Category Archives: Hello Kent

Head of Colleges talking to student

Hello from your Head of Colleges

Hello, how are you doing? 

Things may not have gotten off to the start you expected this term. It is okay to feel a bit wrong-footed, I know I doMaking and keeping connections with each other seems vitally important and I really want to help with that. 

If you are in your College accommodation on campus, in private accommodation in Canterbury or staying back at homethe College and Community Life team is still here. We are on the campuses, on the phone and on Teams, and if we can offer you support or advice on any worries you might have, small or large, you would be really welcome to our helpWoffer events, mediation and advice to support you. No matter where you are now, wwant to stay connected with you. 

Walso understand the challenges around making connections with other students and we have student volunteers hosting regular informal games, chats, craft activities on Zoom. We have noticed that student volunteers and guests have a better experience if you join in and say hello (and have your camera on, at least for some of the time) but you are welcome to engage as works best for you. These are sessions for students hosted by students so, no pressure.   

We really want to make stronger College connections first, so College Committeeswhere students like you can share ideas and plan your own College events, will be meeting very soon. The Residential Life Assistants will invite you to be a volunteer and join your College’s Committee, so look out for their email and go to see them at the Kent Union Fresher’s Fair on 4 February 

Do let us know if we can help you further at all.  

Best wishes, 

Jacqui Double

Head of Colleges 

Fun things to do with your housemates

This year has certainly been challenging and we have all needed to adapt and change the things we do in our daily lives. Staying indoors doesn’t mean your social life will need to suffer, especially during your first year at University. Even if you’re staying in there are still many fun things you can do with your housemates. Check out some of our suggestions below.

Host a games night

This is one that’s great to involve friends from home. Why not have a virtual party and host a games night via Zoom where you can stay connected without leaving the house. A great one that’s quick to get the hang of, without needing to download anything (and free!) is skribbl.co. This is a Pictionary game where you can have multiple players online taking turns drawing and guessing each other’s creations. No artistic skills required! If you like board games, colonist.io is also worth looking into. This is an adaptation of Settlers of Catan, a multi-player resource-based strategy game. There are plenty of other free games available online, so it’s worth looking into.  

Subscribe to a streaming service

Stay in and have a movie night on Amazon Prime, Netflix, and or Disney+. From Marvel to Pixar there’s something for everyone. Netflix Party also means you can watch with your friends online and without being in the same household, again great to connect with friends back home. As a student, you can also sign-up for a free six month trial of Amazon Prime.

Celebrity bake-off

Become a star baker from the comfort of your own home. Challenge yourselves in creating your very own showstopper by either using your own creative flair or by following family favourite recipes online.  If you’re in self-catered accommodation you’ll have access to a modern kitchen. Even if you’re in part-catered accommodation you don’t have to miss out on the fun. Why not try making a microwave cake for a quick chocolate treat?

Do a home workout

If you’re just starting out, looking to improving your fitness as part of a new year resolution and needing that extra bit of motivation to go to the gym… why not bring the gym to you? There’s no better time to give a home workout a go. With exercises easily adaptable to individual needs there’s something for everyone. You won’t need to pay for membership or own specialist gym equipment, making it a very student budget friendly option. You can even use household items as weights, from a bag of pasta to a can of baked beans.

Don’t forget if you’re a first year student living on campus, you have access to free Kent Sport gym membership.

Virtual pub quiz

Challenge each other’s general knowledge with a quiz! Take turns in being quiz master, writing the questions while the rest of you participate by answering them. Or you can use one of the many quizzes available online. If there’s enough of you in your shared house or online group why not have teams and a different theme each round? It’s also a great way to learn new facts which may come in handy in future pub quizzes at Woody’s!

Struggling to get on with your housemates?

Living somewhere new, with new housemates can be overwhelming and it can take time to adjust. If you are finding it difficult living with your new housemates, check out our advice online.

If you are missing home or need some extra support, our Student Support and Wellbeing Team are always on hand to help!

