Summer feels a lifetime ago. Students are back in lectures, the first years are settling into their halls and I have finally unpacked my case after a busy summer travelling so thought it was time to reflect on this.
My travels kicked off with Graduate Fashion week in June. This was my first time at Fashion week and it didn’t disappoint! Our Graduates ran a stand to display their work for industry and press contacts. This was followed by the Brighton Catwalk. It was so exciting to accompany some of our supporters and fashion alumni to watch the show, and I managed to blag myself a front row seat.
For anyone who didn’t manage to catch the show, students and staff from Computer Science for Games and Fashion with Business Studies degrees created a virtual reality catwalk that could be viewed during the Graduate show on campus and during Graduate Fashion Week. https://www.brighton.ac.uk/about-us/news-and-events/news/2019/06-21-a-fashion-show-with-a-twist.aspx
It was so inspiring to meet the graduating class as they made their professional debut along with some of the people who have supported them. The creativity and passion was infectious, I am already looking forward to next year.
As soon as the graduate designers received their applause, I was off to the airport for my next adventure in Asia.
The University has alumni and supporters all over the world. We have a strong community in Hong Kong made up of international students who travelled to Brighton for their degrees and graduates who have moved away for work or family.
I arrived around midnight, tired from the long flight, in a very humid Hong Kong. I was travelling solo and had been a little worried about finding my way around in a new city with no local knowledge or language skills. My attempts to learn Chinese on Duolingo had been abandoned weeks before the trip. My concerns were all unfounded; I easily got myself an Octopus card and jumped on the train to Wan Chai to check into the hotel. I hadn’t realised until I arrived and spoke to the receptionist that it was the first day of the protests, which typically had taken place outside my hotel that day! Despite the political unrest, I was excited to explore and meet many of the Brighton graduates who call the beautiful city home.
I had the honour of launching the University’s first international alumni branch. The Hong Kong Branch will continue to arrange events for all alumni based locally (there are over 600 Brighton graduates living in Hong Kong) and host academics when they visit. This is an important milestone for the Alumni Association as we continue to develop and connect together our alumni community around the world.
Hong Kong didn’t disappoint! I was only there for three and a half days with alumni meetings throughout my visit. The locals I met were all so welcoming a generous showing me around their city. There was so much to see and eat – and gosh the food is amazing! It was fascinating to hear about their experience of living in Brighton as international students and how Brighton still holds a special place in their hearts, despite being 6,000 miles away.
All too soon my time in Hong Kong came to an end (although I can’t wait to return!) and I was back at the airport to catch a flight to Singapore.
What a contrast! Hong Kong was wonderfully chaotic, industrious, colourful and full of people, Singapore was calm and ordered with a strong focus on wellbeing and sustainability. Interestingly, the graduates I met all had the same strong connection to their time at Brighton. I only had two days to explore and meet with alumni so on my first morning I headed to Little India then to Gardens by the Bay before returning to the hotel to freshen up for dinner. That evening I was lucky enough to catch the famous light show at Gardens by the Bay. The next morning I met a group of alumni for Brunch and then had a walk along the Marina and saw the preparations and test flights for the National Day of Singapore.
I arrived back in the UK a little jet lagged but also invigorated after meeting so many wonderful people. I returned with a suitcase full of the finest tourist wares – I even found a very tasteful Chinese dragon outfit for my dog Gustav (not sure he was as thrilled about his gift as I was when I found it)
A few days back in the office and I was off to the airport again, this time to visit a city a little closer to home: Manchester. The alumni magazine was shortlisted for an award so I took the opportunity to attend the fancy awards dinner – it’s a hard life! Whilst I was in Manchester, I spent a day at the University of Manchester finding out about their alumni association (I felt like a secret shopper) and then had the pleasure of meeting up with yet more of you for coffee. No matter where I go, Brighton Graduates always seem up for a coffee, cake and chat about their time on the south coast.
Talking of the south coast, I headed back down south to celebrate the summer graduation ceremonies at the Brighton Centre. As always graduation was such a wonderful occasion and I had the privilege of connecting some of our alumni supporters to the students they have helped through volunteering, mentoring and supporting scholarships and bursaries. It was great to witness so many people receiving their degrees after years of hard work and welcome them to the Brighton Alumni family.
After weeks of travelling alone, I was really looking forward to the final trip of the summer and enjoying the company of my colleague and friend Ruth. Ruth runs the University’s Crowdfunding platform Springboard – if you haven’t already it’s definitely worth checking out.
Ruth and I boarded the smallest plane either of us had ever been on. The plane was so tiny, the only passenger door was closed with what looked like a bathroom door latch and the pilot turned around with a cheeky gin to give the safety announcement! During the week, we visited Alderney, Guernsey and Jersey – I know you will all want to know our favourite but we honestly can’t pick.
On the islands, we met with lots of alumni and some local businesses and chatted about forging links with the university. We also had the opportunity to explore our surroundings. We hosted evening drinks receptions for alumni on both Guernsey and Jersey. It was such a fun week and we were so lucky with the weather. We would like to visit again to host more #BringingBrightontoyou events and we might even bring a few of your former teachers with us next time!
So what have I learned from a summer of traveling?
- You are never far from a Brighton Graduate, they are everywhere!
If you would like to connect with local alumni in your area, please get in touch.
- The universal langue of coffee and cake is understood far and wide.
Who doesn’t enjoy half hour out of their day for a chat and a double chocolate fudge cake?
- Your experience at the University of Brighton is something to be proud of. Wherever and whatever you are up to now you are part of the Brighton alumni family. Many people haven’t had the opportunity to go to university, your experience has made you who you are today and you should be proud of what you have achieved.