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…)
For first year students and those lucky second years (myself included), reading week is upon us. But as you hear this term ‘reading week’, you can’t help but wonder what’s it all about? Well, as most people decide to go home for a few days, reading week can be a nice break from the hustle and bustle of a packed out term. Reading week is largely about enjoying the freedom of not buying and cooking your own food, of being able to watch TV, and of course, catching up with family and friends. However, not to be forgotten is the true purpose of this week, to catch up on academic work and basically organise yourself. First term can be a little overwhelming for anybody, living independently in a completely new place, making friends and adjusting to student life. Reading week is also just a moment to breathe.
From my experience, I advise: don’t waste your week! The second part of first term can be insanely busy and can fly by with deadlines, house hunting and exams looming. Here’s a few tips on how to deal with the period from reading week up to Christmas!
1) Use your time effectively in reading week:- catching up on any missed work (we’ve all been there), or start planning/writing your essays/reports etc. Also, as silly as this sounds, take advantage of home cooked meals! This is also a chance to bring anything back to uni you may have forgot,such as a Halloween costume. A Christmas jumper also always comes in handy in December (socials, flat meals etc)
2) In November, start looking for houses for next year. Make sure you’re clear on who you’re living with and commence house hunting! A lot of them are released in November and there’s a mad rush which leads up to the Housing Fair. You won’t want to leave this issue until when you have exams, it’s just unnecessary stress!
3)Don’t leave all work until last minute! Leave yourself enough time to do the research, write out a draft, edit the draft, and also enough time left in case something goes wrong (illness, losing work etc)
4) Go to lectures. As simple as this tip is, I know it can be hard on a freezing cold Monday morning dragging yourself out of bed for an 8:30. However, it is worth it, as missed lectures can slowly add up and when the time comes to revise, you’ll realise that you don’t know half of your course!
Lastly, enjoy this festive time of year! Exeter also has a fantastic Christmas market, which is something to look forward to!
It’s always difficult to start a new school year—the stress of what’s to come, the frantic buying of textbooks, and the hopefulness for a good professor have been major stressors in my life the last few years. This year, however, was so incredibly different. Instead of gearing up for another year of studying with my friends in Florida, I packed up my bags and moved to Exeter.
As soon as I stepped foot on Exeter’s campus two years ago during a summer abroad, I knew that I’d be coming back in the future. The thrill of moving to a new country and living a glamorous, jet-setting life was all I could think about for the longest time. I was fully expecting postgrad to be some lifestyle/travel blog come to life. The thing is, those lifestyle/travel bloggers only show you the pretty bits—not the “holy crap I don’t know what I’m doing” parts.
For me, this feeling manifested itself most prominently the first time I climbed Cardiac Hill. I started strong and confident as any young adult with good health would. About halfway up, I started feeling that burn in my legs and the pressure in my chest that comes with an intensive cardio workout. By the time I reached the top I was pulling up Expedia to see how much a plane ticket back to Tampa cost. ‘Surely,’ I thought, ‘students can’t be expected to walk up this hill every day?’ A month later I’m still asking myself this question.
Though nothing else has hit me as hard as Cardiac Hill there have been so many moments in my first month here that have really shown me what it’s actually like to be living away from home for the first time. The thrill of going out to a new club with girls you just met in class the day before. The panic of going to a society event during Freshers where you know absolutely nobody. The relief when someone tells you they also have no idea how to turn on their radiator. Worst, the weird feeling in your gut when it gets a bit chilly outside and you can only think of your mom putting up the Christmas tree.
This last month has felt like a lifetime. For every bout of nostalgia or homesickness I’ve had, there have been a million more moments of excitement, new friends, and realizing just how lucky I am to be living this life. Though at times it can feel scary and lonely, I’m so excited to be here and I cannot wait to see what Exeter holds for me.
Some key tips that I think any Fresher should keep in mind are:
Every year the latest food ‘hype’ is splattered over the media whether it’s the importance of eating organic as seen in 2012, going gluten free in 2013 or the renowned ‘superfoods’ which in 2015 we were made all too aware of. The term ‘superfood’ became the popular buzzword in the food world last year, and even as students, tucked away in the south, it is something that we have been made to believe in, but what does it actually mean? And should we be getting involved?
