Dear Exeter freshers, here’s how to make the most of second term at uni

Maybe it’s time to give your liver a break from first term

As you enter your second term at the University of Exeter, you slowly begin to realise how different it is from your first term. In the first term, you settle in, get used to your surroundings, and form a friendship group after meeting different types of people. In the second term, there is a complete gear change. The shift from “silly” to “serious” can be a bit brutal and daunting for many freshers who try to cling to their title of being a “silly fresh”. With many feeling anxious about beginning their second semester at the University of Exeter, it can be hard to know how to make the most out of the term. When the workload’s piling up and your recorded lectures are sitting on your watchlist, a lot of freshers can feel overwhelmed about how to balance uni and a social life. But, not to fear, with spring slowly approaching and many more holidays popping up, here’s a list of how to make the most out of the second term in your first year:

1. Go to the beach

Second term is one of the best times to go to the beach for a stroll, a picnic, or if you’re feeling brave, a wild water swimming session! Exmouth and Dawlish are only a train ride away, so it would be hard to say no to going to Exeter’s beloved beaches, especially as the workload in the second term can start to pile up. Going to the beach with your friends can be a perfect distraction from any exam or work stress –  even if you decide to go on a solo trip, you are guaranteed to leave feeling more peaceful. Or, you may leave freezing from braving the open water swimming – it’s supposed to be very good for you!

2. Galentine’s

With the second term, certain occasions can make us single girls want to down a bottle of Echo Falls and re-download Tinder for the fourth time: Valentine’s Day. It’s the time for couples to express how much they love their partner through splashing the cash on dates, gifts, or even a Poundland engagement ring. But, for all the singletons out there (me included, hit me up), it can be hard to enjoy the season of love. Although Valentine’s Day is mainly for couples, who says you can’t celebrate platonic love with your gal pals? Galentine’s is the perfect way to spend time with your besties! You can enjoy a chilled night in or dance the night away to Beyonce’s “Single Ladies” on the Fever Room 2 dance floor.

To have the best Galentine’s with your beloved friends, why not spend the night trying to make the TikTok viral pizza hearts? Or, enjoy a themed cocktail night where the drinks are inspired by your ex (e.g. a Bloody Mary and naming it “Walking Red Flag”). You could even try being fancy and book your favourite restaurant together, and bond over how much you appreciate one another after the second glass of white wine. Galentine’s is the perfect time to get creative and celebrate your love for one another! Besides, who else has been there for you whilst you cry over your two week situationship in the TP toilets?

3. Embrace nature

By going to uni in Exeter, you are lucky to be surrounded with so much nature and beautiful locations. Why not take a trip down to Dartmoor National Park and walk along the hills? Or, again, walk along the coast of Exmouth Beach. Even if you don’t feel like venturing out too far, there are many beautiful sites on campus that can really help to tackle those tough days. My personal favourite has to be around Reed Hall, where you can watch the ducks in the pond, explore the gardens and get a good view of Exeter. With second term bringing in the season of Spring, embracing nature becomes so much more enjoyable and refreshing as new flowers bloom, and the stress of your 2000 word essay is temporarily forgotten about.

4. Plan nights in

Having nights in with your friends is the best time to really relax and relieve any academic stress. Some lovely ideas for your nights in can include a movie night, games night, takeaway night, or even attempting to cook a flat roast dinner (the East Park fire alarm will definitely go off though, be warned). With Pancake Day approaching, having a night in cooking with your friends can be such a good way of bonding and spending one-to-one time with them as you catch up and gossip whilst scooping Nutella out from the jar. Nights in don’t always have to be with other people – sometimes, having a self-care night can be the best time to completely unwind and relax. Pop on your favourite film, put a face mask on, get a few snacks and DON’T light a candle (maybe a battery-operated one instead?) Wow, and there you have it – a chill night in without denting the bank.

5. Get into the Easter spirit

As the Christmas chocolates and goodies quickly shift into Cadbury’s Mini Eggs and Lindor bunnies, you know that Easter is approaching. Easter is a lovely time of year for us to enjoy spring and chocolate (and use it as any excuse to dress up as a bunny and drink vodka lemonades in Fever). As with any holiday, Exeter uni students love to make it an event. In Exeter, you are bound to find some Easter themed nights out and activities. Why not attend the Easter Batty Bingo with your friends and have a chance of winning some tea bags from Peggy Sue whilst wearing £1 bunny ears? Or, dabble in some Easter themed flat parties with your friends! If you’re looking for a more relaxing way of celebrating Easter, how about baking your favourite Easter treats with your flatmates such as Rice Krispie cakes, Mini Egg brownies, decorating an Easter egg, or even going full out with a homemade carrot cake (if you’re not feeling like Mary Berry, you can always buy these from your local Co-op).

6. Study dates

With the workload piling up in second term, it can be hard to stay motivated when all you want to do is stay at home and watch your favourite Netflix shows. Study dates with friends are a perfect way of staying focused but also not feeling too overwhelmed (as your friend is also going through it as well). If you’re looking for a change of scenery from the Forum library, try venturing out and going to local coffee shops. In Exeter, we are lucky to have many student-friendly coffee shops that allow you to sit, study and sip your third oat vanilla latte as you try to finish your essay. The coffee shops in Exeter not only provide good vibes and great coffee, but you can also enjoy a little bite to eat. Some personal favourite coffee shops to study in are The Sunset Society, The Glorious Art House, Grow Coffee House and No 1 Polsloe. You could even go for a coffee and catch up with a friend as a break from your work. Either way, these places guarantee some relaxation.

7. Classic activities

To make the most out of second term in first year, try pushing yourself to do more activities. With the Exeter Student’s Guild providing various fun events for all student to take part in, there’s endless activities for you and your friends to enjoy. Such as, the Guild’s “Give it a Go” scheme where you can participate in something you may have never tried before! This is a perfect opportunity to get yourself out there and make new friends. Even in Exeter City Centre, there are many fun things to do with your flatmates or friendship group. Why not go to Tenpin bowling on the Quay? They provide a student discount on Tuesday and are reasonably priced for the number of games you get to play. In the heart of Exeter Guildhall, there is Boom Battle Bar, where you can play pool, darts, mini golf and even axe-throwing! If you want to venture a bit further, there is also Go Ape where you can brave the high rope courses and complete the zipline. The amount of fun activities Exeter has to offer is endless.

8. Join a new society

Joining a new society is one of the most recommended things to do in second term for freshers. By joining a new society, you can make new friends and even throw yourself into an activity that you have never tried before (or an activity that you have loved for years). Societies are always providing social nights out, events and fun activities – it’s not too late to join! Not only are societies fun, but they are also a good way of catching a break from uni work. With more and more new societies forming at Exeter, you are bound to find something you will enjoy. By joining a society that sparks your interest, you will meet like-minded people you can enjoy the activity with, such as Taylor Swift in the Swift Society! If you have struggled with getting yourself out there more, second term is the best way to do so – by joining a society you can boost your confidence by pushing yourself and also make friends along the way.

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