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 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

Social media:

Day of the Dead

The Mexican Culture Society and Global Lounge celebrate Day of the Dead
Monday 2 November

What is Day of the Dead?

Day of the Dead, or Día de los Muertos, is a Mexican holiday where family and friends gather to remember those close to them who have died.

The Mexican Culture Society explored and celebrated this annual festivity with The Global Lounge, with guest speakers delivering live and interactive presentations from both the UK and Mexico, explaining what happens during this annual festivity!

Although celebrations couldn’t take place in-person, the Mexican Culture Society planned a full programme of events to mark this important holiday, which honours and celebrates the deceased.

Speakers introduced the festivity and its importance in Mexican culture, including how it’s celebrated in the capital of Mexico, Mexico City (San Lorenzo Tenzonco) as well as El Xantolo in the Huasteca region. Speakers shared their experience of living in these parts of Mexico and what you can expect to experience during the Day of the Dead celebrations – which lasts several days – including music, shrines, and the cemetery! Also explained was one of most recognisable symbols of The Day of the Dead celebrations – a tall female skeleton wearing a hat with feathers – La Catrina, who was borne from illustrator José Guadalupe Posada.

Let’s talk about food!

Attendees got to find out about popular food, Pan de Muerto (Bread of the Dead) and the significance of its shape and structure – find out how to make ‘Bread of the Dead’ by heading to the Mexican Culture Society’s video on YouTube!

They also talked about a traditional mesoamerican dish, made of masa or dough, which is steamed in a corn husk or banana leaf – tamales! Not only available as a savoury and spicy food – but also sweet – this is a popular Mexican food with big cultural importance. Tamales, or ‘tamal’ in Spanish, are even mentioned in proverbs and phrases – ‘whenever something goes wrong, eat tamal. Whenever something goes fine, eat it as well’.

Like the sound of tamales? Have a go at making your own!

The event ended with an explanation of Calaveritas Literarias – short verses written in the form of epitaphs to mock celebrities, politicians, friends and family members! These rhymes or phrases – which were once banned – are popular in Mexico around October and November during Day of the Dead celebrations.

See the full event below, and discover more about this fascinating festivity.

The programme of events:

00:00 – 02:00 – Welcome from the Global Lounge
02:01 – 08:44 – Introduction to the festivity
08:45 – 22:35 – Celebrations in Mexico City (San Lorenzo Tenzonco)
24:15 – 41:07 – El Xantolo
42:03 – 50:22 – La Catrina
52:10 – 1:02:21 – Pan de Muerto (Bread of the Dead)
1:02:22 – 1:12:46 – Tamales
1:15:45 –1:21:33 – Calaveritas Literarias
1:25:02 – Event end

Find out more about the Mexican Culture Society:




Global Carnival 2020

An evening of entertainment and activities from across the globe for students and staff!

On Wednesday 11 March, over two hundred students and staff gathered to enjoy an annual showcase of dance and music performances, organised by the Global Lounge in collaboration with Bristol Students’ Union and International Students’ Network.

Trying something new

There was something for everyone to enjoy with a range of craft and activity stalls followed by a diverse programme of performances from across the globe.

Visitors could try their hand at origami making, solve Palestinian folklore riddles and see beautiful examples of traditional outfits from the Friends of Palestine society. There were also Lebanese food samples to taste and food samples and games from the Mexican Culture Society. The delicious vegan Thai curry was a hit – served to all guests as part of the festivities!

Fantastic performances

Lion dance

The show started off with the Lion Dance Troop who made a spectacular entrance into the Anson Rooms, getting up close to the seated audience.

The all-male group, Academy A Capella, impressed everyone with their rendition of Toxic by Britney Spears. They reached the UK finals last year and are focusing their efforts on releasing a debut album.

Siddarth Sreekanth performing Indian drumming

First-year Economics and Politics student Siddarth Sreekanth kept things upbeat with some fantastic Indian drumming. Originally from Bangalore, he performed on an instrument called the Mridangam (muh-ruh-dang-um), which is a percussion instrument used in Carnatic Music, which is a form of Indian classical music.

Gospel choir

Changing things up, the next act on stage was a collaboration between PakSoc and BanglaSoc – a fashion show which gave the audience a taste of their culture’s traditional clothing combined with popular music straight from Pakistan and Bangladesh. The lively performance featured beautiful outfits such as shalwar kamiz, longi and shervani with the models showing off the outfits whilst making fun poses and dancing along to their favourite songs!