Things to do if you’re at Canterbury

Welcome to the Canterbury campus! If you’re new to the area take a look at some ideas below on some of our ideas of places you can visit and activities you can do. Please remember to follow the Government coronavirus advice and that certain attractions or services may be closed or operating differently due to the pandemic. Make sure to check in advance.

Canterbury Cathedral

One of the most iconic buildings of Canterbury is the Cathedral. Dating back to 597, it is the oldest and most famous Christian structures in England. Guided tours are currently unavailable due to COVID-19 but you can download a free guide to your phone to use to enjoy and understand the spaces within the Cathedral and it’ll take a few hours to explore. There is a small entry charge, but if you bring your Kent-One card along you’ll get in free. If you’re going with a group you need to pre-book online. 

You’ll enter through the doorway to enter the Nave, a truly stunning experience. Further in you have to chance to explore the Crypt, the oldest part of the Cathedral, containing smaller Chapels. As you come back up the stairs it will lead you to the Martyrdom where the exact spot the archbishop Thomas Becket was murdered in 1170, is marked. As you go further up the stairs, turn around to admire the view of the Nave (and don’t forget to look up!) Take the moment to enjoy the beautiful stained glass depicting inspirational stories of men and women. It is one of England’s largest collections of early medieval stained glass. There is also an Archives and Library, which holds an impressive collection of manuscripts, historic records, photographs, maps, and printed books all dating back to the late 8th century. If you choose to visit this area, you’ll need to pre-book your visit and pre-order your study materials ahead of time.

Make sure to check out outdoor spaces in the Precincts as you leave and there are also ruins of St Augustine’s Abbey and St Martin’s Church to explore too!

Westgate Gardens

The Gardens are part of Westgate Park which includes lots of outdoor open spaces including Toddlers Cove and Bingley Island. It’s a lovely area for a walk, cycling and there is a children’s play area. In the Spring and Summer months, there are hundreds of bright tulips in full bloom on the flowerbeds alongside the river where you can watch passing boats, ducks, moorhens, and pigeons. Just take a right when you are at Westgate Towers (you won’t be able to miss the entrance) for a peaceful escape!

Cycle Ride

If you’re looking for a challenge you can undertake your own Pilgrim’s Progress on a 50-mile circular ride that links Canterbury, Dover, and Folkestone. The route passes along leafy lanes and bridleways amid rolling hills, wide skies, woodland, country villages, and hamlets.

For those who are looking for a more casual cycle route take a look at the Crab and Winkle Way which links Canterbury to Whitstable. It’s suitable for beginners and families. The route goes from Canterbury West, but you can easily join the route if you’re on campus. It takes you all the way into Whitstable, which in itself is a great day out. Enjoy some fish and chips on the beach and explore the restaurants and shops along the Harbour.

Unfortunately, the Cycle Hub on campus is currently closed, once it is reopened you can hire a bike for the day if you don’t have one yourself. It’s located at the Pavilion in Parkwood.

Brogdale Farm Orchard Walks

For anyone seeking to escape the house or office for some fresh air and gorgeous countryside, the Orchard Walks at Brogdale Collections are an ideal option. Brogdale Collections, based near Faversham, hosts the country’s National Fruit Collections and is home to the largest collection of temperate fruit in the world.  The charity has opened its beautiful orchards and operating self-guided walks so visitors can enjoy the hundreds of fruit trees.

Walking on the White Cliffs of Dover

The White Cliffs of Dover are perhaps most famous as an iconic landmark, the white chalk face a symbol of home and wartime defence, but they have so much more to offer; stunning views, a serene walk, a wealth of wildlife, an abundance of history and, most importantly, two tea rooms offering delicious treats. It’s a short train or bus journey away.

 

Entrance to the Drill Hall Library in the sunshine

Things to do if you’re at Medway

Welcome to the Medway campus! If you’re new to the area take a look at some ideas below on some of our ideas of places you can visit and activities you can do. Please remember to follow the Government coronavirus advice and that certain attractions or services may be closed or operating differently due to the pandemic. Make sure to check in advance.

