Dinah: It’s Not Over Yet

My Autumn semester has finished and guess what?

I was supposed to be winging my way back to New Zealand but I am STAYING ANOTHER SEMESTER. My family have supported me staying and I am very happy. I have chosen two more modules that sound fascinating.

One is a British-based Art History module in art from 1850 to 1900. It includes architecture, photography design as well as pure art (whatever that is!) and the second module is an English one where I will be studying the American short story. I have deliberately chosen modules not available at University of Auckland .

The other great thing about staying longer is I will have more opportunities to explore the surrounding countryside and cities. There are so many more places I want to visit. I feel like I have only scratched the surface and there is so much more to see. Bath, Bristol, and Tintagel to name a few. Also, the National Trust has many amazing parks and buildings I want to visit. Rather than having exams, the modules here at Exeter are often marked on course work only which means predominantly projects and essays. These will spill over the end of the teaching semester. My semester finished on the 13th December but my 4,000 word essay for one of my English modules is due on the 9th January. However, essays can be completed and submitted from home if you return before the submission date. It is different for exams. You have to be at the university for the exams so that is worth checking before you choose your modules.

Other news. The shopping is so good. Far too good! I have spent money on clothes and shoes because there is such a huge choice and everything is reasonably priced, especially when there are sales which are happening now. However, there seem to be reductions all year round. It is a tough time for retailers so I feel it is my duty to help finance their continued existence! Food is also very reasonable. Cheaper than in New Zealand and a lot of choice.

I discovered the excellent Exeter Picture House the other day. It shows excellent films, both main-stream and more independent foreign films etc. It also has an excellent bar and café where you can have a drink and a delicious pizza before a film. Here in England, movies are called films and movie theatres are called cinemas.

Since catching buses and trains everywhere, I have had some fascinating conversations with people. Don’t take any notice of people who say that the English are reserved. They are rather shy but if you smile and comment about the weather then you are away! I have talked to old ladies, young guys, bus drivers and guards on trains. I traveled on a bus once where there was just the bus driver and me. We had a chat about what it was like to be a bus driver (he said he loved it) and the fact that I was getting a taxi service at a budget rate AND plenty of leg room. When you tell people you are from New Zealand they love it! Often they will tell me about a friend or relative that lives in New Zealand and many have traveled to New Zealand on holiday. It really is such a small world.

Well, that is it from me. I have enjoyed writing this blog and if it has inspired some of you to apply to Exeter for your exchange, then my job here is done!!

Dinah: Student life at Exeter

It is now Week 10 of a 12 week module so I have nearly finished and what a semester it has been! The best thing is I am recognising people now and giving people a wave and they (usually) wave back.

Exeter Quay

The Campus is not big and I know my way round now. The same goes for Exeter. It is not a big city and it doesn’t take long to get to know it. I would recommend the Phoenix Theatre for live shows and it also shows films as does the Film Club at Exeter University.
I met some fellow-students at the popular Ram Bar at the beginning of the semester where the unanimous verdict is it is a friendly , open university with some wonderful lecturers and with a great choice of modules. I discovered it is difficult to talk, though, with a mouthful of Nachos, most of which end up on the front of the person you are talking to. I made a mental note to eat something solid next time , like a Cornish Pasty (part of the local cuisine and very solid indeed).



My modules have proved ‘interesting’. Neither were my first choice because they were either full or there were timetable clashes. Poor Dave Bassett, on the Exeter International Exchange Team, was haunted by the Art History module I wanted to take called The Face. He tried his best to get me onto the module but there were already 8 people on the waiting list. I have ended up taking two English modules and missing out on Art History .

If I had been here a year, it wouldn’t matter so much and that would be my advice. If you are able to afford it financially and you don’t think you will get homesick, opt for a year because one semester is only enough time to get used to everything and start to make friends. Having a whole year will also give you a chance to take some modules that you might miss out on with only one semester.

One of my modules, Virginia Woolf ( Stage 3) is challenging but then what did I expect? That is the nature of the beast (Woolf ha ha). I got back my first essay the other week and the standard is high with a lot of required reading and research. The other module, Creative Writing, Writing A Poem, (Stage 2) is excellent. I really encourage anyone who enjoys creative writing to apply for either Writing A Story or Writing A Poem. The lecturers are very good and both my lecturers are published poets.


I went on another trip with the West Country Society to Boscastle in Cornwall. The brilliant thing about this Society is that you get to travel to places impossible to reach with public transport. It is great to get out of the City sometimes and explore the very beautiful countryside and villages. These trips will involve some walking, usually uphill but then you get to go down again and go to the pub.


Public transport here is very good. There are frequent buses and two train stations. I bought a Stagecoach Smart card which cost 140 pounds but was cheaper than paying 4 pounds eachday which is what I was doing initially. I’m staying in an area called Heavitree , so called because they used to hang people from a tree and it was a heavy tree. If you are staying in the Halls here on campus then of course you won’t need a bus card.

Henry Moore Sculpture

That’s it for now. I’ve got to go and eat another Cornish pasty. I love them!


Dinah: First impressions of Exeter

The University of Exeter is just outside the historic city of Exeter, set in beautiful parklands and is also one of the top universities of the U.K. It was my first choice and I was lucky enough to get a place for the Autumn semester, where I am taking two English papers (equivalent full-time).

Last week was Freshers Week where every society you could wish to meet is there, including the Disney Society and the Hide and Seek Society ( I still can’t find them!). It is a bit overwhelming but worth going to the Freshers Fair on Saturday at the end of the week as all the Societies are there and you can sign up for  the ones you want. I chose the West Country Society (they take you places, like Dartmoor ) and the Creative Writing Society, among others.

Quarry at Dartmoor

West Country Society excursion to Dartmoor

One word of advice. The Freshers Week begins on Monday so if you are thinking of going next year in September, try and arrive on the Friday or Saturday rather than the Monday so you can beat the crowds and get your Student card processed. There is no Freshers week in the Spring Term.

Everyone has been so welcoming and apart from being confused as one of the lecturers a few times ( I’m a Mature Student although I don’t feel very mature!!) it has been uncomplicated. There is a lot of support at the university if you feel lonely or stressed, mainly through the Student Guild which is the name of the Student Union. It also happens to have a good bar, the Ram Bar and is a meeting place for many of the Societies  in Freshers week.

Last week we also had a Welcome Talk from International Exchange and then another talk with our Sudy Abroad Team. Mine was the Humanities Study Abroad consisting of the dynamic duo of Steve Bassett and James Leigh. They are very helpful and will make sure you are happy with the modules you have chosen . They will also sort out any timetable clashes.

I also went on an afternoon trip last week with the West Country Society, to Dartmoor. What a beautiful area, complete with Dartmoor ponies who hang around the picnic and carparking places (they are all fat).

This week lectures have begun. You have a couple of weeks to change modules if you are not enjoying the ones you have chosen but for me it Is a case of ‘so far so good’. I am very aware that there is a high standard here at Exeter and you really have to work hard but there is academic support with lecturer’s office hours etc.

One final thing. I went on a tour of the library last week which was the usual scenario. Most of the books are on-line, there are computers everywhere and its all high-tech. Then students were asked if they would like a tour of the ‘Old Library’. “Yes please” I said and I am so glad I did. What an amazing place, quiet and with a great collection of books, the best film museum AND Daphne Du Maurier’s desk. “Who” you may ask? She was an author who wrote Rebecca and My Cousin Rachel  ( both made into films)

I touched Daphne Du Maurier’s desk!! I really did.