How the university has supported me through lockdown

Written by BA Art History & Visual Culture and History student Niamh 

For many of us now, Covid-19 and the lockdown are two words/ phrases that have become part of a our daily vocabulary and life. However, when the quick and abrupt lockdown was enforced back in mid March I was as a final year undergraduate student in the midst of my studies; writing essays, meeting my supervisor to talk about the all important third year dissertation and was reflecting on the last few months I would have in Exeter.

This was all quickly swept away from me and after lockdown was imposed I felt lost in a void of not knowing what to do or where to go. I returned to my family home leaving my life in Exeter and suddenly realising my time as a final year student was coming to an end. I had lots of university work still due in the easter holidays as well exams in May. I had to from somewhere find motivation to continue. As a third year I did not expect my last term and the exam period to be sat at home away from my independent life, my student house and my university friends. It was for myself, in the first few weeks hard to adjust and in all honesty not a pleasant experience. I felt I had no purpose, no motivation to continue my studies as graduation was now cancelled and no hope for seeing Exeter and my friends again. I know reflecting back on this early experience I may have been overthinking and added a touch of the dramatics. However, the feelings of helplessness I experienced were quickly subdued by the university and its support.

Tutors and academics from the onset of the pandemic adapted quickly to remotely support me through my remaining studies. I was able to arrange phone calls with my dissertation supervisor and attend Microsoft teams meetings with other tutors to address issues I may have been having with adapting to studying at home and writing my essays. Those who I spoke to were encouraging, understanding and inspiring as they reassured me that everything would be ok and that my studies plus grades would not be affected by these circumstances.

Another way the university supported me was through the consistent and great effort from the Student Guild and the university to implement a no detriment policy. This in effect gave all students a safety net towards work they would submit during the pandemic whilst at home. The fears of performing badly and being unable to study in a new environment were made a little easier by knowing that the university understood what current students were going through. On social media and through email, the university listened to the plethora of opinions, worries and suggestions that students offered which really felt like we were being listened to and that we were all in this together. Taking these sentiments, I was able to complete my studies e.g. my coursework, exams and dissertation as I knew that the university understood my circumstances as well as the new arisen difficulties.

Similarly, the Career Zone continued online with webinars and online appointments which really helped me after I had finished my studies. The quickening fear of now finishing my studies and having to think about my next steps after university were immediate during the lockdown as I felt the pandemic had thrown my future pathways into doubt. Pre-covid, after exam celebrations were planned and the career thoughts and journey were meant to be put on hold as I would have celebrated and enjoyed the summer months travelling, working part time and enjoying a well rested break. However, sadly I knew that this would not be able to happen, the career worries set in and this is where I turned to the career zone. The support online for helping find graduate jobs, internships and also advertising webinars to help you apply e.g. I took part in one last week on what assessment centres are like were all readily available and free to access for students. This career support has made me feel less stressed and worried about what the future might hold after my time as an Exeter student sadly comes to an end.

In addition to the worries of my future, I was before Covid attending wellbeing appointments through the university’s wellbeing services. This was this year a new thing for me and I was just adjusting to seeking help with my mental health when the pandemic began. I suddenly thought how was I going to receive the help I was having before and may now need during the lockdown? The university made it clear that their wellbeing services were still accessible and that appointments would now be by phone. This was increasingly positive news and really helped me to know that I would be able to access the support I would need away from Exeter. Similarly, the Doctors surgery on campus was able to offer me telephone appointments too.

Overall, the university’s support for me during these difficult times has been welcoming and reassuring. I have been able to seek help from relevant services and have been supported through my final year studies by my tutors and other academics and university staff. The university has been great at moving its facilities online which I have been able to access. My fears and worries are still there however the university has been able to help me understand that this isn’t goodbye to Exeter University once and for all. I will at some point in 2021 have my awaited graduation and I will always be an Exeter University student at heart.

