Studying History in Manchester

   Hi, reader! I am Batuhan Aksu from Boğaziçi University in Istanbul, Turkey. It’s my final (or fourth) year as a senior history student. Contrary to the UK, undergraduate studies in Turkey last four years. As you can imagine, I had to stay at home and remotely completed my studies. Despite being physically distant with some 3400 km, fruitful lectures and enjoyable seminars linked me to Manchester in an unforgettable way! I took three courses (Ottoman Cultural, British Intellectual, and the US Histories) as a rule for exchange students, composed of 30 credits. (They were fifteen credits for ECTS or eight credits for American students). I’d like to mention a few critical points for new exchange students who would prefer to choose remote study.

   At first, courses require you to listen to prerecorded lectures that are regularly uploaded every week on the Blackboard system. These presentations are key to understand new topics of weekly seminars since seminars are usually arranged according to what prerecorded materials mention and what your readings maintain.

   Never forget to read your readings every week since they are as important as lectures. Each course holds its seminar in the form of Zoom meetings once a week and we discuss lectures and readings to understand the topic better and blend them to identify significant points about our topics. Finally, try to find different connections between your week and the preceding ones.

   Examination methods vary across courses from longer research papers to much shorter responses but keep in mind that exams are not everything! Socializing is a valuable asset of Manchester despite being physically distant. I was able to meet new friends via Zoom seminars because we freely discussed weekly topics in breakout rooms, having new friends almost on every occasion. Yes, you can find it harder (I found it, too!) than usual encounters but you would be excited to see new friends and to discuss various stuff with them (I was excited, for sure!).

   The most exciting part, however, was not to present different subjects from various topics. Even if you’re lucky (I was), you can display various scenes from your hometown to your curious friends in Manchester. Living in the capital city of the Ottomans, I had a great opportunity to discuss Ottoman intellectuals just around their tombs in cloudy and rainy panoramas of Istanbul. Even though students who lived in Manchester are familiar with such weather, they enjoyed seeing Istanbul during my presentations. But your presentations would be in the form of PowerPoint slides just as I did in British Intellectual History. So, I was greatly indebted to Dr. Menchinger and Dr. Jones for their countless contributions in my presentations and overall performance throughout the term.

   To put it simply, Manchester was a fascinating experience for me this year despite problems created and exacerbated by the ongoing pandemic. But, the University of Manchester’s response to this obstacle was just great!

Five reasons why you should most definitely come to Manchester (no pressure)

By Jun Tat, National Polytechnic Institute of Toulouse

  1. People
    Folks living in Manchester are generally nice. I remember the first day when I was out of quarantine. I was just wondering aimlessly in the university when a staff member approached me and ask if I was lost, which was pretty sweet. Our accommodation cleaning staff was always bright and very helpful too! There was always laughter whenever she came around.
  1. City
    Personally, I like staying in a big city, but not as big as the capital of a country. That is why Manchester fits right in. It has a lot to offer: restaurants, parks, bars. At the same time, it is not as crowded as you imagine it.

  2. International experience
    You’ll no doubt meet people from every corner of the world if you come to Manchester. To be honest, I was afraid I won’t be able to make any friends as it was announced that most of the teachings will be online. However, I met some good friends who were on an exchange as well through International society. We would sometimes dine together and we really had so much fun! I strongly recommend joining events organized by this society. You might be stepping out of your comfort zone here, but isn’t this supposed to be one of the reasons why you leave your country for a semester?
  1. Student clubs and organizations
    You would be surprised at the number of clubs and societies here. They even have a Quidditch club so keep an eye on it Harry Potter fans. What really surprises me is the huge influence of students’ union. They really went out a limb and asked for rent reduction from the university, and they succeeded (which was really awesome if you ask me)!   
  1. Travel experience
    UK has so much more to offer than London. With my housemates, we planned a hiking trip to Scotland. The hike was gruesome, there’s no sugar coating it. However, the view from above was insanely stunning. Pictures can’t even describe how you can capture the scene with your eyes.

Studying Abroad Remotely

By Jeanne, Paris Business School

My name is Jeanne, I’m French and I’m studying business at the Paris School of Business. For my third year, I chose to go to the University of Manchester. Unfortunately, I couldn’t go to Manchester because of the pandemic so all my courses are online. As with all students, this situation was quite complicated, so it took me a lot of motivation and a long adaptation time. I personally enjoyed the courses, so it helped me to stay on track and work well.  

The way it works [for Jeanne’s specific course units] at the University of Manchester is that the lectures are pre-recorded by the professors and are available on the Blackboard platform. Students [in Jeanne’s classes] therefore have the choice to watch them whenever they want. Live lessons via Zoom allow students to ask questions, go into a subject in greater depth or do exercises. I really appreciate this because I can organise myself as I want, the lectures just need to be viewed before the live session. I also find that the Blackboard platform is very well used and complete, it’s intuitive. 

The duration of the pre-recorded lectures varies depending on the course between 1.5 to 3 hours I would say depending on my experience.  

The university has many facilities for students to connect with others, such as WhatsApp groups. I didn’t particularly participate in these events because I was able to talk to students during the classes when we were in small groups.  

My experience is of course completely different from what I imagined but it has nonetheless allowed me to improve my English and to participate in new courses. It has also taught me perseverance, motivation and organisation.  

One point that struck me is the reactivity of all the members of the university and the ease with which they can be contacted. Both the International Programmes Office and the professors are friendly and answer any questions, they are very helpful and present. 

If you are a distance student, my advice would be to organise yourself well so that you don’t get overwhelmed by the courses. And also, don’t be afraid to speak in class, I know it’s complicated when it’s not your mother tongue but that’s how you get better! 

