Latest blog posts from students

Christmas chaos; balancing academic commitments and social pursuits

Christmas – a season for celebration, relaxation and spending time with family and friends – can often seem incompatible with the demands of being a university student. With coursework deadlines looming and January exams to prepare for, finding solace during the Christmas period can be incredibly challenging. However, that’s not to say that it’s impossible. Finding a balance between your academic commitments and Christmas fun will only strengthen your ability to excel in the former and enjoy the latter guilt-free.

As someone who used to believe that spending my whole day working was the only way to excel academically; I cannot stress enough how misguided this can be. Research has shown that the secret to increased productivity is taking time off. This is because continuous time spent on-task can actually set off strain reactions, such as stress, fatigue and a negative mood. So whilst you should give yourself enough time to complete your assignments, Christmas provides the perfect excuse to prioritise some occasional down-time away from academia.

So, what to do when you’re not working? Arranging a Christmas dinner with some of your closest friends can be a great place to start. It doesn’t matter if you’re not celebrating the religious elements of the season, or don’t particularly fancy roast turkey, simply choose your own menu and location and take the opportunity to relax with your friends before term is out. You could take the afternoon off and head down to Exeter’s Christmas market, grab a coffee on campus with a coursemate, or make a weekend plan to venture out of Exeter and soak up the countryside.

There is of course a tension: whilst you can spend time with university friends during the first couple of weeks of the festive season, this can often be at the expense of keeping in touch with family and friends back home. It can sometimes seem strange that during Christmas, a traditionally family-orientated time, you’re spending half of the season hundreds of miles away from them. So why not pick up the phone and reach out to a family member or a friend from school? Ask them about their Christmas plans, share your academic anxieties, and remind them that you’re looking forward to catching up with them soon. Sometimes, a little reassurance is all it takes.

Please don’t let my suggestions swamp you. All I’m saying is that you need to balance your academic workload with some fun over the Christmas season. You’ve worked hard all term so reward yourself with some down time and you’ll feel much more refreshed when January comes.

   December 12th, 2019    Miscellaneous


Your academic interests – represented

SSLCs – I’ve got a hunch that most students at Exeter wouldn’t be able to tell you what the acronym stands for, let alone what the bodies are actually responsible for. Yet, Student-Staff Liaison Committees are one of the cornerstones to ensuring that the student experience at Exeter is continuously enhanced and improved wherever necessary.

So, who are they, and what do they actually do? Student-Staff Liaison Committees are made up of a handful of student Academic Representatives, a Subject Chair, and a discipline’s Director of Education. Meeting at least once a term, Academic Representatives are charged with putting forward praise and/or concerns from their peers about their academic experiences. The aim is simple: to reach a positive outcome for all students. Admittedly, whilst that may sound a little opaque, SSLCs work tirelessly to ensure that students’ concerns are addressed and remedied wherever possible; often by seeking clarifications on methods of assessment, suggesting improvements to specific modules, or highlighting areas in which a department could improve in its engagement with students.

To delve a little deeper, I recently sat down with Filipa Torres, a third-year International Relations student who currently serves as Subject Chair to the Politics SSLC. Initially answering “what don’t we do?!” in response to a question about what the role entails, she provided the following summary of a Subject Chair’s responsibilities.

“A Subject Chair is the contact point between the student reps, the student population as a whole, and the department. I attend meetings, write agendas, keep up with the feedback that student reps are reporting, and engage with lecturers.”

Filipa’s duties are primarily carried out during meetings of the SSLC. From my experience as an Academic Representative, these meetings are thoroughly productive and worthwhile. On chatting to Max Jablonowski, a second-year International Relations Representative, he too described the meetings in a similar fashion.

“The meetings are very chilled. We discuss any questions, the Director of Education comes along, and there’s no pressure whatsoever; you can speak whenever you like, and you won’t be limited in what you do say.”

It’s important to remember that these meetings aren’t a forum for simply expressing negativity, but instead, they provide a unique opportunity to propose creative and innovative solutions to the issues that are raised.

