most exciting events to happen since Uni started. The rhythm of the music and the vibe of the dances are so attractively thrilling, it made me almost feel like being part of the culture.’

All Global Lounge events are open to international, and home students – and all student and staff members are welcomed and encouraged to participate, whether with friends, or solo. Be sure to check out the other cultural events happening in the Global Lounge over the coming weeks – join in and meet new people, experience something new and learn something about your fellow students and other cultures!

Virtual Iftar – come dine with us!

As the month of Ramadan begins, Student Inclusion invited Muslim and non-Muslim members of the University to join them for a virtual Iftar celebration!

During this event, speakers talked about their experience of fasting during Ramadan whilst sharing a virtual dining experience! Student representatives from the Bristol Islamic Society, Muslim Medic and Black Muslim Society joined staff from Student Inclusion to talk about their personal experiences and what the month of Ramadan means to them.

Event speakers included:

  • Robiu Salisu, Student Inclusion Officer (BAME) – host
  • Aamir Mohamed, President of Bristol Islamic Society – giving a recitation and reminder of what Ramadan is
  • Nimra Naeem, President of Bristol Medic Society – sharing the experience of Muslim Medic Students during Ramadan
  • Fatima Abdulsalam, President of Black Muslim Society – talking about what Ramadan means to you

What is Ramadan?

Ramadan is the most sacred month of the year in Islam. Muslims observe the month of Ramadan, to mark when Allah (or God) gave the first chapters of the Quran (Holy Book) to the Prophet Muhammad, during which period they fast – meaning that there is no eating or drinking during the hours of daylight.

Revisit the event!

In case you missed it – you can watch the recording of the event here:

Diwali celebration

The Hindu Society, with the Global Lounge, bring you a warm and welcoming virtual celebration of Diwali

Wednesday 11 November

Diwali, commonly known as the ‘Festival of Lights’, lasts between 4 to 5 days and, like Chinese New Year or Lunar New Year, follows the ‘lunar calendar’ meaning that the date changes each year.


Diwali, in itself, is a celebration of the idea of India. Everyone celebrates for different reasons.’

This year, the Bristol Hindu Society celebrated Diwali with a virtual event which was open to all, introducing the festival to those who may not know much about it, whilst allowing those who would normally celebrate with family and loved ones the opportunity to come together and celebrate online. Akash, president of the Bristol Hindu Society, introduced the event, kicking things off with a beautiful Aarti – a type of prayer which the society typically start their events off with.

Akash went onto explain that while there may be many possible origins of Diwali, the core essence remains the same: ‘the victory of good over evil, and of knowledge over ignorance,’ going on to say that it is also not a festival ‘limited only to Hinduism and Hindus’ but that ‘Diwali, in itself, is a celebration of the idea of India. Everyone celebrates for different reasons.’

Some typical features of celebrating Diwali include:

  • lighting diyas – an oil lamp usually made from clay
  • fireworks – to guide the spirits of ancestors
  • rangolis – patterns made of coloured sand or crushed flowers to beautify the house and a sign to welcome visitors

‘Who needs measuring spoons when you have your hands!’

After the introduction to Diwali students talked about how it’s felt not being able to celebrate with loved ones at home this year, and shared with each other how they were celebrating Diwali during lockdown, which included dinner with housemates, Bollywood music and movies, and eating / making homemade sweets!

Students also shared with each other how they would usually celebrate with family – with a large focus on food, including an insight into Indian cooking and a mother’s tip when it comes to recipes: “Who needs measuring spoons when you have hands!”

The community-feeling really shone through during these conversations and even for those who don’t celebrate Diwali, it was a wonderful insight into this annual celebration.

‘Wear Indian clothes just to get into the feel of it. At Christmas people wear Christmas jumpers, so in the same way, wear some Indian clothing to get in the mood.’

Students ended the event by giving tips on how you can celebrate Diwali at home, including:

  • watching popular Indian movies (Kabhi Kushi Kabhi Gum is recommended!)
  • buying or making homemade sweets
  • lighting sparklers
  • celebrating virtually with family and loved-ones
  • having a go at cooking Indian food that you would normally have with family – or – treating yourself and ordering online
  • wearing some traditional Indian clothing to get you into the mood and playing some music
  • using candles or fairy lights to decorate your spaces at home

Check out the full event here, and be inspired to make Diwali just as special this year – where ever you are!

NHSF Bristol Hindu Society:

Check out their Freshers’ Guide 2020

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