Here are 11 awkward bonding experiences you’ll only understand if you go to Exeter

Was it awkward? Yes. Did it create some beautiful friendships? Also yes.


It’s the first day of freshers. You’ve just moved in and you don’t know the choke hold that Pret is about to have over your life. You are desperate to make friends with anyone and everyone, so you fit in, and people think you’re cool (just me?). Socialising is a key part of throwing yourself into “Exetah” uni life. You will make friendships that will carry you through your degree and beyond. But some bonding experiences are just so painfully AWKWARD that it needs to be addressed – right now. So, let’s take a trip down memory lane…

1. Knocking on neighbours’ doors

Extending your circle by introducing yourself to the neighbours is low risk and high reward (aside from potential cringe). Plucking up the courage to pop round and have a definitely unforced conversation can lead to great things. At the very least you can’t say you didn’t try. Temporary awkwardness is better than long-term regret, so forcing yourself into that pain-staking interaction can be the start of some great friendships – take my word for it.

2. Early entry tickets

TP tickets. The ultimate battle. My silly fresh self could not comprehend the skill involved in acquiring one of these bad boys. But when I was blessed with a 7 – 7:30 ticket, panic ensued. Who was I going to go with? It’s all well and good if your flat have 9:30 – 10s, but a solo wait in The Piece was simply not an option for me. YOU HAVE TO FORCE A BOND TO SURVIVE OUT THERE. Voyaging to TP with an early entry ticket and a random from your accom by your side is an awkward bonding moment like no other. You will likely never speak again because the cringe was too much (I speak from experience).

3. Joining a new society

Trials and tribulations can arise on the journey to the club. We all love the scenic sights of our Exeter uni campus, but yikes is there a lot of it. First year accommodation is a mighty distance from the city centre’s clubs. Many bonds (for better or for worse) are created on expeditions to the club, especially from the likes of Birks and Moberly. Whether you like it or not, you will have experienced a tipsy 30-minute walk to the club with complete strangers. The trauma is a bonding moment, and the awkward origin of many friendships. At least we can laugh about it now…

5. Batty Bingo

This one is not so much awkward, as it is bizarre. Never again will you be black out at 6pm, drawing potentially career-ending doodles on people that you’ve just met. It’s a fever dream, but wild horses couldn’t keep me from going again.

6. Post-night out food

Picture the scene. Your group is leaving the club, and the next stop is the hunt for food. Everybody is heading to a weak choice of takeaway, but you know that Sidwell’s Fish & Chips is the intelligent choice. Who can you force into straying from the crowd of sheep to go to a different establishment with you? Going alone means you risk losing the group, so whichever brave solider awkwardly gives in to your pleas and joins you in your food quest is a special one that you need to treasure.

7. Wheezing up the hills

Although you went out last night, you feel obliged to walk to the lecture with people from your accom. You arrive with seconds to spare. You are hungover and in pain. It feels like the challenge is over, but it’s only just begun. We have all fallen victim to the hills that are EVERYWHERE in Exeter. Scaling those inclines is a battle, but maintaining a conversation at the same time is an ORDEAL. Hiding your panting whilst maintaining convo is multi-tasking hell, but – beyond the wheezes – bonds can be made by mutual recognition of how difficult you are both finding the hills. Honesty is the best policy.

8. Seminar introductions

We all know the drill here. The thought of having to come up with a fun fact about myself to deliver to other students makes my mind go blank and my forehead break into a cold sweat. Frantically asking the person beside you what they will say is a trauma that bonds you for life. I can’t elaborate any further. I’ve blocked most (all) of it out.

9. Course confusion

Being hurled into a room of strangers in freshers was a baptism of fire, and my word was it perplexing. I remember exchanging glances of fear and confusion with fellow students, and it bonded us all. Some never showed weakness, but those that did were so real and I had instant respect for their honesty. Seminars never stop being confusing, but sharing in the confusion with others is a bonding experience like no other.

10. The dreaded post-seminar coffee date

Just because it’s necessary for making friends, doesn’t mean that it isn’t painful. Bullying yourself into inviting a course mate to grab coffee after the seminar can do great things, and it’s one of those awkward things that you just have to battle through. Enduring that awkward coffee date could be the biggest favour that you’ve ever done for yourself – so be brave, soldier.

11. The Pret Queue