One example of this is the recent creation of a Peer to Peer Mentoring Scheme within the Politics Department. Having received feedback from first-year students that they feel ill-prepared for January exams, the SSLC, in conjunction with the Politics Society and various members of staff, set about recruiting volunteer second and third years to lead workshops on exam technique. The scheme will begin piloting two sessions this December. This is just one case that highlights the positive change that can arise as a result of SSLC action.

So, if you’re not convinced of the good that SSLCs do on your behalf; get involved and stand for election to one when the next cohort is recruited. Or, take it from Max, who reflects that being on an SSLC has provided him with opportunities to “meet plenty of new people, allowing you to build greater relationships with staff and students”, Filipa, who stated that a lot of the satisfaction she draws from being in her position is that “you’re representing a lot of students, and that keeps you going”, or me, in that I wholeheartedly believe that they’re the best way to go about affecting academic change at Exeter.

In the meantime, be sure to reach out to one of your Academic Representatives if you have any concerns about your academic experiences at Exeter; we’re always willing to listen.

Alfie Dewdney

President, Exeter Politics Society  |  International Relations Academic Representative, Politics SSLC  |  Student Representative, Exeter Grand Challenges

   December 5th, 2019    Exams and Assessment, Lectures and Seminars, Miscellaneous, Studying, Undergraduate


The Christmas act

One of the hardest things about the Christmas period is that whilst there are so many deadlines and January exams to study for, this is also the time of year with the most festivities. It seems impossible to get it right; on the one hand, staying in and studying means you are doing your best in your degree. However, on the other hand, knowing friends will be getting mulled wine from the Christmas market while you sit inside on a dark, cold evening is enough to make you lose interest in working completely. With seasonal changes in light affecting mental health and overworking meaning you can be at risk of burnout or anxiety, getting the balance right is vital.

Here are some tips which I’ve found helpful in keeping on the right track.

1. Make sure that when you are studying, you are doing it effectively, and right
Understand the way that you work best. For me, waking up at a regular time and working in the morning is easiest – it’s when I have the greatest amount of energy, clarity and focus.

2. Establish a routine at the beginning of each week
Use a weekly planner – free online with a quick google search – and decide when you are going to work, what you are going to work on, and when you are going to stop and relax.

3. Don’t be overambitious
Be realistic about what you can actually get done in a day.

4. Pomodoro your way to greater focus
Human beings are incapable of focusing for large lengths of time without breaks, so try the Pomodoro technique. Set a timer for 25-40 minutes and work solidly. Take 5-10 minute breaks in between these chunks and step away from your laptop, make some tea, put up some decorations or do something else you enjoy.

5. Start your assignment today! 
We’ve all been there; a deadline feels like months away but before you know it there is only a week to go! Don’t be the person stuck indoors over Christmas because of deadline procrastination, get going now!

6. Eat that Frog! 
I use Brian Tracey’s Eat That Frog ABCD method to prioritise my work starting with the most important, scary tasks – the ‘A’s’, things you absolutely have to get done – all the way down to the ‘D’s’, bits which you could leave until later. You tackle the most horrible things at the beginning of the day when you have the most energy, and then that spurs you on to do the others. It also means if you don’t get the D, C, or even B tasks done, there is no guilt sucking your motivation the next day, and when you stop to enjoy coffee with a friend, you aren’t stressing about work.

7. 10 minute time trick
Struggling to get started? Just put on a timer for ten minutes and tell yourself that you will work steadily for just that tiny amount of time, no matter how terrible what you achieve is. Switch your phone off, close your door and do it. Telling yourself you just have ten minutes removes all the pressure of perfectionism, and before you know it, you’ll be pressing repeat on the timer and getting stuck in.

8. Don’t overwork

No matter what you might think, as long as you are doing your best that is enough. We are only human. Don’t completely cut out downtime just to get your deadlines in. Your mental health and wellbeing comes first…

If you need support now or over the holidays, speak to your lecturers or reach out to the Wellbeing team.

Written by Evanna Kappos, studying English Literature.

