“Wow, your Uni is so far away!” is something I hear whenever I let loose the fact that I study in Cornwall, be it from family, friends or complete strangers who are just making polite conversation, not thinking it’ll be somewhere that far away. Maybe that’s part of the reason why studying at the University of Exeter IN Cornwall lured me all the way here – it’s quite far, especially for international students like myself coming from different countries that takes hours on a stuffy airplane, followed by a long train or car journey after. The travelling can be pretty crazy, but it’s worth it once you reach campus and you’re immediately greeted with fresh air and pretty views. The campus itself is pretty modern, although some buildings such as Tremough House has a long running history with lots of character to them – in a way it’s a cool balance for most people!
Tonight, you may find me baking a chocolate cake, whilst Coast plays in the background, but on Monday I was attending one of the open events for the Tate St Ives. The gallery fully reopens this weekend after a massive refurbishment and the addition of a large extension and more important than any of the above… it’s free this opening weekend.
St Ives, in general, is always good for a day trip, the light, the colour of the water, the food, the beaches- I could go on. With train tickets using a 16-25 railcard are around the £5.40 mark it even fits in with the ever-tight student budget, I’d recommend going as soon as you get the chance because it’s the kind of place where you feel like you’ve been on holiday for the afternoon, thus making it worth the one and halfish hour journey, this weekend you can also take advantage of a Cornish cultural landmark.
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.
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…
Vegetarians. You either hate them or you are one. There’s no denying that vegetarianism and veganism are hot topics in foodie culture right now. And while I’ve been riding the veggie train for the last year or so, I promise I won’t use this blog to try to shame you into cutting meat out of your life. That being said, I’ve been working very hard (and eating a lot of halloumi) to bring you what I believe to be the best vegetarian hot spots in our little bit of Devon heaven. (more…)
Thus ends the first week of my final term here at Exeter. My friends and I feel a bit like we’re in limbo – people are forever asking about our plans for the future, and we’re thinking ever-more about what to do after we leave university. Some people are intimidatingly organised, and some of us have precious little clue as to what’s next (I’m in the latter category). Sometimes it feels like I’m wishing graduation forward, and have half-left uni already. So, since I’ve personally ruled out post-graduate options which would require full organisation now, I’ve temporarily suspended thinking about the future until the freedom of Summer term.
I’m quite glad to be back in Exeter after Christmas – I’ve learnt there are pros and cons of both living at home and in Exeter. At home, there is family, friends, cats and home-cooked meals. But in Exeter, there are even more friends, independence and a lot more fun. Living in the house is a lot better for me than halls, I really like my housemates and we always have a good time, whether we’re going out or just staying in. Although I was sad to say goodbye to my family, I was looking forward to getting back into a routine of learning and working. After all, there are only so many lazy days you can have.
So far this year I have been pleasantly surprised by the workload and the course. Coming back in September, I was really worried about how difficult second year was going to be, especially after struggling with first year. I think I’m used to the course structure, I know how to prepare for sessions and I know how to organise my revision.
Christmas is hailed as the “most wonderful time of the year”… and to be honest it truly is (once you ignore the fact that after all the merry-making you have exams or a 2,500 word essay to submit)!
Unlike most students who travelled to spend time with their families, I spent mine in Exeter and the rest of my family travelled to join me. To be honest they didn’t know what to expect: my older boys assumed Exeter was a tiny village and were certain we would spend the whole period cuddled by the fireplace, but they were pleasantly surprised.
After a hectic Christmas, I have already submitted my first deadline of 2016 and am currently preparing to move back down to Exeter for the start of Term 2. New modules and challenges lie ahead, so I thought I may take the time to consider what I can do to make life easier for myself in the coming months by looking back at the previous term. These are not New Year’s resolutions as such, as I am terrible at keeping them, but more guidelines to help keep me on track while I tackle the new term.
Having spent most of Christmas in the kitchen eating everything that I could find, I thought that my student diet may be good place to start when considering the New Year. Now, I know many people try and change their diet after Christmas and do not always do so well, so I have decided not to make any radical changes, I just won’t spend all day with one hand in a packet of crisps and the other in a pack of mince pies.