Budgeting while at university

Written by BA Art History & Visual Culture and History student Niamh

The cost of university for many students can be a worrying subject. For instance, I was quite apprehensive about spending money in my first few weeks at university as I was totally new to the subject. Gone were the days where I would be able to walk into the kitchen and find a whole host of foods from the weekly family shop. I now had to this myself but how much would I able to spend? When managing your finances, it’s vital to be honest about what you spend and how you spend it. I had not realised the cost of having a takeaway coffee 2-3 times a week. Many students can underestimate their expenditure by as much as 50%! This however doesn’t have to cause alarm.

The first step I took was to look at how much money I would receive from student finance. I knew my tuition fee would go straight to the university and my maintenance loan would be deposited into my student bank account. I had never before had to pay rent at home and it was at first quite daunting having money in my account I knew I had to spend wisely. After calculating how much money I would have to be put towards my student accommodation rent, I then had money left over for food shopping and leisure activities.

I had before coming to university saved some money in my savings account in case my budgeting skills were a bit rusty. I also knew I would like to find a part-time job at university which would ease my financial worries and give me more breathing space to over spend if needed or in case an emergency arose.

The next step I took was to evaluate how much I would typically eat in a week or two weeks, did I need to buy three packets of pasta or would I be able to use one or two? Calculating your own budget on the amount of food you will consume is easier said than done! My top tip would be to write down the maximum amount of money you would be willing to spend on your food shop. If your food budget covers more than your shop cost then that means more money for something else e.g. leisure activities. Sharing with flatmates or housemates with key condiments such as salt, pepper even toiletries cut my weekly budget towards essentials down.

After completing my food shop I then knew how much I could spend on the week ahead. Its best to remember that some sports, societies and subscriptions you may sign up to in Fresher’s week require fees or regular payments. This was something else I had to contend with when writing down my budget. I knew I had to keep some money aside to pay for cricket equipment, sessions and club stash. Money set aside for socialising was an important part of my budget as I knew I would have to spend money on catching up with friends and clubbing on Friday nights. Although budgeting may seem somewhat restricting on what you can or cannot spend your money on, for me it helped me organise my week and allowed me to continue my studies without starting to worry about my new financial situation.

Below are a few tips that could help ease your financial worries whilst university budgeting!

For other costs – take your weekly budget out as cash from a free ATM at the start of each week. This way you can keep a better track of what you are spending and be able to see physically, the change and notes you have for the rest of the week. This made me think twice about wanting to break into a £20 note for a £2 chocolate bar!

I applied for my first credit card at university however I kept it separate and only required it in case of emergencies. Ensure you pay it off each month rather than getting charged. This was similar to my student overdraft which I tried not to dip into, although it was interest free I knew eventually I would have to pay it off. It is not free money!

Remember when attending university, to keep track of your finances. A little notebook could be helpful to jot down outgoings and money coming into your account such as your student loan, part time work or money sent from family members or guardians. Don’t let your money worries detract you from your studies and enjoyment of university life! There are many activities, opportunities and events which are free to attend put on either by the university, student union or by your friends. I have had great fun in creating activities and trying to find the cheapest alternatives to buying things, thus saving money. Its part of the university experience!


How do I prepare for starting university? Five top tips!

Written by Hannah BA English with Study Abroad

Preparing to start university is simultaneously an incredibly exciting and nerve-wracking time. As a student heading towards my final year in Exeter, I want to give you my five tried and tested top tips for preparing for starting university.

  1. The Practicals: Finance and Accommodation

Let’s get the boring (but highly important) aspects of finance and accommodation covered first, as having this sorted will help you have a stress-free transition to university life. Make sure you have applied for your accommodation and student finance before the respective deadlines.

Look into opening a student bank account – shop around between options as most student bank accounts come with a variety of perks that vary between providers. A 16-25-year-old railcard will also come in handy if you will be travelling to and from university by train during the year. Financially, it’s also handy to learn how to budget and manage your own money. Planning on a weekly basis can be a great way to keep on top of your spending without getting overwhelmed.

  1. Get connected on social media

Following the university on social media is a great way to keep up to date and familiarise yourself with your campus. You can also find pages and group chats set up for incoming students, which can be a great way to find students studying your subject or heading to the same accommodation as you.