   December 5th, 2019    Exams and Assessment, Life on Campus, Miscellaneous, Studying, Undergraduate


Applying for the MA International Film Business programme: the timeline

 

The application process for Masters in International Film Business is not complicated, however, you should start a few months in advance. The good news is once you create your profile in the system it allows you to update each section at your own pace, go back and forth through the steps, and once you are satisfied and have completed it all then you can hit submit.

November – December Start filling the application form by first creating a user profile on the official website of the University. Make sure you read all the requirements. For the application process you will require these documents:

  •  A motivation letter
  • An updated CV
  • Official documents from your undergraduate
  • Proof of English Proficiency (international students whose native language is not English are required to take either the TOEFL or the IELTS test). Bear in mind the specific score requested. (Depends on the type, of course, you are choosing to pursue)

January – Application Submission: Make sure you submit your application by January as the University will take time to make their decision.

February – Acceptance Letter: Once you are notified that you are accepted in the university (which is usually one month and a half later, in most cases) you need to think about accommodation. They will also ask for the deposit fee** (usually 1500 pounds-which will be adjusted with your tuition fee later), which will secure your offer. Try and arrange the funds as soon as possible.

March – Accommodation: It is hard to find accommodation since its a short term in Exeter and longer in London. It is advisable to apply in student accommodations/ INTO (accommodation offered by the university) around March and April. June Visa: You can apply for your visa 3 months before your date of travel. Since the course starts in September, you should be able to start applying for your visa in June. The process to apply for a visa, the visa getting approved and it coming back to you will take at least 2 months.

Make sure you have enough time to carry out the visa process carefully. Read the visa requirements carefully when you apply and make sure you prepare all the necessary documents beforehand.

August – Pack: Start packing and get ready to leave! It is almost time, and by now you should start preparing all the things you want to carry from home.

**In case you are a Chevening scholar, you may be exempt from paying the deposit fee. You can request them to secure your offer and exempt you from paying it immediately.

For Chevening Scholarship Application Process:

July- September – Started application
February – First round – selected to interview
June – Conditionally selected

June – Finally awarded with the scholarship

Note: if you’re keen to apply to Chevening Scholarship, start with plenty of time and I mean give yourself enough time to do it. It’s a rigorous process, it’s long, it requires to write 4-5 essays, to answer questions wisely, so it can be definitely exhausting. Moreover, I strongly advise you that do not leave your submission to the last minute, so in any case, you experience any difficulties in uploading the documents you have time.

 

 

   September 11th, 2019    Miscellaneous


“Chevener one year but Chevening my whole life”

A dream comes true…

Suddenly there’s a day when all your effort is rewarded and you start receiving blessings. For me, it happened at 6 am on June 6th exactly when I got an email from Chevening saying “we are delighted to inform you that the selection panel was very impressed with your application and interview and have conditionally selected you for a 2018-19 Chevening Award”. I could not believe it was for real until I woke up in Exeter, UK, on September 13th. At that moment, I realised that my dream of studying in one of the best destinations on earth, United Kingdom, was becoming true. (more…)

   August 8th, 2019    Miscellaneous


Tips for International students coming to University of Exeter: MAIFB

It can be really scary and exciting at the same time, to go away from home and study in a new country. It is overwhelming to experience different cultures and people from all around the world. The MAIFB course is one such course where you would have a mix of students from different parts of the world. It helps broaden your knowledge about how people differ in different regions and parts of the world. Coming from a country like India, I made friends from the Caribbean, China, America and different parts of Europe. From my experience I can tell you that it is the most enriching experience of my life. But even before I got here, I had a lot of unanswered questions in my mind. Even though I found my way through, I wish I had known a few things before I landed in UK. So here are some tips: (more…)

   August 8th, 2019    Freshers Week, International, MA International Film Business, Miscellaneous, Preparing for University, Studying, Studying abroad, Year Abroad


