Exeter: 12 things I learned from studying at a smaller city university
Having recently graduated from the University of Exeter, I am well aware of the pros and cons of studying at one of the smaller city universities. Here are the top twelve advantages and drawbacks I discovered about moving to Exeter to study:
1. The monotonous nightlife
The nightlife is like marmite – you either love the weekly visits to the same three carpet-stained, pop-music-loving clubs OR you hate it.
2. You eventually find alternative ways to get drunk and have fun
Because of the lack of hosted nightclub events, as your first term progresses, you increasingly find yourself searching for alternatives such as house parties (especially in second year rented accommodation). You also begin to switch from late night jägerbombs at sticky bars to day-drinking in pubs with your friends.
3. How unreliable trains are
Travelling home is a nightmare if you are relying on the train services (it is expensive and takes forever). There’s only so much work you can do on the shaky tray tables. Another TV show marathon it is then…
4. How easy it is to get to the countryside
But what you lose in man-hours on public transport, you can make up for by hitching a ride in your friends’ cars to explore the beautiful countryside only a short drive from the centre of the city. You’ll soon realise why this is a holiday destination.
5. The perks of campus life
Campus life is the best. It’s stressful having to walk across an unfamiliar city for different lectures or frantically listening to google maps to find a building on a road you’ve never heard of. Just stumble from bed into your 8.30 am lecture instead.
6. How many hills there are
But the moment you want to venture off campus, walking everywhere is a nightmare (public transport is not as reliable or as fast as London or other big cities). I was also not prepared for the amount of hills (Exeter has a hill on campus aptly named Cardiac Hill). This is not helped by the fact that you’ll have to walk to uni after first year. I guess it helps burn off the weekly Domino’s…
7. How pubs are better than the clubs
The pubs in the city are cherished and lots of them are in charming old buildings (Exeter has THE best Wetherspoon pub in the world). Perfect for procrastination.
8. Students are everywhere
However, when you do venture into town you are statistically certain to run into someone you know – students seem to make up the majority of the population.
9. How green it is
Sports and societies are a big deal. It seems that all that greenery has an effect on people. Especially when someone has established that your uni has the highest tree to student ratio of any other campus in the UK. Your Instagram will look great.
10. Online shopping becomes a necessity
Sometimes you might long for the hustle and bustle of a larger city. Places close relatively early and when your society’s ball is approaching you dream of a longer high street with better shops to find the perfect outfit.
11. Doing the same things week-in, week-out
You can find yourself feeling trapped in the mundanity of the same cafés, meals and weekly take outs. One of the most important things that university has taught me is how easy it is fall into a rut. And this, I feel, is amplified at a smaller city university, where you gradually feel like you are in a perpetual state of sameness around week 7. But remember, everyone feels like a muggle occasionally.
12. Keep yourself busy
Luckily the greenery and quirkiness also means you can easily find ways to escape this repetitive brain strain. This can be cured by exploring the history and hidden tunnels of your city, catching a twenty minute train to the beach, or immersing yourself in the fantastical world of books in the park. And, because J K Rowling studied at the University of Exeter, you can live the real world of Harry Potter. You can visit (and of course drink) in Diagon Alley (Gandy Street) and The Black Horse Inn (supposedly the inspiration for the Leaky Cauldron).
Natasha Hallam, University of Exeter English graduate