Many of you may consider working alongside your studies. Whether you aim to get a part-time job during term time or look for a summer internship, the University is there to support you in your career goals. At Exeter, The Career Zone is located in the Forum and the staff is always happy to help you find employment, advise you on how to improve your CV or give you guidance on how to nail an interview.
Job opportunities are listed on My Career Zone and among them you’ll find casual term time work, graduate roles, placements, internships, Student Campus Partnerships (SCPs), volunteering and many others. The data base is up-to-date, so if you regularly check the website, you’ll definitely find a suitable job for yourself. SCPs are offered by the University of Exeter, which means that you wouldn’t be required to work more than 15 hours per week during term time or 36.5 hours per week during the vacation periods. These internships are based on campus and very flexible as the University understands that your studies are of the utmost priority. Payment is normally £9.47 per hour, which is higher than what most employers offer in the city. Cafes and shops run by the Guild employ students and are also flexible and supportive, so working at one of the student-friendly bars on campus should be a safe choice. Maybe you’d like to be a cashier at Comida, a bar assistant at Lemon Grove or a kitchen crew member at the Ram? Vacancies for these positions usually open at the end of the academic year as the Guild wants employees to start working in early September. Casual work is available at local retailers and new opportunities are regularly added to My Career Zone. However, you may also want to keep an eye on ads in the city as it may be that not each and every vacancy is posted on the website. A lot of students work as waiters/waitresses in restaurants, Deliveroo riders, shop assistants in Tesco or baristas in Costa. Off-campus jobs usually pay less but worry not, you can always work your way up the ladder. Career Zone also offers a number of volunteering opportunities, tutoring and occasional positions, so if you’re determined to earn some extra cash whilst studying, you’re definitely not short of options.
During my first year, I worked as a Catering Assistant in Birks Grange (one of the catered accommodations on campus) up to 20 hours per week. It wasn’t the most challenging or demanding work I’ve ever done but my colleagues were friendly, the hours were flexible and the pay was reasonable. Evening shifts started at 5.15pm, so I could usually finish all my tasks and assignments before work. I also happened to live very close to my workplace (only a 5-minute walk), however, I had to climb the famous cardiac hill every time.
My greatest adventure this year was my internship in Paris. I spent 13 days in ‘The City of Lights’, working for ÉCU – The European Independent Film Festival. I arrived a bit earlier so that I could make the most of my time in this wonderful city. I did a lot of sightseeing with my brother before I started the internship. Being real tourists, we wandered around the district of Montmartre, got lost in the Louvre, made it to the top of the Eiffel Tower and got a sugar overdose from the heavenly macarons of Ladurée. I was over the moon that I found this opportunity on My Career Zone because not only did I get to spend half of my spring break in this lovely city but I also gained first-hand experience in the organisation and management of the film festival and met interesting people from all over the world. During the run-up to the film festival, I helped with event promotion, marketing and administrative duties, then, during the three days of the festival, I managed the welcome desk, served refreshments and carried out other ad-hoc tasks. I didn’t mind that the internship was unpaid because it was a truly beneficial and memorable 13 days.
In addition to the broad list of jobs it offers, Career Zone also has plenty of valuable resources as well as training sessions and events throughout the year. You can find a lot of useful guides on My Career Zone that help you write a killer cover letter, explain the different interview types, advise you on how to stand out at assessment centres or tackle psychometric tests. There is a great variety of sessions as well, where you can ask questions in person, participate in group exercises and receive materials that give you further information on a particular subject. Casual Jobs Fairs take place each academic term in the Autumn and Spring, where you can meet employers in the Forum and find out about more opportunities. If you still have concerns, you can also book 1:1 appointments to discuss your careers options, have your CV or cover letter reviewed or get advice on how to find global employment opportunities.
