Stephen Finlayson 

Prestigious scholarship awarded to Exeter student in Venice

University of Exeter history student Stephen Finlayson has been awarded a prestigious RED scholarship, whilst studying abroad at Venice International University.

The Residency Excellency Diversity (RED) scholarship is awarded each semester by Venice International University to three talented students on the Globalization Programme. The scholarship includes funding to help towards the student’s living costs.

Alongside two fellow RED scholars, Stephen was tasked with organising academic talks and social events to engage fellow students. They also supported the delivery of interdisciplinary workshops for students and professors as well as writing and editing articles for the Venice International University website.

Stephen found his previous experience as Speakers’ Secretary for the University of Exeter’s Debate Society helpful in securing the scholarship and enjoyed organising debates and talks from academic speakers. This included a talk on the causes of Brexit from University of Exeter academic Professor Alison Harcourt.

The workshop events provided the opportunity for students to learn more from each other about cultures and traditions from across the globe. These were often shared in creative presentations and informative videos.

“We found that our age group has an aptitude for challenging social conditions,” said Stephen. “For example, I was really impressed by a Japanese student I met, who had devoted a lot of time in Japan to establishing a social housing project to address homelessness. Climate protests were also identified as a common globalised issue.”

This event also allowed the group to learn more about different cultural traditions, from fun Halloween traditions to the figure of Krampus in Christmas celebrations.

One of the highlights for Stephen was the opportunity to arrange community-building social events. The Venice International University campus has a barbeque area, which Stephen put to good use by arranging a social event for his fellow students. However this was not as simple as he first thought. Residents are less likely to have large outdoor areas, making barbeques less popular. It was difficult to find any charcoal on sale, instead having to take a bus to the Italian countryside to source it!

“That was the highlight for me, as the event managed to attract new people and encouraged more students to start attending more often,” added Stephen.

Stephen has one more term in Italy this year, before returning to Exeter for his final year of study in the autumn. 

You can find out more about the RED scholarship here and read Stephen’s blog articles here.

Date: 8 February 2022

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