Review: Strictly Students

Considering that I’m just starting my second year, I think I’m doing a pretty good job of getting through my Exeter student bucket list. I’ve been to a varsity match; devoured a Firehouse pizza; got a cringey Rock selfie. I would say that I know my uni town well and that I’ve earned my place as an Exeter student.

Yet, when I went to Princesshay’s Strictly Students event last Tuesday, I realised that I hadn’t even properly explored the city centre. I had walked these streets countless times before, but this was the first time that I was actually going into some of these shops.

For those that don’t know, Princesshay hosts the annual Strictly Students event where, for one night only, students of Exeter get exclusive discounts to some of their favourite shops. I went with my housemate and we went with little expectation. We’re dealing with tight student budgets, so we weren’t sure how much we would gain from the event. We were so wrong. Once we had adorned our exclusive wristbands and had given each other a pep talk about self-discipline with our purses, we began with a meal at Byron.

We expected to only be able to afford a plate of sweet potato fries between us, but we then found out that all the food was half price for the night. We stuffed our faces with scrumptious, veggie Beatnik burgers, sweet potato chips dipped excessively in mayo, and crispy halloumi fries doused in BBQ sauce. All with heavy denial of the regret we would feel when we realised how much we’d spent.

But then the bill came. With already low prices then slashed in half, we weren’t even close to having to pay double digits – we even got a round of halloumi fires on the house! I’d never been to Byron before, but even without the generous discount, it’s wildly cheap for the quality of those burgers.

We then started our actual shopping and found some absolute gems. The best of the stock was put out for ridiculously low prices. Discounts were added onto clearance items, discoveries were found in shops that I usually don’t even spare a glance towards, and freebies were dished out continuously. The find of the night was a red lipstick bought by my housemate – a Russian red that proved tenacious in making sure that none of the colour rubbed off her lips. She’s been wearing it all week now – aided by the reassurance that she didn’t spend her entire student loan on the product.

What was best though, was that places of Exeter that I had dismissed before are now some of my favourite shopping destinations. Most the stores also offer student discounts all year round as well, meaning that when I inevitably return, I still won’t have to rely on baked beans and Lambrini for the rest of the month due to an expensively indulgent shopping spree. It was the most stress-free shopping experience in Exeter, and I can’t wait for next year’s Strictly Students event to get the best deals again.

-Charlotte Forrester

Photo Source: Princesshay, Exeter

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