Monthly Archives: December 2023

Winter berries

Love, actually is all around us

By Zoraya Yanar, Global Officer, studying Classics and an exchange student from New Mexico State University.

Zoraya shares with us her Christmas traditions and what this time of year means to her

Christmas, for me, as for so many others, is my favourite time of the year. It is a time to relax and be with family, I feel that I can be a kid again and forget about any worries I may have at the moment. The comfort and love that the holiday brings helps me to remember that things will be alright, because I have friends, family, and love.

As time passes and one grows older, it is easy to feel that the magic of Christmas has begun to dwindle away– which is why I believe it is important to have at least one Christmas tradition to keep you excited for the holiday and to keep reminding about what it is that you love so much about the season.

My own personal Christmas tradition is to pop a bag of popcorn, make hot chocolate, wear fuzzy socks and a warm blanket, and put on one of my favourite movies: Love Actually. The movie, which takes place during the Christmas season, follows eight London couples who are trying to navigate their relationships– it’s funny, but sad; wholesome, but vulgar, and everything in between. It shows love in all its forms and variations– romantic, familial, platonic, while also tackling love in the face of death and heartbreak. I personally relate to death and familial love because the same year that I first watched this film my grandfather passed away on the morning of Christmas Eve. It was a very hard time for my family, but I felt God was looking over us and chose the most appropriate time for us. It happened on a day that my entire family was already going to be together. What we all needed most in that moment was each other, and luckily we had it.

I usually spend Christmas in Mexico with family, or we, on occasion, spend it in Ruidoso, New Mexico — a cute, quaint village only a few hours from home which usually gets snow during the holidays. I am at Kent this term as an international student and this will be the first Christmas away from my extended family. I will, however, be spending it with my sisters and parents as they are coming to visit– I’m very excited to see them again and to get to spend it here. My love and nostalgia for Love Actually played a surprisingly big part in my decision to study abroad here during the winter term, so I’m very grateful for this time and opportunity. I get to see my family arrive at Heathrow Airport just as they do in the movie, and I’ll get to show them what Christmas in the UK is like. This term studying abroad has been the happiest I have ever been in my life and as sad as I am to see it come to an end, I know that good things are to come, and I think that Christmas and the New Year here will be a wonderful way to end my time here, at least for the time being.

Two students walking down steps in Canterbury Cathedral

A Student’s Guide to the Winter Break for International Postgrads

International postgrad student Caroline shares her experience of spending the winter break on campus

“As an international postgraduate student in the UK, spending the Christmas holidays away may seem lonely and daunting at first. However, it can be a unique and enriching experience. Canterbury, with its rich history and charming atmosphere, offers lots of activities to make your holiday season memorable. In this blog post, I will share my recommendations for what you may wish to consider doing during the Christmas holidays when you decide to take a break from your studies.”

Explore Canterbury’s historic sites

“There is a range of activities to enjoy in the City Centre, while the campus is quieter. One of my favourites is the iconic Canterbury Cathedral, which is free for University of Kent Students to visit. Just bring your KentOne ID and browse all the events they have to offer.”  

Join festive events and the Canterbury Christmas markets

“Canterbury comes alive with festive cheer during the Christmas season, with the ‘Christmas Light Switch-on’ and the arrival of the Christmas marketplace. Visit the Christmas lights in the city centre to experience the enchanting atmosphere and definitely don’t pass up the chance to explore the Christmas markets; you can indulge in seasonal treats, shop for unique gifts, and enjoy the vibrant ambience with friends or colleagues.”

Participate in University events

“Check online for uni-led special events or gatherings during the holidays. Both Kent Union’s ‘Give it a Go!’ scheme and the ResLife team will be hosting events throughout the Christmas break, so make sure to check out what events they have planned. Some schools will also be hosting Christmas parties, cultural celebrations, and activities for students staying on campus, so keep an eye on your emails. It’s an excellent opportunity to connect with fellow international students and create new holiday traditions.”

Embrace British Christmas Traditions

“Immerse yourself in British Christmas traditions by attending local events such as carol services, pantomimes, and festive concerts. If you haven’t had the chance to go into the city centre to try some of the local food or pubs, now will be the best time to experience the joy of a traditional Christmas dinner with all the trimmings.”

“Have a very Merry Christmas in Canterbury!”

Check out the winter break webpages for service opening times, advice and support.