My top tips for Clearing

Tip 1: Plan ahead

I hadn’t really thought about studying abroad before the release of my public exam results but I still applied to several UK universities as a back-up plan. Once I got my results, I knew I was not able to meet the entry requirements of local universities and I changed my mind about my previous UCAS applications. That was when I turned to Clearing for more options. (more…)

   July 1st, 2019    Clearing, International, Studying


My Housemates at the University of Exeter

I have been very lucky in my final year to be blessed with great housemates. In the beginning of the year, I’m sure many of you are concerned about how to be a good housemate to keep everyone’s living situation pleasant. Here is a snippet of my experience and tips for sharing a house at university! (more…)

   June 27th, 2019    Life in the South West, Miscellaneous


The University of Exeter Experience from a Japanese (日本人)Perspective

日本人から見たエクセター大学の経験

初めまして、エクセター大学3年生のコナです!最近卒論書くの終わったばかりで今年の7月に卒業する予定です。科目は BA International Relations (国際関係)です。自分ごとですがこのブログでは私の三年間エクセター大学の経験を話ししたいと思っています。私は小さいころからイギリスに留学していたため、日本の学校に行ったことがなく日本語もおかしいなか、エクセター大学にいる日本人と友達できるかなーととても緊張していました。しかしながら、大学三年生になって大学生活を振り返ると、日本人の友達がたくさん作れて、とても光栄に感じています。 (more…)

   June 27th, 2019    International, Miscellaneous


Berlinale Film Festival 2019: impressions of a first-time attendee

        

European Film Market
Business cards – packed, flyers for Green Days by the River (my last film) – packed, smart dress code – packed, passport and most importantly good vibes – packed. I am as ready as I ever will be for my very first Berlinale Film Festival. I have been to festivals such as TIFF, Tribeca and LA Film Festival and found that the bigger the festival, the harder it is to network, get access to panels and see films while the smaller festivals make it easier to get access to people, and have an experience. I wanted to be sure to meet as many people as possible and learn as much about the European Film Market (EFM) and understand the role and importance of this market to the industry and for filmmakers. I made sure to book my flight to arrive on the 6th Feb so that I could get a full day in at the EFM as our accreditation as students was limited.

Walking up to the Gropius Bau I was filled with excitement to enter the EFM and any opportunity that might present itself inside. First through the door, a massive variety sign and magazines everywhere and a guy giving out screen international bags. The place was massive, buzzing with activity, I really had no idea this was happening in the world of film. I had heard of it, but it was one of those things you needed to see to understand it. I walked into the huge lobby area with thousands of companies’ signage everywhere. As a filmmaker it was really exciting to be in a space so focused on selling films. I walked past the stalls with great intrigue, picking up leaflets and sales booklets. Companies from around the world had come to sell their country as a location or try to find distributors for their films. I had never been to a place that had so many movies for sale. It was also overwhelming to think about the competition to have your film sold.

After investigating the stands for a few hours, I realized it was really only sales companies selling movies, I didn’t know why I had the perception that buyers would have stands there also. I really thought I would see HBO, Netflix, Paramount, Lionsgate etc. It was a learning experience to realize all those companies were at the festival, but they were in ninja mode and only seeing the sales companies they were interested in. They were there on a mission to purchase films that made sense to them. The movies that could be their next breakout hit. The EFM represents a meeting place for film business, both formal and informal. It is a time of the year for industry people to meet face to face. I think, I will come back to the EFM better prepared next time.

Berlinale Film Festival
Next on to the Film Festival, which attracts so much talent from producers, directors, actors and crew members. Most screenings have Q&A’s in the main competition and there are special press and market screenings that you can line up and get access to once the cinema isn’t full. A really great place for networking. Just strike up a conversation and make new film industry friends. I saw some really amazing experimental films that I don’t think I would be able to see anywhere else. I prefer to see those types of films over films that will get a theatrical release as  you can catch them anytime.