Most societies and sports clubs will also have social media presences, particularly on Facebook and Instagram, so have a look into the ones you might be interested in to see what they will be getting up to at the start of the year. Remember to keep an open mind too as there will be plenty more societies and clubs that you come across once you arrive. It can be particularly useful to join the society for your academic subject so you can meet other students in a social setting or get advice from older years.

  1. Read around your subject

It’s also a good idea to dedicate some time to preparing for your studies before you arrive in Exeter. Find out if there are reading lists that your department recommend familiarising yourself with before your course starts. Don’t panic about covering everything but remember that, even if it feels like a chore over your summer, it will be so helpful to get ahead on reading in the long run as it will free up time for socialising and making friends in your first few weeks.

If your subject doesn’t have prescribed reading lists, read around your subject more generally! Hopefully you chose your subject because you find it interesting so find examples of your subject in action in the wider world. Doing some more ‘academic’ reading will really help ease you back into the student frame of mind after a long pause to studies.

Don’t panic about buying every single book possible – remember that the library will be available to you on campus, as well as Blackwell’s which sells textbooks second-hand at discounted prices.

  1. Learn to cook

Starting at university is likely your first time living away from home. With this newfound freedom and independence also comes the challenge of having to feed yourself every day (if you are in self-catered accommodation). Before you arrive at uni, try to have a few basic meals under your belt. Beans on toast is great but gets boring quickly. Meals that can be bulk made and frozen, such as chilli or Bolognese, are ideal. While you are still at home, have a practice at meal planning for a week, which will also help you practice budgeting.

It’s also worth knowing that you don’t need to bring every piece of kitchen equipment under the sun. Start with the basics and, once you’ve arrived and met your flatmates, figure out what extra equipment might be useful to buy as a house. No house needs 8 cheese graters…

  1. Get excited!

The run up to starting university can be a nerve-wracking time as there are so many unknowns involved. Above all, embrace the uncertainty and focus on how exciting it is to have several years of new opportunities ahead of you. It is so important to remember that everyone around you is in the same boat and (even if they don’t admit it) everyone experiences nerves when they start at university. Before you know it, you’ll have settled into university life and forgotten all about the initial nerves. If you take anything from this blog, please let it be a reminder to not panic!

I hope this has helped give you an idea about how to prepare for starting university.

Good luck and (hopefully) see you in September!

Going to a Virtual Open Day

Written by Annie MA Mechanical Engineering 









Choosing which universities you want to apply for at the moment may be daunting for some. Without being able to visit the cities and get a feel for the place you might find it difficult to picture yourself living there. HOWEVER… many universities are adapting to offer online open days!

You may be hesitant to attend as you feel it won’t be the same experience and you won’t be able to get the information that you need. BUT… fear not I am going to explain all the resources you have available on an online open day and what you can get out of it!

  1. Campus tour– it might seem a bizarre concept but campus tours are available for all university of Exeter campuses. If you are wanting to get a feel for the campus this is a great way to get to see it, lead by one of the universities student ambassadors.
  2. Subject booths– Each subject available has a subject booth that can be accessed through the main auditorium. At the stand there are a number of resources that are available to read and print, as well as students and staff members online to answer any questions you might have. It’s a great way to interact with students already on your course and get to know their experience.
  3. Admissions- At the admissions stand there are a number of resources available for students who may require help with the admissions process. There are a number of useful links, as well as staff members available to answer your questions.
  4. Accommodation– A great way of getting to see the accommodation as well as understand current student experiences is to visit the accommodation stand. There you are able to access video about the different types of accommodation available as well as listen to students talking about their personal experiences. Moreover, there are staff on hand to answer questions you might have about accommodation.
  5. Student Life– The student life stand is a great way of getting to know what its like to be a student studying at the university of Exeter. There are a variety of videos and documents on sports, life and opportunities available whilst studying at the university.
  6. International Admission– As well as an admissions stand, there is a more specific international admissions stand. The process for international student is often very different and so specific content has been created for those looking to study internationally. It also covers funding available as well as the support that is provided.
  7. Networking– If you are interested in speaking to other prospective students as well as academics, students and staff, the networking booth is a great way to get involved in conversation. There are a number of live threads you are able to add to!
  8. Support services– There are a number of support available whilst studying at the university, an overview of these can be found at the support services stand. There are also people online to answer any questions you might have.
  9. Auditorium– The auditorium stand has a number of videos available, from subject talks to student life. All presentations that are great to see. These presentations would otherwise be available at a normal open day and are a great way of finding out information about your course and the university.

