Creative Spaces

Last term we gathered a committed team of knitters and crochet-ers and began the task of knitting miniature hats to raise money for AgeUK through Innocent Smoothies. In just three months, we’ve now collected over 100 little hats, and our team are still going! Ranging from beginner to expert level, we’ve had a fantastic group of talented students and staff involved. A huge thank you to our fantastic team who have got us to this point.

The ongoing project has shone a spotlight on what creative activity can really do for our mental wellbeing. With a weekly session booked in, we were all forced to set aside those two hours on a Friday (as a minimum) to do something creative. Our students are (crochet) hooked, and use the session to unwind, to chat, or to sit quietly themselves and make hats. We’ve started sharing our other projects with the group, learning new techniques from eachother, and working through any difficulties in our project with help from everyone else. One of our regular PGR students has mentioned they’ve come in feeling totally overwhelmed, and left two hours later feeling more at peace. This is the purpose of our sessions – we’re hoping to give students a space on campus every week that they can remove themselves from their busy timetables.

This isn’t the first time knitting and crochet has been used at the university to improve wellbeing – take a look at this fantastic blog, Knitting Out The Knots, which was a project created by the School of English staff a few years ago. In fact, it was coming across all the yarn left over in the School of English staff room in September 2021 that inspired our Creative Spaces project. I am delighted to have picked up the crochet needle-shaped baton and to continue encouraging students and staff alike to take part in this activity again now, after an extremely difficult 2 years.

The deadline for these hats to be sent over to Innocent is June 2022, so if you’d like to contribute a hat or two, you can do so either in our weekly Creative Spaces sessions on a Friday 2-4pm in CNWsr8, or you can do it in your own time and drop it off with us in Rutherford Extension NC14/16!

 

9 Reasons to go your Graduation Ceremony

1. Dress to Impress

It’s an excuse to dress all fancy and feel good wearing your best. Who doesn’t feel great when they make an effort to dress smart? Want a reason to get your hair done? Graduation. Need to justify another new outfit you’ve bought? Graduation. Want to treat yourself to a new watch or manicure? Graduation.

2. Hat Throwing

You get to throw your hat up into the air- I challenge you to find me another situation where you and others will all throw your hats up into the air together (weird when you think about it, but cute).

3. A New Chapter

It signals the rite of passage into adulthood. Or, a new chapter in your life. Graduating is the symbolic walk away from this chapter of your life and into a new one, as you literally walk across the stage. Getting your degree in the post one random Tuesday isn’t nearly as symbolic.

4. Hard Work Pays Off

Frankly, you’ve worked really hard and you deserve to have your moment being recognised for it.

5. Others Deserve to Celebrate You

Your family, friends, and others who have helped you achieve this and supported you throughout the years, deserve to witness and celebrate the culmination of your degree. Do it for them.

6. Regret

You will probably regret it if you don’t go. When you get speaking to your friends or seeing their pictures on Instagram is when you’ll feel it. This is a day where real lasting memories are made, regardless of how seemingly boring it may sound, it really isn’t – promise!

7. Your Friends Did it Too!

You get to celebrate your friends’ achievements too – you were all in this together and look where you are now. Even if you did not graduate with your uni friends (like me) the buzz of the day makes everyone excitable and everyone is happy to talk and interact with someone they’ve never met before. Especially since so many students now work online, this could be the first time you meet one of your classmates in person! It’s never too late to make friends.

8. It’s Basically Christmas

It’s a whole day of celebrations, like Christmas! Make a day of it. After all, your family will have likely travelled especially for this event. You could host a party, or simply go for a meal at lunch or dinner after your ceremony. It’s a great excuse to meet and spend time with your loved ones, especially now that you (probably) don’t live at home anymore.

9. Graduation days are fun!

A lot of effort has gone into the planning of this event and it shows when you’re there. The day feels different too, because it is. You won’t experience anything like this day again (unless you do another degree) so take advantage of all the freebies at pre-grad events (prosecco anyone?) and enjoy those beaming proud faces around you.

