Volunteering with the Global Lounge – Student blog

Blog by Dabatsawin Thirapongphaiboon

The University of Bristol’s Centre for Academic Language and Development offers 6 or 10 week pre-sessional courses to international undergraduate and postgraduate students. These courses aim to prepare students with academic and language skills to succeed in their chosen academic programme. Post graduate student Dabatsawin Thirapongphaiboon gave us an insight into their experience of the pre-sessional course last summer while volunteering for a project organised by the Global Lounge.

“Participating in the Global Lounge summer activities at the University of Bristol has been an incredibly enriching experience during my 6-week pre-sessional course. One event that positively impacted me was volunteering for a local project. The Global Lounge project brought students together and contributed to the community and environment on a beautiful sunny day. It was quite a change after several days of rain during the course!

The activity was hay making in the orchard of Goldney Garden, part of the historic Goldney Hall. Did you know, there’s a right way to rake hay? As we worked, I felt like we were all friends. I’m from Thailand, and I met students from India, UK, Taiwan and Malaysia. While we struggled a bit with understanding each other’s accents, it led to a lot of laughter and camaraderie.

It was great to meet students from all around the University. There were undergraduates and postgraduates too. The activity created a sense of belonging as well as working together to improve the orchard. We shared stories and experiences, and joked together about needing to send over 100 CVs before getting the right job after graduation.

Kasha, from the University’s gardening team, showed us around Goldney Gardens and the grotto, and talked to us about the plants in the garden, telling us the names of flowers and trees, and what time of year the apples will be ripe.

It was a very satisfying day. It broadened my horizons and gave me a sense of fulfillment. I was also very happy to be outside of the seminar room where I’d been learning about sustainability, and in nature itself.”

To find out more about the pre-sessional courses, click here.

Global Lounge autumn events round-up!

Autumn in the Global Lounge

What a term it’s been in the Global Lounge! It’s been great to see students and staff from across the University come together to celebrate and immerse themselves in different cultures, while making new friends along the way. Before we continue into the new year, we thought we’d take a moment to look back at a mixture of our autumn term events and share some of your experiences with us in the Global Lounge!

We’ve held an incredible 20 cultural and social events this term, which over 1,130 of you have attended. We’ve worked with 6 societies, and many more individual students, staff, networks and student groups and had the help of 54 brilliant ambassadors, so thank you to those of you who have made these events so special.

September Welcome

We started off in September with our welcome orientation and campus tours, helping those of you who were new to Bristol, or to the UK, get settled in.

Zhou, an exchange student encouraged others to come along, saying “[It was useful to hear] some recommended places for daily life or activities to make me familiar with Bristol much quicker”. If you missed out on these events in September, we have over 30 welcome events running from 15 to 26 January, which you’ll be able to find out more about here.

Language Café

We held our regular Language Café each Wednesday where you’ve collectively learnt 42 languages with our 150 fabulous volunteers. Alex, one of our undergraduate volunteers, told us why he found volunteering so rewarding: “as a volunteer, I really enjoy engaging with people excited to learn. It’s a very relaxed […] environment, so has a wonderful atmosphere to practise what you’ve learnt already.”

Language Café will be continuing in the new year, so make sure to keep practising and come along to our next session on 31 January. If you’d like to apply to volunteer, please submit your application here by 28 January.

Image credit: Sirun Tang

Bristol Bus Boycott

Another of our recurring events was the Beyond Black History Month series, a standout event being ‘Remembering the Bristol Bus Boycott’ which honoured the 60th anniversary of the Boycott.

The Boycott was sparked by the colour bar which refused prospective black employees from work as bus crews in the 1960s. At the event we heard from a panel of speakers, including Guy Bailey (the man who sparked the Bristol Bus Boycott), Joyce Morris-Wisdom (one of the young protesters), and Vernon Samuels (the son of Bristol’s first Black Bus Driver). Mr Bailey told the crowd of students and staff: “The journey is long, hard and difficult, but we continue to make progress.

“All of you, whether you are a student, teacher or ordinary citizen, take this occasion and use it as a cornerstone for your journey.”

Angela, a member of staff who attended, told us she was inspired by “meeting the pioneers of change in the flesh, the atmosphere and learning about […] bravery and activism that changed history”.

Read more about the Bristol Bus Boycott event here.

