Venice: Classes at Exeter


I have returned to Falmouth for a few days to submit my final assignments and pack up my flat before heading back to New Zealand! It is very surreal that this exchange is almost over.

Seeing as it’s almost over, I thought I’d write a little bit more in detail about classes. The semester was 12 weeks long, divided up in two parts, the first 5 weeks long, then a week long break called ‘Reading Week’ before another 6 weeks of term. My timetable was very different to Auckland, because I was taking four English Lit papers, whereas at home I would do other liberal arts papers. It was a good experience because it really absorbs you within the English programme but I am definitely looking forward to studying a more varied selection of classes this year! My first two papers were called From Modernism to the Contemporary and Romantics to the Victorians (all very pretentious I know). For each class there was one 1 hour lecture and a 2 hour seminar, so I only had four classes a week but the so called ‘free time’ in between was rapidly taken up by all the readings we had to do and assignments started pretty early on. For both papers I had to do two formative assignments (meaning the grades wouldn’t count for my final grade but you had to complete the assignment to pass the course) and they consisted of a 500-word essay and group presentations – the topic was your choice out of all the texts we studied for the course. For someone who is usually intimidated by presentations, I really enjoyed them because it was a great way to get everyone engaged with the text each week and meant that because students began the discussion at the start of the class, everyone was less intimidated to contribute. Also they were in seminar groups so they were smaller than the already small lecture classes.

Tremough House
With a couple of my flatmates in our decorated kitchen
The Stannary – student bar/cafe
Peter Lanyon building – where I had most classes

Initially I was daunted by the thought of getting to know classmates because everyone knew each other, having gone through all the compulsory English classes in first year (it’s a much more condensed programme here) but everyone, as I’ve mentioned earlier, was so friendly and welcoming, and it was easy for me to mirror the confidence with which everyone shared their opinion of the text because even the most basic opinions were welcome to develop more insightful conversation. I did have a good laugh though, because during the 10-minute breaks in the seminars, more often than not the conversation wouldn’t drift to what everyone had done during the weekend, but rather whether or not Rochester was a good guy or not in Jane Eyre (I observed these [genuine] debates because silly me I haven’t read Jane Eyre). So it’s a very different environment but so enjoyable being surrounded by people who are confident and passionate about their interests but no matter how ridiculous debates like that would get, were always ready to laugh at themselves in the end.

For those same papers, I had to write two 2,000 word essays over my reading week because the exams are held this May, when I’m back home so that was the only problem with the courses, because I hadn’t anticipated a higher workload so early in the exchange but all the teachers were very helpful. Those two papers finished in the week after reading week, and my other papers were Literature and Conflict and Transatlantic Avant-Gardes and again the readings consisted of a variety of novels, short stories and poems so there was something for everyone.

Penryn campus’ own secret garden

It took a while to get used to the grading system as well, especially because my final grade was dependent on only one essay and everything is marked under a different system, where a First is the highest grade boundary, a Second is middle ground and a Third is the lowest grade boundary before failing. I’m pretty sure this is the case for all UK universities. But once you understand that, as well as the fact that everyone says ‘You alright?’ instead of ‘how are you?’ (as a genuine greeting, not because they think you look unwell!) then you’ll be sorted.

A slightly different post this time, but hopefully it helps for any queries about the courses and papers themselves and the finer details to studying in a different country!

Until next time,


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