Liz Raji, Rachel Hecht, and Peter Barker-Huelster have compiled the following information on telecommunications and library services at Exeter. Most of it is based on our own experience; official versions of these matters can be found at the University of Exeter website.
If you have access to a laptop, bring one. Public computers are available in Queen's Building and the library, but writing essays on them can be frustrating and time-consuming. The machines are constantly in high demand, and securing one near a deadline can be difficult. Having a laptop will allow you to write essays in the privacy of your own room. You should check the information available on the IT services website to make sure that your computer is compatible with the Exeter network. You will also need a plug adapter, though not necessarily a power converter: most laptops have them built-in. Check your owner's manual for details. Plugging in without a converter will fry your computer.
There are internet connections available in all Enhanced Lafrowda rooms. They operate using the same hardware (ethernet card and ethernet cable) as the residential connections in Kenyon housing. Connecting from your room costs £40 for year-long unlimited access. If you plan to connect your laptop to the internet in your room, bring your blue LBIS ethernet cable, as purchasing one here is expensive. Should you be revulsed by the prospect of paying for internet access, fear not: the internet is available on the above-mentioned library and Queen's Building machines.
Read through the information on the IT services site for more details about what machines are compatible with the network. IT becomes incredibly busy here, especially at the beginning of the year, and getting help can be very frustrating. Do some research ahead of time and save yourself aggravation. Also, be warned that there is no help available for Apple Mac users. Apple computers will work on the network, but you'd better be able to connect on your own, because IT won't help you.
You will most likely not want to bring a printer with you to Exeter. The Kenyon Resident Director was very good about letting us print essays in her office before deadlines, but should this service not be available, there are other options. Printing anywhere else costs money. There are printers in the public computer labs, and you can put money on your student ID card to print. We're not sure what printing this way costs, but it's probably expensive. The easiest and cheapest way to print essays is to use the University Print Unit, located near the Accommodations Office. Printing and photocopying are 2p per page, by far the cheapest rate in town. You can print from a disk, from the network, or from an email attachment. Color printing and copying are available. The staff is very friendly at the University Print Unit.
Photocopies are very expensive (12 p? 15p? Something ridiculous like that) in the library and require another card. Again, your best bet is the Print Unit. Do not plan on photocopying a lot, and don't plan on printing a lot, either. Get used to revising your essays in Microsoft Word and reading articles on a computer screen.
There are phones in each Lafrowda room. Room-to-room calls and calls to campus phones are free. Other calls—to landlines, international calls, and calls to mobile phones—are managed by a monopoly called "KeyCom." With this service, it is often difficult to get an outside line, and it is difficult to receive a call from the United States. However, if you want to make any outside calls from your room or receive outside calls (in the unlikely event that someone actually gets through to you), you must register with KeyCom. All calling cards used on the KeyCom phones are charged at rates even higher than a standard KeyCom call, so it is not to your advantage to use phone cards with the KeyCom system. You can use calling cards from a phone box, which is still expensive. Basically, do not plan on calling home very often, because it's not cheap.
You will use your mobile phone a lot. The Kenyon phones are on the Orange network, and they work on a "pay as you go" system. You will get a "top-up" card which you can use at any number of local shops or supermarkets. You can put £10, £20, or £50 on at a time. £10 seems to last us somewhere between 2 and 3 weeks, but that will vary depending on how you use your phone. Text messages are the cheapest and most common method of using your phone. As of this writing, texts cost 12peach, any time, to any phone. Calling other phones is more expensive: around 25p per minute, depending on what type of phone you're calling. You do not have to pay to receive calls, there are no roaming charges, and you can receive calls and texts without having credit on your phone. It may be cheaper for your family or friends to phone your mobile than to phone your KeyCom phone. Details on charges are on the Orange website.
Your phones will work all over the UK and throughout western Europe and Ireland. However, once you are out of the UK you will have to pay to receive calls, and making calls is much more expensive.
The Exeter library has fewer books than the Kenyon library and more people trying to use them. Professors and grad students have books out for months at a time. You can only check out 10 books at a time, and some books are on a Short Loan system under which you can only keep them for a few days. Inter-library loan is slow.
Basically, you will have to learn a very different way of reading and researching. A lot of the books you'll need for particular courses will be on Temporary Reserve, which is like Kenyon course reserves, but on steroids. You can only check out a TR book or article for a few hours or, if you get it after 4 pm, overnight. The TR materials are very frequently checked out. However, you can reserve these materials ahead of time at the library website. To do this,you will need a special PIN, which you can get from the library TR desk. A good method is to reserve a time when you know you can be at the library, get the article or book, then photocopy what you need. This, of course, is expensive, but it does allow you to peruse the material at your leisure.
There is plenty of information on TR and other library procedures on the library website. Read it. The Brits love rules, and the Exeter library has plenty of them. Be familiar with them. Don't leave things until the last minute because it will not work out.
Your Exeter student ID is your Exeter library card, just like at Kenyon. Also, just like at Kenyon, the library here tends to be social, busy, noisy, and a fairly uncomfortable place to study. There isn't much space to read. It's drab and dark and cramped.
The AV room will not permit students to remove materials from the library. However, you can book films ahead of time by phoning the AV room, and you can reserve a film to watch after the AV room closes (at 5:30, closed weekends).
There is no all-campus email at Exeter, and most professors will not email your student accounts with updates on essays or other course matters. Most courses use WebCT, a kind of message board system that allows students and professors to discuss issues pertaining to the course. You can access the WebCT sites through the School of English website. At the start of the year, make sure you can access WebCT using your Exeter username. A lot of people had access problems this year, so get them taken care of early.
Teachers actually use these sites. They actually post valuable information on them. Some teachers will only post essay questions on the WebCT sites, in fact, so make sure you know how to access them.
Hopefully this will answer some questions you might have about computers and library matters at Exeter. It's a lot of information and it might sound completely overwhelming but you will get used to things very quickly. Basically, acquaint yourself with the library procedures early on to avoid problems later in the year, ask for help if you need it, and start things early.