Monday, 8 September 2014

Freshers' End | Kam - Keele University

My next lovely fresher is a friend of Mike's (whose interview you can read about here) named Kam, who began talking to me after I started posting my advice for freshers on our university freshers page. Now he's finished his first year studying Philosophy and Computing, (with a course change to Philosophy and Criminology for his second year), at Keele, he, like most, can't wait to get back, settle into a house, and act like a fresher again. 
Have you enjoyed your first year at Keele?
My first year at university has definitely been an exciting experience. From day one, right up until finishing those final exams, I have loved every moment of it. There were so many different events going on and so much choice that I was always busy throughout my first year. The great thing about Keele is that you are instantly welcomed into what I like to think of as a tight-knitted family; everyone gets to know each other which can only be seen as a positive. Some of my all time favourite events from my first year have to be Freshers week, Woodstoke and Varsity.

How would you describe Keele's fresher's week?
ONE BLURRED, CRAZY, ENERGETIC WEEK! The good thing about Keele’s freshers was that it had something for everyone. There was a huge diversity in terms of the events that were put on at the Student’s Union. From karaoke nights to silent discos, everyone could enjoy meeting each other in a comforting environment with a great atmosphere. Some of my closest friends are people I met in freshers week so I strongly suggest to go to as many events as possible. My favourite events from freshers week were: The Icebreaker Party, The Silent Disco and the Fresher’s Ball!

What were you most nervous about during the run up to university?
I was probably most nervous about starting my course and not enjoying it. The first few weeks flew by for me and before I knew it I was taking my final exams ahead of summer. At the start of my course, there were introductory lectures which helped with the settling in process and I found that these were also useful when it came to learning the ins and outs of my degree. If I did have any problems regarding my course, there were always people around to help. Each student gets assigned personal tutors so if I did have any issues or concerns, I could go seek advice from them.

Do you feel Keele met your expectations?
As soon as I visited Keele on my open day, I knew that this university was right for me. Coming from a big city, I wanted something a bit different and Keele appealed to me because of it’s rural nature and the facilities it provided.  The campus itself is massive with great scenery throughout. One of the main attractions in picking Keele was the focus on dual honours degrees and this was crucial in my choice.

Did you find it hard to get into the swing of student life?
I found it hard to really get stuck into my course as there was simply so much going on around me. Do not make the mistake that I did which was to get all of your work done the night before deadlines!  Try to balance the workload and your social life - luckily for me I passed my first year! I actually found second semester a lot easier than the first as I put my head down and I think more friendships developed once I actually started to settle in a lot better. One thing that I massively regret about my first semester was the sheer amount of money that I spent. Try to plan nights out as best as you can or your money situation may become very tight going into that final semester.

What was your accommodation like?
I lived in the infamous Hawthorns E block. Man, I’m going to miss that place. Even though I lived in a block full of around 20+ people, it was so fun and it certainly added to the experience. I think it was better that way because I got to meet a lot more students. Some nights we would go round to other blocks nearby and pre drink with other students and everyone got involved. My room was pretty standard, a fairly decent size and was comfortable to live in. The room itself was pretty much what I expected and I had no problems with it whatsoever. The kitchen was pretty big as you would expect. I did feel however that it needed to be even bigger, as I had to share it with a lot of people. There should have been more fridge freezers because everyone found it difficult to fit food in on a regular basis. We also did have food going missing continuously throughout my stay there, which kind of put a downer on the experience some nights.

What was it like moving away from your family?
I found it pretty difficult to begin with, however you get used to it. I only live about an hour away from Keele anyway, so it was pretty easy for me to hop on the train back home from time to time. Like I said before, I found myself constantly doing things, whether it was going out with mates, doing uni work or just wandering around campus; there’s always something or somewhere to explore!

What's your second year student house like?
I CANNOT WAIT TO MOVE INTO OUR HOUSE! I’m living with four of my mates, three boys and one girl (good luck). We’re moving into our house around the start of September and the house itself is between 5-10 minutes away from campus. It’s ideal because it’s so close and most of us can drive. There are a few local pubs and shops nearby and also a bus stop which can take you directly into town. Our neighbours are friends we know from first year too so we won’t have concerns about being too loud, they will probably be the same as us! The rooms are pretty spacious and each of us has double beds. Two of the rooms have en suites but obviously you have to pay a little bit extra in order to have them. 

What are you expecting it to be like living in a house as opposed to halls?
I’m probably expecting a more relaxed kind of atmosphere; people probably won’t be going out Monday’s, Wednesday’s and Friday’s every week as we have to knuckle down with our degrees. It still should be a lot of fun though and I expect a fair few house warming parties. I think there will be lot more responsibilities such as taking care of the money outgoings, bills and so forth.

