Lessons from the Festival of Learning – what’s it like being a learner?

The famously quite-smart Albert Einstein once said “Wisdom is not a product of schooling but of the lifelong attempt to acquire it.”

What he meant by this was that learning doesn’t have to mean complicated equations and thousand-word historical essays.

Education can mean anything from learning to sew to teaching yourself meditation practices to completing a TikTok dance routine.

As long as the information is new, you are learning. Actively seeking knowledge is, in itself, a demonstration of wisdom. It won’t get you anywhere on QI but, still, beneficial.

Although education is useful in helping you to understand the world, as adults we can do some of our most valuable learning when we find out more about ourselves.

That’s why we at Bristol Wellbeing College loved Festival of Learning’s Have A Go Month.

Have a Go!

Festival of Learning is an England-based campaign which aims to promote the benefits of lifelong learning and inspires adults to see learning as something which can continue outside of school, college or university.

The campaign’s Have A Go Month runs throughout September and challenges people to learn just one thing in the name of personal development, and share their stories and achievements as they go.

For Bristol Wellbeing College’s September blog, we wanted to participate in Have a Go Month in a way that showcases our own learners, who have all been brave enough to take a risk and ‘have a go’ in the name of self-improvement through taking our courses.

We asked some of our learners to share their experiences with us, focusing on what sessions they have tackled, the challenges and rewards they have experienced, and what’s next on their learning journey.

Read on to find out what it’s like being a learner at Bristol Wellbeing College.


I joined Bristol Wellbeing College about a year ago now, I have done many sessions on a variety of different topics all of which have been extremely helpful to me. The tutors are very welcoming and are always happy to help or check in with you which has been nice. The ‘Be Present’ sessions have been great; it’s a way to unwind and focus on yourself for an hour. Some of these sessions include meditation as well.

Since joining Bristol Wellbeing College I have been able to learn and find new ways to cope and help manage my mental health. I have completed sessions related to anxiety, depression, sleep and personality disorder. All of these sessions have been a great at adding extra support; it also allows me to interact and level with others which helps me to feel less alone and that others just like me struggle as well.

I will be continuing sessions and learning with Bristol Wellbeing College through Zoom and maybe in the near future go into the college for a classroom session.

SJMy Learning Journey

An unexpected positive of the pandemic is that Bristol Wellbeing College moved online. This meant I felt able to try some as I could stay in my home environment and therefore I only had the course content and new people to worry about.

I started with creative courses. I was honestly really surprised how much they helped me. Being in a tough place I didn’t expect much, but they gave me a much needed break from what was going on in my head. Each session I attended I gained in confidence. I started to recognise some of the same tutors and some of the same participants so I started to participate more and started to look forward to the sessions.

My self-esteem started to increase and I felt proud that I had managed to complete some of the stand alone courses. This meant I booked onto some of the longer ones. These gave me some great new techniques, and reminded me of some old ones that I had completely forgotten about. I really enjoy learning: but when you are struggling with your mental health it can be hard to find things that are accessible, that feel relevant to you and that feel achievable.

There is also a real benefit in peer learning. I could pick up a book and learn some techniques from that, but sometimes another participant in the course would share something that I really connected with, or they shared how they were doing that week and so I felt less alone.


I have attended both online zoom groups and classroom groups run by Bristol Wellbeing College. The College is very supportive and friendly, and they will phone the day before to check that I am still ok to attend the group.

I wasn’t feeling well before the Anxiety 2 – Minds and Emotions session and I was unsure if I was really unwell or if it was a psychological reaction because I was nervous about attending class. I really didn’t want to miss the session as I had enjoyed and learnt a lot from the previous one so I told myself that I’d been before and there was no reason why I couldn’t go again. I went and was really pleased I did as I gained coping techniques to integrate into my daily life such as challenging unhelpful thoughts using evidence, labelling of unhelpful thoughts and through changing behaviour.

Rewards from the Body Care, Achieve, Connect and Enjoy session include doing simple things to care for yourself like making your bed or having a set time for a bath so it becomes a special time and something to look forward to. 

The next step on my learning journey is to continue with the Be Present meditation series, which is improving my relaxation skills. I also am looking forward to meeting new people in the Wellbeing cafe.

Join Us

To see what Bristol Wellbeing College are offering and to sign up head over to their page on the website.

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