How to book an online open day? Here are some useful links in signing up for an online open day. They show the dates available and how to register. Postgraduate Undergraduate

Exeter’s online open days are a great way to find out more information about the university and your course. There are a number of student and staff members across the stands providing a great way to interact and to get to know their experiences. The platform also allows you to download resources that you might find useful in gaining a deeper insight. Overall I would thoroughly recommend attending!

Tips for Navigating the Start of a Thesis/Dissertation

Written by Asma PHD English student

All Readings Matter

At the initial stages when you are doing a literature review, it can be significantly difficult to be reading and not really knowing what to do with all the books and articles you are going through. I had this same experience at the start of my PhD, and every time I found myself following threads of information to other books and articles that did not even seem relevant at the time. What I find now, however, is that everything I read contributed to my understanding of my thesis as a whole.

Note Taking and Keeping Track of References

I think it is really important to keep track of all the resources you check, as it gets difficult to remember everything you read after a couple of years into your PhD. I mostly just use a Word document and copy/paste all titles in there, so it is easy to get back to it later. I have highlighted relevant sections and added notes into the articles I read in PDF form, and that was super helpful when I started drafting my chapters. I have also used a Word document to write down whatever ideas sounded relevant to my chapter from the books I read, and whenever a similar idea emerged in another book/article, I would go back to that section on the Word document and write it under the previous one. This way of taking notes allowed me to have threads of similar ideas and different topics that a chapter could include. Some of these do not necessarily end up in the final draft of the chapter, but I later move them to another Word document of ‘leftover’ ideas that could work better in the next chapter.

Chapter Outlines and Starting Drafts

When writing the actual literature review, I tended to write prose rather than put things into bullet points whenever I could. I had chunks of prose and paragraphs from the note-taking stage that I used as starting points for my chapter drafting. Based on the threads of ideas that emerged in the literature I reviewed, I put initial chapter plans that would guide my drafting. It was never possible to stick to those outlines as they are, but they gave me a sense of direction when I started writing up. I added sections and titles and got rid of others when they did not work. In addition to this, I kept reminding myself that the resources I use for one chapter might not be used ever again in my thesis, so I did the works cited section for each chapter at the stage of drafting. This was honestly one of the best things I did throughout my writing up. When I finished drafting a chapter, I was not worried about remembering all the articles/books I referred to or having to spend a long time going through the chapters and writing down my references.

All Writing and Notes Matter

All in all, it is worth mentioning that I just wrote down ideas no matter how silly or irrelevant they sounded at first. Some of those later proved to be the start of a good comparison, for example, with another author’s ideas. They could provide ground for criticism as well, or they could just be there to encourage you as you see the page has some writing on it and it just helps you go on writing down more relevant stuff.

Preparation for uni life as an international student

Written by Feilin Lu MA Translation student

Another academic year is on its way, and I’d like to give some personal advice, from the perspective of a Chinese international student, on how to prepare to start university after you receive an offer from your dream university.

Booking the accommodation

It’s no doubt one of the most important things before you come to a new country to find a good place to live. And it’s a critical decision to make because generally speaking, you need to sign the contract for at least one year and pay for the deposit and part of the rent in advance, which means if you are not satisfied with the accommodation you booked, it would be quite problematic to change to another one. There are various choices for students coming to Exeter, including apartments both on campus or out of campus as well as private houses. In general, the conditions (services, facilities and indoor environment) of apartments would be better than that of private houses while the latter normally cost relatively less money. So it’s important to think about what you want most before you make the decision. Our university ensures the accommodation of first year student and you can find more details here: A reminder, book your accommodation as early as you can so that there will be more choices for you, and the fees may be cheaper. Also, be careful if you want to book accommodation from a private landlord.