How do you feel now you've finished your first year? 
I feel good about finishing first year and passing it, but I also feel kind of sad about it being over. The great thing about first year was that everything was new to me. It was a completely different experience to high school and sixth form. It’s vital that you pass your first year of university to carry on to the next year. However, I felt that it was more than that. To me, it was about getting to know my surroundings and getting used to the new environment that I’d be living in. The social aspects were great too because I met so many nice people along the way. Make the most of your first year and try to get involved in everything as much as possible. Try to join as many societies as possible to keep yourself active and engaged too!

And what do you expect from second year?
Second year will mainly be about focusing on my degree and trying to achieve my goals set. I think there will be a lot less focus on my social life and more focus on getting good results (something I thought I’d never say). I expect the work to be a lot more challenging and I want to be ready for it going into the year.

What was your work load like?
I think the workload was generally very modest. For philosophy it mainly consisted of essay and portfolio based work which I prefer to exams. We would sometimes get multiple choice tests dependent on what modules each of us were doing and these were conducted on computers in the IT Suite. For the other side of my degree which is computing, we had a lot more work. The work consisted of online submissions, written exams and coursework. Try to go to all of your lectures and tutorials as much as possible. I had the problem of missing a few and it resulted in me playing catch up with the work set. Trust me it’s not worth the hassle.

Did you find it challenging?
I found computing challenging as I felt like I was constantly behind with the workload. It didn’t help that I gave in to my friends when going out every £1 drinks night! Cheers Mike Cope. Like I said, it’s just about balancing everything out so that you’re ahead and you know what you’re doing. 

Is there anything you would have done differently? 
I think the only thing I would have done differently is the way I approached my course. I started to dislike my course but never really did anything about it which was damaging in the long run. There were people I could speak to about the problems I had with it but I simply chose not to. I wish I did more research into what modules were suited towards me as this would have definitely helped me progress better as a student.

Any funny or embarrassing stores you'd like to share?
I could share a lot of embarrassing and funny stories from first year but one seems to stick out the most. The shaving foam incident. It was a Monday night and me and my mates decided to go to the SU. As always I decided to get a little bit more drunk than anticipated. My good friend Mike jokingly started to hurl abuse at me. I wasn’t impressed. I then reached for the nearest thing I could find, two cans of shaving foam. I warned him that it wouldn’t end well, it didn’t. Being unaware that both cans were facing me, I pressed the button and covered myself and the room in shaving foam. It was an absolute disaster waking up in the stuff. The RSA weren’t impressed with the state of Mike’s room either.

Have you learnt any great money saving tips?
I was fairly good at saving money when it came down to food shopping towards the start and middle of my first year. I would tend to only shop in places like Aldi as you get a lot more for your money. I would only shop in places like Tesco’s for special offers and if I wanted to treat myself! Towards the end of the year I got a bit lazy though and excessively ordered food off of Domino’s and JustEat. We tended to do a lot of pre drinking, so we would buy alcohol from either the Hawthorns shop or from local supermarkets. When money was tight, we resorted to buying £5 bottles of wine which you got from the campus shop or in Hawthorns. This was ideal because it was very cheap, the percentage was decent and it would last you each time we had pre drinks. Offers came and went so it was generally your luck. If you're looking for a job at uni go and hand your CV into as many places as possible in and around campus – prior to starting. The SU is always looking for staff members around this time of year and it will massively help towards your second semester when money gets a lot tighter and you’re collecting whatever shrapnel you have left! I was lucky enough to get jobs in and out of uni and this really helped me when it came to my financial situation. 

What do you do to de-stress?
Most people tended to stay in their rooms so it was like a ghost town around our block and on campus. I would either do the same or just carry on with the rest of my day like it was nothing.

What advice would you give to up and coming freshers?
The best bit of advice would be to enjoy the experience. Being at university is completely different to anything that I’ve experienced before and I strongly suggest to enjoy it while it lasts. 

As a fellow Keelite, I feel Kam's summed the place up pretty well. If you're coming to Keele this September, I hope you enjoy your freshers week, all the events, your halls and your year ahead as much as Kam and I did during our first years. Good luck and we'll see you all there!
MissIsGoode

4 comments :

  1. Haha, I know Kam from Sixth Form. This is great! :)

    Lauren
    http://totally-typically.blogspot.co.uk

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    1. No way! Small world haha! Bet it's strange reading about him. Thanks! :)

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  2. Great post and it's good to see someone elses perspective! I'm just going into second year too but at sheff! xx
    alicekatex ♥

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    1. Thank you! Would you be interested in getting involved? xx

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