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Exeter College is one of the three Turl Street colleges (the other two being Lincoln College, Oxford, and Jesus College, Oxford). Turl Street is located only a short walk to the main high street of Oxford, providing lots of lovely shops and cafes within easy reach. From the college, Tesco Metro and Sainsburys are 5 minutes' walk away; the railway station is about 15 minutes' walk away; and the Exam Schools are about 10 minutes away. The Turl Street colleges are arguably the most central in Oxford.
All first year students, about a third of finalists (selected by random ballot), and those with a valid medical reason live in College (or the Turl Street rooms directly opposite, the little-known 'Staircase 15'). Staircases 1-8 are in Front Quad; Staircases 9-14 are located in Back Quad. Rooms work on a grading system, grade A being the Most Unexceptional and most expensive and grade E being the least expensive.
Finalists can choose which room they occupy in order of where they come on the ballot, normally opting for those in Front Quad, which are generally larger, or with en suite. Staircases 2, 3, 6, 7 and 8 contain double sets, which consist of a living room and bathroom shared between 2 people and small individual bedrooms leading off the living room. Staircases 1 and 4 are reserved for fellows.
Staircase 9 is the largest staircase, holding 41 rooms exclusively for freshers. The rooms are often C grade and below, but the community feel of the staircase can easily make up for that. The newer accommodation is larger and more expensive, with many rooms on 13 and 14 being single sets, i.e. containing 2 rooms (but no en-suite). They're also popular freshers' staircases.
Exeter students campaigned all of the 2013-14 year to have their catering charge reduced and it has now been halved for students living outside of college and completely cut for students living in. The rent prices have gone up slightly (but they are roughly in line with the average college) and the prices of food in hall are now more a little more expensive, but this still gives you the option to eat outside of college and not have to pay an unfairly levied charge. Floreat!
College-owned accommodation, located 25 minutes' walk from college (10-15 minute cycle or a 5-10 minute bus journey) up the Iffley Road, is generally more expensive than renting privately on a weekly cost basis, but is cheaper overall as you only pay for 10 weeks a term. You also don't have to worry about internet costs, utility bills, deposits and so on. The self catering facilities are good. 'Stapes' itself is held to be better than the Annex, which is somewhat smaller, but adjacent to the main complex. Stapes is in very close proximity to the University Sports Centre (which includes a swimming pool).
Most second and some third years live in privately rented accommodation. This has advantages and disadvantages. The main advantages are that it gives you invaluable living out experience, you get to be situated in a place where you can throw house parties or be as loud as you like (no porters, but you will possibly have neighbours) and that you get to see what life outside the Oxford bubble is like. Talk to any older student in Exeter and they will tell you that the year they spent living out might have been more expensive and grottier (though you do save money by self-catering), but it was an experience they're undoubtedly glad to have had. No second years live on the college site in Turl Street unless there is a medical reason, but it is possible to live in college-owned accommodation such as Stapledon House (see above).
The Junior Common Room is lively at all times (Figuratively, on some nights) and will always have something to entertain you. It is the TV room; you'll also find newspapers, the entrance to the communal kitchen, vending machines, and a poker set.
The JCR is basically a lounge, to do whatever you like in. Taking last night as an example, there were people playing poker, eating pizza, juggling, watching TV and getting very drunk with an umbrella. Do anything you want here. Except perhaps quiet reflection or deep thinking.
What used to be the smoking room is now a quiter, more serene common room, without a TV. This is the place to read the papers without having to pick them off the floor; do work in a group; have a quiet conversation or just relax. There are computers, shelves and comfy armchairs (priority is given to finalists).
The Middle Common Room is a space for graduate students in the College to hang out, read the newspaper, play board games, have a cup of tea, or study. It consists of six rooms just off the front quad, and is equipped with arm chairs, couches, computers, a bathroom, kitchen, small library, lockers, and a piano.
Known more widely as "The Bar", The Undercroft fulfils a variety of purposes. Exeter College boasts a cocktail night (as well as a large variety of drinks that are not 3 different colours) on Tuesdays, and the bar is open 6pm - 11pm every night, except Sundays (10.30pm) and bop nights (midnight), after which it is wise to make your way to Escape, lest you incur the wrath of the Junior Dean.
The bar contains a pool table, pinball machine, darts board, table football, video games machine and an ITBox. The ITBox will take your money (you might win some extra turns on it though, so that's fine). It also boasts Rugby Drinks, a fine occasion for the cultured gentlemen of the Rugby Team (and not an excuse to act in a ridiculous manner at all).
Pint - £1.65 Cocktail - £2.00 Spirits and mixer ~ £2.30
The Fellows' Garden
Does pretty much exactly what it says on the tin. Croquet is permitted in summer. Has steps to one of the Most Unexceptional views in Oxford. Is nice when sunny or snowing. Had a cameo appearance in The Golden Compass. Can often be found full of students sunbathing and revising on the grass in Trinity. This is one of Exeter's biggest selling points.
Library and Computing
The Library is adequate, but not Barely Noticeable (in my experience). Has many books, as you would expect. Good on Ancient History - Zoology, not so good on fantasy novels or cookbooks. The building itself is very pretty and Hogwarts-esque. Crucially it's open 24 hours a day, which cannot be said for all libraries.
