There were a few reasons. I started looking at Kent because they have the TEF Gold award for teaching excellence. Then I saw the Sport and Exercise for Health course, which was perfect for me because I was interested in both science and sports – this course offers me the best of both worlds, rather than having to choose one or the other. I also liked the fact that it’s close to home and that was really important to me.
We’d have two or three lectures a week and they were for all the students in the year, whether they were doing sports therapy, sports science, whatever. Then we’d have seminars and practicals where we’d learn how to do fitness testing, health screen testing and also learn sports massage techniques. We were able to use the labs too. I really liked the environmental chamber. It replicates the conditions in a desert or at high altitude on a mountain so you can measure how the body reacts to those different environments.
We did a group presentation where we had to devise a fitness training course, with each of us developing a different training component – I looked at endurance, someone else did core stability, speed, power and so on. It was a good way to get to know people, especially as I’m a commuting student so I don’t get to meet people through living in halls.
Everyone does the same modules in first year and then you can choose your second- and third-year modules. So, for instance, I didn’t enjoy psychology in first year but I really enjoyed the anatomy side, so I picked modules on sports injuries and massage.
We watch the lectures live online, which I find more motivating than having a recorded lecture you can watch any time. Seminars are online, too, and we just type our questions in the chat. The lecturers are happy to stay on the call at the end if you want to ask them about something, just like they were when we were having lectures on campus.
When we weren’t actually in lockdown, we were able to continue doing sports massage practice – we wore masks and made sure everything was kept really clean. I’ve even been able to do placements running exercise classes for cardiac and Parkinson’s patients, at first in the gym but during lockdown we have been able to carry on online.
What stands out for me is learning sports massage. I didn’t know how much time we would be spending learning practical techniques – we have sports massage sessions two days a week. And it’s nice to learn something new and then go home and practise it on my mum, she appreciates it after a hard day!
Yes, my academic adviser is lovely and he has been my adviser throughout all three years of the course. I was a bit wobbly when I first started while I was settling in to being at uni and he gave me lots of support. If he hasn’t heard from me for a while, he gets in touch to make sure everything is going OK, which has been really good while we’ve not been able to meet people face to face.
I like that question! Because when I applied for uni, I really wasn’t sure that it was for me. I couldn’t imagine living away from home with other people. But I’ve met so many people who are really different from me and it’s been so nice. I feel like now I’m ready to move on and move out. The other thing is that I’ve become much more self-disciplined and organised. I used to hate writing essays when I was at school but, here, it’s a massive part of the course. I told myself I just have to get on with it, I’m going to get a degree and really good job opportunities out of it, and then it stops feeling like a chore.
The course has taught me so many things so there are quite a few areas I could go into. At the moment, I’m looking into cardiac rehabilitation for the NHS. But I’d also really like to work for a sports team, or help athletes to recover from injury. I haven’t definitely made up my mind yet.
I would hugely recommend it, definitely. Especially if you’re like me and interested in both science and sports therapy because you can tailor the course to what you want. At uni, you come across so many challenges and it helps you to grow as a person, and that’s a good thing. They say uni is the best experience ever and you can make friends for life. But if you don’t apply and don’t go, you’ll never know. So just go for it.