Tuberculosis Testing

According to the regulation off the UK government, one coming from some countries needs to have a tuberculosis test if s/he wants to stay in the UK for over 6 months, and China is among these countries. You need to have the test at tuberculosis testing clinics approved by Home Office (full list: and the test should be finished before applying for visas. And here is some information you may want to know about taking the test,

Visa application

Another important thing to do. The type of visa we need to apply for is Tier 4 (General) student visa. You must provide the confirmation of acceptance for studies, the so-called CAS offered by your university as well as the tuberculosis test results when applying for the visa. Besides, you need to prove that you have enough money to support your life and education in the UK. That means you need to have enough money (tuition plus living costs for 9 months in the UK) in your account for at least 28 days. The bank statements are not necessary when you apply for the visa but you need to provide it if you get a spot check. It’s hard to say how long it will take to get the result, so my advice is to apply for it as soon as you get your CAS and after you have your money in your account for enough days.


Now you have everything done before you leave and the last step is to do the packing. Studying abroad could be exiting and fearful for students who have never been so far away from home. One may have no clue for what to take and not. Here are my advice:

◆ A rice cooker. There are fewer choices for it and the functions are simple here in the UK. So it’s better to take a small and good one from home.

◆ A laptop or/and a tablet. These electric devices are necessary because you are studying here not just traveling. A kindle is also a good choice.

◆ Skincare and beauty products. Although you can buy lots of European products with a better price here in the UK, for ones who are used to Asian brands such as Korean and Japanese ones, you’d better to take your daily stuff with you. It’s not so easy and cheap to buy them here.

◆ Clothes and shoes. I don’t think you need to take too many clothes and shoes with you cause you will always want to buy new ones. But for girls who are small (such as me!), it’s not easy to buy these in small sizes. It’s a sad story.

◆ Medicines. Medicines British people take are quite different from what we take in China. It’s not only expensive but also difficult to buy Chinese medicines here, especially traditional Chinese medicines. So take some commonly used medicines with you when you come here.

Here are some important things you need to do before coming here. And most importantly, prepare yourself to a new life in a whole new place and enjoy it!

My Freshers’ Week as a postgraduate

Written by MA Translation student Daina 









As I progressed to my MA straight from my undergraduate degree, I took to the opportunity to be a Welcome Team volunteer during Freshers’ Week. I hadn’t done this during my undergraduate degree so I thought that I would take part this academic year. This is a team of students that help new students orientate themselves during Arrivals Weekend and Freshers’ Week. I helped new first-year students move into on-campus accommodation, answered questions and was a friendly presence on campus for everyone. If you are progressing from an undergraduate degree, I would really recommend taking part: you get to know a new group of people and the volunteering slots are flexible so you can still have fun during Freshers’ Week whilst volunteering.

Aside from volunteering, during Freshers’ Week I also had academic induction as I was starting a new course. This is a chance to meet your lecturers and coursemates before the start of term, which I found very useful, so I would recommend going to this. It’s also a good chance to ask any questions in person. You may have to do work in preparation for the first week, so make sure you make time for this! Personally, I found it a bit difficult to get back into studying after finishing my final exams, so Freshers’ Week is a good time to prepare yourself for the academic year ahead.

Of course, that doesn’t mean that Freshers’ Week isn’t fun! If you are new to the University, it’s a good time to orientate yourself around campus and the town so that you can find where you need to be easily. I would encourage you to try out different society taster sessions, there are more than 200 societies catering for all interests including media, music and recreational sport. As a postgraduate you can join Postgraduate Society, the only one at the university exclusively for master’s and PhD students. During Freshers’ Week it holds a Welcome Dinner for new postgraduates, so be sure to get your ticket!

Hopefully this gives you an idea of what Freshers’ Week as a postgraduate is like. Have fun!

My Penryn Experience (so far…)

Written by Matt BA History student studying on the Penryn campus

Hey there everyone! My name is Matt and I’m a second year History student lucky enough to be studying at Exeter’s Penryn Campus in Cornwall. There’s a lot to say when it comes to Penryn – and what I’ve included here is really only the surface of it.

