My first year at UWE – English Language and Linguistics

By Hector Jessop

A year ago, as I counted down the days until I would move to Bristol and become a student, I felt both excited and nervous in the face of what would be an entirely different experience. I was a 23 year old who had been out of education for almost half a decade, who after finishing college with mediocre results and no real plan had found work and settled into a routine. It felt like a big risk to give up that stability and return to studying, and being an older first-year student and not naturally outgoing, I worried that I might struggle to find friends here or to keep up with other students who had come straight from A-levels. I took a step out of my comfort zone to even put an application together though, and that turned out to be an excellent decision! So in preparing to come to UWE I promised myself I wouldn’t turn down any opportunity because of a lack of confidence.

Looking back at this year, that’s turned out to be a pretty good approach, both in and out of the classroom. It felt strange for me to be back in education after so long away, but definitely in a good way! Everyone has been really friendly, and lecturers have been so supportive not just in those first few weeks, but throughout the year as well. Of course there’s been ups and downs and different people enjoy different modules, and that’s part of the appeal of first year – being introduced to many different aspects of Linguistics that maybe you haven’t heard of before, and finding where your interests are.

Even beyond the set modules and lectures though, there are other opportunities offered and these are where it’s important to go for it. In each module, for a start, a course-rep will be chosen to communicate the thoughts of the class to lecturers and vice-versa. It’s a really good opportunity to get to know your lecturers and other students better, and to make a difference to the way lectures are delivered (I actually didn’t take this one as I had other projects lined up, but in hindsight I wish I had).

We were also introduced to several opportunities to help with research projects run either by staff or older students; one of these, which involved working with children to collect data for a PhD student, appealed to me so I registered my interest and ended up being selected. This I would say was the first test of my promise to not shy away from opportunity! I really wasn’t sure I was up to the expectations of the project but I went ahead with it anyway and it turned out to be great fun. Being involved in this project taught me a huge amount about real-world applications of linguistic research methods and I gained another experience to add to my CV.

Fast forward to the end of the year, and an opportunity was advertised for a ‘linguistics internship’ which would involve working with the UWE Linguistics team over the summer, on various projects according to their needs. This one definitely got my attention, and I asked for more information. I was told that it would usually go to a 3rd or maybe 2nd year student, but I should apply anyway as it would demonstrate enthusiasm and give me a better chance next year. Then, when I applied and was given an interview. I was told that I’d done well to get through as a first year and I should definitely go ahead with it as practise for applying again next year. On that basis I took a deep breath, did the interview fully expecting to be rejected – and now, here I am writing a blog as part of the internship I never expected to get.

Even that though, is just a taste of what my time at UWE has offered. Outside of the course itself, I challenged myself to join the climbing society, despite having almost no experience, and I’ve now found a new hobby, made a bunch of great friends and had loads of fun nights out in Bristol. It also gave me the opportunity to go climbing on a Welsh mountain in November, which mainly taught me climbing is harder with numb fingers! But it was great fun anyway. During my first year I’ve also managed to find time to fly around Europe from Bristol Airport. I’ve had great fun and have also been able to immerse myself in other languages, having spent a week in Germany, a week in France and two weeks in Spain this year, which of course ties in nicely with a linguistics degree.

My hope in writing this piece then, is that it will perhaps strike a chord with people preparing to come to university this September, who may not be the most confident, the most outgoing, but who want to make the best of their time here. To those people, I would say this: each time an opportunity to try something new comes up at university – and there will be plenty – ask yourself if it’s something you’d enjoy, and if it will benefit you, but don’t let nervousness hold you back. Take the leap, and the confidence will come later.

Where does the expression ‘as p***ed as a newt’ come from?

By Kate Beeching and Laura Welsh

On Monday afternoon (27th June 2022), A.Prof. Kate Beeching (Visiting Fellow at the Bristol Centre for Linguistics) was asked to appear on BBC Radio Bristol to respond to a listener’s query about the origins of the phrase ‘p***ed as a newt’. (Note, that the P word could not be mentioned on the BBC and had to be replaced with ‘Hmm as a newt’!).