Image credit: Sirun Tang


In November we joined the Bristol SU’s Hindu and Indian Societies to celebrate the Festival of Light… Diwali! This vibrant event was attended by over 200 of you and featured traditional activities including performances from Bollywood Dance Society, Taal and the East Meets West team, traditional games, Henna hand painting and an impressive spread of traditional food and snacks.

Humza, our Global Lounge Assistant who organised the event, said: “The Diwali event is always one of the largest events of year in our events calendar and this year’s event did not disappoint.

“It was so much fun putting this together with the societies. It was great seeing everyone from students to staff interacting with each other and all the performers were incredibly talented.”

Image credit: Sirun Tang

Romanian Culture Day

Our cultural events remained popular amongst students and staff this term where we took part in traditional activities and treated our taste buds to flavours from around the world. One of these was Romanian Culture Day, led by Bristol SU’s Romanian Speaking Society.

The evening started with a presentation all about Romanian culture – did you know that Romania is home to the tallest wooden church in the world, The Sapanta-Peri Monastery! We then joined in with some traditional folk mask making, clay cup painting and enjoyed a traditional feast of Sarmale (cabbage rolls), Mămăligă (Polenta) and cabbage salad!

If you would like to run an event in the Global Lounge to celebrate and share your culture, we’d love to hear from you.

Image credit: Sirun Tang

See below for a full list of events we ran throughout October and November.

Ola, Head of Global Lounge, summarised the autumn term: “I am so energised, inspired and motivated by student engagement with the Global Lounge this term. We now have a lot of ‘regulars’ joining our events and using our space, which is why we do what we do, and love what we do.

“We love seeing friendships forming, students from all over the world interacting with one another, and learning about each other’s cultures. There have been a lot of highlights for me this term, but I think the top moment was hosting Mr Guy Bailey in the Global Lounge – the Pioneer of Bristol Bus Boycott.”

We are still running our festive events up until 21 December, so if you haven’t already, make sure to secure your free ticket! From 22 December to 2 January the University, and Global Lounge, will be closed. For updates on support, opening times and activities over the break, please take a look at the winter vacation and services page.

Finally, we are very excited to share with you that our Winter Welcome events have been confirmed! These will be running from 15 to 26 January with booking opening from 10 January. This will be a chance for any of you who missed our September welcome to come along, make new friends and familiarise yourself more with Bristol and the University campus.

But until then, have a wonderful break and we will see you in 2024!

Lots of love, the Global Lounge team x

Full Autumn events listing: 

1 October – Colour Run

12 October – Universal City: Bristol interactive map launch event

12 October – Beyond Black History Month: Panel Event

17 October – Staff speed friending

24 October – Navaratri Feast

26 October – Thriving at University when new to the UK – intercultural workshop

2 November – Day of the Dead

7 November – Beyond Black History Month: Remembering the Bristol Bus Boycott

7 November – Beyond Black History Month: Film Screening with Florence Ayisi

9 November – Diwali

14 November – Japanese Fest

17 November – Global Food Fair

21 November – Challenge yourself to change the future with the Sustainability Team

23 November – Pancakes with Pictionary: Breakfast in the Lounge

28 November – Hanukkah – celebrate and learn

30 November – Romanian Culture Day

5 December – Beyond Black History Month: Quiz Night

Highlights from Nowruz – Celebrate and Learn

What a great time we had at our first ever Nowruz celebration in the Lounge on 21 March! Nowruz is the traditional Persian New year Celebration, celebrated by more than 300 million people all around the world.

Our event brought the University community together to learn about fascinating Nowruz traditions, share traditional food and enjoy activities including egg decorating.

A crowd of people chat and paint small eggs in the Global Lounge

Bristol SU’s Persian Society played a crucial role in organising the event. Society President Niki Tahouri reflected:

The traditional food we all tried was absolutely delicious, but the real star of the show proved to be the egg painting, with a constant crowd waiting to get their hands on the little wooden eggs to create a mini masterpiece!

Also, as the event warmed up, we managed to get everyone dancing to some Persian pop songs, with the society members sharing their immense dance skills with all the attendees.

The Global Lounge team were incredible to work with and made our special Nowruz celebration better than we could have imagined! It was great to see so many people attending and sharing this exciting day, filled with great food, dancing, and culture, and I really hope we can collaborate with the Lounge more in the future.