Rochester High Street

As well as the beautiful Rochester Cathedral and Castle, there is also the High Street, home to boutiques, independent shops, and trendy café culture. The Medway Visitor Information Centre is a good first stop to make to pick up a map of the area. On the first floor, there is also an art gallery and a museum.

Explore the city, have a wander, and admire the many historical buildings in the area that featured in Charles Dickens’ novels! Some of these include Restoration House, from ‘Great Expectations’ and the extra Christmas number, the Six Poor Travellers House, located just by the train station. You can pick up a self-guided walking tour at the Information Centre which takes you around all the buildings he wrote about.

The Historic Dockyard Chatham

This is Chatham’s holy grail and steeped in history. The Crown and Call the Midwife have been filmed here along with many films. A visit here will ensure you return to the ‘Age of Sail’ when the Dockyard built mighty ships that mastered the world’s oceans. Test your sea legs as you peer through the periscope of HMS Ocelot, a Cold War Submarine; take charge on the bridge of HMS Cavalier, a Second World War Destroyer; and ring the ship’s bell on the deck of HMS Gannet, our Victorian Sloop. Watch our Master Ropemakers at work using centuries-old techniques on in our Victorian Ropery. It’s a beautiful day out and a must-see if you’re at Medway.  

Bluewater Shopping Centre

If you’re looking to do some shopping, look no further! Bluewater is home to 300 shops and 50 bars, restaurants, café, and thousands of free parking spaces. Different sections of the shopping centre are dedicated to different themes, from classic and high fashion retail in ‘The Guildhall’ to ‘The Plaza’ where there is a cinema and a trampoline park. You can get there easily by public transport, otherwise it’s a short 30-minute car ride away.

Fort Amherst

Dating back to 1756, its purpose was defending the Naval Dockyard from attack. A site full of history, it’s free to visit and family-friendly. There are over 20 acres of land to explore, fortifications to navigate, cannons to spot, and bridges to cross. Take a tunnel tour to explore the underground maze which provided shelter from bombardment, storage of ammunition, and secret access to the Fort. Some say they can even feel a ghostly presence of those from the past…

Riverside Country Park

If you’re looking for a scenic countryside walk, run or cycle this park is perfect. It runs alongside the Medway Estuary and includes the Berengrave Local Nature Reserve. Boasting 247 acres of land it’s full of wildlife and is a protected site, being an especially important area for birds. There’s something for everyone, with picnic facilities, a children’s play area and cycle paths, trails, and a café. If you like the outdoors, check out The Strand, St Mary’s Island, and the Great Lines Heritage Park.

Diggerland

For something a little bit different there is a theme park where those of all ages can drive and operate full-size real diggers, dumper, and other construction machinery. It has over 20 different rides and activities including Go-Karts and Dodgems so it’s definitely a unique day out! There are also restaurants and a cinema in the area so there’s something for everyone. Diggerland is great for small groups so why not go along with your new housemates?

Two students chatting and sitting outside Templeman Library

Welcome to our Postgraduate Taught (PGT) students

The Graduate and Researcher College want to wish you are a warm welcome to Kent!

Global Skills Award

The Global Skills Award (GSA) is a programme of lectures and skills workshops designed to broaden your understanding of global issues and current affairs. It also develops your personal skills and enhances your career prospects while you study for your Master’s.

Postgraduate study areas

We have a wide range of study spaces at our campuses, including some study areas specifically for postgrad students.

Postgraduate representation in your students’ union

Your students’ unions have networks which are student-led spaces for students who share an interest or identity. You can join the Kent Union postgraduate student network (Canterbury) or the GKSU Mature and postgraduate student network (Medway).

Kent Union also have full-time elected student officers who you can get in touch with if you have concerns or ideas. Pat Stillman is the Vice-President for Postgraduate Experience.

Welcome to our Postgraduate Research (PGR) students

The Graduate and Researcher College want to wish you are a warm welcome to Kent!

