Category Archives: Christmas on Campus

Working out

Kent Sport activities: January free weeks

At Kent Sport, we want to help you meet those new year goals of being healthier and more active, and that’s why we’re bringing in our new promotion for January 2024; Free Weeks! For the first two weeks of January, we’ll be offering a range of activities each day for University of Kent students and staff to join in with, and they’re all absolutely free! So, kick-start your active 2024 with Kent Sport!

Each week, we’ll have a timetable of activities to join in with, from our popular fitness and dance group exercise classes to indoor and outdoor sports as part of our ALL Active programme.

Kent Sport Free Weeks will run from:

  • Week 1 – Tuesday 2 to Friday 5 January
  • Week 2 – Monday 8 to Friday 12 January

Exercise class

The available sessions:

There’s loads to get involved in during our Free Weeks at Kent Sport.

Group exercise timetables

We have a fabulous weekly timetable of in-person fitness and dance classes, including popular classes such as BodyPump, spinning, and Zumba. Or why not experience world-class Les Mills instructors with our Virtual Instructor timetable, featuring unique classes like Barre, The Trip, and BodyAttack.

View the fitness and dance class timetable.

Playing tennis

ALL Active social sports

Our ALL Active programme is a weekly timetable of social, low-commitment sports and fitness activities for all ages and abilities. These sessions are aimed at those new to sport and fitness, with each session being guided by an experienced member of the Sports Development and Fitness teams. All equipment is provided at each session. Make sure you pick up a loyalty card and get a stamp for each session you attend!

View the ALL Active timetable.

ALL Active sessions are bookable through your online account (see information about creating a free Pay to Play membership below).

Please note that the This Girl Can sessions within the gym are women-only.

Here’s how it works:

Each day of the Free Weeks, there will be a range of activities already set up for you to join, including indoor social sports, fitness and dance classes, and some outdoor sports too.

To attend an event, you’ll need to book the activity you want to do either through your online booking account, or via the online sign-up form. We would advise booking your space in advance as spaces are limited per activity.

You’ll need to arrive at the activity location (either the Sports Centre or The Pavilion) at least 5 minutes prior to the start time to sign in at reception, and setup your space for some classes.

How to book an activity:

We welcome all University of Kent students and staff to join us during our Free Weeks. You’ll need to have a minimum of Kent Sport Pay to Play membership to book on to our free sessions – this is a free membership and is created automatically when you create your online booking account.

ALL Active sessions can be booked through your online account. Please note that Pay to Play members can book these sessions three days in advance.

Classes can be booked through our online booking forms*:

Week one class booking form

Week two class booking form

*Each class will be limited to 10 free spaces; however, we will monitor bookings and increase this number if required.

Student and staff Pay to Play members won’t be charged for attending our Free Week activities. If you attend activities not included in the Free Weeks (like using the gym), then you will be charged the Pay to Play per-session rate. See our membership webpage for more information.

Unfortunately, we won’t be able to send reminders for the Free Week sessions, so make sure you add them to your calendar once booked!

What you need to bring:

We’ll provide everything you need for our classes and social sports (rackets, balls, weights etc.). Just make sure you’re wearing suitable clothing and comfortable shoes (clean, non-marking please!), and we advise you also bring a water bottle. We have changing rooms, showers, and toilet facilities at both the Sports Centre and The Pavilion.

When you arrive at the Sports Centre or The Pavilion for your activity, please make sure you check in at reception.

If you have any questions about our Free Weeks, please contact us on or 01227 823 623.

We look forward to seeing you in the new year!

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
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.

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

Christmas prsents with rainbow paper and a LGBT+ friendly mug

Being LGBTQ+ at Christmas

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

Like in the song, Christmas is often described as ‘the most wonderful time of the year’. However, the reality for some LGBTQ+ people is that Christmas and its association are a much less positive time of year. It can be difficult going back home to a family that does not accept you for who you are, or perhaps having to hide your true identity.

Below are a few tips to help you during the Winter break:

  • Figure out friends you can call and text: Have a friend or two on standby that you can reach out to if you feel stressed or scared or if you’re family says something messed up. It’s useful to have someone you can chat to or vent to if needed.
  • Make time to be alone: Spending time with many people can be exhausting, especially unsupportive ones! Make time to sit in bed away from it all; go outside or do what you need.
  • Celebrate the holidays with your chosen family too: Remember to celebrate holidays with the people in your life who are supportive.
  • Prepare yourself for any questions that tend to come up at family gatherings: There are many questions that come up such as partner, kids, jobs etc. Know how you will respond to these. By doing this you will boost your confidence and reduce the anxiety you may be feeling. Only share what your comfortable with.

The most important thing to remember is that even though no one else is around, you are never alone. There is an entire community of people who care about and who love you.

There is support available for you:

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.

LGBT+ Switchboard: Phone us at 0300 330 0630 open every day between 10:00 – 22:00.


group of people singing and clapping

Kent Community shared festive wishes and support for University’s Sanctuary students

A memorable Christmas celebration

We were delighted to welcome community members, staff, and students to the University of Kent’s Canterbury Campus on Tuesday 12th December for Carols Around the Christmas Tree. It was an opportunity for us to come together to celebrate the season, sing carols, listen to a performance by the Canterbury 4 Ukraine Ladies Choir, and hear more about the University’s sanctuary programme.

photo of a group if women singing, conductor facing the audience and smiling

The STAR (Student Action for Refugees) student group read some extracts from the Refugee Tales to reflect on the experiences of detainees in the UK. We heard from Philip Pothen and Sam Scott on the University’s plans to continue fundraising to support our Sanctuary Scholars, and how together we can help refugees and asylum seekers pursue their dreams.

group of people smiling young man reading, with people listening

All were invited to add their wishes to our Christmas tree, and think about what we could contribute in terms of time, expertise and donations to grow our work in making a real difference to local asylum seekers and refugees, and provide a transformative experience to our student scholars.

woman writing on a tag next to a decorated christmas tree

Student, staff and community attendees then enjoyed mince pies and mulled wine and mulled apple juice together.

young man with long hair and woolly hat raising his glass and smiling at the camera close up of Christmas tree with wish tag reading 'I wish all students felt safe and wanted here'

What are Sanctuary Scholarships?

We believe that everyone should have the opportunity to access higher education whatever their background. We currently have 11 students on Sanctuary Scholarships, giving refugees and asylum seekers the opportunity to receive a free University of Kent education, with a full fee waiver as well as a small maintenance grant.

Thanks to a generous supporter, every gift to the Sanctuary Fund this season will be matched, meaning that with Gift Aid, every pound you give now is worth two pounds fifty!

This Christmas as you plan presents for friends and family, please consider giving the gift of contributing to someone’s education and ability to support themselves while they study here. Give to the Sanctuary Fund online.