Reaia Parkes studies Art History and Film in the School of Arts. Here she takes us through her average week.
Tell us a bit about your weekly life on campus including; lectures, seminars, study time, work or 1:1 with staff.
When I get my timetable at the beginning of the term, I can plan my weeks and make sure I have no clashes within my timetable, if I do, I sort this out by emailing to request changes if necessary. This term I have only one 1hr lecture on campus (because my other lecture is online), two 2hr seminars and one screening to account for. I, most weeks, will do my online lecture on Mondays as well as the required readings for my Tuesday seminar which only takes me about 2-3 hrs. I then have Wednesdays free when I usually run errands or do shopping etc. On Thursdays, I have my back-to-back lecture screening and during I try to sneakily do my reading if I can, so I’m free when I get home. I then go to my Friday seminar with my notes and I’m free for the weekend! Because I do all my work within the week, I have Saturday and Sunday off. This means I can spend Friday nights at The Venue (on-campus) for the weekly NXT event and deal with the hangover on Saturday. Sunday is the day I begrudgingly go to the gym (which is free for first-year students on campus). As for 1:1 time with lecturers, it’s extremely easy to get this. Usually, before an assessment, you can request time for a tutorial and meet with them in their office to discuss your ideas for the assignment or what they’re looking for when marking. At other times in the term, I can email my seminar leader or lecturer if I’ve been having issues and they get back to me with free time they have during office hours or leave time at the end of a class for time to talk!
How many contact hours are on your course? Is this easy to manage and balance with your social and work life?
My course has a relatively low amount of contact hours especially compared to some of my friends. This means I am lucky to have quite a lot of free time to either chill at home or catch up on work and reading in the library. I’ve never particularly run into an issue with clashes of work and social life. Sometimes I might have to sacrifice a night out to finish an assignment on time, but for the most part I leave all the partying for the weekend, so I get the best of both worlds. Even so as I’ve mentioned I have days where I’m not at Uni allowing me to have extra free time if I want.
How many different modules do you cover over the week?
Each term I have two modules that I cover. As I am Joint Honours, I chose one Film module and one Art History. I chose these based off of what sounds interesting to me, things I may wish to know for future job prospects, or assessment types I prefer ( for example avoiding exam modules because I don’t like them). My favourite part of my course is the amount of free reign we get with module choices. In first and second year there are only two compulsory modules so the rest I can choose based on what suits me best. Because of Joint Honours, I don’t usually have extra credits to take wild modules, but in my experience, I didn’t feel as though I missed out because I was already taking two different subjects.
Does your course have any special facilities that you can use?
My course has access to the Jarman building. Facilities in here include a Mac suite, the green screen rooms, and several other editing suites that I am free to use if I wanted to work on a film project in my own time or with my fellow students. These are able to be accessed during specific times and you can usually book spaces as well as time with technicians to help with using the equipment. I’m not the most interested in practical filmmaking however, so I prefer to use the social spaces upstairs to have lunch on campus occasionally, and I like visiting the art Gallery to see student projects and hopefully get to curate my own show in, in the future.
If you’re studying a Joint Honours course, how do you find balancing this across your week? What are the benefits of taking a joint honours course?
I was drawn originally to Joint Honours because I didn’t want to get bored with studying just one subject. Ultimately, there’s a good balance between each subject, one seminar and lecture for each during the week which is the same as Single Honours students. With Joint Honours, a benefit is that ou’re more stimulated by the different subjects you have. It’s especially interesting seeing the subtle links between two subjects, and youre unlikely to get bored because if you get tired of one subject you’ve always got the other!
How much do you travel to get onto campus?
The commute to campus during the week certainly keeps me fit! I tend to walk to save money on bus fare which takes around 20 minutes or the same distance as a walk to town as I live in Hales Place (a popular area for Uni of Kent students living off campus). There are a few hills on the way which give me plenty of exercise. I travel to campus about 3-4 times a week for school and sometimes go a few extra times to see friends etc or use the facilities including the library.
Did you live in University accommodation?
During first year I lived in Turing Houses, which in my opinion is the best accommodation available for first years based on what my requirements for accommodation were. Although it’s not ensuite, bathrooms are only shared between one other person and my housemate was luckily very clean, so it was never an issue. The price is cheaper than Turing flats because of this but it’s not a big sacrifice to make in my experience. Also, the kitchen is the biggest of all accommodations so the best parties on campus were often at Turing making being sociable easier.
What is the social scene like in Canterbury on and off campus?
Canterbury is a town where basically half the population are other students. Because of this, there is never a lack of student discounts, social events, and student-based attractions to enjoy. Also, Canterbury is such a beautiful city that just going for a walk with friends was easily a fun activity. My favourite thing to do is to take a train to one of the several beaches nearby on super-hot days. My favourite restaurant is a place called A La Turka (they have two locations in Canterbury). I went for Valentine’s Day and it was probably one of the best restaurants I’ve ever been to, and the vibes were immaculate throughout, and the food was great! Aside from this, there’s of course the Canterbury student clubs scene and the multiple pubs to visit if that’s your speed. Canterbury also has a bowling alley, laser tag, mini golf and plenty of other exciting things to do.
Have you been on any trips within Kent or London since studying at Kent?
I live in South East London so I travel to and from London by coach very often. The coach is cheaper than taking the train although it’s a bit longer. I take it straight to Lewisham and go home from there, but it also goes through places like Bluewater and straight to London Victoria. This is very convenient also because me and my boyfriend or my friends like going on dates in London sometimes to see the many museums and etc and it’s very quick and easy and especially on a student budget. I have also had a few trips for schoolwork especially Art History as we went on a compulsory trip to The Tate Britain to see the exhibition we were studying for the rest of the term. This gave me chance to make better friends with coursemates when we took the coach together. The proximity to London only adds to the many things available to do at the University of Kent.
Do you work alongside your studies?
I work nights at the club on campus ‘The Venue’ and before I worked in the club in town. Working nights helped me because it meant I didn’t have to worry about it clashing with classes and I am more of a night person anyway. Because I am lucky to have none of my lectures take place too early, it doesn’t matter too much what day I work because I can usually sleep enough after a shift to be able to make it to class the next day. A benefit of working in the Student Union like I do (in which there are so many varied employment opportunities) is that they are usually very lenient with which days you can work in terms of your studies. I found when working off campus previously this was more difficult to avoid but depending on how dedicated you are to balancing work and studies its always manageable depending on the person.
What would be your main advice to prospective students looking to join the community here at Kent?
Put yourself out there! I’ve found people at Kent to be amazingly friendly, and you’ve got to remember that most people are in the same position as you and will be equally eager to make new connections. There is absolutely no time like being a university student so just try your best to enjoy it and savour your time.