Experiencing the EFM first hand is something I would highly recommend to Master’s in International Film Business Students. The knowledge gained has been perspective shifting as it allowed for a greater understanding of what happens to films that have been made or are in pre-production and how they are sold. It is a true marketplace for movies and networking. The EFM is only one aspect of the Berlinale Film Festival and totally worth spending time at, along with the rest of the festival. This event is definitely worth attending, whether your interest is watching films, networking or trying to find a sales agent or producer, you can do it all at the Berlinale. As a first-time attendee of the EFM, it is the place to be for the business of film-making. Five stars!!! Also, if you get time checkout the Berlin Zoo!!!

   June 26th, 2019    Careers, MA International Film Business, Miscellaneous, Postgraduate     , , ,


UK bucket list

If you made the wonderful decision to move to the UK to pursue your undergraduate studies or as part of an exchange student, I assume it’s partly because you want to experience part of the culture this country has to offer. With that in mind, allow me to suggest to you my top ten things to do while here to make the most, not only of the country but of the perks of living in this beautiful corner! (more…)

   May 22nd, 2019    Cornwall, Exploring Devon and Cornwall, Food and eating, Lifestyle, Studying abroad, The city of Exeter, Year Abroad


Things that surprised me about the UK

When moving to England there are certain things everybody comments about, a little bit about the weather, a subtle comment about Netflix’s The Crown, perhaps even a nod towards the imaginary that they really love their tea. Additionally, you will most likely know a lot of things from the culture that undoubtedly moved you towards considering and eventually choosing a university on this lovely little island. For me, I knew quite a bit about the culture, my school was a ‘British School’, I had visited quite a few times, and some of my closest friends had done their undergrad in different British universities. So over-all, I felt I had a decent picture or understanding of how my time there would go.

Nonetheless, the theory of living in England and the practice of living in England are quite different things and within the reality of it, there were a few things that actually took me by surprise. These are things that are probably no secret to anyone, I even knew about some of them coming here, but, again, the way they played out made them come as a surprise. (more…)

   May 22nd, 2019    Life on Campus, Lifestyle


What’s Next?

Ten years of my life were dedicated to practicing horseback riding. I loved the feeling of companionship that you get when you train with a horse long enough, I loved the speed, the adrenaline, I loved feeling the change of pace when you (gently) nudge him/her to start cantering instead of trotting, and certainly I loved jumping and doing an obstacle courses. My family constantly used this sport as a metaphor of what life can be like, you see your obstacle, you take your time to get ready, you face it and you overcome it. Alternatively, you take your time to get ready, you forget a detail, the horse doesn’t follow through (as horses naturally won’t jump unless you give them the incentive to do so) and you fall down. When this happens, though, you get back up –not necessarily immediately, sometimes it takes a good solid minute to get back up from a bruised ego– you quite literally shake it off and then you try again. Either way you do not give up. (more…)

   May 22nd, 2019    Careers, Higher Education, International, Miscellaneous


India at Berlinale – My Experience at the 69th Berlin International Film Festival

I applied to the MA International Film Business course with the aim of learning more about how the cinema of my country is received in the international market and how I could contribute to making it even better. Attending the Berlinale was a dream in which I would get to meet professionals from the Indian film industry and get first hand insight on what it takes to represent the country with the largest output in terms of number of films in the world. Well, India’s presence at Berlin International Film Festival 2019 was much better than previous years but slightly underwhelming. (more…)

   May 13th, 2019    International, MA International Film Business, Miscellaneous


My guide to wellbeing and taking care of your mental health

It is that time of the year again – assignment deadlines are stacking up and exams are just around the corner…There is a lot to do, you have got essays to write, exams to revise for and it feels like you’re always busy. However, this blog post is here to tell you that your work and revision can wait, but your health, especially your mental health, should be your top priority.

It is normal to feel stressed, that just means you care about what you do and that is a great thing. Just remember you need breaks and a clear mindset in order to work well, so you need to allow yourself to take breaks. Here are some of my personal tips on what to do when you are starting to feel overwhelmed by everything in life.

  1. (more…)

   May 13th, 2019    Exams and Assessment, International, Lectures and Seminars, Life in the South West, Life on Campus, Preparing for University, Studying     , , ,


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