Throughout my stay here in Cheltenham, England, I often find myself comparing the many differences between my life at Elizabethtown College and my life at the University of Gloucestershire (UoG) in the United Kingdom. One of the things I found to be similar is the necessity of a place for students to go to in between classes to meet with friends, catch up on work and even just take a step back from their busy schedules to relax.
At Etown, one of the best places to do just that is the Blue Bean. The Blue Bean is an essential part to our student life as it serves as a great place to meet friends, get a much-needed coffee or milkshake and is even home to many campus events such as Soul Café and open mic nights. At UoG, we obviously don’t have a Blue Bean, but we do have the Student Union (SU) Bars which serve the same purpose but with quite a few differences.
At UoG, there are three campuses, all of which have their own SU Bar. The SU Bars are run by the Student Union, which is essentially a combination of both our Student Senate and the Office of Student Activities (OSA). The SU Bars are very similar to the Blue Bean in that when students want a spot to meet up with a friend before lunch, want somewhere to catch up on some work or need somewhere comfy to kill time before class, it serves that purpose.
Similar to the Blue Bean, there is almost always music playing in the SU Bars, except in their case, the music plays from a music video channel on one of the many TVs in the room. The SU Bar is connected to an on-campus Starbucks that is accessible to students and is much cheaper than going to an off-campus Starbucks. This is similar to the Blue Bean as well because many students are often lining up before and after classes for a coffee or chai pick-me-up.
The biggest difference between the Blue Bean and the SU Bars is the fact that the SU Bars also double as actual on-campus bars for students. Because most UoG students surpass the legal drinking age of 18 and drinking alcohol is seen as more of a social activity here in the UK, it is common for students to often drink together.
The SU Bars are places where students can get together and get a drink, alcoholic or not, whenever they please. The SU Bars also host events such as karaoke nights, pub quiz nights and big game nights.
Both the Blue Bean and SU Bars serve similar purposes for students on campus although there are many cultural distinctions that make them different. I’ve made a lot of great memories with friends at the SU Bars, and although it’s no Blue Bean, it’s definitely something I will miss very much when I leave Cheltenham.