Starting university is like stepping into a new stage your life that will either make or break you. Whoever you were in high school will be something completely different in university and you’re bound to make some mistakes. It’s definitely not easy, everything seems foreign, and all you have to do is stick up with it until things start to get better. To give you a head start (and a warning), here are 20 mistakes that every University of Kent freshman/fresher in Medway makes!
1. Thinking your flatmates will be your besties
Liberty Quays is no safe haven, trust me. And when it comes to who you end up living with, it all comes down to how lucky you are. Living with people you don’t know for a whole year can take a toll on you. Sometimes your flatmates can become your best friends and sometimes you can end up with flatmates who leave dirt everywhere, always play loud music, and talk about you behind your back. It’s horrible but it makes you stronger and that’s why you either end up living alone or with your bestie for the next year. Just keep a strong mind. And heart!
2. Not looking up the campus before moving
The Canterbury campus and the Medway campus are like two different worlds even though they are part of the same university. One is huge and full of student life, activities, and an overall positive energy. The other is quite empty, depressing and consists of a couple buildings and one big ASDA store. You can guess which is which. Don’t make the mistake I did which was not actually looking into the campuses and make sure you’re aware of what you’re getting into before clicking accept on the university offer. Trust me.
3. Joining too many societies
This is something that I don’t really relate to but I know many have suffered from. Joining waaaayyyyy too many societies. During your first year, you’re excited and ready to participate in any activity or society that is offered in front of you. Later on, you’ll realise that you’ve waisted five pounds on five different societies that you’ve never attended. Just make sure you’re aware of how free you will be depending on your classes and only join the ones you know you’ll love, not just cause they seem “cool”.
4. Buying way too much stationery
This happens to all freshmen students who are going to university for the first time and think that buying the entire ‘back to school’ collection from Typo is a solid idea. Spoiler alert: it’s not. Trust me, when you’re in university, you will not need that many books. All you need is one notebook, one pen, maybe a highlighter and occasionally your laptop during important lectures. Just try and not to be that one annoying person in class who thinks that typing loudly makes them look smarter.
5. Signing up to apps that take all your money
If there’s one thing that is going to scam you out of your money it’s gonna be the university/student apps. When you’re at the university’s fresher fair at Pilkington building or even on a walk to Tesco underneath Liberty Quays, some shady looking dude is gonna trick you into downloading an app. This app will supposedly give you discounts on food, clothing stores, and even on trips abroad. Sign up for three pounds, they’ll tell you, and it all sounds good and dandy until you find twenty five pounds taken from your account the next month when you realise that you forgot to cancel your subscription. Don’t. Fall. For. It.
6. Forgetting to take care of your mental health
First year of university is all fun and games until you start to forge to take care of your own personal mental health. Don’t ignore the days that your anxiety may be too high or days where your depression might get to you. It’s important to acknowledge these feelings and have the right support system because it will be something new to deal with away from home. There are mental health facilities and staff at the university that you can always make appointments with and talk to if it might help, remember that. You can be sure this is a mistake made by University of Kent freshers.
7. Not making enough friends
This might sound a bit harsh but try to not ONLY sick with the first group of friends you make at university. Expand your group, meet new people, and then try and figure out who you actually see as a friend. It’s always better to meet and make new friends because you get to learn something new and different from every single one and you may able to teach them too. Just keep an open mind and outlook.
8. Taking an Uber to uni way too much
Liberty Quays is only a 15-minute walk away from the Medway campus, I will judge each and every single one of you who prefer to take an Uber instead of walking to the campus every single day. It’s a waste of money and a sign of laziness. The walk is also kind of helpful, you’re able to have a few minutes of piece every morning while getting some fresh air and listening to music. Except when it’s raining, then it’s like running through a war zone. Not fun at all.
9. Missing out on the free trips
Every single Medway student at the University of Kent should know this, there are free trips you can take almost every week. Medway activities is a student society from the university that provide free transportation almost every week to places like Brighton, Cambridge, Oxford, and so on. Don’t miss out on these! The university feels bad for the students being in such an awful location that they make up for it by talking us to places for free when they would usually cost around forty pounds by train. All you have to do is sign up and be there! (or else you will have to pay a five pound cancellation fee).
10. Not visiting other places in Kent enough
Medway does not define Kent. There are actually some places that could be really nice to visit and be all touristy in. Rochester is a 10 minute train ride away from Chatham and is basically this beautiful, historical area so worth visiting. You can have some breakfast at the crepe cafe and then take pictures by Rochester castle. You can even visit Canterbury by taking the shuttle or taking a 40 minute bus ride to Bluewater mall for some shopping. Don’t get discouraged by Gillingham, and go out and explore!
