“What I really enjoy about living in Bristol is that it mixes perfectly between the city buildings and the quiet countryside.” – Touka Mostafa, St. Brendan’s International Student from Egypt
Nestled on the banks of the rivers Frome and Avon, Bristol is the largest city hub in south west UK. Serving as a busy port since the Roman era, Bristol’s name is firmly etched on the nation’s fascinating heritage, with its role in John Cabot’s 1497 voyage of discovery even earning it the title of the ‘Birthplace of America’.
Set 120-miles west of London and in close proximity to Cardiff and Bath, this city is contemporary, cosmopolitan and incredibly connected. With a population of more than 400,000 and no less than two world-class universities, this is the ideal international study destination for aspiring minds looking to shape a thriving future. And for those hoping to pave their way into UK higher education, St. Brendan’s Sixth Form College is the perfect place to start.
“I chose to study at St. Brendan’s Sixth Form College for many reasons,” says Touka Mostafa, a St. Brendan’s international student originally from Egypt. “First because you have a combination of different subjects that you never thought you could study together, but you find out that somehow there is a link connecting all the subjects. You can study academic subjects alongside creative, and any other subjects you’re really interested in,” she adds.
“The atmosphere of the College and the social life here, though it may be hard at the beginning to find your place and make a group of friends, surprisingly, you’ll end up making different groups of friends from a diverse range of backgrounds.”
Here are 3 things St Brendan’s international students claim to love most about living and studying in Bristol…
1. It’s a well-connected city and College
“It is in a diverse and well-connected city,” says Jenny, another one of St. Brendan’s talented international students, originally from China. “…Bristol is very accessible, and this makes travelling easy, especially because of the airport and train station,” she adds. “[It] resembles a miniature London; with many places to visit and activities to take part in, but not so big that you get lost. Living costs are low and there are many quiet getaway spots.”
Often compared to the popular London hubbub, Bristol has all the perks of the capital with an added personal touch. Its own international airport and convenient links to London and Heathrow mean Bristol’s global students are only ever a short flight from the comforts of their home. In terms of geographic setting, the city couldn’t be better placed, with Cardiff lying less than an hour’s drive across the Bristol channel, and the stunning city of Bath sitting a mere 15-minutes away.
Above all Bristol is central and connected, but with its status as one of the nation’s most thriving student hubs, it also boasts a first-rate network of leading higher education providers. Home to more than 1,800 students age 16-19, the College specialises in the production of independent, motivated learners, preparing them for success in everything that lies beyond further education.
With close affiliations to the University of Bristol – a member of the prestigious Russell Group – and the University of the West of England (UWE), as well as tight-knit relationships with the University of Exeter, Plymouth University, Bournemouth University, Bath Spa, and every other institution within the south west region, St. Brendan’s College students are spoiled for choice when it comes to higher education.
2. Bristol is an affordable and student-centred city
“Bristol is an amazing city which has lots of cultural and industry activities, and is also a great place to be if you’re interested in studying Art and Design in England,” says Clara, an international student from China. “There are many museums and exhibitions going on frequently in Bristol and nearby cities.”
Standing as the bustling regional capital, Bristol is vivid and dynamic. Home to the world-renowned graffiti artist Banksy, its streets are rich in colour and a unique artistic culture, earning it a reputation for being a UK creative catalyst. Named the European Green Capital in 2015, the city is as sustainable as it is inspirational, encouraging a generation of environmentally-conscious brains.
“Bristol has a vibrant city centre encircled by spacious residential areas,” Jenny explains. “Students can immerse into a rich cultural environment at the theatres and museums in the city, and also have a calm time studying at home.
“London, Bath and other attractive places are a single train ride away, making it convenient to travel and meet up with friends during the holidays,” she adds. “[It’s] also smaller and less expensive than London, with a similar rich cultural atmosphere that suits the student life.”
St. Brendan’s itself poses a warm, international and active student community, with an expansive array of social enrichment activities to keep them on their toes. The Students’ Union lays on gigs and events throughout the year, while clubs in Sports, Performing Arts, STEM, Chaplaincy, BioMed and more ensure each student can get their passions honed. On top of all that, unparalleled chances to travel and pursue charity placement work allows students to bolster their CVs and expertise long before they graduate.
“During the initial application process, being able to contact the College directly and coming to visit was very helpful,” says Jenny. “…Getting the chance to make friends with other international students from the College, and the initial Bristol tour with current students also enabled me to settle in quickly,” she adds.
“It is very convenient to live with a host family that is within walking distance to the College, it is also very nice to be able to stay in the same house throughout the two years,” she explains. “The hosts are experienced and kind – I don’t have to worry about anything and I’m able to focus on my studies. Living with another international student from the College is helpful. We looked out for each other and organised gatherings to be with other international students as well.”
3. Bristol and St Brendan’s College offer a warm and welcoming multicultural environment
Today, the city and the College are both more multicultural than they’ve ever been before, with official figures citing Bristol as the home of representatives from more than 187 countries, speaking 91 first languages and following a total of 45 religions. It is without a doubt a bona fide cultural melting pot, with its diverse global student population making each day more exciting than the last.
“I love how [Bristol] gives me a feeling of home whenever I just walk down the street [even though] I come from a totally different country,” Touka concludes.
“…My advice for everyone coming from different countries to study at St. Brendan’s Sixth Form College is to seek help whenever you need it about anything, there is a great support system; people who want to help you have a good experience of College and help you overcome any of your worries.”
St. Brendan’s is incredibly proud of its high teaching standards, giving students from all four corners of the globe the confidence to take on the world. But that’s not all that makes the College so unique, with its ability to immerse students in the UK culture and lifestyle making it a favourite ‘home away from home’ among those from overseas.
And with The Times and Sunday Times naming Bristol the best UK place to live in 2017, there’s really no better place to begin your international study adventure. “The city is a worthy winner thanks to its ideal combination of extraordinary culture, impressive schools, buzzing culinary scene, exciting redevelopment and community spirit,” says Helen Davies, Editor of The Sunday Times.
“We sum the city up as cool, classy and supremely creative.”
Meet St Brendan’s staff in Hong Kong, Macau and Chengdu 6-12th April 2017
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