Hi! I’m LP and I started my Masters in Food Security and Sustainable Agriculture in September this year. Wondering how on earth I ended up doing this very strange sounding course? Here is what happened –
Towards the end of my undergraduate course at the University of Birmingham, I was at my wit’s end trying to figure out what I wanted to do next. I knew I wanted to do a postgraduate degree but two questions remained — what and where?
That’s when I came across the University of Exeter. (more…)
When I began my Master’s degree in September 2014, I never imagined how much my life would change between then and now. I managed, more or less, to complete half of the programme’s taught credits in the first year, but then stumbled through two abortive attempts at beginning my second year, and am only just returning to study now.
In late September 2016 I was diagnosed with CFS/ME (Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, or Myalgic Encephalomyelitis). After what seemed an endless barrage of blood tests and other various proddings/pokings, I was formally diagnosed and I began to learn about how to live with the condition.
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.
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:
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.
Year after year I would defer my admission for my postgraduate degree. I always had a very good reason, it was either I was pregnant, had just got a new job, or just couldn’t afford the fees. So when I got my offer to study at Exeter I was determined it would be the last time I would apply for a postgraduate course. Either I would go through with it, or forget about furthering my studies and focus on other things. After all, I did have a lot to focus on, a great husband, amazing children and a decent job in a top government agency; what more could a girl ask for?
When I touched down in the UK for the first time after a life in Sub-Saharan Africa, I had so many expectations and insecurities on adapting to life in the country. Fortunately the world is not so different as we sometimes think. After a month in Surrey, I departed the bucolic setting to satisfy my yen for a city life in one of the greatest cities on earth, London! Skipping through some hard times and now one year later, things have worked out in many ways, significantly I have found an invaluable partner and some stability in the big city; but it seemed the right time to take the next step, which is when I applied to the University of Exeter.