I’ve been in Exeter for a week now and while there have been ups and downs (and I don’t mean just the hills), I’d say that things have been pretty alright for the most part.
I was greeted in Exeter last Sunday with a partly sunny, partly cloudy day by the incredible Welcome Team from the University. From making sure that all the confused faces coming out of the terminal at Heathrow found a friendly face with a smile, to ensuring that everyone found their way to their humble abodes for the next 4 or 8 months, the Welcome Team made a fantastic first impression.
The rest of that first day was a bit of a blur for me, honestly. It may have been due to the fact that I’m one of those strange oddities of a person who doesn’t sleep on planes; I got into London at around 6:25am local time and there’s a 5-hour time difference between Exeter and Canada. A little tip for all travelers: please sleep on the plane!
Culture shock definitely hit by the second day. We’re always told to anticipate it and I tried, but it’s hard coming from someplace that speaks English and going to another place that speaks English and thinking it’ll be super different. While it’s not drastically different, there are definitely nuances here and there that deem me to be a bit of a foreigner to this place. I have an ‘American’ accent, I walk on the right side of the sidewalk which isn’t right, and I just can’t seem to get the hang of how the doors work here. When I first got here, I kept turning the locks the wrong way and ended up fumbling with it for a good 30 seconds before I got it. Luckily, I’ve been able to get that time down to about 10 seconds so hopefully, that shall soon cease to be a problem.
Then came Freshers’ Week, which is, effectively, the equivalent of 101 Week or Frosh for me back home. For me personally, one 101 week was quite enough for me, so I found Freshers’ Week to be a little mentally taxing. However, it was a really great way to sort of familiarize myself with the surroundings and meet new people. I found my perspective to be a little interesting because technically, I know how ‘university’ works but Exeter is an entirely new place for me, so it was like I was half a fresher.
It’s the end of week one and I think I finally have my ducks in a row more or less. I can get myself to and from campus from my accommodation without finding new ways to get lost (funnily enough, the first day I was here, I must not have looked as lost as I thought I did because five people stopped me in the streets to ask me for directions). I have yet to get used to the hills, but I’m not sure if that will ever be a possibility; I honestly don’t recall ever having had to walk so much to get to places before but my driver’s license and bus pass back home may have spoiled me. I’ve also made peace with the fact that the taps here will only either dispense piping hot or freezing cold water. Kind of.
When it’s not raining buckets here and the sun decides to shine, Exeter is truly breathtakingly beautiful, and I’m looking forward to discovering more of it in the time to come. Next week will be the official start of classes so we’ll see what that holds in store!