You can hear Kate’s appearance on BBC Radio Bristol with John Darvall on BBC Sounds (from 3:19:50)

Kate highlighted some of the 3,000 or so words used to talk about being drunk in English. They range from tiddly, tight, a few too many, a bit under the influence or half cut, to pickled, bevvied, sloshed, smashed, mortal fou (in Scotland) or tired and emotional (a term coined as ‘tired and overwrought’ in the British satirical magazine Private Eye on 29th September 1967 to refer to the British Labour politician George Brown). There are also a number of other comparative phrases similar to ‘p***ed as a newt’ including drunk as a lord, drunk as a skunk, high as a kite and tight as an owl. It is evidently a highly productive pattern.

But the question is: How did the newt, a graceful and agile creature, come to be regarded as an index of inebriation?

Kate could not give an authoritative answer to this question as the Oxford English Dictionary is silent on the matter, but she was able to provide an informed view on the likelihood of various more folklinguistic explanations:

  • One possible explanation has to do with the way a newt walks – wobbling along (much like a person who has had too much to drink and is unable to walk straight).
  • In an exchange of views on the Guardian website, one commentator suggested that it is a Scottish expression developed after the habit of using newts to test the strength of whisky, in a similar way that Mexican beer is tested using a worm. The idea is that if the newt is dead before it hits the bottom of the bottle, the whisky is strong enough. Radio Bristol host, John Darvall, suggested that was quite mean to newts! Indeed, the writer admitted that he had made up this explanation, showing how easy it would be for a fake explanation to circulate!

  • The most plausible explanation seems to be that in Nelson’s time, Royal Navy ensigns were known as ‘newts’. Being so young, it didn’t take much rum for them to become inebriated. Hence the expression ‘p***ed as a newt’. John Darvall, having an interest in Lord Nelson and the Navy at that time, agreed this was a likely explanation saying, “I like that, that makes sense”, “those junior ensigns, midshipmen and what have you, they were very young lads, they were in their early teens some of them and they were called newts so that makes sense”.

We’ve been doing some further research and have come across the following additional explanations:

  • ‘p***ed as a newt’ could originate from the mishearing of “an Ute,” as used by US Army personnel in Britain during the Second World War. The ‘Utes’ were an American Indian tribe who were celebrated for their drunkenness to the point the US Government banned the sale of alcohol in their reservation.
  • The phrase might have first been used at a banquet for King Henry VIII. Apparently, “half-way through a banquet the king inquired as to what brew one young reveller had been partaking of, to be begged by the young man’s father to “forgive him, Sire, he is but a youth and as for wine he is new to it!” (The Guardian, 2013). It is then possible that this expression ‘p***ed as a new to it’ soon became ‘p***ed as a newt’.

  • “Abraham Newton (1631-1698) of Grantham, the presumed author of the first known treatise on the medicinal properties of the beer of Burton-upon-Trent (now unfortunately lost), was such a well-known tippler that, in his lifetime, even Londoners would use the expression ‘p***ed as Abe Newton’” (ibid.). He was apparently so famous that “when his fellow townsman, Isaac Newton, came to prominence, people would say of him, ‘no, not that Newton’” (ibid.). This confusion reached its peak in the early 1700s, so it is likely that it was around this time that the expression ‘p***ed as a Newton’ was about which was later contracted to become ‘p***ed as a newt’.

So, there are several plausible origins to the phrase ‘p***ed as a newt’…over to readers of the UWE Lingo Blog to add their own plausible explanation (just beware of fake etymologies!)

References

Parsons, D. (1975) Tenth-century studies: essays in commemoration of the millennium of the Council of Winchester and Regularis concordia. Phillimore.

The Guardian (2013) How did the newt, a graceful and agile creature, come to be regarded as an index of inebriation? Available from: https://www.theguardian.com/notesandqueries/query/0,5753,-2007,00.html [Accessed 27 June 2022].