Kickstart your PhD workshop

PhD students embarking upon their first year as a PhD Researcher will need to attend a compulsory Kickstart your PhD workshop. This workshop explores the PhD journey and focuses on what researchers need to make the most of their doctoral programme. At this session, students will be introduced to the RDA form, which they will need to complete before your first year Probationary Review meeting. Kickstart your PhD sessions running in the Spring term are now available to book via the Graduate and Researcher College training portal Target Connect.

Researcher Developer Program

You may also be interested in our Researcher Developer Program (RDP) which is open to all postgraduate research students. The RDP is designed to equip postgraduate and postdoctoral researchers with a full range of skills. It improves your effectiveness as a researcher and ensures that by the end of your research project, you are both highly qualified and employable in a variety of careers.

New PhD mentoring scheme

Do you want to learn new skills and meet other postgraduate researchers? The Graduate and Researcher College is delighted to announce the launch of its mentoring scheme for PhD students. The scheme is designed to help support the personal development of both mentors and mentees. Applications for the scheme can be made, until 29 January 2021.

Postgraduate study areas

We have a wide range of study spaces at our campuses, including some study areas specifically for postgrad students.

Postgraduate representation in your students’ union

Your students’ unions have networks which are student-led spaces for students who share an interest or identity. You can join the Kent Union postgraduate student network (Canterbury) or the GKSU Mature and postgraduate student network (Medway) to connect with other postgraduate students.

Kent Union also have full-time elected student officers who you can get in touch with if you have concerns or ideas. Pat Stillman is the Vice-President for Postgraduate Experience.

Support for mature, commuting and part-time students

If you are a mature, commuting or part-time student (or a combination) there is plenty of additional support for you and ways to connect with those in a similar position to you. This includes a society that runs as events and study sessions at convenient times if you have other responsibilities (e.g. job and childcare) and a dedicated student network to help get your voice heard.

Mature Student Society

Kent Union has a Mature Student Society with acts as a forum to promote the challenges and needs of students over the age of 21. As well as being for mature students, the society welcomes students returning to education, part-time or a commuting student and students who have dependants or caring responsibilities. The society meets regularly and is a great way to socialise with others students with similar responsibilities and potential interests.

Mature and part-time student network

Kent Union has a number of student networks. The mature and part-time student network aims to represent and act as the voice for all mature, commuting and part-time Students, and to feedback key issues that affect the Mature, Commuting and Part-Time student experience to both the University and Kent Union.

More about support available.

Three students sat on corner sofa together catching up

Looking out for each other

At Kent we’re a community who look out for each other. Here are a few ways to help you look out for your friends and classmates.

Check in with your friends

We are all experiencing a particularly strange year and feelings of loneliness and overwhelm may be popping up more than usual. Remember to check in with your friends and course mates to see how they are doing.

If you or a friend needs some extra support, there are lots of people at Kent ready to help. Contact your School for academic help, and the College Life Team for concerns about accommodation sharing and any other practical worries. They will be able to help or refer you to someone who can.

For support with mental health, disability or specific learning difficulties, there is a  Student Support and Wellbeing team of professionals providing online, telephone and face to face wellbeing services. Do also check out specific wellbeing events such as the weekly International Wellbeing group and Wellbeing café. Do you use social media? Follow @UniKentSSW on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter for ideas and resources to stay well and connected.

Download the SafeZone app

SafeZone is a free campus safety app for all students and staff, giving you quick access to first aid, security or safety assistance.

SafeZone is an easy way to connect to Campus Security, who are on campus 24/7 365 days a year! Learn more about safety on and off campus.

Stick with your household and plan your journey home

If you’re heading out in the evening, make sure you plan your journey home and stick with your household bubble. Please follow social distancing guidance. Remind yourself of the Government guidance about meeting with others.

Walking? Follow the recommended fully lit walking routes around Medway campus. In Canterbury make sure to check out the #LitRoutes maps and guidance.

If you’re using public transport, remember to bring your face covering and some hand sanitiser. Getting a taxi? Make sure it is registered.

