Published: 17 August 2020

Current students provide helpful insights to first-year students starting in September

In the lead up to the new university year, we’ve spoken to Music BMus students, Phil Chevassut and Gemma Bartlett, to see what advice they’d give to those starting at Surrey in September, to help them hit-the-ground-running in their first few months.

If you could tell first-year students one key thing before they start in September, what would it be?

Phil: Get excited and be prepared for a wonderful, instrumental and pivotal three years of your life at Surrey. Make sure to get yourself a diary to be organised and make the most of every opportunity that comes your way.

Are there any facilities or services on campus you only found out about recently and wish you knew about from the beginning?

Gemma: The Centre for Wellbeing. They can support you if you are finding it hard to cope. Home-sickness, anxiety about exams, relationship problems, illness in the family or mental health issues are all examples of the kinds of things they help students with. They are really kind, helpful and supportive.

What’s your favourite thing about Guildford?

Phil: I love the people, the views and the nearby countryside, the music opportunities and the welcoming Church family communities across the town.

Gemma: I have benefited from how integrated students become with the locals.  For example, I have been asked to play The Last Post for the Guildford War Memorial twice and I have also performed in concerts in and around Guildford - all made possible through the fantastic connections I have made through the University staff and students

Where’s your favourite place to study on campus?

Phil: I love using the silent study areas on campus, as well as the PATS building, where I can excel and progress in my music abilities and embrace collaborative opportunities.

Can you name the top five things you're glad you brought with you for your first semester?


  • A laptop
  • USB stick
  • A diary
  • Any crucial things you may need specifically for your course (for me that was my musical instruments) and folders.

Was there anything that stood out about your Department?

Phil: I really loved the welcoming, friendly and family-like community I found in the Department. I love the many collaborative, informative and innovative opportunities on offer, to help develop skills and abilities, as well as forming deep friendships.

Finally, do you have any other key pointers you’d like to tell first-year students, before they start in September?

Gemma: Get involved in as much as you can. Initially, I found being in a new environment to be a struggle. However, joining the bands and ensembles at the University, as well as going to Surrey Sports Park to play badminton were all great ways to meet new people. There is so much to get involved in and everyone is really friendly.  

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