Youridioms.com (2022) (As) pissed as a newt. Available from: https://www.youridioms.com/en/idiom/as-pissed-as-a-newt [Accessed 27 June 2022].

Welcome to Kate!

Hello! I am thrilled to be fully joining the team, having loved my time at UWE as an associate lecturer this past year. Here’s a bit of an intro to me and the work I do…

I’m a forensic linguist, which (broadly) means that I study the use of language in investigative and legal contexts. My current research focuses on first response police officers’ interactions with victims of domestic abuse at the scene of reported incidents. First response ‘call-outs’ are high-pressure, often high-emotion scenarios in which communication can easily break down. Yet the success of these encounters hinges on communication on both evidential and relational bases: officers need to find out what happened and victims need to feel supported. This is an un(der)studied setting because of the complex but crucial privacy measures involved. My research relies on police body-worn video (BWV) and the participation of the people it shows.

Because so little is known about talk in this context, I take a highly inductive approach to uncover the micro-level interactional features that contribute to what goes wrong (and right) during call-outs. Building on my PhD research at Cardiff University, I’m about to start work on some new BWV footage, with the ongoing aim of feeding these insights into police training. Beyond this, my wider research activities centre on spoken interaction in a variety of institutional contexts, with a focus on power, gender and vulnerability. I’m therefore really keen to explore some of the interdisciplinary research opportunities at UWE.

Originally from the north coast of Ireland, I caught the linguistics bug with an MA at Queen’s University in Belfast, before a job opportunity in Fiji whisked me away (as you can imagine!). I then spent ten jam-packed years working throughout the South Pacific Islands, Australia and Asia. The path back to this side of the world involved a distance MSc in forensic linguistics from Aston University, and a couple of babies…! I’ve now lived here in Bristol for the past five years and love this city.

This coming year (22-23) I’ll be teaching Language at Work, Studying Speech Communities, Constructing Languages, (Phonetics and) Forensic Linguistics, Nonverbal Communication and the second term of our shiny new module, Language, Environment and the Law. We have a brilliant community of Englist Lang & Linguistics students, and I look forward to seeing lots of familiar and new faces in September!

A new article out!

Charlotte had an article published last week –

The gendered migrant experience: A study of Family Language Policy (FLP) amongst mothers and daughters in the Somali Community, Bristol.
(ID: 2047512 DOI:10.1080/14664208.2022.2047512)

Here is a little taster of the article (i.e. the abstract!).

This article adopts a gendered take on Family Language Policy (FLP) by questioning the way that gender impacts on the issues faced by refugee woman during and after flight. For this reason, the ethnographically informed research addresses the concerns and experiences of mothers and daughters in the Somali community in Bristol, one of the fastest growing communities in the city but one that remains a ‘neglected social group … everywhere present but in many ways invisible’ (Wallace & Kahin [2017]. Somali parents and schooling in Britain (p. 1). UCL Institute of Education Press.), with little known about their experiences on or after arrival (Warfa et al. [2006]. Post-migration geographical mobility, mental health and health service utilisation among Somali refugees in the UK: A qualitative study. Health & Place, 12(4), 503–515.). The study of FLP not only contributes to our understanding of the processes of language shift and change, it also sheds light on broader language policy issues at societal levels. Analysis suggests that it is principally mothers who take on the demanding, yet invisible work of FLP in the home and that mis-matched fluency between mothers and daughters results in a fracturing of family relations with the potential for long-term emotional repercussions. The findings have implications for educational and public sector organisations involving immigrant communities.

Enjoy!

“To-foo are you calling inanimate?” 

Veganuary, linguistics, and the words we use when discussing animals. 

By Taryn McDonnell 

UWE English Language and Linguistics (2018-2021)
 

After a month of Christmas inspired decadence, many of us will be turning our palates – and our wallets – towards the ever-growing variety of plant-based alternatives within our supermarkets, all in the name of the 30-day annual change, ‘Veganuary’. As such, it seems like a fitting time to discuss the perhaps inconspicuous links between linguistics and veganism, and to explore how even seemingly small things, such as the language that we use when discussing animals, may in fact influence how they are treated by human society (Stibbe, 2001). 