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.
Seeing in the New Year in a living room jam-packed with my friends from home, I took a moment to contemplate how much I have to look forward to in 2016. There’s terms two and three, holidays and summer plans, a new beginning in starting second year and – rather frighteningly – my 21st birthday. Of all of these, it’s the latter that jumps out at me as the next twelve months’ largest milestone. Perhaps because I am – relatively speaking, anyway – pretty old for a first year. Whilst many of my flatmates and friends here celebrated reaching 18 last spring or summer, I turned 20 on a rather grey (and self-pitying) day in autumn. The phrase “in my twenties” just sounds far more adult than I feel.
Though conversations about age have seldom come up during my time at university so far, I know that being outside of the stock 18-year-old age bracket of freshers is a concern for many prospective students.
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.
Before coming to Exeter, I would have classed myself as a foodie. Not necessarily in the regard that I’m a vegetarian, gluten-free lover or self-nutritionist as some claim, but it was all goats cheese tarts, spinach and ricotta. However, like many others who have come away to university, my eating habits have degraded and I can no longer make that claim. All originality has vanished and cooking has gone from being a hobby, to a chore, simply a source of stress. The small self-catered kitchen in my Birks flat has become daunting, consisting of large piles of washing up, lacking clean surface space due to the remnants from last nights ‘flat party’ still remaining.
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.
And that was it. My last week of classes and my last full week in Exeter. I still remember quite clearly the very first time I walked to campus (it was dark and rained like cats and dogs), my first impressions of Exeter walking along the high street, my first couple of lectures. It seems like just yesterday I had all these firsts and now it’s come to me counting up all the lasts.
My professor for Modern Irish Literature, Dr. Ellen McWilliams, was so sweet and lovely and threw a little party for our seminar group with munchies and goodies. I think the last time I had a party in school was probably way back in elementary school. In my Dream Palace seminar, Dr. Lisa Stead also gave us all little treats at the end of class. This semester was the first time ever that Dream Palace has run so it felt kind of cool being a part of pioneer class for the module and sort of making a bit of history. If you’re in year 2 and wavering as to whether or not to take Modern Irish Literature or Dream Palace next year, I say go for it. It’s 110% worth it and you’ll get so much out of either or both of those classes!
Happy December! Time is really flying for me. I can’t help but find it a little odd that it’s December and there’s no snow, but the gales of wind and sporadic showers of rain are doing their very best to make up for it. I found out the other day that they have wind warnings here and I thought it was just the strangest thing. But then I thought about how we have cold warnings at home and how out of place that concept is in a place like Exeter, and then the wind warnings made a touch more sense.
For those of you concerned with my academic wellbeing, I have indeed started one of the essays I promised I’d start writing in my last blog post. I’m quite excited for this actually (I know that sounds super lame). But I’ve really loved Modern Irish Literature and I’m quite happy with the topic I’ve decided to marry (I borrowed that brilliant expression from my lecturer).
It’s getting to a tough time of term. The deadlines are piling up, reading week is a distant memory, and the Christmas holidays are pretty near – but not quite close enough. This past week for the first time since I’ve been back this year, I’ve genuinely missed home – the home-cooked meals, having a kitchen you’re not afraid to walk about barefoot in, my dog, being able to have a bath, and my family.
The events in Paris have cast a shadow over the past week, but they have also put everything into perspective. Deadlines and early starts might be a pain, but never have I been more acutely aware of how lucky I am to be studying at a world class university in such a safe and tolerant society.
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.
“It will be the best years of your life” was something I heard a lot before starting university. The process of moving away to study holds a kind of mythical status: whilst in sixth form, it represents an ideal of independence; for misty-eyed relatives and teachers, submerged by commuter trains and a nine-to-five, it’s a rose-tinted memory of carefree freedom. Yet in the thick of life as a fresher it can feel like something else entirely. Balancing new academic challenges with a deluge of pressures on finance, image, sexuality and social behaviour can be hugely isolating and overwhelming – especially if you have to learn to use a hob and a washing machine at the same time.
Things are doubly testing if you have done them all before and have it not work out. I started at Exeter this September after leaving another institution halfway through my first term last year and even the thought of returning to education was terrifying.
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.