Clairre on campus

Finding my happy place in Exeter

Clairre C. Abeyratne travelled from the US to study MSc International Management at the University of Exeter Business School in 2016. Recently graduated, she shares her experience of studying at Exeter and how it has helped for the future:

I have found my ‘happy place’ and it is in Exeter. I had no idea that moving from bright, sunshine-y, Southern California to a quaint city in the Southwest of England would be the best decision of my life. I arrived in the UK September 2016 just a few months after graduating with my undergrad degree and working full time as HR intern. I was so energized and ready for the last and final step in my academic career, earning a master’s degree and now fulfilling my goal of living and studying abroad. I was overjoyed for this opportunity and I arrived with an open mind and enthusiasm that carried me right through the end.

I fell in love with this new space, including my accommodation, the university’s campus, and surrounding small city environment. I felt safe and comfortable there. Living in a cute, on-campus flat and having my own private place to call my own, I quickly created a new home for myself. I’ve endured living with housemates and roommates, the same as many students studying in the USA, so to have a personal place was truly a highlight in my overall experience.

I absolutely thrived in Exeter. Perhaps it was the international feel I’d always dreamt of, or living so far away from a familiar place, or meeting some of the best people on the planet… I could honestly rave about (almost) everything. I’d like to say that I’m quite friendly and approachable, I love to meet new people and I aspire to establish lasting friendships wherever I go. My course-mates were from all over the world, coming from all different cultural and academic backgrounds. “I would be nothing without them,” as I would say every time we got together for shopping, dinner, drinks, or study-group sessions. Now my friends, these are some of the most fun, extraordinary, intelligent, and talented people and I cherish each person and each memory.

Everyone is really nice in Exeter, faculty members, cab drivers, shop clerks, restaurant employees; I felt a warm welcome from day one. I honestly wish I’d spent more time adventuring and spending time exploring Exeter outside of the familiar areas. The county of Devon is beautiful and offers a lot more than students may think. Having tea near the Cathedral Green in Exeter’s city center is a fond memory, that’s not something we do in the States.

My UK life was not just about my master’s degree, but selfishly, all about myself; my personal growth, my social life, my new career ideas, and be a time where I could grow up in a far away place fully immersing myself in a new environment, becoming a part of a new community. As much as I devoted a lot of my time to academic work, Exeter was a time and place that I invested in myself, which made all the difference. I chose to take this opportunity to ‘max out’ on my time in the UK. I’m now walking away with a sense of gratitude, fulfillment, and accomplishment and my heart is left in this special place that I adore and once called home. 

Date: 5 October 2017

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