Frosty campus with cathedral in background

Looking for a winter wonderland in Canterbury?

Written by Flavie Tristani.

Looking for a winter wonderland in Canterbury? Then you are at the right place to find the top guide to make your snowy dreams come true!

Global Officer, Flavie Tristani, provides her tips on how to get into the festive spirit, and where to go in Canterbury if you are stuck for ideas.

Is there a better way to start winter than by having fluffy socks? ☃

We all know that winters in Canterbury are frosty. This is why it is the perfect time to go to town and buy yourself the perfect socks to embrace the winter season. Whether you are at home or heading outside for a winter adventure, a pair of silky socks is a must have. Many shops in Canterbury have these kinds of socks. You can either find them at Primark or Poundland for little cost or you can find them at Fenwick if you want a better quality.

Now that your feet are nice and comfy, why don’t you go into town to look at the Christmas fair? ☃

The Christmas fair is a magical experience that you should do at least once while you are here. You will find stalls selling handmade crafts, little treats and fun winter clothes. The Christmas fair is a good way to get into the holiday spirit and create memories. Go get yourself the best hot chocolate and have a look at all the decorations in town. You cannot miss this winter wonderland! Don’t forget to look up to the sky to see the shining six miles of lights illuminating the city during all this period.

As you are in town, go get a look at the majesty of Canterbury Cathedral!

Canterbury Cathedral is one of the oldest structures in England. It is a true masterpiece that you absolutely have to see during winter break. Our cathedral is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, so take your time to enjoy the beauty of it and the tranquil atmosphere.

Take time to cook recipes!

  • One easy recipe and a comfort to do are cinnamon rolls. There is a kit that is ready to use and available to buy from Tesco or you can make your own.
  • You can also get marshmallows to make the sweetest hot chocolate.
  • Or get some strawberries and dip them in melted chocolate.
  • For those who prefer savoury food, you can make yourself chips, popcorn, carrots and cucumber with tzatziki, humus, olives and cheese.

What is better than eating these snacks in front of your favourite movie? ☃

What better way is there to have the best night after a busy day in town? Go back to your home, have a hot shower, put on your fluffy socks. Then get your magic treats to have in front of your favourite Christmas movie.

My suggestions:

  • The Grinch
  • The Nightmare before Christmas
  • Elf movie
  • The Holiday
  • Home alone

Looking for a splash of excitement? The Marlowe Theatre is the best place!

Located in the heart of Canterbury, The Marlowe Theatre is a great way to have fun. Indeed, different showcases and theatre performances are proposed. The Marlowe has something for everyone; you can watch theatre productions, musicals, comedy or even live music. Marlowe theatre is a way to get an unforgettable experience.

Exciting campus activities to do during winter break!

Hop on over to the university website for more juicy details, but there are plenty of activities planned for you, such as:

  • 19 December: Winter coffee and break chat
  • 21 December: Painting and colouring
  • 28 December: Board games social
  • 5 January: New Year festive dinner
Three students smiling and doing mindful colouring

Shape wellbeing at Kent: Wellbeing Student Advisory Board

Applications for the Wellbeing Student Advisory Board are now open.

The Advisory Board’s purpose is to help guide Kent Union and the University of Kent in improving our approach to student wellbeing and ensuring our work is impactful and accessible to all students. This will involve discussing current and future plans and offering suggestions based on the board’s shared expertise and experiences. Topics discussed at meetings will include mental health, safety initiatives, the cost of living crisis, sense of community and belonging, as well as anything else that is important to you. You will help shape student wellbeing at Kent.

What are we looking for?

We are looking for 20 students on undergraduate and postgraduate degrees, from a range of courses and years to create a diverse and inclusive panel. Any student who is currently enrolled in an undergraduate or postgraduate degree at the University of Kent can apply to be part of the panel.

No prior experience is required to be a member. All you need is to be passionate about student welfare and helping all students to love their time at Kent.

What to expect?

A two-hour meeting will occur three times in the academic year with additional opportunities to get involved in projects and campaigns. Invitations for these meetings will be sent once membership to the board is confirmed.

Students based on the Canterbury campus will receive £20 KentOne credit in exchange for their active participation in the two-hour WSAB meeting. Students who are not based on the Canterbury Campus will be compensated for their time at the same rate through an alternative method. Students will also be able to earn Employability Points throughout the academic year.

