Here are all the struggles you’ll relate to as an international student studying at Exeter

Oh, how I miss the sun!

Uni is hard. For most of us, it’s our first time living away from home – and boy, is Exeter away from home. Living in a city which could effectively be classed as a town is definitely a learning experience for anyone. If you too are an international student like myself, then you are likely to have faced a few culture shocks and struggles during your time here (other than all the rah girls and rugby boys) that largely go unspoken. So, here are a few of the main ones that spring to mind:

The limited food selection

For a country that colonised half the world, the UK could have learnt a thing or two about adding more flavour to their food. It takes a whole side quest in order to find places that serve appropriately seasoned meals in Exeter, with many of us relying on the oriental stores on Sidwell street to provide a wider variety of ingredients for our cooking. After all, one can only frequent Efes so many times.

Loathing British timing

Generally speaking, I think everyone has to adjust to how early everything starts and ends in Exeter. All the shops closing before sunset just seems so wrong! Also, if you’re anything like me, then you’ll struggle with the expectation of punctuality that comes with it. As someone who grew up in a country where 30 minutes late is considered to be on time, most of my friends have had to accept that I don’t abide by the restrictions of British timing and consequently allow me the flexibility of being late to things. Unfortunately, I’m not given the same grace when it comes to being late for anything else – bouncers will always be my biggest opp for this. African timing just seems to be ingrained in my body, anyone else have this issue?

The weather

No matter where you’re from, I can almost guarantee that it has better weather conditions than sunny England. I am still shocked when I’m expected to carry on as normal, despite the rain, instead of cancelling all my plans. I still don’t think I own enough jumpers, or reliable umbrellas in that case (thank you, windy Devon). This has definitely been a major cultural readjustment for me, having to come to terms with the fact that in true Exetah fashion, I may have to source my required vitamin D from Holland & Barrett, as opposed to THE SUN!

Missing in action

One of the things I’ve struggled with most since starting uni is the guilt that comes along with being MIA at home. Of course it’s exciting to be living your own life and carving out your own path, but it doesn’t make it easy when you’re absent from crucial moments in your life due to being away. I would have given anything to be able to say goodbye to my dog properly, or hug my little brother when he was going through a hard time at school. Ultimately, these things are a part of life and growing up, and if anything, they have made me more grateful for the time I do get to spend at home.

The long journey home

Given that Exeter seems to be located in the middle of no where, it really is no small feat for anyone to try and leave. You have to dedicate roughly two days for travel which seems excessive, nonetheless it is the necessary evil as it’s the only way for us to actually get to the airport and go home. It’s all worth it though, once you’re back in your own bed! I tend to sleep for a full day after I arrive.

Booking all the appointments you couldn’t make before

Nothing screams going home like being met with all your annual check ups. From going to the dentist to getting your haircut, these are all the essentials one must cover upon their return, especially considering the fact that you’ve probably been unable to access these luxuries in Exeter. I mean, there are numerous steps that go into booking a GP appointment as well as the expenses of getting quite literally anything done. Everything’s just much more straightforward when you have your mum to coordinate things.

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