Hi! My name is Carolina and I am a University of Exeter alumni where I studied the MSc in Conservation and Biodiversity. I had been dreaming for years to take this course given that its modules aligned perfectly with the skills and knowledge I wanted to acquire. Plus they offered a field trip to Kenya!
Although I studied at the University of Exeter, I have actually never been to Exeter given that my course was offered at the Cornwall campus. Cornwall or Kernow as it’s referred to in the local language (Yes! They have their own language which is completely different to English) is located in the southwest of England and is my honest opinion one of the most beautiful counties in the UK, not that I am biased because I lived there for over a year.
My experience living and studying in Cornwall was nothing short of amazing. Unlike larger campuses, Cornwall offered a smaller and incredibly supportive community between the students and faculty members. I spent most of my time at the Master Suite, the most amazing place built for posgraduate students. It was open 24/7, included a kitchen and even showers! This is where I spent most of my days working on my assignments and dissertation and it was only a 15 min walk from my home which meant I could always go home for lunch and have a break from work. I chose to live off campus and get the experience of living in a house instead of student accommodation. Our house was a beautiful home overlooking the Penryn River, where two resident swans visited us every day when the tide was up. We even had our own little moor which we used to launch a boat and kayaks. All four of my housemates were British and one of them had grown up in Penryn so he knew all the best places that only locals know about.
To someone that has never been to a pub it is difficult to explain what it is. They serve drinks and food (most of them) but it is nothing like a bar or a restaurant. It is where an entire community or neighbourhood comes together. There is nothing that sums up my experience of living in the UK than visiting the local pub on a Wednesday afternoon. It is chaos but a friendly and warming kind of chaos. I would see whole families enjoying a meal, children running about or trying to do their coursework. Students playing pool whilst discussing an upcoming a group project and of course dogs! I would even see my landlord who would drive from a whole different town just to attend the pub quiz (he was very good at it!).
To anyone interested in studying in the UK I would tell them to look beyond universities in London and other big cities and consider some lesser popular places like Cornwall. I had the most incredible experience, made lifelong friends and even managed to learn a few words in Cornish.
If there is anything I wish I had known before coming to the UK would be that when someone says “You alright?” they are simply saying hello and not actually asking how you are.