In particular, we at the Persian Society would like to thank Alex, Elena, Nasim, and Ola for their great help and support for this event!   


Explore more photos below:

Attendees take photos in front of customised backdrop and balloons.
There were some great photo opportunities.



A selection of items laid out on table, candlesticks, mirror, flowers and a book.
A beautiful traditional arrangement.
5 people pose for a photograph in front of traditional objects on a table
There were plenty of laughs.
Food laid out on table
We served some delicious food on the day, here’s just a selection.
People laugh together and paint wooden eggs
Wooden egg-painting proved popular.
People decorate wooden eggs
More people enjoy egg decorating.
Three people chat
Attendees had the chance to socialise at the event.
People play board games.
There was also the opportunity to play some traditional games.
People photograph the Nowruz decorations.
We adorned the Lounge with beautiful traditional decorations, which proved a hit with attendees!

Hanukkah in the Lounge

Last December we linked up with Bristol SU’s Jewish Society (J-Soc), Student Inclusion and the Multifaith Chaplaincy to celebrate Hanukkah with a delicious dinner, interactive quiz, fascinating talks and games. With over 90 of you in attendance, it was bustling event which bought students and staff from all parts of the University community together.

We heard more about the customs and traditions of Hanukkah from society members, who shared some fascinating insights and their own personal stories. For those less familiar with the celebration, it was a great chance to learn all about Hanukkah. We heard why it is tradition to fry food in oil, and we were also treated to an introduction to the menorah (which a nine-branched candle traditionally lit each day).

Thanks goes to J-Soc, our brilliant student ambassadors, Student Inclusion, the Multifaith Chaplaincy and the Global Lounge team, who all worked hard to make the event such a success.

Take a video tour


Explore future events
👉 Make new friends and experience different cultures, explore our future events.


Staying in Bristol over the Spring break

Some students will be staying in Bristol over the Spring break so we have pulled together a list of events and opportunities to stay connected.

Thursday 7 April, 1-3pm: Eastville Walk with Bristol Steppin Sistas

Monday 11 April 12-1:30pm: Pizza and board games in the Global Lounge

Tuesday 12 and 19 April 1-2pm: Bible reading group at the Multifaith Chaplaincy

Tuesday 12 April 9:30-5pm: Writing Retreat at Beacon House

Tuesday 12 April 2:30-4:30pm: Managing and maintaining mental health online workshop

Thursday 14 April 2:30-4pm: Weird British festivals with tea and cake in the Global Lounge

Thursday 14 April 9:30-5pm: Online study lounge 

Wednesday 20 April 10-11am: Breakfast in the Global Lounge 

For students in University of Bristol residences, the ResiLife team has organised a series of events.

You can also see ideas for what to do over the break as suggested by Victoria, Student Champion for Student Communication. Did you know that University of Bristol students get free entry to the Botanical Gardens? There is an Easter sculpture festival taking place over the break.

The Global Lounge

As well as the above events, you can continue to use the Global Lounge to study, meet and help yourself to unlimited tea coffee and biscuits during opening hours.

Easter holiday opening hours:

We are open Monday to Friday, from 9 am to 5 pm from 4 April to 14 April.

From 15 to 19 April the University (and Global Lounge) is closed.

From 20 to 22 April we are open from 9 am to 5 pm; normal opening hours (9 am to 6 pm) resume from 25 April.

Staying active

Online activity is available through our app, YouTube channel, social media and website. You can exercise at your own pace, in your own space. Check out the timetable for live events, and on demand classes.

Active 6 is special offer providing unlimited access to gym, swim, fitness classes and outdoor tennis. Six weeks access for £49.99.  Included for students is the BUCS Universal membership giving access to gyms at over 70 different universities around the UK – perfect for if you are travelling to visit friends. You can also pay from £4 to use facilities such as the gym and swimming pool without a membership.

It is not too late to get involved in the Bristol Run Series 2022. Sign up online for the in-person events and virtual challenges, and get your hands on the prized t-shirts and medals.

Student support and university building opening hours

You can continue to use our student support over the break. See information about opening hours and services. 





Easter Sculpture Festival

Conflict and humanitarian crises: what can I do?

In response to events in Ukraine, Afghanistan, and other regions, we have received numerous questions from students and staff asking how they can help. We have collated a list of opportunities for you to support vulnerable migrants from across the world in Bristol and overseas.