If you ever find yourself in an emergency situation in Canterbury where you need to take a taxi back to campus or to the police or hospital, you can use the student safe taxi scheme to get a registered taxi back to campus and pay the funds later.

Find support through the Virtual Buddy Scheme

Sign up to Kent Union’s Virtual Buddy Scheme either to find a buddy or to volunteer as a buddy. Buddy volunteers are there to give you a helping hand and offer you support and friendship. The buddy scheme is available for Canterbury and Medway students.

Meet new people through societies

Don’t forget that societies and sports teams can be a great support network. There are many different kinds of societies from academic, faith and belief, special interest and more so you can find people with similar interests to you. Check out the Kent Union and GKSU webpages to learn more.

Sexual violence online support sessions

New for October 2020, if you or a friend have been affected by any form of sexual violence you can speak to staff from East Kent Rape Crisis Centre via a virtual sign up session. Here you will find advice about accessing counselling, support groups and how to access support from an independent sexual violence advisers (ISVAs). If you are interested in attending a session, or for further support, email wellbeing@kent.ac.uk. You can also find more support on our webpages.

Download the NHS Covid-19 app

Please download the NHS Covid-19 app and encourage your household and friends to do the same. Through the app you can report symptoms, order a coronavirus test, check in to venues (including some on campus) by scanning a QR code and help the NHS trace those who may have coronavirus.

If you or anyone you’ve had close contact with test positive for coronavirus, you’ll be contacted by NHS Test and Trace and asked to self-isolate. You will be asked to provide them with information they’ll need to help stop the spread of the virus. Learn more about the NHS Covid-19 app.

Inform Kent (InK) online reporting tool

Everyone should feel secure at Kent—we’re here to support you. InK is an online reporting tool that helps record details of incidents such as sexual assault, harassment, relationship abuse or hate crime. Find out more about the services available with Student Support and Wellbeing.

Useful apps for you to download

Here are some useful apps, services and social media channels to download, use and follow as you start your studies at Kent. From getting around to helping you study smarter, here are a few of our suggestions!

Join the conversation 

If you haven’t already make sure you’re a member of the Official University of Kent Freshers 2020/21 Facebook page. This is the only official group where you can interact and discuss with fellow students also starting at Kent this academic year. A great place to find your housemates and fellow coursemates!

Follow the University of Kent on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram for news, events, and important announcements to the local community and beyond.

Apps to download

Hello Kent app – This will hold all the information you need about becoming a student at Kent – a must have! It has quick links to key services such as your Kent email and Moodle as well as other useful features.

Safezone – This is the campus safety app which gives round-the-clock safety reassurance to all students and staff. It’s free to download and easy to use. You can access first-aid, security, or safety assistance via your phone.

Inform Kent (InK) – Everyone should feel secure at Kent—we’re here to support you. InK is an online reporting tool that helps record details of incidents such as sexual assault, harassment, relationship abuse, or hate crime. Find out more about the services available with Student Support.

Bus apps – These apps have a journey planner, live bus information (in real time) and you can even purchase mobile bus tickets at discounted prices. For Canterbury students, download Stagecoach. For Medway students, download Arriva. Find out more about travel and discount offers available to students.

Train apps – Southeastern. The ‘on Track’ app helps you access (also) real-time information on trains in Kent. Especially helpful if you’re looking to travel to London from Canterbury West and want to find out when the next train is! There is also National Rail Enquiries which provides information on trains for the whole of the UK if you are travelling outside of Kent.

Taxi apps – Only a few of the companies have an app some of which include: Longley’s Private Hire (Canterbury), Computer Cabs (Medway), and Vokes Taxi (Medway). You can find more information about booking a taxi in the UK and the full list of the services the University of Kent uses.

Circuit – This is the campus laundry service app. All launderettes on campus are card or app operated so if you need to do a wash, make sure you familiarise yourself with the app ahead of time. Find out more about laundry services on campus.

Headspace – an app for meditation and mindfulness. It has themed sessions from stress, sleep to helping you focus and ultimately relieve anxiety (something that you may find helpful during this pandemic).