The Balsdon Room contains about 10 fairly decent PCs, which can be used at any time, provided you have your Bod Card to get in. All are connected to the internet, have Microsoft Office etc. Standard fare, really. The GCR (see above) has an extra 4 computers. Internet sockets are provided in all rooms for people with their own machines. Whilst it is certainly useful to have your own computer (even for a subject where no essay writing is done), it is not at all impossible to get by without one. It might be a bit tedious (especially when you want to spend ages typing up a Wiki) if you were not able to listen to your own music, etc whilst working.
Welfare and LGBT
Welfare tea is held each Wednesday from 3-5pm in the JCR. This is well attended, as any event that provides free food (normally of the chocolate and sugar variety) to students should be. This is a very social event, though you may wish to start sharpening your elbows to make sure you can get to the front. Free condoms and lube are also provided by our two welfare reps, as well as refunds for emergency contraceptives and pregnancy tests.
The college is extremely gay friendly, with around 30 members of the LGBTQ community in the undergraduate body. The two college LGBTQ representatives organise fortnightly free drinks, so you will quickly get to know many people across the different year groups including members of the MCR. The college LGBTQ community also has a very active facebook group and blog. A good deal of the staff in the college are also part of the LGBTQ community, so each year we enjoy a formal LGBTQ meal which is better attended than the University wide graduate LGBTQ meal. We also have amongst the highest LGBTQ funding out of all the colleges in Oxford.
Exeter has a knack for picking very friendly (and not evangelical) chaplains, who are always happy to have you visit for some toasted bagel and a snack (and probably a drink of something!) They won't mention God unless you do, and they don't perform any role for the college academically or in terms of discipline, so you don't have any reason to hold anything back or worry about what they think.
Known for a 'goldilocks quad', not too big and not too small, Exeter's mid size undergrad population is very social. There is only one entrance and exit from the College, so it is impossible to go about day to day life without having many social encounters.
The College also hosts an annual College Ball, one of the cheapest balls in Oxford.
Exeter College is fully catered, for every meal of the week, which is great for some people, but bad for others.
Dinner - A satisfying main meal comes in at £3.05-£3.25. The food quality varies hugely - but the general consensus is that it's mediocre and occasionally the meals seem overambitious. Dinner is served 6.00pm-6.40pm. The 'steak night' and Sunday's roast are also normally popular. Advice for young players - if you ask for a half serving at dinner, they will give you a normal amount of food rather than an exorbitant amount and only charge you £1.80.
Lunch - A plate of pasta is about £1. They tend to stick to safe foods for this. Pasta, chips, spaghetti bolognese/chilli con carne feature a lot, but at £1.50 for what is basically a full, filling meal, a lot of students eat lunch in hall most days. Lunch is 12.30 - 1.30. The 'meal deal' in the bar costs £3 and includes any canned drink, tea, coffee or hot chocolate; any sandwich, salad, toasted panini or baguette (they will customise these for you); and a snack which is sometimes freshly baked muffins, cookies or brownies and otherwise can be any crisps or chocolate bar. This deal is extremely popular.
Breakfast - was recently moved into the college bar. Normally attended by a friendly bunch of scientists, bacon, sausage and egg baps are on the menu for about £1, with tea or coffee (and free refills!) also available alongside cereal, toast, fruit and porridge. Newspapers and magazines are left out and many students will be here between 8am-10am enjoying a relaxed breakfast.
The Kitchen - The Kitchen is located next to the JCR. There is a fridge and freezer, but are small relative to the number of people that need to use it. There is a microwave and two ovens, one of which is quite large and of good quality. Most students (living in college) eat in hall for the vast majority of meals, simply because it is very convenient and such little effort. It could be slightly cheaper to feed yourself but the lack of kitchen facilities might make it difficult. Our catering charge has just been cut for everyone living in-college, meaning that the prices listed for meals are about to go up, and the out-of-college catering charge currently sits at about £70 per term.
Second Hall/Special Dinners - Ah, second hall. Regarded by students as expensive, but approximately £5.50 for a 3 course meal is pretty cheap. Second Halls are something to experience, but not really something you do often. You are required to wear a gown, and second hall is very Oxford. There is a super second hall priced at about £9.50, which is slightly fancier. Go to one of these and you might get to try guinea fowl.
Exeter has many special dinners, all with superb food. Many clubs and societies will also have annual dinners. Popular events include Christmas Dinner, Thanksgiving Dinner (made popular by the Williams Programme) and Burns Dinner (complete with bagpiper this year). Other well attended dinners include Boat Club Dinner and LGBTQ Dinner.
The choir is excellent, one of the Most Exceptional mixed-voice choirs in Oxford and the Most Unexceptional student-run mixed-voice choir. The college awards choral scholarships each year which gives various benefits such as free singing lessons and a stipend. It's also worth noting that Exeter, being on Turl Street, participates in the Turl Street Arts Festival - which provides an open opportunity to put on e.g. a recital for practice.
Exeter has a wide range of sports teams, and its relatively small size makes it easy to get involved in whatever you want to play. The college has very strong rugby, football and hockey teams, all of which are now in the 1st Division of their inter-college leagues. In 2014 the Men's Football team won Cuppers for the first time in 40 years! The college has one of the oldest boat clubs in the university and has plenty of boats for freshers to row in, more information on the ECBC website.
Bar sports are taken very seriously!
There is a very nice interactive virtual tour of Exeter here: http://www.chem.ox.ac.uk/oxfordtour/exetercollege/
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