I was thinking about the many different ways in which I could write this. How does someone sit down and try to write a piece that won’t just encourage other Black students here, but in fact help in being the deciding factor that finally makes students apply to Exeter?
Disclaimer beforehand: this isn’t going to be some sort of pitch by me to try and get you to come here. These are my actual thoughts and so you can do with them what you will.
I applied to the University of Exeter for a variety of reasons. It looked like such a nice place for one. Google told me it has the greenest campus in the UK and that’s been true so far. There’s a saying that “the trees outnumber the people here” and honestly, that’s probably true.
Another reason was because it would take me far away from home, which for me was Sheffield, and I wanted to be far from home to discover and see new things as I’m sure you guys do too.
When I was offered a place, a lot of my friends constantly told me that the south-west of England is noticeably whiter than Sheffield. Sheffield has a strong BIPOC presence.
The experiences I’ve had so far have been interesting. I’m the only Black person in all of Rowe House. One of two BIPOCs in my flat. As my mates back home had said, it IS largely white. I didn’t think much of it.
We’re always the minorities, regardless of where we are (unless you’re in Manchester). All the white people I’ve met and interacted with have been kind, welcoming and VERY interesting people.
I’ve met more black people in sports socials, but so far, I can count how many I’ve met on one hand. It can feel daunting and lonely at times because you feel like you can’t relate to anyone, but that for me was largely because I was from far up North. Overall, my experience here has been largely a good one.
If I had to give prospective Black Students any tips, it would be to pick your friends wisely. I did say that the white people I have met were great, but I largely lucked out in that sense. None of my flatmates are dirty or loud.
Make friends who share the same perspectives on race as you do, as I did. That is VERY important.
Go to as many socials as possible and meet as many people as possible, regardless of their race. I did and it was fun. You meet lots of like-minded people. Lastly, and I honestly think most importantly, join BIPOC societies.
There are many, and they operate on a make-Exeter-better-for-BIPOC basis.
The main takeaway is, you WILL be the minority. I know many of you are already used to this, but its even more so apparent in Exeter as I mentioned earlier (77% white British, and only 1.3% black)
In the end however, you are not alone. There are a ton of support groups. A ton of BIPOC societies and groups. You’ll meet so many great people, regardless of their race.
You’ll feel so alone at times but remember you’re not. The majority of you will make friends fast. I mean, if I did it, ANYONE can.
My Instagram is waleedelnaimx, never hesitate to reach out if you need help on anything, or even if you just want to hang out.