Siyan Ruan (MSc 2014), Beijing alumni network Leader, explains why Bristol networks are so important for students and graduates to feel connected.
The Beijing alumni network is a volunteer-led group that works closely with the University of Bristol to host events and activities for graduates based in Beijing. Our first meeting back in 2015 brought together more than 250 graduates, and we now support Bristol’s China Graduation Celebration, sit on Career Panels and organise meetings and events.
Studying at Bristol is a very precious memory in my life. I can still remember the nights we spent in the library, the excitement when I delivered an assignment, the sense of relief when I finished my exams, the fulfilment when I handed in my final thesis. It was challenging, but so worth it. I still benefit now from my experiences at university.
As an international student arriving in Bristol, everything was so fresh to me. I can recall the first day I arrived, staying in a hotel and thinking ‘It’s like being in a British film!’ Banksy’s artwork and trip-hop music were so amazing and new to me. I also made a lot of friends in Bristol who I am still in touch with now. Bristol gave us the opportunity to tackle some of our challenges together.
The University of Bristol has a community of over 12,400 alumni in China and over 2,000 Chinese students at Bristol, making it the largest international network. There are volunteer-led networks in Beijing, Shanghai and Shenzhen, which nurture and support a family of graduates, and there are other international alumni networks based in Hong Kong, Malaysia, Singapore and the US.
When you have shared memories of a place, you have a shared language. The Beijing alumni network – and the alumni network more broadly – gives graduates the opportunity to meet other people who have experienced Bristol, who have been shaped by the same city, the same university, and perhaps by the same memories. It provides a significant connection for those who studied together.
As part of the Beijing alumni network we also meet current Bristol students who are doing placements, internships or who are studying abroad in China. I often recognise myself in these students, excited and sometimes a little bit shy in a new and unfamiliar place. I was so supported when I moved to Bristol that I feel moved to pass on that kindness to current students and do what I can to ensure they have a positive international experience.
Bristol alumni networks are based all over the world, keeping graduates connected with Bristol and each other. These groups enable members to connect and network with like-minded alumni, share advice and expertise, and attend exclusive events.