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02nd December 2020 Kaja Pankowska (2019, Mathematics)

Students from across the world meet up online for Exeter’s International Formal Dinner

The International Formal Dinner was a takeaway feast this year, with online social event. Kaja Pankowska (2019, Mathematics) reveals how it helped international students feel at home and make new friends.

International Formal Dinner is an important event of Michaelmas term, during which Exeter students from all over the world can catch up with and meet other international students, make new friendships and relax.

The theme for the formal this year was Poland – the Catering Team was able to organise an amazing takeaway Polish dinner. The meal was a traditional three-course Polish dinner with sweets. The menu was prepared by our Polish chef, who also helped to cook the dishes so that the students could experience an authentic meal. ‘The three-course meal was brilliant, without mentioning the authentic Polish snacks. I especially enjoyed the main dish,’ said Cherie (2019, Mathematics). ‘Szarlotka (traditional Polish apple pie) was really good, it was great to have Polish food. I hope this was not the last time,’ said Jakub (2019, Physics). The bags also included a small booklet. As well as an international quiz, the booklet contained a translation of simple phrases in different languages.

As we couldn’t meet in hall, we organised an online meet-up over zoom. The initial plan was to have a chat, play some online games, and watch a movie, but everyone enjoyed chatting so much that we ended up talking for the whole event. It was a good opportunity to meet international students from other years, and catch up with old friends. ‘I really enjoyed the virtual international students formal dinner, it was a great opportunity to get to know other students and learn about other cultures. It was also my first time trying Polish food and learning to read a phrase in Polish,’ said Olivia (2020, Mathematical and Computational Finance).

It was a fun evening, especially important in uncertain times during the pandemic. The comments from anonymous students attending the formal show just how popular the event was: ‘It ensured that even when we are away from our own families, we are still together in Exeter as a big community,’ wrote one person. ‘I would just like to say that I really enjoyed the formal and the meeting afterwards. The food was great, it was really nice to try something from a different country and find out a bit about the culture. I’m really looking forward to other initiatives like that,’ wrote another. I’m sure it was not the last time, and soon we will be able to meet again.

Three-course Polish meal

The Polish meal, with drink, sweets and accompanying booklet

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