Hey! My name is Eleanor, I’m a first year English and Creative Writing student, and I did the crazy thing and flew 3,000 miles away from my hometown to do what I love and study in a new country. My advice? Do it. It is 100% worth it.

My journey to studying at Exeter

Growing up in Etna, NH, being an academic – especially in the realms of humanities – was unheard of. Most people didn’t go to college. If they were academically inclined, they became biologists or chemists with smaller-uni degrees. Despite New England’s rich history in poets and writers, every single time I told people I wanted to go into English, the nicest response I would get was “good luck with that.” While I loved my little hometown, by the time I was eighteen or so, I was itching to get out. When I was in my junior year of high school, I had the opportunity to go to England to look at universities.

The view of Moose Mountain, New Hampshire
Moose Mountain, Etna, New Hampshire

I fell in love with Exeter immediately. Not only were the people friendly, but they also completely supported my dream of becoming a writer without blinking – something I had never experienced. Something that started then, and is still happening now, is that they treated me like I was capable of becoming a writer, of being an adult in the real world, despite my ‘oddness.’ I found kindred spirits in my peers and mentors in my professors, people who loved what I loved and wanted to discuss it. The English and Creative Writing community is tight-knit as well – I often feel like everybody knows everybody. You are never alone at events, because you always have someone looking out for you. We’re writers – we have each other’s backs.

A snowy day in Etna, New Hampshire
A snowy day in Etna, New Hampshire

By the time I returned to the States, I’d made up my mind. No course in the USA even came close to what Exeter had to offer, and on top of that, I’d still have to do gen ed in the US – that is, study math and other subjects I had no interest in whatsoever – before I could even start doing what I’d known I loved since I was a kid. I immediately set to applying. The Uni was incredibly helpful in that time. They called me – they called me! – to ensure my process with UCAS was going as smoothly as it could, and after I received my offer, they continued to call to ask about my plans. Exeter was the only uni to do this. After all my offers came in, Exeter was the clear choice. Hitting the “confirm place” button on UCAS was a celebration for me. It was like saying, “you did it even though everyone said you couldn’t.” That feeling did not go away. Despite issues with my visa at the beginning of the year, the team of international student helpers got me settled in and feeling welcome in no time. I remember one day, walking down Exeter’s beautiful High Street with a delicious cup of coffee from the Uni’s Barisca café, how I felt I was finally living my best life. I was completely independent and I was doing what I loved most in the world every day. I was going to an incredible school and I had made a friendship group like no other.

Life in and around the city

The cherry on top is that Exeter is set in a beautiful location. I’m from Northern Appalachia, with my town being nestled at the feet of the White Mountains and surrounded by deep forests. Being an avid hiker and outdoorsman, I was worried I would be unable to follow these passions. Even in the dead of winter, though, it is beautiful; my favourite café, the Glorious Art House, makes for the perfect place to study on a cold, rainy day. When I’m out with friends, we picnic on the Cathedral Green, and if I want to go on a walk, there’s plenty of natural places all over in which I can immerse myself in nature. By now, it’s starting to feel like a second home.

Sunset over some trees in Exeter
Sunset over woodland, Exeter

Incredible opportunities

I know what you’re thinking. “They’re a student ambassador! They have to say all this!” No, I don’t. I really, genuinely love it here, and because I love it here, I love my job – I didn’t choose it for no reason. Exeter gives you so many opportunities to do well in the working world. Career Zone sends out emails aplenty, and despite having only just started my professional writing career, I have submitted many poems to competitions –and won one. As a student ambassador, I have met so many incredible people and visited places I would not have been able to go otherwise, and I get to talk about my school, a place that I’m unashamed to say that I am so grateful for and deeply and truly love.

My advice

Student wearing a top hat in a vintage shop
Vintage shop in Exeter city centre

If you’re American and considering Exeter or a school in the UK, my advice is: go for it. Reach out to the schools; they’ll respond. Know what you want to do, and write about it in your personal statement. Be honest with your love of your subject; don’t be ashamed of it. I’ve found myself doing what I love maybe for the first time ever. Uni is tough, but it’s 100% worth it – and the big jump will set you leaps and bounds ahead in life.

And, bonus, you can have fun doing it.