On my first visit to campus back in year 12 (4 years ago, what!?) I got completely drenched, it was quite the first impression and cost me a brand-new set of clothes! What struck me immediately though was how I could see myself running from building to building in the Cornish downpours, unfortunately I’ve since realised it’s not as romantic as it sounds – but still a great laugh. I like to think what really sold it to me was hearing about summertime when a huge inflatable waterslide is installed randomly for a day on the hill outside Tremough House, but truthfully the place just clicked with me. So, contrary to the advice of my history teacher and sixth form leader, I put Penryn as my first choice, and can say confidently that I’ve spent the two best years of my life here.

My first taste of Falmouth – I soon realised the gloomy days are just as fun as the bright ones

I’ve tried to split my broad experience into a few categories, which I hope will be useful for anyone considering studying at Penryn or who just wants to hear about what it’s like:

Social Life: I’ve never been one for the aspects of student life that could be seen as typical, which is one of the main reasons I applied to Penryn. Naturally, I recognise my preferences aren’t universal, and I’m not saying you can only apply for Penryn if you don’t like drinking. The campus has good opportunity for that kind of social life; whilst it’s not the kind you’d find in a city location, it is there and, admittedly, it’s very good fun. However, what I love about Penryn is the equally strong alternative where going to the beach at sunset with a guitar and disposable BBQ is just as fun – if anything, it’s essential. I’ve sat on the docks with fish and chips chatting to my friends, and I’ve been in a club at 2am having the best time surrounded by people considerably more drunk than me. There’s honestly something for everybody. When you don’t want to leave campus The Stannary often holds events or drinks deals, and there are a huge variety of societies too which are well worth getting involved with. If there isn’t a society you vibe with, start one up! By far the best thing is that not once have I ever heard judgement for which route someone wants to take. You’re free to be who you want to be.

Campus: Campus itself is gorgeous, very much thanks to the commitment of staff and students for sustainability. The amount of colour and nature in the grounds year-round makes walking to a 9am lecture in the autumn mists actually not too much of a burden. In the instances when you’re still reeling in from the night before having had barely a few hours’ sleep though, be glad that everywhere on campus is nearby and you can easily just pop into the campus shop for a coffee or roll out of bed 5 minutes before your lecture – this gets harder to pull off when you live off-campus, so make the most of it! With all this, as well as how nice the flats and rooms are (double beds!!), living on campus is a treat and there’s always a friendly atmosphere. There are benches all over for enjoying the sun and that slice of cake you bought from Koofi (the campus café) with zero guilt. Yet my favourite part is that because it’s a comparatively small campus you can never get far without running into someone you know. From making plans spontaneously to even just a quick ‘hi’, seeing a familiar face is always a boost no matter what mood you’re in.

Facilities: If you’re not inclined to nap after that 9am or if you need to inevitably panic-write the last lines of your essay at midnight, the library is open 24/7 and is a great atmosphere for working. In fact, it was recently renovated so is now even more homely and accessible – plus, the link with Falmouth University means there are a tonne more resources than would otherwise be available. If you’re feeling exceptionally braver than me, there’s the Sports Centre for a post-lecture workout. It holds a hall, gym, and fitness studios – essentially everything you need to be active, save for maybe a swimming pool. But hey, there’s the sea! The link with Falmouth also brings with it access to AMATA whose studios play host to numerous performing arts societies. AMATA also hosts comedy nights, performances, and concerts from outside organisations, and tickets are usually reduced for students. Penryn would not be what it is without Falmouth University. As a Humanities student I never thought I’d spend my Friday evenings in a studio dancing, let alone getting involved in my Falmouth friends’ projects and being influenced by their extraordinary creativity. It’s like one big collaboration, and we all help each other. I should also mention the campus shop which stocks everything you could ever need on short notice, and campus staff/security who are always available in case of flat emergencies – looking at you, dodgy toaster which kept tripping our electricity.

The view from the library makes it difficult to stay focused!