8 Alternative Ways to Celebrate Valentine’s Day

Baking

You don’t need anyone else to do this activity with, simply choose your favourite bake and go out of your way today to build upon this skill – or try it for the first time! Invite a friend round to bake with you if you like or hit them up on a Zoom call and bake together virtually. I recommend using Jane’s Patisserie recipes, she has never steered me wrong! 🍰

Come Dine with Me

Have you seen the TikTok videos of students/friends hosting their own Come Dine with Me nights? Why don’t you have a go? Invite some friends over tonight and all take responsibility for one dish. Or you could go all out and plan a whole week of dinners, with everyone hosting just like they do on the real Come Dine with Me (don’t forget the entertainment!)

Go see a film with a friend

Fancy doing something, but don’t want to spend too much or go too far? The Gulbenkian on Canterbury Campus have lots of new films out such as West Side Story and Sing 2, with a TwoforTuesday offer of two tickets for the price of one for students! Grab a housemate or three (so you can all take advantage of the deal) and celebrate Valentines a day later.

Treat yourself to dinner out

When was the last time you went out for dinner? I know that student life all too well. There are plenty of ways to treat yourself to dinner whilst staying out of that overdraft. My #1 tip is Tastecard. You can try this for 60 days for free (just remember to cancel) and on any weekday get a 241 meal at lots of places in Canterbury and Chatham! Take a friend/parents/sibling (or three!) and make use of this delicious offer. Café Des Amis in Canterbury a delicious Mexican style restaurant also offer 25% (wow!) student discount off the whole bill anytime Mon-Thurs and before 6pm Fri-Sat. I would highly recommend them, just bring your student card.

Start planning your summer
holiday

Two ways to holiday that I think are totally worth doing as a student;
1. Volunteering abroad and 2. Interrailing across Europe.
Both of these things either myself of friends of mine did and it is a really accessible way of seeing the world whilst still studying. Volunteering involves hard work fundraising but is totally worth it and ways to fundraise can easily be found on Google. Similarly, you can benefit from many student discounts and cheap train travel across Europe if you choose to interrail. Spend your valentines day planning a trip you’ve always wanted to go on, or just book a spontaneous one! You could even check out Wowcher’s £99 holidays (don’t worry I have done the research; they are totally legit and you can find plenty of YouTube videos of peoples experiences – this is one I am going to try!)

Have your own pamper evening

Strapped on cash but don’t want to spend another evening in front of Netflix with your pesto pasta? Set aside some time off your phone and laptop (put on do not disturb), get a book out or put a podcast on and jump in the bath. Don’t forget your bath bomb and bubbles! Not a bath person? Have a long steamy shower and try out an aromatherapy shower steamer (I only just found out about these too!) Then pop on a facemask; cheap from Superdrug or you can make your own with various kitchen ingredients, clean up and paint your nails if that’s your thing and most importantly light some candles. At the very least, you should find yourself having a wonderful night’s sleep after this (which, lets be honest you need!)

Surprise visit your family

If it won’t be an inconvenience or cause stress (always check this first) surprise your family by coming home for a few nights! Not only will you likely get a free meal from this (win, win) it’ll make you feel good to see how happy they are that you’re back. Suggest a film, grab some popcorn, or pull out a board game and spend some quality time together. Alternatively, surprise your friends from home instead! Maybe, even, go on a spontaneous night out together? Have fun!

Make Valentines cards for your friends

Or put to use any other crafty skill you’ve got! It could be knitting, crochet, painting, drawing, building etc. This is a great wellbeing activity, especially if you’re not so much into pamper-style selfcare. Spending some time on a mindfulness skill is a great way to look after yourself and, bonus, you’re still being productive and giving joy to others when you present them with such a thoughtful gift. Go and do it now…now!

5 ways to look after yourself in the new year

New Years resolutions can feel overwhelming and, at times, unachievable. They come from wanting drastic change in your life, and that’s not always possible. Instead of putting your energy into resolutions that you’ll drop in a few weeks, why not spend some time looking at your every day routine, and see where you can slot in some small changes that will make you happier in the long run? We’ve also got lots of events and opportunities coming up this term that might help make these changes permanent too!