To begin to understand these links, we must venture back to 1975, the year in which Peter Singer released his bestseller and definitive classic of the animal rights movement, Animal Liberation: A New Ethics for Our Treatment of Animals. Viewed as a radical departure from the anthropocentric philosophies that had dominated human thinking for millennia, Singer critically analysed modern farming practices, the media, and our role as humans in perpetuating unnecessary animal suffering. Singer centred his thinking around a core principle that it is unjust to cause suffering to any being which has an interest in – at the bare minimum – not suffering. Singer’s book sparked an animal liberation movement and created a compelling argument which has stood the test of time against numerous moral philosophers wishing to challenge it (Villanueva, 2017). 

This is all very interesting, I hear you say, but what does any of this have to do with language and linguistics?  

Singer was in fact, one of the first philosophers to explicitly note how our vocabulary serves to conceal our food’s origins. He explained how we eat pork not pig, beef not cow, and how even the noun ‘meat’, which once meant any solid food, is now used to disguise the fact that we are eating the flesh of an animal. Subsequent research within the fields of journalism studies, eco-linguistics (see Stibbe, 2001), and critical animal studies have further explored how language can be used by institutions such as the government, the animal industries, and the media, to sustain and perpetuate animal suffering. 

As a life-long animal advocate and final-year linguistics student desperately searching for a dissertation topic which would not drive me to despair, I chose to critically analyse all farmed animal articles appearing in UK National Newspapers for the year 2020, with an aim of discovering how and to what extent they reinforced speciesism. 

“Speciesism – a prejudice characterized by morally favouring one species – usually homo sapiens – over others.” 

Inspired by the following quote from Jepson – ‘the killing of animals is the most extreme and significant expression of human power over them’ (2008, p.127) – I chose to critically analyse the verbs that we as humans use to denote the act of killing an animal. In doing so, I made some striking discoveries. A small excerpt regarding the killing verb ‘destroy’ and how it’s use reflects a speciesist ideology is given below… 

 
“The killing verb ‘destroy’ appears in 3 articles, all of which also feature the verb ‘culling’. Destroy, as noted by Jepson (2008, p.141) is derived from ‘a basic meaning that refers not to human beings but to inanimate objects’. It is symbolic, therefore, of the ways in which we classify varying levels of animacy. We can destroy sandcastles, but we cannot kill them, and as humans we can be emotionally or even physiologically destroyed, but we cannot be destroyed in the literal sense of killed. The use of destroy as a killing verb therefore not only refers to the murder of animals, but simultaneously conspires to relegate their classification from living, sentient beings, to that of emotionless, inanimate objects.” (McDonnell, 2021). 

I also found similar instances for other killing verbs such as, ‘cull’, ‘harvest’ and ‘depopulate’. Even the word ‘slaughter’ (frequently used to describe the killing of animals) can be viewed as evidence of a speciesist ideology when we realise that ‘animals are slaughtered, humans are murdered’ (Stibbe, 2001, p.07). 

I am afraid that this blog post has taken somewhat of a dark turn, but I truly believe that it is important for us to question why we use the words that we do to discuss animals. Who serves to benefit from concealing our foods origins from us? Why would institutions use words that reduce an animal’s sentience to that of an inanimate object?  

Perhaps now, whilst our fridges our full of tofu and our bellies with broccoli, we may take some time to question how justified our dominion over animals really is, and how even our everyday vocabulary may be concealing something more sinister. 
 

Welcome to Mark!

Earlier this month we welcomed Mark to the English Language and Linguistics department. Here is what Mark says about himself:

Hello, everyone!

I am glad to join the English Language and Linguistics team at UWE.

