Anybody who has experienced life at university will know that the 48 hours that act as the filling for the Friday-Monday sandwich can feel a bit weird. A bit off, like chrimbo limbo but without the tinsel and pig in blanket-induced food coma. We look forward to the weekend all week, every lecture and seminar feels like a countdown, with one less hour to go until the glorious weekend where we can be free to sleep, eat, and finally have a break from the awkwardness of breakout rooms. But somehow at the moment when those much wished-for two days spin around again, they can feel a bit flat, a bit different to a family weekend at home. What we need are plans for the weekend: something to perk us up after a long week of Zoom seminars, running around in our dressing gowns 5 mins before an office hours video call, and those moments when we realise just how exhausted we look when we switch on the camera in our Teams meeting. The best thing to do when you’re finished with work (ok I know, does it ever really end??), is to have some shiny weekend plans to look forward to. Make the most of being in a new city, explore, make memories with your housemates, and be busy… before you know it, it will be Monday again and your fun weekend will fuel you through another week of online learning.
Not sure where to start? This guide is a list of the perfect treats right through from Autumn to Summer – never be stuck for ideas again.
Enjoy England’s slightly nonsensical October sunshine and get outside with your housemates. Grab a cheeky cuppa - to hell with it, maybe even go all out and bring a sweet treat – and head to the park for a picnic tea and a beautiful autumnal walk.
- Make the most out of the darker evenings:
Let’s not get too depressed by the shorter days (who remembers when it used to be light at 10pm?? Not me), but instead cosy up and enjoy the darker evenings. Book a Sunday evening into the diary and make a roast with your housemates that might rival even your mum’s (just don’t tell her that). Get someone on the roasties, your housemate who’s mad about baking onto the pud, and you’re away.
Cosy up with your flat/house, get baking and get munching! Find a scrummy recipe that you all can’t wait to eat, put on a film (or even better, GBBO) and relax. Pudding really does help when you’re searching for some much-needed deadline amnesia. (I can assure you this is a 100% tried and tested solution to all your issues).
- Venture out to The Glorious Art House:
If I’ve had a bad week, I have been known to have more than one Glorious Art House hot chocolate. This café is one of Exeter’s hidden gems… tucked away on Fore Street, it’s quirky, colourful, and has the crockery to match. I promise once you’ve experienced its comforting atmosphere you’ll never want to leave. Head out on a rainy Saturday morning with a housemate or two and be sure to ask for a “Glorious” hot chocolate. Like nothing you’ve ever seen before, this nugget of chocolatey heaven will arrive in a huge Alice in Wonderland-style teacup (if I’m totally honest, it’s more of a bowl, but I’m not complaining) bedecked with ALL the squirty cream, marshmallows, and chocolate. The only downfall is that once you’ve had one, you’ll be completely addicted.
*Not sure you’re feeling café comfortable? Pop to the shop, grab some tasty treats and make your own regal hot chocolates at home with your housemates. All the tastiness, no masks needed!
Now the weather’s starting to brighten up, it’s the perfect time to make the most of Exeter’s beautiful surrounding area. Take a break from the city, grab your mask, and jump on the train to Topsham. Enjoy ambling around the beautiful old streets, take some cheesy photos with your housemates, and pop into independent gift shops and cafes as you go. Head out along the sea wall to admire the views of the estuary, and even make your way towards the nature reserve for a longer walk in the Spring sunshine.
Celebrate surviving second term and the end of lectures (don’t worry, we all doubt whether we’ll actually see the day) with a homemade brunch with your flat. Whip up pancakes and go all out on toppings at the Marketplace for the perfect chilled morning – every bleary-eyed fresher in your halls will be jealous of the amazing smells coming from your kitchen windows. Just try not to get any pancakes stuck to the ceiling.
This is one for a lazy Sunday afternoon… you’ve had a long week, the essays carried on for most of Saturday and now you’re so tired all you really want to do is blob around and eat. I mean tasting cream teas classes as cultural education, right? Getting to know Devon and its delicacies?? Taste testing the local produce??? Keep going and you’ll convince yourself that you’re not just in need of a sugar fix after a long week. After all, lazing around on Cathedral Green with a cup of tea in one hand and a scone in the other is basically a mandatory Sunday afternoon activity when you’re a UoE student.
*If you’d rather make have your own afternoon tea in the comfort of your halls/student house, Mary Berry’s failsafe recipe has got you covered: https://www.bbc.co.uk/food/recipes/tea_time_scones_77839 - just make sure your housemates don’t sniff your scones out before you get a look in…)
You made it! With exams behind you, you are well and truly free. Use this time wisely: take the train to Exmouth for a beach day, complete with fish and chips, ice cream, and plenty of relaxing. Completed a year at university during a pandemic?? You’ve definitely earned it.
The quay is a lot of Exeter students’ fave place in the city. Walk for just 10 minutes from town around the back of the Cathedral, and you’ll end up alongside the canal. Go for a sunny summer’s evening walk to soak up the atmosphere, watch the rowers dodging the swans, and end the evening sat in the sunshine at On the Waterfront (or Double Locks if your tired post-exam legs are capable of walking you there). With a cocktail in hand, you’re sure to feel very, very glass half full.
This year’s a weird one… Get busy planning and use this guide as inspiration for how to live life to the fullest in Exeter all year round, no matter what we’re all living through.