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UK – Erin

Erin with The Mouth of Truth statue in RomeErin in the English countryside

Student: Erin
Course: Bachelor of International Studies
Program: Trimester exchange T2 2023 and T1 2024

Describe the city you were living in: the landscape, the culture, the weather etc.

I was living in Exeter, a small town in south-west England. The beautiful thing about Exeter is that you are close enough to bigger cities like Bath and Bristol to enjoy the night life, but also far enough in the countryside to truly experience the traditional Devon lifestyle. Laid back living, open homes, vibrant rural community, and plains upon plains of woods and farmlands. In the traditional English sense, the weather sways from rainy to sunny within the hour. The warm sun gives way to a trip to Dartmoor for an afternoon hike and lunch in Okehampton. Okehampton is a short train ride that goes through some of the smaller surrounding farm towns, littered with old churches and castle ruins.

Describe a normal day in your life overseas: your university, your work placement or your study tour?

Day to day life in at UoE can be comfortable: morning classes, a coffee from Café INTO, afternoon class, chatting in the library, doing some work at the Terrace, and the evening walk back to accommodation. I also really enjoyed going to the Devon and Exeter Institute to lock in and study for a few hours. You get a beautiful view of the cathedral and can wander the library with books dating back hundreds of years. The staff are also so friendly and give you a little tour on your first visit. In the evening, I would attend dance fit classes with my flat mates or play netball with the classics society. Weekends were either spent playing netball with Unileague or going out and enjoying the pizzas from the Firehouse.

How did you make friends and what sort of things did you do together?

I have been fortunate to have become really good friends with my flatmates. During fresher week, we went to a range of socials for the different societies and met people from the UK and outside. Socials are a really good way to meet people from different walks of life but also develop your interests in things such as Model UN, Middle Eastern studies, and Archaeology. Keeping in contact with my fellow Deakin students was also really important to me, having that connection to home made it easier to settle down into life in Exeter.

What was something that challenged you?

When I first came, I wanted to live a similar life to what I did back home. However, some of those aspects are not the same or available here. I was able to join the universities netball team where I made some good friends and felt a connection to home. In retrospect, it forced me to consider what is actually important for me and to try out different things. Surrounding myself with people also helped me settle in and build a routine. I got really into hiking and walking, both things I used to hate, and became more familiar with the area around me.

What is the one big thing you will always remember from your experience? Or one big lesson that you learnt?

I learnt how to recognise what I need and then advocate for myself. It’s important to be able know what you need, particularly in a new environment, to ensure your own comfort and happiness. This experience allowed for me to learn more about myself and really take time to reflect daily on how I am feeling and how I can be actively taking care of my mental and physical health. More importantly, then being able to stand up for yourself. Having this ability in my pocket gives me the power to move forward into new spaces and build the future that I want.

Learn more about studying at the University of Exeter

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