At the moment, most students at Kingston are stressed out about exams, and I'm one of those! I still have 2 exams to go, but as many of you are sitting exams as well, I thought I'd skipped past that!
If you're currently sitting your A-Levels or final college exams before hopefully starting at Kingston in September, I thought I'd give you an insight in how to get ready to start at uni and give you some tips on making the most of this summer.
Firstly, have a look at Kingston's Getting Ready website at www.kingston.ac.uk/gettingready. There is a wealth of information on there from accommodation to finding out some more about student life as well as what you need to go next with regards to your application.
Also, if you're planning on living away from home, you'll need to think about buying things such as cutlery, kitchen utensils and cooking equipment such as trays, saucepans and frying pans. But that's just the start!! Here is a list my friend sent me before we started at university 2 years ago. Obviously you're not going to need everything, but it's worth a look: http://www.studential.com/checklist. I will point out though, that Kingston, especially in Middle Mill Halls where I stayed in my first year, there is no communal TV, so if you can, you may want to take one with you, but you will need one of those small, cheap aerials as there aren't any wall sockets to plug an aerial lead into. Also, you will need to pay for a TV licence, so it might be worth looking at the prices first.
Finally, I would suggest you join facebook groups like Kingston University Undergraduate Entry 2013 and/or one for your Halls of Residence is you've applied or when you find out if/which Halls you've been given a room in. This way you might be able to contact people on your course or in your block/flat in Halls before September.
I hope that helps, and if you have any questions, feel free to send me a question :)
So exams have started.
I had my first exam this week and as last semester was all coursework and test based; this was my first exam at the University. (I took exams at the College during my foundation year.)
I only have two more to go as one of our modules was coursework only and they're well spread out, leaving good time for revision. I have friends on other courses who have all of their exams in the same week so I feel quite lucky. Although not quite so lucky as I now have to get to my exams with a broken foot. I'm not sure how I broke it but the doctor believes it's a stress fracture from walking and/or running. Getting to exams has become a little harder than I thought it would be and I'm leaving the house in plenty of time.
I'm lucky not to get nervous for exams and it went reasonably well. I hit the revision books hard for this exam as I haven't been the most fantastic student this year and it seemed to pay off-at least I knew what the questions were asking! I like to revise with a lot of noise so I've been taking my revision to work at the pub and sitting in a corner. It's been working well for me and I even started a revision group with some of the barmaids who are taking A Levels. I've also promised to write them a University checklist for September-I outlined the costs of the first semester to one of our girls and she asked me to write everything down for her so she could budget!
There are a lot of hidden costs associated with arriving at University and you might not get your student loan until a few days after you arrive-the University has to confirm your attendance before your loan will be released. Obviously people want to go out during Freshers Week and that'll cost some money but on top of that you may want to join a sports team or a society. Your course may require you to buy a lot of books or you might need extra equipment such as a lab coat. There will be something you forgot that you desperately need for the kitchen, then you may have to pay a monthly phone contract or car insurance-most of which come out of an account at the end of the month...right after Freshers Week. Then there's Christmas, which falls right before your next student loan payment.
So my top tip is to use the summer (after exams! Don't overwork now and jeopardise your place at Uni) to save a little bit of money for a contingency fund. You will be glad of the extra money-even if you don't use it; it's still there to fall back onto, or to use next summer for a holiday.
Exciting times are ahead for all of you who are university bound this September/October. By now you'll be well into your exam periods, and you should have chosen your firm and insurance choices, maybe some of you will have applied for accommodation already. A lot of you have probably looked at the student finance application and made a face similar to a really posh person being forced to wear a Primark track suit.
At this confusing and scary time there's a lot to be contending with, and it's all too easy to get stressed out that you've forgotten something vital but stop panicking, because this is where I come in.
I'm here to introduce you to a nifty little website that I found extremely useful when I was in your shoes two years ago; it's called ‘Getting Ready' and it's the ideal place to get started on your journey to Kingston. I'm going to take you on a brief tour of the site now, showing you all the bits I found useful and sharing some (hopefully amusing) anecdotes along the way. So without further ado I present... ‘Getting Ready.'
This page can be accessed from the homepage, and it gives you a month by month breakdown of what you should be doing before you arrive in Kingston between now and September.
It's a great way of double checking what you should be doing and when so you don't forget anything - no one wants to be the student living on beans because they forgot to apply for their loan! And you can also get a head start on your enrolment from here. It also has some useful links for people who are new to London (or even England) such as the TFL website. Trust me when I say get yourself an Oyster card before you arrive - the commuters will hate you a lot less if you don't try and pay your bus fare in five pence pieces on your first day in Kingston.
This bit is invaluable for anyone moving to university who needs to find somewhere to live, whether that somewhere is Halls of Residence or renting privately.
If you're thinking of going in to Halls, the site has a handy checklist of what you need to bring with you, again useful for making sure you don't forget anything. Coat hangers in particular - There's no point in showing up without them or your clothes will just end up draped artfully about the place like a Tracy Emin installation. You can also do a virtual tour of the Halls to get a feel for where you might be living, which can also help you decide which Halls you want to apply for (Remember: the one that suits you is not necessarily the one that is closest to your campus.) And there is information about prices as well, which is the bit my parents cared about the most. My dad would have been quite content to shove me in any old place, but my mam definitely appreciated being able to look through the Halls with me so she could make sure I wasn't going to be living in a dungeon or a cave or something horrific. I wasn't - Kingston's a lot nicer to live in than say... Mordor which is what my mam was imagining.