When I applied for university last year, I couldn’t make it to an Open Day in Exeter. I tried to ask around and get as much information as I could about the campus and the area. One thing I was constantly said by friends and that was emphasised on all the websites I looked at was how beautiful the South West was and how great the weather could be here compared to other parts of the UK. As I arrived on a rather sunny weekend in September, I faced the greenest campus I could have imagined and the most amazing view I could wake up to. Even though I was yet to explore all the beauties and treasures the area had to offer, I knew instantly that I chose the right place. One year was hardly enough to discover everything I wanted and there are still dozens of places I long to go to. For now, here are some of the locations I visited and things I did during my first year, all of which I would highly recommend to anyone coming to Devon.
Heavenly scones in Tea on the Green
Do you pronounce scone to rhyme with ’tone’ or ’gone’? Is it jam or cream first? As for me, I belong to that 33% who say /skəʊn/ (rhymes with ’tone’) and it’s always cream first, jam second.
If you’re experiencing the British way of life for the first time, you may wonder what on earth I’m talking about. Well, it’s something Brits can argue about for hours. The pronunciation mostly depends on where one comes from. Two-thirds of the British population as well as Australians and Canadians say /skɒn/, while most Irish and Americans pronounce the word as /skəʊn/. As for the jam/cream order, it’s just a matter of preference but subject to heated debates among Brits.
But what are scones anyway? They are the quintessential part of cream tea, a specialty of Devon and Cornwall, so it’s a must if you visit the area. Scones are small lightly sweetened cakes, served with jam and clotted cream. They are soft, fluffy and crumbly at the same time, which makes your taste buds crave for more, although you’ll definitely have your hunger and daily intake of calories sufficed once you finished it all. It’s best with the traditional Devonshire clotted cream and strawberry jam, along with a cuppa tea of course.
There are plenty of cafés and tea rooms that offer cream tea in Exeter but the best place to go to is Tea on the Green. With its building overlooking the Cathedral’s monumental towers, you’ll surely have a relaxing time here. This restaurant is said to serve the best scones in the whole UK, so be sure to check it out! I also tried blooming tea here, which was not only incredibly flavoursome, but also a beautiful spectacle, as the flower inside the cup emerged as the centrepiece.
Interesting history and fascinating architecture
Exeter’s Historic Quayside is probably one of the first places one goes to when discovering the city. Somehow though, I ended up visiting the site only in January. Strangely, it was sunny (the photo below was taken this time) and we had a lovely time walking alongside the river on the cobbled street, admiring the little ducks in the water, and finally – when it got a bit colder – grabbing a cappuccino in On The Waterfront.
The Quay is edged with an eclectic mix of cafés and restaurants, where you can order great foods and drinks while sitting outside and enjoying the sight of cute little houses and the sound of babbling water. Worry not if the weather’s gloomy, as is often the case in England,you can still have a nice hot chocolate to warm yourself up at one of the places inside. On The Waterfront, for example, has a great atmosphere with brick arches, elegant sofas and dim lighting. Amidst the restaurants, you can also find some lovely vintage shops with unique furniture, jewellery, postcards and other accessories. So, if you come to Exeter in September, I recommend visiting this fascinating area during your first few weeks. Don’t wait until January as I did, it’s only a 30-minute walk or a 10-minute bike ride from the campus!
A little seaside getaway
The good thing about Exeter is that it’s close to the picturesque villages and sandy beaches of the English Riviera. If you have no deadlines approaching or just feel that you deserve a day-off, take your backpack and head to one of the seaside towns of the southern coastline.
The English Riviera is the nickname of Torbay, Devon’s most attractive tourist destination. At the heart of the coast are the scenic harbours of Torquay. With its Victorian appearance and vibrant pubs on the seashore, the town is a major holiday resort in the UK. There’s plenty to do here, one of the most popular attractions is Living Coasts, Torquay’s award-winning zoo and aquarium. You can get closer to playful penguins, otters and seals or admire many different species of fish and birds.