The Gospel Choir were up next – a group of individuals who enjoy singing and praising God together. Their beautiful vocals and harmonies impressed all who were in the room.

Hosts, Roy and Lara broke things up with an interactive quiz, asking members of the audience to tell everyone what things they like about their own culture and also what they enjoy about others. There was great participation with many raising their hands to give their answers – most of which revolved around food!

The evening was rounded off with a Qawwali performance, which uses semi-classical Asian singing techniques and rhythmic clapping. This group is the UK’s first university-born qawwali group, called Virsa Qawwali.



A glimpse into the world of Indian dance

University of Bristol staff and students come together for a spectacular performance by postgraduate students, Aditya Sharma and Deepa Lakshimi.

The first big Global Lounge cultural event of 2020 didn’t disappoint, as members of the University community enjoyed a mesmorising performance by MSc Management (Marketing) student Aditya and MA Law student Deepa. Held in the Bristol SU‘s Anson Rooms, attendees enjoyed a stunning classical dance performance and delicious meal, organised by the Global Lounge, in collaboration with the postgraduate students, and professional dancers.

Almost 200 people attended the Indian dance event on Thursday 6 February, with a free delicious, authentic Indian meal and refreshments provided after the show, which many stayed on to enjoy whilst socialising and talking to the performers.

Aditya and Deepa showcased two very distinct and popular forms of Indian dance: Kathak [ka·tack] and Bharatanatyam [baa·ruh·tuh·na·tym], the first being a form of North Indian classical dancing which tells a story, and the latter a form of Indian classical ballet. Each of their performances was accompanied by a spoken introduction, explaining each dance and its meaning, as well as its cultural significance. Whilst staying true to the dance form, both performers presented a modern, fresh and personal take on the traditional roots of Indian choreography.

‘We did not expect this kind of reaction. We were very nervous.’

Having attended previous Global Lounge events and seen a possibility to showcase his own culture and passion for dance, Aditya approached the team with the idea to hold an Indian dance event and, along with Deepa, curated a performance especially for the Global Lounge: ‘I heard about the Global Lounge when I first arrived in Bristol during the Welcome Week, and also attended a couple of their events which led to me getting in touch with them about holding my own. I’ve constantly been following their updates and events – everything they do is always so exciting.’

Aditya is a senior Kathak dancer with eight years’ experience, and the founder and artistic director of Yatra Dance productions (a classical dance choreography unit in Bangalore). Deepa Lakshmi is a senior Bharatanatyam artist from Chennai. She has been training in the discipline since the age of four and has received many accolades during her dance career.


Despite Deepa and Aditya’s experience and achievements, both were still nervous about the night and how their performance would be received: ‘we did not expect this kind of reaction. We were very nervous, wondering how the audience would bounce off us, and would they be able to relate to the dances?’

‘It just shows that art, music, dance; you don’t need a lot of commonalities to understand it.’

The elaborate performances and beautiful outfits made it an immersive and captivating experience, with both dancers commanding the stage and transporting the audience to another time and place, into the lives of the protagonists of their stories. Both dancers carefully curated their technique and style to showcase the art form in a modern and exciting way, while maintaining the roots and traditions of the choreography, music and performances – which clearly resonated with the audience. Speaking in the dressing room after the event, Deepa said: ‘it just shows that art, music, dance; you don’t need a lot of commonalities to understand it. If you have the music, your feet are going to start tapping and you’re going to start dancing – you don’t need to know the background to enjoy it.’

‘The Global Lounge helps you get that one step further.’

In the giddiness of their post-performance adrenaline rush, both students were beaming after the show and – while still a little out of breath – spoke of their excitement at being able to perform in front of their peers, and to others in the University community. Both spoke of their passion and desire to give something back to the University, speaking positively of their time at Bristol and the support they’ve received: ‘the University really supports anything to do with cultural experience and I think the Global Lounge helps you get that one step further. The team are really, really helpful and go out of their way to make sure you have everything you need. They’ve made our entire journey really comfortable, and I think the University as a whole does a fantastic job.’

See some of Aditya and Deepa’s performance below, and check out all of the Global Lounge’s upcoming events.