I was born and raised in Ghana, and studied in Ghana, Norway and Hong Kong. I come to UWE from The Hong Kong Polytechnic University (PolyU), where I held the PolyU Distinguished Postdoctoral Fellowship and examined the representations of mental illness in the Ghanaian news media. My PhD research, which explored the interplay of discourse, ideology and mythology in politics, furthers understanding on the content, form and function of political myth and illustrates the role of language and (post-independence) leaders in political decolonization processes.

I am an interdisciplinary scholar who investigates how people deploy language in specific spatiotemporal and sociocultural contexts to achieve various aims, including identity construction and negotiation, self-promotion and othering as well as argumentation, resistance and (de)legitimation. I am particularly interested in language and identity, language attitudes and stereotypes, language and diversity, language and the media and language and/in politics. My research has a critical orientation; therefore, it aims to raise awareness about various complicated constructs in society and to illustrate how research on language use can translate into social transformation.

Who I am as a teacher is a direct result of who I am as a learner. To this end, I employ dialogic teaching where I situate myself as a learner-cum-facilitator who models active listening and engagement. I also take a critical approach to curriculum development that underscores commitment to diversity in teaching, assessment and student support.

My teaching philosophy is grounded in the core principles of relevance, reciprocity and value-addedness, and I strongly believe in multiperspectivity because when people/students see beyond their own experiences they can begin to understand the complex framework in which education exists. My aim is to guide my students to learn how to learn by evaluating and synthesizing various bodies of knowledge. This term, I will teach Critical Discourse Analysis, Intercultural Communication and Making Meaning.

Apart from my work in academia, I run a career and grad school consultancy firm. I also lead a mentorship scheme that provides guidance and support to students (especially in developing countries) who want to pursue further studies. I am furthermore interested in volunteerism, sports and music.

I look forward to a fulfilling experience at UWE – see you around!

Volunteering – Speech and Language Therapy

Here at UWE we are committed to ensuring that our students are equipped for the world of work once they’ve graduated. In English Language and Linguistics we pride ourselves on embedding a focus on careers and employability into our modules so that students can develop, recognise and articulate their skills, knowledge and attributes as well as learn to apply their learning to real world contexts.

It always gives me great pleasure to hear about the achievements of our students. Here is an account of volunteering as a Speech and Language Therapist from one of our third year students, Eleanor Grandchamp.

“It all began when I was turned down for my placement year. 

I had the perfect set up: work alongside speech and language therapists in an acute stroke ward hospital setting in Bath, gain an overwhelming amount of data for my dissertation and have the best year of my life doing what I aspired to do when I was going to graduate. 

Nope. Thanks Covid.  

The day I got that phone call saying the paperwork couldn’t go through clearance because of Covid – I felt my world shatter. I didn’t know where to turn. I’m not from Bristol. I don’t know anyone in the sector. I’m only 19 and have no ‘real’ social links or means to reach anyone. I’m not overwhelmingly smart or impressive in any way. 

In desperation, I spent my two months endlessly spamming all speech and language therapists in Bristol. I tried public, private, anyone who identified as an SLT. When no one replied, I tried Bath and Somerset. Eventually, I started trying to talk to every SLT in the UK who had a public email address. 

I heard nothing back. Ever. (Even now). 

At first, it was really hard dealing with the rejection. I began regretting my degree, thinking I should’ve taken another one. Taking the radio silence as a personal attack to my lack of experiences coming from an underprivileged area rather than reflecting on the unfortunate time of trying to join the sector (mid lockdown 2021). 

However, I did not give up. 

It was 12.04am one rainy Wednesday night. I joined a Facebook SLT group for graduates trying to find work placements in the sector. By chance, I private messaged someone who made a post on there. 

Turns out it was the head of a private SLT practice! 

They messaged me back instantly after my rambly explanation in their DMs. They were interested in my background as an immigrant and as an undergrad in linguistics, and my future ambition as an SLT. They decided to invite me along to a session in London as a one-off favour. 

There, I watched this amazing SLT deliver a session to a child. They played with Lego, pretended to be dinosaurs, caught bubbles. All so much fun yet subliminally educational. 