Local Area: Falmouth is the largest nearby town and is only a 10-minute bus journey away. It’s no city, sure, but the quirky shops and tea rooms and of course the beautiful harbourfront make it a convenient place to escape university life and just generally stroll around. There are also general housekeeping shops and banks, both of which do come in handy as a student. By night there is an array of restaurants, and the town is home to a number of clubs for the partygoers. Penryn itself is about a 15-minute walk from campus. It is steeped in history and has a real community feel – their Christmas light switch-on is very atmospheric. You can’t live near Falmouth and not pay a trip to Gylly though – the local beach is about 10 minutes from town centre and is a great place to kick back and relax, or even try your hand at some water sports. In the off-season the beach becomes a favourite with dog owners too, just saying… If shopping days are more your thing then Truro is the best place to go; it’s about a half hour bus ride or 20-minute train journey from campus, and you’ll find your typical designer brands there amongst more unique ones. Bus services from campus also run to Redruth and as far as Penzance, and there is a free (yes, FREE) minibus service which runs to the local Asda on Mondays and Thursdays. With all of this going on as well as innumerable walks, activities, and community volunteer positions, and despite what I was told at least, it really is impossible to be bored here.











Penryn Christmas Lights switch-on

Community: To me, this is the most important asset Penryn has. I’ve alluded to it already, but I wanted to reinforce it to end. Unlike bigger campuses, at Penryn you really get to know your course members and leaders – I’ve never actually been in a seminar with more than 15 people. This makes learning a lot less dry and a lot more engaging (it also makes making friends a lot easier!). Equally it means that support is available from your lecturers whenever you need it, whether academic or just personal. I’ve been to lecturers with the intention of discussing my essay for 5 minutes and staying for half an hour just chatting about life. I can only speak for the Humanities in that respect, but the feeling of being ‘known’ on campus is definitely universal and means you’re never far away from someone to talk to. Really, we’re just one big family – and I can’t think of anywhere else I would feel the same way!

So there you go, life at Penryn in a (admittedly quite large) nutshell. Cornwall really feels like a home from home for me now, and that’s thanks to my experience at Penryn. I’ve made some lifelong friends here and can’t wait to meet the people I’ve yet to. Personally, the atmosphere has allowed me to be myself – something secondary school never gave me – and although there have been rough days, living by the sea makes them just that little bit easier to swallow. Just try not to get too distracted by being able to see the coastline from the library – or don’t, it’s a gorgeous view after all!






The last evening I spent in Falmouth before coming home after second year – with views like this it’s hard not to miss it. 

How to study productively and efficiently at home

Written by Isla BA English student

Hi, my name is Isla and I am currently studying for my BA English degree at Exeter University. With the current pandemic and studies disrupted, tackling that pile of coursework you’d rather avoid, combined with health concerns and a distracting home environment is daunting. It’s easy to say ‘I just study better in the library’ but there are methods and tools out there to help you create the best study space you can at home.

Managing my studies around a busy timetable (I am part of three society committees, a subject representative and have a job alongside my studies) has encouraged me to find any resources I can to help with working at home productively and efficiently. I’m going to share with you some of the tools and study methods I use to keep up with work and still have time for Netflix and a social life (well more of a Zoom/Facetime life now).

My 3 most important general tips are:        

  1. These tips will only be as effective as you are in implementing them… yes that means no repeated adventures to the fridge or YouTube rabbit holes mid essay…though we have all done it.
  2. Have fair expectations of yourself – do not set unrealistic targets and then punish yourself for not meeting them, but also avoid making excuses for unnecessary lazy days.
  3. Learn from your study mistakes – it is ok to make changes and find what works for you.