If you move towards the south, the next town is Paignton, loved for its colourful and lively seafront. Its long sandy beaches are ideal for kids to build sandcastles, divers to explore the marine life and surfers to ride the waves. And if you long for something more energetic after a relaxing day on the beach, you can stroll along the bustling Paignton Pier where you can choose from hundreds of amusements, including dodgems, bouncy slides, toy grabber machines and many more.
Other towns in the area are definitely worth a visit as well, including Brixham, famous for its fine selection of seafood restaurants, and Dartmouth, an enchanting town with historic castles and a breathtaking landscape.
Windy beaches close to home
The Jurassic Coast stretches from Exmouth to Studland Bay, encompassing natural arches, sky blue coves, sea stacks and other interesting landforms. Unfortunately, I’ve only been to Exmouth, thus, haven’t seen the most well-known parts of the coast such as Durdle Door, Old Harry Rocks or Lulworth Cove. They’re at the top of my bucket list though.
Exmouth is a 30-minute journey from Exeter and one of the oldest seaside towns in Devon, certainly worthy to visit when you’re not overwhelmed by assignments. As you make your way from the train station to the beach, you’ll spot water sport lovers kite surfing, kayaking or wind surfing in the sea. Exmouth is a regional centre for these sports, so if you’re a fan, this is the perfect place for you. Continue your walk towards the red sandstone cliffs and if you feel adventurous, climb up to get a panoramic view of the sandy beach and dramatic rocks. As a centre for seafood, the town offers the finest mussels and freshly caught fish in its restaurants overlooking the azure sea. We had a lovely meal in South Beach Café where, being a seafood lover, I ordered a ‘Seafood Sharer’ with one of my friends. It was served on a bin lid (😃) and consisted of calamari, fish goujons, smoked salmon, mussels, oysters and shell on prawns. Needless to say, I couldn’t move after we finished it.
As you carry on with your stroll along the seafront, you’ll find ever more spectacular natural beauties and charming villages. Sidmouth, where you can meet cute donkeys in The Donkey Sanctuary, and Seaton, at the heart of the East Devon Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, are surely not to be missed.
The time I crossed the river
Exeter is tiny. Or so I’ve been told. First, it didn’t seem small at all because, even though everything I needed was a 20-minute or so distance from my new home, there was a great selection of all kinds of stores and I didn’t need to buy my groceries or clothes in the same shop every time. After a few months though, I started to feel that it is indeed a little city. And then I crossed the river. I walked to the other half of Exeter, the part I wasn’t familiar with. I went to play bowling with the Hungarian Society and the venue was on the other side of the city. While walking there, I noticed a huge M&S Foodhall, more restaurants, an Aldi and another train station. I realised that there were more to do in Exeter than I expected.
The bowling took place in Tenpin. There are several bowling lanes, arcades, pool tables and a bar. It’s a great place to enjoy some time with your pals and you can even try Cosmic bowling where you bowl in the dark with neon lights. Bowling and drinks are at half price on Tuesdays and after you showed off your bowling talent, you can head to Exeter’s favourite party, Cheesy Tuesday in Unit 1. So, here’s your perfect Tuesday evening. You don’t want to miss out on that, do you?
Fascinating landforms and rich wildlife
Only an hour drive from Exeter is Dartmoor, an extensive area of moorland, attracting hundreds of thousands of visitors each year. Whether you want to get away from uni or would rather burn some calories through cycling, running, climbing or canoeing, Dartmoor offers a wide range of activities for both those looking for tranquillity and those seeking ways to exercise.
Plenty of paths and tracks run through the National Park, encircling rocky tors and hills, hidden villages and steep river valleys. Its best-known landmark is Haytor, a granite tor on the eastern side of the park. From its peak at 457 metres, the view is stunning, so it’s definitely worth the effort climbing up there. If you look for natural beauties, you must also visit the Clapper Bridge at Postbridge, High Willhays – the highest point of Dartmoor, and Yes Tor – slightly lower but more impressive. If you’re interested in animal life, this is your heaven, as you can meet ponies (Dartmoor’s most iconic animals), rabbits, otters, badgers, squirrels, weasels, stoats, deer and many other species during your time there.