And just like that, my exchange term in Exeter has come to an end. I’ve made a little loop around London and will be catching a flight to be home for the holidays. My time in Exeter was amazing and I need to also extend a huge thank you to all the incredible people I met that made my time in Exeter so. There’s so much I’m going to miss here. Looking back, I’m really thankful that I had this blog and the opportunity to even be a blogger. I’m usually pretty terrible at keeping a travel log about all my trips, but this blog really pushed me to do that and I’m grateful I had this opportunity.
I’ve learned a lot throughout my experience and I’ve grown in a variety of ways. It sounds so cliché but I think that once you go on exchange, you encounter different people and circumstances that will compel you to undergo change.
The number of weeks I’ve been here has hit the double digits! And the temperatures here have finally broken into the single digit range so at last I felt like it was acceptable to break out my “winter” coat. Back home, I’m used to saving my winter coat for when it’s absolutely a necessity because if you start wearing your winter jacket when it’s only kind of cold and not freezing cold, you’ll have nothing warm enough to wear when it’s freezing cold. I don’t think I really needed to apply this mentality here in Exeter but some habits die hard.
I believe it’s also acceptable to announce to the world that the Christmas season has official descended! We had a light-up ceremony on Thursday in Princesshay, which is like the central shopping district/square; it was all very exciting and lots of good fun. I’m not sure if we have these light-up ceremonies back home; I feel like we would and I’ve just never paid enough attention to know that they were going on. I’ll have to make a note to keep a lookout for it next year. I feel like I keep saying I’ll do all these things once I get back and it’s all just going to amass into this one big list; perhaps I’m better off saying that I’ll go back home and try and be a little bit more of a tourist instead of subtly avoiding it.
I can’t believe I’ve been in Exeter for about 10 weeks already! Time sure does fly! It’s been a wonderful time filled with mostly highs and a few lows.
When I arrived I searched for a bucket in vain (at home we use buckets at lot for having baths, don’t ask me why it’s just what we do) and had to settle for a mopping bucket and take off the top. While I did find it a bit small it gets the job done.
First up I attended one of the Global café meetings and I was surprised to find that scones were not quite what I expected. Don’t get me wrong, they are quite tasty but in my head a scone felt and tasted like a hard, thick biscuit. I did quite enjoy them especially with jam and tea.
Then I met my Global Chum (Exeter does like Global stuff!) a lovely final year student called Jo. She had just come back from a year abroad (it’s a really cool thing most students can do in different countries) and was really busy but made time out to show me round Exeter and even took me to the lovely Quayside which had unbelievably gigantic seagulls.
The term is half over and my time is Exeter has reached its midway point – that’s crazy! I think right now, I’m at that weird stage where I’m thinking, I have all these things I still want to do and not enough time to do them, time needs to slow down. At the same time, I’m in the midst of essay season right now and all the work is piling up on me and then I think, it’s okay, it’ll all be over soon, I just have to push through for a little while longer. It’s a bit of a strange in-between to be in.
Tuesday October 13th marked me having been in Exeter for one month – I can hardly believe it! It seems like everything has just flown by. I feel like I’ve been here a lot longer than I actually have, and I can bet I’ll feel like I hardly spent any time here when it is time to leave.
This week was a bit of a milestone week as I also handed in my very first couple of assignments on Thursday. Exeter uses an electronic submission system and while it’s very sustainable of them, I have to admit that handing things in online scares me a little. I’m someone who likes things to be more tangible and I quite revel in the feeling of having a printed copy of my essay and giving it away to the professor for him/her to decide my fate. Submitting something electronically gives me the impression I’m giving away my efforts to an abyss. To be fair though, I did like the fact that I got to hand it in whenever I pleased instead of waiting for class time and having six pieces of stapled paper feel like the weight of the world in my bag.
As of late, I’ve found that I’m beginning to notice less the stark differences between here and home and rather, more embracing what is here that I would not have, or see, or be able to experience back home. I feel more like I’m a participatory observer versus an outsider looking in, and it’s a refreshing perspective.
Last weekend, I looked outside to see my very first lunar eclipse. I stayed up to see a part of the eclipse and then gave in to sleepiness, but I managed to wake around 3:30am when there was supposed to be the supermoon; therefore, despite my tiredness, I managed to get my eyes open and myself out of bed to look out the window. The entire spectacle happened at much more reasonable hours for my North American friends, but from what I heard, I think I had the better view so I guess you win some, you lose some.