After the session I asked the SLT so many questions, I made a lot of notes ( 4 pages!!) of particular instruments used to deliver the session, the ways of encouraging the child to speak, how to deal with behavioural difficulties. We sat there for an hour in their car analysing every little bit of the child’s linguistic behaviour. 

They asked me after if I wanted to come to every one of the child’s sessions and see the linguistic growth for myself in a developing three-year-old with a lisp, nasality and ASD. 

Of course, I said yes!! 

To begin with, I applied to the RCSLT. You must have a license with the RCSLT before beginning practise but this is only achieved through employment or the appropriate education. Initially, I had neither but because of the SLT, I was able to become an officially recognised Speech and Language Therapy Assistant at 19! (I did cry a bit when I got my card in the mail I was so proud of myself!!). 

Now that I was qualified, I was able to observe a few more sessions, sitting in the corner. This was to let the child grow comfortable with having me in their space. Next, I was asked to plan a few activities for them to do and to provide linguistic reasoning behind it. I was taught how to diagnose different types of lisps, gliding, aphasia and more. They provided me with legal forms that I would use in my own career to professionally and scientifically record linguistic progress. 

Eventually, I was invited to join in on the sessions – leading two or three activities. I was super nervous but the SLT was on hand for support if I needed it. 

Now I run the sessions by myself every week! 

I am now on my 23rd week with the child. I have also been seeing another child with selective mutism and another with a very strong lateral lisp. Every case is so different from the other, and even my own cases adapt so much every week. Speech and language therapy never ceases to amaze me. 

The SLT who brought me on has an office now. When I went to visit, they said I would have my own set of keys (big woah). They said I can come shadow other SLT sessions and watch scientific speech assessments being done on a wide variety of children.  I’m so excited! 

While it took me two months of day in day out hard work and constant rejection to be able to pursue my dream, it does show that you shouldn’t give up. Don’t let the pandemic stop you, or anything else in life. 

Some days were really hard to pick myself up and carry on. I felt discouraged, I thought maybe it wasn’t working out for a ‘reason’ – like how people say when you fail something. But I didn’t want to fail. I wanted to prove everyone and my inner saboteur wrong. 

I really want this and I know I can do it.” 

Bristol Centre for Linguistics (BCL)

We are really pleased to announce the return of the BCL research seminar series for this academic year. We will be joined by some wonderful academics. Do come along and listen. They are open to everyone (and completely free!).

Autumn Seminar Series 2021

Wednesdays, 1-2pm

On Zoom

24th November 2021

Dr Felicity Deamer (University of the West of England)

For the Record: Exploring variability in interpretations of police investigative interviews

8th December 2021

Dr Laura Speed (Radboud University)

The connection between language and smell

15th December 2021

Dr Alexandre Nikolaev (University of Eastern Finland)

Effects of Age and Education on Language and Cognition

For further details or to be added to the mailing list for information about future events organised by the Bristol Centre for Linguistics, contact minna.kirjavainen-morgan@uwe.ac.uk (Director of BCL)

First Year Induction Week

During the first week of Induction, our first year students split off into groups and took to the streets of Bristol to complete a linguistic scavenger hunt, investigating the linguistic landscape of our diverse city. They were tasked with finding evidence of 8 different features of language in Bristol: some local slang use, evidence of Welsh, at least 3 other languages aside from English, discriminatory language – plus others.

Here we have a selection of chosen pictures with a comment from each group:

Group 1

“We found a little art gallery near Cabot Circus – it had a lot of art pieces with words in. This piece depicts a picture of Queen Elizabeth with several piercings, such as a nose ring. This is paired with a neon sign which reads ‘God save the Queen’ but the ‘a’ in ‘save’ is changed to the anarchy symbol. As there is stigma against facial piercings, which are considered rebellious, alongside the patriotic phrase, we see this to be antagonistic and a statement of youth culture.”