How to apply?

To apply, please submit either a maximum of a 500-word response or a 2 minute long video telling us a bit more about you, what skills and experiences you feel you would bring to the role and why you would like to get involved.

The deadline to submit your application is Monday 8th January 2024 at 12:00.

Apply now via online application form. 

If you have any questions please email Tom Freeston (Vice-President Welfare and Community) at Kent Union,

Good luck with your application!

Students and staff talking

My advice on how to navigate the PG January start

Written by Caroline Harriman, PhD candidate.

Embarking on a postgraduate program in January can be an exciting but challenging experience. As a January starter, you will be joining the academic journey midway through the academic year, which may feel intimidating to some as they worry about missing out. However, as someone who began my PhD journey on the 14 January 2022, I have some key insights and tips to share about what I wish I had known before starting my postgraduate adventure in the middle of the academic year.

Academic and Wellbeing Resources

Make the most of the academic resources available and take a look at the resources available to you before starting. This includes the library, research databases, Nexus, PG study spaces, and academic support services such as the Student Learning Advisory Service. There is also Student Support and Wellbeing who can support you during your studies and can help you set up any special requirements.

Networking opportunities

Even though you’re not starting with the main cohort, there are still plenty of networking opportunities. Attend seminars, workshops, and conferences to connect with professors and fellow students and keep an eye out for any society-led events. Networking is key in any academic or professional setting. See Kent Union events and events at The Hub (Medway).

Kent Union’s “The Big Fair” and Medway Welcome Fair

It’s never too late to get involved! If you’re based at Canterbury, make sure that you attend “The Big Fair” in the Sports Centre (Main Hall) on Tuesday 23 January 2024, 10:00 – 15:00, for your chance to discover sports clubs, societies, or volunteering opportunities.

If you’re at Medway, head to the Medway Welcome Fair on Wednesday 24 January, 11:00-15:00, where you can find out about all the student societies, groups and sports clubs that you can join.

Embrace Change!

Be Open-Minded: Starting in January might mean adapting to a different environment compared to your peers who began in September however, embracing change, being open-minded, and viewing this as an opportunity to learn and grow both academically and personally will help you settle in quickly and get your PG study off to a brilliant start.

Rutherford Turkey

New year festive dinner, 5 January

Meet up with fellow students and enjoy a 2 course meal to celebrate the New Year.

Global and Lifelong Learning would like to invite students to a traditional 2-course New Year’s Dinner on Friday 5 January 2024 (during the winter vacation) in Rutherford Dining Hall.

New year menu

Dinner will be served between 18:00-19:30, followed by an evening of relaxed games and activities. This is a great opportunity to meet with other students who may be staying on or near to campus for the winter break, and break the monotony of the winter holiday.

Members of our International Student Advisory Board, Kent Union Officers and ResLife Ambassadors will also be there.

Dress code is smart casual, but feel free to dress up if you wish.

Cost: £6 per person

You must book to guarantee your place.  Bookings close 9:00 (UK time) on Wednesday 3 January 2023.

Student wearing coat and hat on frosty day

Essentials for postgraduate students starting university in January

Written by Caroline Harriman, PhD candidate.

Embarking on your postgraduate journey in January brings its own set of considerations. Whether you’re a seasoned student continuing your academic pursuits or a fresh face in the university environment, being prepared with the right essentials can make all the difference. Here are my must-have essentials for January starters, from one January starter to another to help you navigate the January start and set you up for a successful postgraduate experience.

Financial essentials

Manage your finances effectively by setting up a budget and exploring student discounts (Totem, etc.). A student ID card is a valuable asset that can unlock various discounts on books, software, and public transportation. Make sure that if you are an international student you have set up any payment plans, accounts or financial essentials needed.

Travel essentials

If you are planning to go to campus, it’s a good idea to consider the most efficient and cost-effective travel options. If you are commuting by train, you can purchase a Railcard to get a discount. On the other hand, if you are taking the bus to campus, there are discounts on the Stagecoach buses in Canterbury and Arriva buses in Medway.

Winter gear

Given the colder temperatures during the January start, investing in quality winter gear is essential. A warm and durable coat, gloves, a hat, and sturdy waterproof boots will be your best companions as you navigate the campus during the chilly winter months.