Towns and villages in the area are relatively small but have interesting history and strong rural heritage. Most of them date back to the Middle Ages and are traditional market towns, thus, you’ll find many independent retailers, offering local products such as fresh groceries and handmade crafts. Some of the largest towns include Ashburton, Buckfastleigh, Moretonhampstead and Princetown.
An old tradition survives
Is it the 5th of November? Make sure you don’t sit in your room on Bonfire Night! There are a number of traditions associated with the day and several celebrations to take part in, the most extravagant of which takes place in Ottery St Mary, a little town close to Exeter.
Guy Fawkes Night (another name for this day) is an annual commemoration observed in Britain, dating back to the events of 5 November 1605 when Guy Fawkes was arrested while guarding explosives the plotters had placed beneath the House of Lords. Celebrating the plot’s failure, people lit bonfires and soon it became an annual public day.
I went to Ottery St Mary on Guy Fawkes Night with the TravelExe society to see the locals commemorating the day. According to their old custom, men carry lit tar barrels on their backs and chase each other along the streets while a huge crowd of spectators gather around and follow them. The flaming barrels fall apart, excitement grows and people awe. Once you’ve had enough of marvelling at this unusual action, try some good food or warm yourself up with a hot drink at one of the street vendors, or head straight to the fairground where you can gaze at the traditional bonfire and choose from plenty of amusements.
At the end of my first year I’m 100% sure that I chose the best place. Devon has plenty to offer, from sport activities to fine dining, there’s always something you can do when you need some time-out. I have two more years in Exeter, which implies two more years of adventure and discovering amazing places in the South West. Arguably, there are hundreds, if not thousands, of natural beauties to explore, beaches to stroll along and tucked away villages to visit. My bucket list expands and I hope I’ll be able to go to as many places as I’d like, even though I know my second year of studies will require more effort.
Though student life has kept me very busy, I have had a few chances to branch out and explore what Cornwall has to offer. Travelling around can be tricky if you don’t have a car, although most popular destinations are reachable by bus. Luckily, through a mix of friends and visiting family members, I have been able to hitch a ride to some of Cornwall’s most beautiful destinations. Going by category, here are a few of the places that I recommend most highly:
I have only been to a handful of towns in Cornwall, and can’t really say anything bad about any of them. Someone who has lived here longer than a year would probably have a bit more to say about the best places to go in Cornwall, but based on where I have visited I think the following three would be my favorites.
As I am completing my master’s in conservation, there are a couple spots in Cornwall that I greatly appreciate for their ecological value. However you definitely don’t have to be studying a biological science to appreciate these places, and I would recommend them to anyone.
If you do get stuck without a car, there are a number of fun places to go near the Penryn/Falmouth area that are walking distance. Out of all the local places I have ventured to so far, these are my four favorites:
As I plan to stay here until August, I am hoping to expand my list of visited sites in Cornwall and see what other beautiful towns and beaches the Southwest of England has to offer. Though I do love my home town of Philadelphia, I think the busy traffic and constant rush of city life will leave me aching for peaceful and scenic countryside that I have grown attached to while studying here. But I think what I will miss most about Cornwall is the people – not just my friends and lecturers but the whole community of people living in Cornwall. Through my travels and volunteer work around Cornwall I have met so many genuinely kind and interesting people, all of whom add to the unique character and charming personality that runs so deeply through Cornwall culture. Though I will be sad to go, I always know that I will be welcomed back to Cornwall by all of the wonderful people I have met while living here!
“So what’s it like studying in the UK?” – the question that I have been asked many times by my friends and family back home. And it is a good question. Before making the journey from the US to England, I was very curious, and a little nervous, about how things would be different. What customs do I need to get used to? Are classes structured differently?
