So, this was actually my first full week of classes, since I missed my Monday lecture for orientation the first week and we also only started having our class tutorials this week. The set up the academic term here is very strange to me. I have a similar amount of in-class time as I do at home, just portioned differently. I have a two hour lecture with my entire class once a week, plus a tutorial with a smaller group once a week. I am only taking four classes, which is the lightest workload I believe I have ever taken in college, but at least it will be more likely to allow me to travel. There don't seem to be any homework assignments for any of my classes, just final exams, essays or presentations. What intermediate assignments there are, do not actually have any impact whatsoever on our grades. We also only have classes for three months, with a month off before exams begin. Like I said, quite strange.
On Tuesday I did go out to have dinner at my Global Chum's house; I signed up for what amounts to a mentoring program within the University of Exeter. I would definitely recommend doing something of the sort when studying abroad, because I have, thus far, met far fewer actual University of Exeter students than I would have expected. International students tend to clump together in classes, because everyone else has already formed groups. Another way I hope to meet more Exeter students is to participate in social events on campus, as well as possibly joining one or two of the societies. Anyway, the mentor I was assigned, Cathy, is actually from Belgium, but she is still a student at this university and not an exchange, so I'm going to count it. She invited myself and the other two students for whom she is a mentor over for dinner at her house. Only one of the others could come, Roshan (who is from Singapore and is actually just starting university as he has just completed his mandatory two years of military service), but we still had a lovely time. I met several of her other housemates, none of whom seem to be native to the UK, but rather were from all over Europe. On Wednesday the mentoring program had a social, so although I didn't see either Cathy or Roshan (or Georgia, who is the last of our group of mentees, from Australia), I did meet quite a few other international students in the program and some students from Exeter as well. The rest of the week was pretty standard, I went to classes and did an excessive amount of reading for said classes, but other than the weather (which has been near constant rain) it felt quite like home.
On Saturday I finally went out to see Exeter Cathedral, which is absolutely beautiful. I was very glad to see that it was only slightly overcast, rather than rainy, when I walked over. I met Maddy at the Cathedral and, quite luckily, we ended up not having to pay the fee in order to enter. Unfortunately they were not giving tower tours at the time, so I will have to go back again (which will be no hardship at all). We wandered around on our own, rather than waiting for one of the guided tours. However we were cornered a couple of times by an overly enthusiastic volunteer, who proceeded to regale us with trivia about possible connections between our heritage and Exeter, some of which was quite interesting (and some of which was much less so). One of the more interesting facts was about the bombing of the Cathedral during World War II, which completely destroyed one of the chapels (luckily the only casualty was a cat). He told us that you could see the damage in the woodwork and pointed out the slight color difference in some of the sections, which was the only indication that spaces had needed to be filled in. To be perfectly honest, my very favorite part of the Cathedral was the spectacular stained glass, though I was also incredibly impressed with the stone carvings everywhere.
Later that night I returned to the Cathedral, along with several other residents of the Printworks (including both Jen and Julia, of my flatmates). We attended a candlelit choir performance, which was spectacular. The acoustics of the Cathedral were impressive and the audience was almost entirely silent during each song, which I found a pleasant surprise. As cliche as I know it is, I do believe that the choir sounded almost angelic, though perhaps that was owed in part to the atmosphere.
Oh, and before I forget, Happy Australia Day!