My first year at the University of Exeter

Hi, my name is Cherry Wong and I am a first year LLB Law student. For the past 12 years of my student life, I studied in a local English girls school. Therefore, this is my first year studying in the UK. Studying law has always been my dream and I still remember how excited I was when I first came to Exeter.


Studying in the UK, Exeter in particular, provided me a new perspective of how education should be and taught me to study with a positive attitude.

In light of the coronavirus, all face-to-face classes have been cancelled and switched online. Lecturers, seminars and personal tutorial meetings are all pre-recorded or held real-time on Zoom and Skype. Despite the time difference, I found online classes very interactive because I was able to communicate with the academics right away when I had questions in mind.

Oral assessments and exams have been changed to written submissions and online exams. With the support of the University, students were given clear instructions of how the exams would be held, including the no-detriment policy and the new policies to regulate academic honesty in non-invigilated examinations.


Opportunities and Challenges

Studying in the UK encouraged me to make the best out of all the opportunities, be it participating in extracurricular activities or planning for my future career. I joined several societies and sports clubs, such as Exeter Law Society, Body Society and Muay Thai. Joining societies exposed me to different people, networking skills and culture.

The biggest challenge that I identified was transitioning into University. Having got used to the over-drilling and spoon-feeding education system, I struggled most in essay writing. As I have never studied any electives that require essay writing in senior secondary school, it enlightened me to become more independent in my studies. I scheduled meetings with academics and sought help from my Personal Academic Tutor on how to write my essays. It took me a long while before I made improvements this term, however I found one-to-one tutor meetings very useful because my tutor provided me with very specific advice to help me improve.


Social Connections and Networking

My top tip to making friends is open yourself up and mingle with people of all ages, genders, race and interests. I met a group of friends that I will be living with next year and my housemates are from the UK, US and India. The reason why I chose to stay in a house with mixed nationalities is because I want to experience group living with different habits and culture. Besides, being a single child at home and having stayed in a studio this year, it would definitely be a great experience to live with my friends and organise house parties and festive celebrations. I think it is a fantastic way to gain mental support and to create life-long memories with them.

My friends and I are very close and we stay in touch all the time, even before we left for our homes due to the coronavirus. We connected on social media platforms and we held a few video calls to update each other on our daily lives and routines.


Community Involvement

During my free time, I volunteer for the Exeter Community and I help the vulnerable to walk their dogs. I enjoyed this volunteer project a lot partly because I love little animals and partly due to the personal satisfaction of giving back to society.

Over the past few months, I experienced Exeter as a very supportive community. Especially after the pandemic happened, the University alone has provided a lot of support and updates in regards to studying, and made arrangements for students who are unable to leave for home to stay on campus. The University has also donated medical supplies to the NHS medical officers for protective purposes.

The students at Exeter have also been very supportive and disciplined during this unprecedented time. Some students volunteered to give out extra medical supplies and food regularly to street sleepers in need. Some students also offered to help deliver groceries to local families in the community that are unable to make their way to the groceries stores due to the underlying health conditions.


My Advice for Future Students

I understand how difficult and unforgettable this year has been for Hong Kong students, to experience all the local protests and now battling against the coronavirus pandemic. Undoubtedly, it may impact your public exams to a certain extent.

As a student who experienced hardship and personal circumstances, my personal advice is to believe in yourself and have confidence that you can overcome any obstacles. Be fearless and put in all the effort in your public exams. Do not underestimate yourself and work extra hard on your English exams and your elective subjects. At the end of the day, you will realise how your hard work and experiences all contribute to your success. All the best!

   May 1st, 2020    accommodation, Higher Education, International, Lectures and Seminars, Preparing for University, Studying, Undergraduate

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