11. Not buying a bus card or a railcard
In order to do all of the exploring and touristy stuff, you will need a form of transportation. Unfortunately, Medway just doesn’t have the luxury of cheap underground transportation and students can’t afford Ubers everywhere. Your best chance is using the bus or train and you will save SO much money if you buy a bus card and a railcard for one year. Don’t underestimate the times you’ll be dying to get out of Gillingham and the discounts will then come in handy. Most University of Kent Freshers make this mistake.
12. Buying a one year gym membership
Being fit and healthy is great and all but it’s not always achievable. I’m not saying not to join the gym because you should and it will be better for you. I’m just saying that it may not be a wise idea to buy a one year membership if you’re unsure of how much you’ll using it. There are some months where you just may be too busy and months where you’ll go home to visit so it’ll just be a waste. Not to forget, the gym is a thirty minute walk from Liberty Quays and I doubt you’re willing to make the walk every night in the freezing weather. I recommend getting the monthly one, trust me. This is a common mistake made by University of Kent freshers.
13. Leaving everything till last minute
If you thought that this was an old habit from high school that will die the second you start university, you’re totally and utterly WRONG. In fact, you might find yourself having four all nighters per week every semester depending on how much you leave everything till last minute. Drill hall staff members will become your besties and you’ll find yourself keeping coins in your pocket for late hour vending machine snacks. For your own sanity, try to at least start things a few days earlier so you don’t have to put yourself through these scenarios every single night. University of Kent freshers make this mistake a lot.
14. Taking “first year doesn’t matter” too seriously
When you’re in your first year, the first thing everyone will tell you is that “first year doesn’t matter”! Meaning, your first year grades will not make any impact on the ones you graduate with. All you really need to do is pass. While that may be true, that type of mentality can affect your overall performance at university. It is still important to try and do your best in first year wether it matters or not because it will give you the experiences that will prepare you for your future. Don’t mess around, you’re paying tuition fees for a reason. Might as well try your hardest.
15. Eating from Domino’s/Subway or from the student cafes all the time
As a student living on your own for the first time, you may find it hard to cook and learn how to take yourself. As a result, you’ll probably end up spending most of your money on Domino’s and Subway which is right under Liberty Quays (who even eats subway anyway??) or eating at the student cafes on campus which are overpriced and low quality. Instead, try finding easy student healthy recipes for an entire week that are under twenty pounds and you’ll end up saving your health and your bank account.
16. Avoiding grocery shopping in Gillingham High Street
ASDA is the biggest grocery store and probably the number one spot that every University of Kent student shops at. It;s only a five minute walk from Liberty Quays, the student accommodation, and it’s just so convenient because everything is readily available. Once in a while however, try taking a grocery shopping trip in Gillingham High Street. You’ll find much cheaper groceries at a fresher quality. The farmer’s market on Saturdays provides fresh fruits and vegetables, the local butcher shops have fresh halal meats, and the turkish shops can provide you with different ingredients you won’t be able to find in ASDA. It’s worth the trip.
17. Going back home to London every weekend
Personally, I’m not from London but a surprising amount of people who attend the University of Kent are from there. Since it’s so close and cheap to get to, many students end up going back home and visiting their families every single weekend. My advice to students that are from London is to avoid doing that excessively. You never know what you might be missing out on. Stay in your accommodation for one weekend, go celebrate with your friends, explore Kent and you’ll end up doing something new instead or relying on old habits.
18. Not visiting Canterbury enough
As jealous as you may be of the University of Kent Canterbury campus it doesn’t mean that you should miss out on visiting it. There’s literally a free 40 minute shuttle that runs every hour from the accommodation and the campus so why not take advantage of that. Go and visit the other campus, meet new people, and do some shopping in the city centre. You won’t regret it but your wallet might.
19. Spending most of your time hating your university
I spent most of my first year hating the university that I was in and being jealous of all my friends who were loving their university experience more than I am. It took a toll on my grades, my mood, my attitude and my overall mental health. Once I learned to let that go and found things that I loved and appreciated about my university as well as finding the right people to be around, I became much happier. And it was an obvious change to the way I was acting. Things get better. This is definitely a mistake University of Kent freshers make!
20. Forgetting to be thankful for what you have
Don’t forget that no matter how much you complain and hate on your university, your courses, the people around you, and so on. You are still much better off than many other people in the world. You’ve gotten a chance at an education and if you try hard enough you will learn to love. Learn how to love the courses that you hate and make them your own. Learn from the people you don’t like and appreciate the ones you do. Find the hidden gems in the empty areas. It gets better, you’ll live.
What are some mistakes that you’ve made as a University of Kent fresher? What tips do you have for freshers at the University of Kent? Let us know in the comments!
Featured Image Source: https://studylink.com/institutions/university-of-kent-brussels-school-of-international-studies/
A work in progress journalist, blogger, and photographer. Editorial Intern at Society19.