Hi! My name is Maria Lousia and I’m a third year student studying towards BA English Language and Literature. I am a Senior Resident Assistant as well as a Student Ambassador and enjoy helping students level up their university life experience at our Connection Café.

What is the Connection Café?

The Connection Café is a new initiative — devised by Residence Life in partnership with Art Exchange — where students can drop in every week (during term time) to get creative and expand their social circle while also having the opportunity to speak with a member of Residence Life should they have any questions, or want to seek advice.

The Resident Assistants (RAs) who support the sessions (spot us in our red hoodies) are present to assist the flow of the workshops. We welcome students and chat with them while providing information and advice on university life. RAs live on campus and are members of student staff who work to establish a positive living environment for residents, host events, and resolve accommodation issues. As RAs, we have received extensive training to enable us to support our fellow students, so we will know the answer to many of your questions; if not, we will know where to refer you to find the answer!

We want to make sure everyone feels welcome — we’re a friendly bunch, and always happy to help participants make new connections while having fun enjoying the creative activities.

What can I expect if I attend?

All students can try out a wide variety of arts and crafts at the Connection Café. Cool techniques and intriguing art is introduced. To date, workshops hosted by Art Exchange artists in residence have included: cyanotype photography printing, badge making, clay modelling, and macramé basket making.

Additional activities are also available such as: fabric T-shirt painting, water colour painting, making a door name tag for your accommodation, or decorating a tote bag. Each week, we are seeing more and more students stop by to join us. The most popular session so far was ‘play with clay’ with around 46 participants.

Students making clay sculptures at Art Exchange.

Students either come alone or in groups and mingle with others and bond over the sessions. Student feedback has been really positive, with many returning week after week to meet up with their newfound friends. We have music playing in the background to create a relaxing environment and refreshments are provided!

Sounds great! Where and when can I join?

The Connection Café is open every Wednesday (during term time) in the Art Exchange gallery, located on Square 5 (next to the library), from 12 noon to 3pm. These sessions are completely free. Find out more by checking out our events or by following our Insta page.

Is the venue accessible?

Art Exchange is wheelchair accessible and the tables we use are also accessible for wheelchair users. Please make the RAs aware if you have any additional needs: we can offer 1:1 support if that is something you would like.

We look forward to seeing you at a Connection Café very soon!

Please email Residence Life if you have any questions.