Tech tools for digital learning

Ensure you have a reliable laptop, comfortable headphones, and a high-quality webcam for any virtual meetings, seminars, and lectures. Familiarise yourself with essential software early on for productivity and collaboration, such as Microsoft Office, Zoom, and other communication platforms you may need to use during your degree.

Academic Supplies

Stock up on traditional academic supplies like notebooks, pens, highlighters, and sticky notes early on as this will help you settle in quicker and stress-free. A planner or digital calendar can help you stay organised and manage your deadlines effectively and investing in a good backpack or bag to carry your essentials around campus will help you in the long run.

Textbooks and learning materials

Check your course calendar early and acquire the essentials and recommended textbooks and learning materials. Some textbooks may also have digital versions, so explore both options based on your preferences. You can look into the university library database for additional resources and consider joining internal online study groups to share materials and insights.

Organisation tools

Staying organised is key to success in postgraduate studies! Purchase folders, binders, or an accordion file to keep your notes and documents in order. Investing in a reliable planner or using digital organisation tools to keep track of assignments, exams, and other important dates will help alleviate stress and get you into a routine quickly.

Health and wellbeing essentials

Taking care of your physical and mental wellbeing is paramount. Ensure you have a basic first aid kit, any necessary prescription medications, and a reusable water bottle to stay hydrated. Explore local gym options or outdoor activities to maintain a healthy lifestyle.




Table with Christmas candle burning

Coping at Christmas with an eating disorder

Written by Thomas Freeston, Kent Union Vice-President Welfare and Community.

Trigger Warning: Food and Eating Disorders.

The Christmas period can be a challenging time for those struggling with their relationship with food. Food undoubtedly plays a large part in Christmas and winter celebrations. From the social aspect (e.g., work Christmas outings, Christmas food markets with friends etc.), to the traditions (e.g., Christmas dinner or advent calendars). The large focus around food consumption can be potentially triggering and exhausting.

Regardless of whether you have a diagnosed eating disorder or not, the emphasis on food can be difficult to navigate. Feelings of guilt, shame and pressure are usually common at this time.

Guilt for not eating as much as others, or for having food related difficulties during what is meant to be a joyful season.

Shame for eating more than you usually would, or for not being able to keep up to the same pace as others.

Pressure to alter your eating and exercise habits. Diet culture has created the expectation that the mere days between Christmas Eve and New Year’s Day are spent eating and should be followed by weeks of over exercising to compensate.

Here are some welfare tips to help you cope with the feelings that might arise due to the Christmas period:

  • Try to focus on the non-food related activities and discussions during Christmas. There is so much more that the festive season has to offer than just food! Focus on the aspects you do enjoy such as the Christmas lights or watching Christmas films or boardgames etc.
  • Make loved ones aware of avoiding questions based on food. You may decide to inform close relatives or friends to not mention these subjects as it could cause further anxiety and pressure in members who may be experiencing issues alone. For example, telling loves ones to not comment on people’s appearance or questioning what or how much food they are eating.
  • Have an exit plan – Christmas can be overwhelming to survive the holiday with an eating disorder, you may need to take some breaks. This can help you stay focused and calm. Find out where your Christmas lunch/dinner will be hosted. Work out some quiet places you can go off to and take some deep breaths just in case you need a break.
  • Signpost your family or friends to the Beat website so they have a clearer understanding of how they can support you during this time.

There is support available for you:

Beat – Eating Disorders: 0808 801 0677

Spectrum Life offers 24/7 emergency expert mental health support via phone, text, or WhatsApp.

Student Space: text STUDENT to 85258 or visit the student space website.

NHS Eating Disorders: Visit the NHS website to learn more.

Mobile phones

Getting a new phone, tablet or laptop?

How to stay connected if you get a new device over the holiday period.

Stay connected to all Kent systems by adding a second authentication method (such as a home phone number and/or mobile number) now to your account. It’s quick and easy to do.

Choose a method that won’t be affected if you change device or mobile phone number. For example, if you use an authenticator app on a device you’re replacing, this won’t transfer to a new device.

Adding a secondary method such as your home phone number or mobile number (if you intend to keep the same number) will help avoid any loss of access.

This will be especially useful during the vacation when the University is closed and our staff won’t be around to help reset your account.