Creating the right environment and headspace

  • Try to get up and go to bed at a similar time every day. I know you’ve heard it before but stick at it – a new routine takes a week to feel natural.
  • Change out of your pyjamas. Comfy clothes I fully support, but no-one works well in the pyjamas that they would rather take a nap in.
  • Don’t go straight from sleep to study. Give yourself some time to make breakfast, read or watch a little bit of a show you like, go for a walk or do some stretches. It is important to remember you would normally have a commute to university campus or school between waking up and studying, so give yourself some time to wake up properly and be in the right mindset.
  • Choose a dedicated study space that is NOT your bed and stick to it. Working in bed has been proven to affect your sleep patterns negatively.
  • Use your phone for break times only and turn off your social media notifications on your computer. Apps such as flora can be helpful to prevent you from constantly checking your phone.
  • Designate and inform people of your ‘study hours’. Friends will be less likely to call and distract you, and you’ll be more aware of leaving your study session to message people.
  • Keep up to date but try not to let news sources impact your state of mind negatively. The Togetherness Campaign by RMY is a great source of accurate news updates but put in quick to read Facebook posts.
  • Either Study properly or Relax properly. Giving yourself time to wind down is important and it is better to study well for 6 hours and then relax for 3, than do 9 hours of inefficient and stressful work.








Organisational advice

  • Write down clear weekly goals and then divide these by day. This makes tracking goals and progress a lot simpler so you can adjust your workload if your plans change, while still finishing on time.
  • Organise your ‘to do’s by deadline and importance. Complete tasks in the order of due date NOT based on what feels easier. We tend to avoid work we’re stressed about, and productive procrastination is still procrastination.
  • Use tools such as Trello and Todoist to track your tasks. A simple paper and pen to do list always works well too – I highlight mine with the top three urgent tasks to begin with.
  • Keep your workspace TIDY. You don’t want to keep ‘cleaning your room’ or ‘organising your desk’ instead of getting your work done.
  • Your lecturers/teachers are there to help – If you think you’re going to need help with an essay, ask sooner rather than later and lay out all your questions clearly in an email.

Study Tips

  • Active studying – ask yourself questions on every topic before and after you study. (What do I already know? How does this information fit into the rest of my module/course? How could I plan an essay on this topic?)
  • Always review and make note of difficult areas at the end of a study session – write reminders for areas you need to further research or recap.
  • Get a good night’s sleep. Lack of sleep affects your body the same way alcohol does, and no-one works well hungover.
  • Don’t skip eating proper meals, being hungry and constantly snacking are both unhealthy and distracting.
  • Set timers for an hour every time you start a new task/topic and mark how long it took you to complete or how much was completed within 1 hour’s work. This helps with future time management and study planning as you understand your pace and workload better.

I hope some of these tips will help you but remember that different study methods work for different people and the current pandemic has thrown everyone a little off course. Don’t be too harsh on yourself, give yourself the best opportunity to do well by balancing work and relaxation time. You cannot pour from an empty cup.

Tips for the First Term

Written by Malavika Murthy

It still seems hard to believe that I have already completed a term in college. With a masters degree, I seem to always be on my feet trying to finish one reading list after the other. Before I could even feel settled, I had to start writing assignments, finding a work placement and acclimating to the weather. Here are the few things that really helped in sailing through the term:

1. Having a supportive group of friends:
I was fortunate enough to make some lovely friends from the day I landed at Heathrow Airport. As time passed, we became a strong bunch from different areas of study and nationalities who are always there for each other when the going got tough for any of us. We are a group of 6 who decided to meet whenever possible and cook authentic meals from our county, this little outing once a month got me away from the monotonous routine of study and college.

2. Volunteering:
Studying heritage management here, I decided to take up volunteering at one of the heritage sites in Falmouth. The experience has been very enriching, to say the least. Volunteering at the Pendennis Castle, I have the opportunity to meet new people every week, I have gained a few insights into the history of Cornwall from the locals and been lucky enough to hear Cornish Carlos during Christmas celebration.

3. Reach out to your professors:
The teaching system in India is very different from here, there is always a wall between the students and the teachers and never an open communication. My professors have so far been so approachable and friendly, anytime I feel overwhelmed with any of my assignments I have emailed them or arranged for office hours and they have responded immediately and helped as much as possible to solve my problems.

4. Have fun:
Take time out from your studies and go out with your friends, flatmates or just by yourself. There is so much to explore around you besides the campus. Getting some fresh air has always helped me clear my mind and stay more focused on my studies. There are many societies and events that you can participate in. I attended two excursions organised by Reslife one to the Seal Sanctuary and another to the Eden Project, both have been an amazing experience.