If you don't fancy Halls (and let's face it, they aren't for everyone,) you can also find information on living independently and also commuting from home, if you already live in the area. There is a list of Top Tips for house sharing that I wish some of my housemates had read last year - check my blog on my year of living dangerously for the evidence, and trust me when I say you will be despised by EVERYONE if you don't clean up after yourself in a shared house situation. If you want to find somewhere to live privately, the lovely folks in our Student Life Centre can help you out, information about which can be found on the website.
Virtual Campus Tours
If you haven't been lucky enough to experience an actual campus tour given by myself or one of my colleagues, then you've not missed out! Well... you have a little because my campus tours are well known for being absolutely EPIC! But never mind because you can do one online (which comes with the added bonus of not having to listen to my voice for half an hour, yey!)
Make sure you know which campus your subject is taught at, then just choose the right one and away you go - You'll get to see a campus map that points out all the major facilities on site, as well as photographs and videos telling you all about what's available and where. If you're not sure where you're studying don't worry, there's a list of what is taught where on the site, but here's a brief hint:
Penrhyn Road: Arts & Social Science, Science, Maths, Computing, Surverying & Planning
Kingston Hill: Business, Law, Education, Music, Midwifery/Nursing
Knight's Park: Art, Design and Architechture, Fashion, Film-making
Roehampton Vale: Engineering
There's also info here about KUSU (The Student's Union) Tolworth Sports Ground and Kingston Town Centre, so you can get a feel for both the academic side of KU and the fun, social side.
Fees and Funding
Yes, yes I know - finances, Boring! Boring but necessary I'm afraid unless you plan on putting yourself through uni by busking, or calling up the bank of mam and dad every weekend for a little loan.
To help the whole finance thing be a little less confusing, you can download a Money Matters booklet which will help you sort out what money you're entitled to from both the government and the university itself. I can't stress enough how worth it it is to check out every avenue because I missed out on extra funding because I didn't look into it enough, and it's like TESCO say, Every little helps!
For all you internationals, there's information on what UK living expenses are like, which will be very useful when calculating how much money you'll need to live on while you're over here.
There's also help on applying for funding, like what you need to do and where you can do it. Most funding agencies now do online applications which are kinder on trees and students - carrying that much paper around while you're trying to fill out all the proper bits is enough to give even the Incredible Hulk backache. Just as a little upside, once you've applied in first year, second and third year applications are MUCH easier. It really does get better!
There's a link on the website to the Facebook page for Undergrad entry 2013, which is very handy for anyone who's social media savvy enough to have an account.
I used the uni's various FB pages to chat to some of my halls flatmates before I moved in which made the initial introductions MUCH less awkward - especially when we realised we were all from the North and therefore immediately bonded over chips and gravy and flat caps and the Miners' strike... Well, not really but still it was useful to have had a chance to chat to them and make sure none of them were insane before we all moved in together. Many subject areas and sports clubs/societies also have FB groups or pages so you can scope out quite a lot of KU without even leaving your bed, handy! The uni also has a Twitter feed, @KingstonUni, so you can follow us and keep up to date with all the goings on before you get here.
If you're from overseas and you're moving to England for uni there's a lot of helpful advice on the site about everything you need to know, whether it's your first time ever in the land of tea and corgi's, or just your first time living here.
You can find tips about what to pack for English weather (HINT: Everything waterproof is a good starting point. There's a reason some English people have developed webbed toes...) and what to do when you actually arrive on English soil. The uni offers an airport pick up service for International students, and you can book a place on that through the website, which I highly recommend - there's no worse start to your life abroad than getting stuck circling Terminal Five at Heathrow for the whole of your first semester at uni. There's also support available for improving both your written and verbal English skills.
There's some useful links for you guys to check out like the UK Border Agency and UK Visas which will make sure that your arrival and induction into the British Isles goes as smoothly as possible. You'll be queuing, tutting and living solely on tea before you know it!
OSIS, or Online Student Information System, is your new BFF. When you log in here you can do anything uni related - it's where you fill out the online part of your enrolment, fill in details for your fee assessment, and even pick up your timetable once you're a KU student. You can find out more about OSIS and how you use it on the ‘Getting Ready' site, and although it seems pretty confusing at first don't worry, you pick it up really quickly.
There is literally an app for that... KU has its own iPhone app (available in the app store) which has all sorts of useful bits and bobs like university bus timetable and news. When you have an ID number, you can log in to the app and increase functionality, letting you view you timetable and printing credit, and also check which rooms or computer labs are free so you don't accidentally walk in on a class about sedimentary rocks in river beds. Not that I've ever done that of course. Moving on...
You can get to the ASK US site from ‘Getting Ready' which is really helpful if you have any questions that you think of whilst perusing the website.
Throughout ‘Getting Ready' you'll see pictures of our ambassadors with helpful little hints and tips about uni life and their experiences which is a great way of sharing in their (sometimes dubious but always interesting) words of wisdom.
And that seems like an appropriate place to end this little tour. So I hope you've found this at least a little helpful and if you have any questions about anything you've read either here or on ‘Getting Ready' feel free to drop me a message and I'll see what I can do.
Oh yeah, and WELCOME TO KINGSTON! We're over the moon to have you :D
The ‘Getting Ready' website can be found at http://www.kingston.ac.uk/gettingready/
Christmas in Kingston
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