Group 2

“During our hunt we found most diversity in the suburbs on the way to/from the city centre. We saw a wider range of shops catering to the diverse communities who live and work in the outer areas of the cities, however, closer to the centre this diversity decreased”

Group 3

“This photo shows the connection between language and art within Bristol City centre. We think it demonstrates the inclusivity of the city through the rainbow colour scheme, which is commonly associated with the LGBTQ+ community and Pride. Moreover, the language used is ‘love Bristol’, which instils a sense of welcome for all visitors as well as highlights the city’s love for diversity.”

Group 4

“Finding Bristol slang within the city centre was difficult as its part of a local dialect which is usually spoken rather than written in texts. The mugs in this image have ‘alright my luvver’ and ‘gert lush’!

Group 5

“This is a very familiar image to us all. It is there to provide a deterrent to people who may be looking to commit crime in a specific area. Although the chosen language of this sign is English, and therefore could be considered non-inclusive, the camera imagery is a symbol which should be recognisable by non-English speakers”

Thanks for all your hard work and enthusiasm during induction week. We are very much looking forward to working with you all over the next few years!

Welcome back!

This week we’ve welcomed students back onto campus. It’s been wonderful to see (and hear!) people chatting and getting to know each other after a difficult academic year, which was mostly completed online.  

For our new first year students this is a time of great excitement but also nerves and uncertainty.  

Here, two of our current second year students share their experiences, top tips and highlights from their year of lockdown learning.  

“Lockdown linguistics” 

By Alice Carr  

Starting university was nerve-racking, to say the least, perhaps enhanced ever so slightly by the fact that we could see much of it taking part online. This did turn out to be the case, but I wouldn’t change it! 

My earlier days were much more normal, I was able to meet a few of my lecturers in person and plenty of my cohort, all of which were so welcoming (even with their faces half covered by masks!) The in-person lectures I could attend were interesting and relaxed. What followed was A LOT of online recordings and Microsoft Teams chats. Nevertheless, the lecturers made it more bearable than I could ever have wished for, keeping the morals high and all of us engaged.    

Before my start date, I believed I had to have everything: the books, paper, stationery piled high enough to stock WHSmith’s, it was stressful. What I wish I had known was the strength of the support bubble the linguistics team at UWE gave to me- breaking down everything clearly and concisely so I knew exactly what I would need for the course. It turned out I had overbought massively! What is also useful to know from the get-go is the sheer amount of material available to you, such as the library and meetings with your PAL leader for help in a subject or just for an informal chat.  

I will say, the greatest highlight of my ‘lockdown’ first year was the ability to become a student rep. This grew my confidence massively as it allowed me to support both myself and my peers during such a bizarre and uncertain time. I guess it was nice to be able to turn up to lectures from the comfort of my bed, but I vow never to moan about walking to the lecture theatre on a Monday morning ever again, even if it is in Bristol weather! 

My first year 

By Ben Bryan 

I do not believe many people start university without any uncertainties about how their experience will go. For myself personally, I arrived at UWE to study English Language and Linguistics in October 2020, not knowing anybody and having previously only visited Bristol once. Despite all that, I soon became settled in my new surroundings and those initial uncertainties very quickly eased.   
 
Unsurprisingly, the first year was a challenge. Starting university in the middle of a pandemic meant both my work and social life was constantly changing. With that being said, the biggest credit I can pay to both this course and Bristol is, despite all that, I have still managed to have a great first experience. 

The highlight of the course last year was being able to learn about the different branches of linguistics – it really helped me to find areas of interest. The support systems in place and the communication with lecturers have also made it easy to discuss concerns and aspects of the course in greater detail which was imperative for engaging with the course.  

The most reassuring aspect of Bristol for anyone moving here is that there is something for everyone. It’s a diverse city that provides both historical and modern features. With a strong social life, a variety of places to go out and events to experience, anybody can move here and find something they can engage with. The challenging part for me was finding enough time to make the most of the opportunities here, and going into second year, I’m still discovering things I want to experience! 

Despite everything, I had a wonderful first year and can reassure anyone who is about to do the same that they shouldn’t be worried about the experience they are about to have!