Build self-care into your every day routine

Over the past couple of years it’s become evident that self-care is crucial to our lives. Despite what many industries try to sell you, self-care cannot be bought and consumed. It’s about practising reflection, gratitude, and taking time to rest properly. Self-care can come in a lot of forms – one of my recommendations to start off is journalling. You can follow journal prompts, or write a stream of consciousness. It might take you a few tries to figure out what really works for you, but once you’ve found your flow you’ll really start to see results.

Start a new hobby, and make time for it every week

Building and creating something from scratch is exciting, challenging, and will give you a huge confidence boost when you’ve completed your project! It’s especially important to take part in activities that are just for you. The way you spend your time does not need to be productive to the rest of the world – if you feel happy spending your time in a certain way, that in itself is productive to your wellbeing. If you’re looking for a new hobby to try out, why not come along to one of our weekly Creative Spaces sessions? These are an opportunity for students to learn some new creative skills and get to know other like-minded people. At the moment we are taking part in the Innocent Smoothies Big Knit, so if you’ve always wanted to learn to knit, now is your chance! We’ll be opening up to more activities later this term too, so keep your eyes on our weekly newsletter for more information.

Set aside some time to plan for your future

There’s nothing worse than feeling unprepared and overwhelmed by the future – so don’t do that to yourself! Spend some time thinking about your goals, where you’d like to be this time next year, in two years, in five years. Write this down and then follow up with some ideas about how you can achieve this. You don’t need to stick to this plan, in fact, you almost definitely won’t! But it’s a great start. You can use this term to meet with a career’s advisor, get your CV in order, and apply for internships and work experience.

You can contact our Employability & Placements Officer Kate Buchan at ArtsHumsEmployability@kent.ac.uk for a 1:1 appointment for careers advice. You can also check out the Careers & Employability Service, for opportunities, events and appointments with a Careers Advisor. You can also book a meeting with your Academic Advisor to discuss career options in Academia – you can find your Academic Advisor name and contact details on your KentVision profile.

Regular movement and time spent outside improves your mood and builds your resilience!

There’s no better way to get out of your head than by moving your body. It’s easy to give yourself the task of excercising three times a week, but this habit should be more than just excercising for the sake of it. To better improve your physical and mental health, try out a few different activities and pick one you like – this means you’ll be excited to do it as many times per week as you want to.  If your chosen activity takes you outside on a regular basis, then even better! If not, that’s ok – factor in a weekly walk instead. You can gather some friends and explore the local area, or even get a train to the coast and head out on a walk along the beach. You don’t need the weather to be perfect – just wrap up warm and make sure you take a break to warm up with a hot drink or a roast for lunch!

For more information on the sports facilities available to you on Campus, and to check whether you are eligible for a free premium plus membership to the Sports Centre, check out Kent Sport here.

Take stock of your mental health, and take steps to improve it

Everything mentioned above will hopefully contribute to good mental health, but it’s important to notice what helps and what doesn’t. The reality is that it can sometimes take a lot more than regular excerice, a good diet, and enough sleep to improve your mood, and if that’s the case, that is completely fine – you just need to seek out additional support. Keep an eye on yourself and make sure you reach out for help when you need it.

If you need additional support, please ask for help. We have services like Student Support and Wellbeing on campus where you can contact counsellors for 1:1 appointments.

If you’ve got any other suggestions you’d like us to share with your peers, please let us know and we’ll share these in our January and February newsletters! Drop us an email at ArtsHumsEngage@kent.ac.uk.

HEY YOU!

There’s more to uni life than just the education, don’t you think?

We do too! That’s why we’re here, to find you opportunties and events to take part in both inside and outside of your studies.

We’re led by YOU, so whether you want to attend a party or an inspirational key-note, we’re here to help make it happen.

Check out what sorts of things we do on our ‘Explore’ blogs page.