MOSAIC – This app brings together a collection of short videos for new, returning and final year students. Videos include advice from both staff and students about support available at the University of Kent.

If you have feedback or would like to contribute to the app, please email studentsuccessproject@kent.ac.uk.

Other things to look at 

Try out Kent’s very own One Hour Degree game. This app gives you some tips on being a student at the University. The story line was however written before COVID-19, so things like social distancing and online lectures haven’t been taken into account. It’s still a valuable resource as it’ll help you get a feel of the vast array of support and advice available to you at Kent that you can still access and it’s something that has not changed.

Check out this website of Productivity tools. Who doesn’t want to work and study smarter? Make sure to check out the full list of apps and software that the University of Kent has reviewed for staff and students to help you make the most out of your time at Kent. From helping you stay focused to supporting accessibility needs, we’d highly recommend you have a browse.

For student discounts check out Unidays. From discounts on food and drink to clothes to technology it’s a must to check out!

Our last piece of advice is to be careful when sharing your personal information online and #StaySafe! Be aware of any unofficial organisations that pretend to be representing the University of Kent

These are just a few suggestions and do not cover the full list of all the apps, services, and social media channels you should use during your time here at the University of Kent. We hope however that this will help get you started in making the most out of your time here at Kent! Happy browsing!

Get ahead – what you can do before you arrive

Here are some things that you should do before you arrive at Kent.

Arrange your accommodation

At Kent we offer different types of accommodation to suit a variety of needs including a mix of catered and self-catered, sociable and quiet and en-suite and shared facility room options to choose from.

You can apply online now for your accommodation, so as soon as you know your travel plans it’s a good idea to apply as our rooms are   allocated on a first come, first served basis. If you have a question about applying just reach out and contact our Accommodation team.

So you’re ready to arrive look over our Canterbury Arrivals and Medway Arrivals webpages which are full of useful information to help you through the moving in process.

Sort out your finances

You’ll need to get your finances in order before fresher’s week. This may not seem like the most exciting task when preparing for university, but it’s one of the most important. We have put together a Money Timeline that covers everything. If you are staying in campus accommodation also take a look at our ‘how to pay accommodation fees’ page.

Decide what to take

Whether you’re living on our Canterbury campus, in our Medway accommodation or living off campus find out what’s provided at your accommodation to avoid making unnecessary purchases, and check how much storage you’ll have – there’s no point taking things you don’t have the space to keep. We have written a blog post about the items you will need.

Look into your travel options

Railcards offer value for money if you travel by train, saving you at least 1/3 on most rail fares. There are a variety of railcards available from the 16-25 Railcard, 26-30 Railcard and the Family railcard.

Alternatively Stagecoach and Arriva offer UniRider tickets exclusively for students which provides heavily discounted bus travel across all of Kent.

Make sure you are familiar with the Government’s advice on how to travel safely during the pandemic.

Get reading

Many schools put their reading lists online weeks before their courses begin, or will send you the details via email. This will give you an idea of what to expect from your workload, and getting a head start on reading will build your confidence for lectures.

You don’t need to own every book on the list – identify the core texts and buy these. Any others you need will be available to borrow from your university library or to buy from former students for a fraction of their original retail price.

Get to know the area

You can read up on your campus town area by heading to Visit KentKent County CouncilMedway Council and Canterbury Council. Also try resources such as The Student Room who have threads about various student towns.

Learn to cook

Ask for help with making your favourite meals while you’re still at home – you’ll be glad you did once you’re fending for yourself. Student cookbooks, available in bookshops and online, focus on using simple ingredients and cooking on a budget.

Shopping cheaply is easier than you think – Co-op offers a 10% discount to NUS cardholders, and own-brand food from the supermarket is often of the same quality as the more expensive branded alternatives.

But don’t worry if you are still burning toast before you leave, we have lots of catering outlets available across our campuses serving a wide variety of food. We also have a Flex Catering Package you can purchase if you don’t want to worry about anything!