To answer this question, I will start by saying that there are more similarities than differences between the US and the UK. Many of my undergrad experiences have been echoed while here in Cornwall: going out for pizza on a friend’s birthday, bonding with my housemates over our love for Parks and Recreation, and spending a few too many late nights in the library with other coursemates, drinking coffee and scrambling to hand in last minute assignments. Sound familiar?
But of course one of the most rewarding parts about traveling is the unique cultural experiences, the “this would only happen in England” situations that I will remember forever. I am sure that everyone has a different perspective when visiting the UK for the first time, but I will highlight some of the things that personally stand out in my mind.
I went to a very small undergraduate university, so the small Penryn campus and class size is something that I am used to. But for someone coming from a large university in the US, this might be quite a shock. There are many advantages to this system that I have found greatly enhanced my educational experience. Due to the small size of classes, particularly on our 3 week field course to Kenya, I have gotten to know my professors very well. And as the drinking age here is 18, it is pretty normal to grab a pint with your professor and chat about anything from current events to favorite field work stories.
One thing I definitely had to get used to here was the grading system. In the US we are pretty accustom to A’s B’s and C’s. Here it’s a little different. The use of percentages to mark assignments is the same, but the standards vary substantially. Don’t be disappointed if you get a 70, that is roughly equivalent to an A and definitely something to be proud of.
In terms of extracurriculars, there are equally as many opportunities to get involved in activities as there are at US institutions. Exeter has a number of clubs and societies, from the vegan baking club to the Harry Potter association. There are also plenty of sports clubs to join (including American football!!). And you could always try your hand at cricket or underwater hockey (yes that is a real sport). I would say that sports aren’t quite so central to campus culture as they are at home – at least there are no big stadiums or homecoming games. However there are certainly opportunities to support the local sports teams, and there’s always a good crowd at the pub watching rugby or soccer on the weekends.
My personal favorite. There is a lot of good food to be found in Cornwall, and England as a whole. Here are a couple of my favorite treats that you cannot find in the US:
Everyone knows about some of the silly things Brits say, we’ve all bloody heard it from Harry Potter after all. But to be honest, before coming here I had no idea how many differences there are in American and British terminology. My first month I felt like I was learning a new word every day – eggplants are aubergines, the stove is the hob, you don’t vacuum you hoover. Some of them I find quite cute: saying maths instead of math, calling gnats “midges,” and my personal favorite, calling candies “sweeties.”
Though it takes a bit of getting used to, after living here for 9 months I’ve even started using some of the slang that I was so amused by when I first arrived. When my parents came to visit I actually found it hard to avoid using some of the British terms that I’ve picked up. Tomato, tomato right?
Life in Cornwall
Cornwall is absolutely beautiful. The people are extremely friendly as well – I once stopped someone in a car to ask for directions and they offered me a lift to where I was going! I went to school in Maine which I believe has a very similar vibe to Cornwall – there is a real connection with nature here. If you love outdoor activities this is the place for you. In just my first two weeks in Penryn I went surfing, rock climbing, sea swimming, mountain biking, and sailing.
As these are just the sorts of activities I am into, I felt right at home the moment I moved in. However, if you went to a big party school in the US, or live in a big city, the Penyrn/Falmouth lifestyle might be a bit of a culture shock. There is one single club in Falmouth, which to both our pride and shame was recently voted by The Tab as the 4th worst club in the UK. However there are a number of great bars and restaurants in Falmouth, and as it is a University town you will always find some friends to meet up with for a night out.
My best advice for living in Cornwall is to take advantage of its beauty by getting out and seeing the sites. Find a friend with a car and drive to Godrevy lighthouse to see the seals, or go on a day trip to The Lizard. It is well worth it!