How you can help:

The majority of organisations are asking for funds rather than practical support on the ground in countries affected. If you are unable to make a financial donation, you can fundraise. Fundraising packs, ideas, and support are available.

Photo by Refugee Action
  • The DEC brings together 15 leading UK aid charities. Every pound donated by the British public will be matched by the government – up to the value of £20 million.
  • STAR Student Action for Refugees legal fund pays for legal advice for our students seeking asylum. Donate or buy an item.
  • In response to the growing numbers of forcibly displaced people globally, the University is pledging to double all donations made to Sanctuary Scholarships before the end of July 2022.
  • Bristol City of Sanctuary transport fund helps those seeking sanctuary to attend services and appointments.
  • Borderlands – Bristol charity working with vulnerable migrants through mentoring, meals, English teaching, and events. Donate or fundraise.
  • Bristol Refugee Rights
  • Bristol Hospitality Network in solidarity with destitute asylum seekers in Bristol by providing accommodation and support. Donate
  • Refugee Women of Bristol. Donate or fundraise
  • Take part in a challenge event such as a marathon to fundraise for Refugee Action

Donate items

Photo by Aid Box
  • Aid Box in Bristol collects clothes and useful items for families from Afghanistan and 41 other countries settling in Bristol.
  • Contact Bristol Hospitality Network to ask what items they require.
  • Donate to a charity shop that funds humanitarian work in Ukraine, such as Save the Children or Oxfam (both have shops in Clifton)

Buy and support

Photo by STAR

Volunteer to support refugees in Bristol

Photo by Refugee Women of Bristol

Host a refugee in a spare room

Photo by Bristol Hospitality Network

Stay informed

Photo by Bristol City of Sanctuary


Bristol recommends – where to eat Global

We asked staff and students to share their insider knowledge of Global food in Bristol. Whether you want a taste of home or to explore the city we hope you’ll find something new.

Chinese and East Asian

Toro Noodle Bar, Park Street
Chinese, Sichuan cuisine. I never appreciated the mala (numbing) sensation of Sichuan peppercorns before trying Toro. It’s really easy to order and share. The 麻辣香锅 Flavoursome Pot is my go-to! -Emelyn, Graduate Intern

Photo by Toro Noodle Bar

Sai Kung Café, Nelson Street, City Centre 
Chinese- the best roast duck in Bristol. Try the Roast duck rice, and siu yuk (pork belly). – Maths student 

Photo by Restaurant Guru

South Asian

4500 Miles from Delhi, Colston Avenue
Indian, Halal, Vegetarian friendly. Consistently good, have ordered multiple times for home parties with friends. Try the Palak Paneer and Bagaray Baingan. – Ning, Graduate Intern

Photo by 4500 Miles from Delhi

Thali Cafe, St Marks Road, Easton 
Indian and tiffin, using mostly local and ethically sourced ingredients. Try the Masala Dosa for breakfast, they also do really good coffee. -Maria, Student Inclusion Officer

Photo by Thali Café


La Panza, Redcliffe Way
Italian. Cosy atmosphere, great service, amazing food (independent too!). Try the Pasta ai Porcini with Truffle Oil (but the menu changes seasonally) – anonymous

Photo by La Panza

Taka Taka, Queens Road, Broad Quay and Bridewell
Greek food from Corfu – Pita Wraps with Souvlaki or Gyros, traditional Greek Salads, and deserts. I would recommend the Taka Grill. You need a big appetite though! – Alex, Student Inclusion Manager

Photo by Taka Taka

Sotiris Bakery, Park Row
Greek pies and pastries. There is also a small café and deli section where you can buy Greek foods. Try the spinach and feta pie. There is also a vegan version – Carly, Student Inclusion Officer

Photo by Sotiris Bakery

Vegetarian and vegan

Eat Your Greens, Wells Road, Totterdown
Vegan food and drinks. They have special events, and vegan Sunday roasts which book up in advance. Try the beasty breakfast. – Carly, Student Inclusion Officer

Photo by Vevolution

International food shops and markets

168 Oriental, Park Street and Nelson Street, City Centre
Well stocked, usually has all the Asian ingredients that I need – especially bits that major supermarkets don’t carry- 4th year Maths student

Photo by Chih L on Yelp

Make a recommendation

Is your favourite missing? Let us know

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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