Multi-factor authentication (MFA) is required for off campus access to email and other Kent IT systems and online services. It adds an extra layer of security to your IT Account. It provides a 99.9% reduction in compromised accounts and will also help to protect your own personal information.

User guide

MFA at Kent user guide

Help and support

If you have any questions, please contact IT and Library Support:


candy cane heart

Happy Christmas feeling like a tall order? Tips for coping with complicated feelings in the holidays

Perhaps you love Christmas and all the traditions, from music to present wrapping to treats, but if it brings up difficult memories or makes you feel anxious, you aren’t alone in that feeling. The forthcoming holiday can cause a mixture of complicated situations and emotions, such as family and relationship conflict, anxiety around relationships, worries about food, coping with grief, or feeling that everyone else is having a great time and you’re missing out. Even if you look forward to the holidays, it’s normal to experience periods of stress or difficulty, when your environment changes after a term studying.

We asked Rachel, a Mental Health Adviser at Kent’s Student Support and Wellbeing who offers specialist support to care leavers and students who are estranged from their families, what tips would you give everyone for coping with complicated feelings during the holidays?

Make a plan, take control 

What are the main issues you will face? Loneliness, or overwhelm surrounded by too many people? Think through the days that might be particularly difficult and plan extra support and connection, or breaks from the busyness. If you want to escape/ learn/ relax online without a known group, you could look up things to join in with via Eventbrite, searching by your interests.

Set your intentions

Whether it’s sleep, how you eat, how much you drink, where exercise plays a role, or whether you engage in certain conversations, set your intentions in advance so you can feel more in control in the moment.

Identify your coping skills

What makes you feel better when you’re struggling? Taking a nap? Going for a walk alone or with someone else? If you’re staying on/ near the Canterbury or Medway campus, or nearby, you can sign up to Walking Buddy to be matched with another student who wants to meet and go for a walk locally. Do you want to stay busy and make new friends at Kent? Check out the calendar for details of what’s on until the end of term and beyond, including games and puzzles you can borrow over the holidays. Does meditation help you? You could connect with the Mindfulness Society before the end of term, or check out some free mindfulness apps. Would curling up with a comfort book, or a pick me up playlist help? You can borrow from Templeman and Drill Hall Libraries, including fiction and digital media. Think about it in advance so you can have those things ready to reach for when it’s all getting a bit much.

Don’t compare – live your holiday the best way you can

Try not to compare your experiences, feelings and relationships to others’, and instead allow yourself to be present in your life without judgement.

Find support

It’s okay to not be okay during the holidays and reach out for support when you need it. Student Support and Wellbeing offices are open after the end of the university term until Tuesday 19 December, and then closed from Wednesday 20 December until Tuesday 2 January 2024. During this closure, there are lots of emergency contacts available to support you wherever you find yourself during vacation.

Our mental health partner organisation, Spectrum Life, is available for crisis support throughout vacation. Spectrum Life provide.

For expert information tailored to students from Student Minds, check out the Christmas resources on the Student Space website, which provides also provides telephone, email, webchat and text support. There is more information about Christmas and mental health from the charity, Mind.

The charity Rees Foundation works to ensure that people leaving care have support networks in place, and are not left alone to tackle life’s challenges, and run some ‘Let’s Connect’ projects, connecting people with other members of the care experienced community.

24/7 Support, even during vacation

University of Kent students wherever they are located can access free, 24/7 online support for issues around mental health and wellbeing via Togetherall, and online platform overseen by qualified therapists which recognised nationally through awards by the NHS and is a safe environment. Togetherall can provide peer talk therapies where members initiate or join forums on topics ranging from depression and anxiety to relationship issues, work stress, abuse, self-harm and eating disorders, improving motivation and self-awareness. There are also online courses which can be taken any time, and brief counselling providing immediate 24/7 support from Guides who are trained counsellors.

Our partner organisation Spectrum Life is available for in-the-moment emotional and practical support for emotional distress or concerns about your mental health during vacation. They offer online, text and telephone support from qualified counsellors and mental health professionals, and will work with you in getting initial support and help, and can liaise with University Student Support and Wellbeing when they are next available to continue supporting you. Telephone 0800 0318227 and press option 1, Text/WhatApp ‘Hi’ to +44 (0)7418 360780, or search for the Spectrum Life app from your app store and follow the log in instructions, using organisation code ud3Z2brH.

Photo by lilartsy on Unsplash