What I miss from home
There are of course things I miss about home that you just can’t get in the UK – 24 hour diners, going to baseball games, girl scout cookies…I have to say though my peak of homesickness occurred when I had to miss my very first Thanksgiving. I managed to Skype with my family on the day and was a bit overwhelmed with food envy. Not to mention seeing my friends and family all gathered together. I have absolutely loved my time here and wouldn’t trade it for anything, but I will admit that being so far from home can be difficult at times.
Everyone’s experience in the UK will be unique, and the transition from the American to the British lifestyle can vary greatly based on exactly where you are coming from and what experiences you have had. The great thing about coming to the UK for university is that you get to live here. I have had a whole year to adapt to and embrace the UK lifestyle, and along the way I have had some incredible adventures and made life lasting friendships. Cornwall is not just a travel destination, but a second home. I am sure without a doubt that I will be back 😊
It’s been a while since I’ve written for this blog, but I thought I’d share a few words about what third year at Exeter medical school is like. This year our cohort has been split, so half of our year went down to Truro for 3rd and 4th years and the other half stayed here in Exeter. It was a bit of a shame because a lot of friendship groups got split up, but people seem to be happy studying where they are. For 5th year we swap around, so those in Truro come back to do 5th year in Exeter and those in Exeter head down to Truro for 5th year.
I’m really not sure if the Medical School gave us enough warning about what a massive step third year is from second year. Last year we were spending everyday on campus with a few contact hours a day and just one day a month on placement, and now suddenly we’re spending 4 days a week on busy wards with hardly any structure or supervision. I’m not complaining at all, it’s so interesting and exciting and I feel more like an apprentice rather than a student, but it is hard work. I feel like last year if you didn’t know something, it was ‘alright because you’re just a second year’. But this year, I’ve heard of quite a few of my peers being reprimanded by doctors and consultants because ‘You’re a third year, you really should know that by now’. I’m not sure what they thought was going to happen over the summer, but suddenly a lot more is expected of us. It’s motivational though, the fear of being embarrassed drives you to work hard and make sure there are no gaps in our knowledge!
So, to elaborate on what the structure of the week is like this year: Monday is Academic day, where we have 2 hours of lectures and then either clinical skills session or professional practice group in the afternoon. Tuesday we begin our week of allocated placement and spend the afternoon having tutorials (1-4 hours of teaching sessions from healthcare professionals). Wednesday morning we have placement again and then the afternoon is free for self-directed study or sport (or working at Superdrug, in my case). Thursday and Friday we spend all day at placement. Our allocated placement changes every week, and often varies greatly from one week to the next. They are often specialities of medicine, such as cardiology, paediatrics, psychiatry, GP and obstetrics and we rotate so that everyone in the year spends time in each speciality. A week in each placement isn’t a long time, which is good if it’s not something you enjoy, but frustrating if you do enjoy it and don’t have time to really get stuck in. Some specialities such as cardiology, elderly care and psychiatry have more than one week allocated.
I’ve found I’ve got less free time than last year, and when we do have time off we’re usually so knackered from the week before that it’s harder to fit in activities like sports. Nevertheless, I still find time to work 20 hours a week at Superdrug and go to the gym 3-4 times per week, which I find keeps a nice balance to my life.
In terms of assessment, we have 4 Medical Knowledge progress tests and 5 SSU essays to write. We also have clinical competencies (performing examinations, taking blood, etc) both in clinical skills (a simulated environment) and whilst on placement. In addition to this, we have to write 2 reflective essays for our academic tutors to read.
I know we’ve still got so much time to decide which speciality we want to work in, but I’m keen on the idea of paediatrics. Although I haven’t actually experienced my paediatric placement rotation yet, so that may change in the future. The good thing about rotating placements every week is that by process of elimination we can decide which specialities we find interesting and which ones aren’t for us.
All in all, I’m still really enjoying my time here studying with Exeter Medical School. Although it is challenging at times, I feel so fortunate to have a place here and have also made it this far through the course. This year I’ve been given insight to what working on wards as a doctor is like and now I can’t wait to graduate and start working!