Making the most of the time in Manchester, despite the pandemic

By Wilhelmine, Humboldt-Universitat zu Berlin

Well, in my dreams I imagined my time in Manchester to be a bit differently. Somehow a global pandemic wasn’t part of my imagination. But that’s how it is right know and I was and still am determined to make so most of my stay and try to do as much as possible under the current

My main advice is to make use of everything that is still offered right now and get out there. So here are my top tips for the best possible experience during this time. Hopefully it will get better next year, if that is the case these activities and places are still worth a visit, at least that is what I think…

  1. Join the International Society
    The International Society offers a wide range of online activities and it is a great possibility to get to know other people who are new to the UK or know how it feels to arrive here. I can especially recommend the weekly Tea Time on Wednesdays, which is one of the few Face-to-Face events
    still happening. It is a great opportunity to talk to people and I find it just great to have some real interaction.
  2. Make use of the free museums and galleries in the city
    Manchester offers a wide range of museums and galleries and the best bit is that most of them are for free (of course a donation is appreciated). You have to pre-book a ticket for a time slot but that is easily done on the websites. Some of the museums I visited and can highly recommend
    are the Peoples History Museum, The Chinese Centre for Contemporary Art and the Whitworth Art Gallery, which is located on Oxford Road.
  3. Explore the city
    Covid can’t stop you from walking around the city and there is so much to see. I think it’s great to walk around Deansgate Castlefield, where you can wander under the train viaducts and along the river. I can also recommend West Didsbury and the Southern Cemetery nearby. Both really beautiful places and also a bit of the beaten track. Platt Fields Park, close to Victoria Park and Fallowfield, is also a great spot for a stroll.
    And of course the Northern Quarter. You can explore great new graffiti and Street Art there all the time and discover some great independent shops and cafes.
  4. Go on a city tour with Skyliner
    Skyliner offers great alternative city tours for reasonable prices. The money also supports some foundations, so it’s definitely not wasted. They run tours every weekend and are Covid approved.

    Of course it might not seem the best time for a semester abroad, but I think you can always find some great things to do. A walk around the city is always possible. Undeniably it is harder now to get to know people, but using all online events and the few face-to-face ones is definitely a good
    idea to get into contact.

    And like everything this crisis will end eventually and until then we have to find the silver linings.

Living and Studying in Manchester

Living and studying in Manchester – The Astro Post

It’s been a month now, and it went by quickly and slowly at the same time. Sometimes it feels like I’ve been here for quite a while, other times, it feels like I just arrived yesterday. I’m fairly adjusted now, but there are reminders that I’m not in Ottawa any more.

Small things like the different paper size still catches me off guard. In Europe, the standard paper size is A4, which is slightly taller than the letter size in North America. Not by much, but I do notice when I fold a piece of paper in three, so I can stuff it in a bag or something. Now, the paper is awkwardly too wide to fit in my back pocket, and folding it in four would just be too narrow.

Apart from the multitudes of accents (I think I’ve heard around 5 different British accents up to now), the language is slightly different. Expressions like cheers and mate are used quite a lot, and simple things have different names, for example; peanuts are called peanuts, but when they’re in their shells, they’re called monkey nuts. Here it’s lift, not elevator. It’s a flat, not an apartment. The term class isn’t really used, it’s module when referring to the entire semester, and lecture or uni when it’s a single session (As in “I have uni this morning”), and the term course refers to the entire degree. Also, I got confused for a bit when my professor read out the number 0.05 as “nought point nought five”, to which I found interesting that even something as universal as numbers are pronounced differently here. Bus numbers like 147 are pronounced “One four seven” instead of “one forty seven”, though no one will look at you weird if you pronounce it the North American way.

I had a full English breakfast at a restaurant on a rainy Sunday morning. Yes, I ate the mushrooms. All of them. (They were meh)

I mostly cook my own food, stopping for groceries on my way back from the university (though once in a while, I’ll try out a new restaurant. I found a Tim Horton’s here, though I think it’s the American chain since it’s Tim Horton’s Cafe and Bake Shop. Had a donut there once when I felt homesick, it wasn’t the same…). It’s funny, at first glance, everything seems so cheap. “2.50 for a tub of Haagen Dazs ice cream on sale, sweet!” Then, when I think about it, it’s in pounds, not dollars. So multiply by 1.7, add a little bit in credit card charges, that’s…. umm… You know what, I’ll just double it in my head. Yeeeaaa, that tub is 5 dollars. Maybe another time. Oh what the heck, it’s on sale.

Getting around is not too difficult. The busses are better than the ones in Ottawa, but they don’t have an indicator for the next stop. So I have to guess when I need to get off the bus, which can be a gamble in some cases, especially when rain is involved (which is often). Also, if you’re waiting for the bus here, you need to signal your intention to board to the bus driver by kind of pointing at the road in front of you. A bus almost drove right past me once.

I rented a bike at Biko Bikes, a student-run bike rental shop in the Student Union building. I went there the first time they opened for the semester and evidently it was pretty busy. So busy in fact, that they didn’t have any working bikes that could be rented out, so we had to wait for them to fix some. As I waited, I asked if they needed a hand with anything. I have some experience working with bikes, after taking mine apart back home a few times. The volunteer then gave me something to do in the back of the shop. About 30 minutes later, he asked me: “You’re waiting to rent a bike right?” I said yes, and he answered “You want to rent the bike you’re working on?” “Yeah!” And so I continued fixing it up for the next couple of hours. After the shop closed, I dealt with the paperwork, paid a nice sum of £15 (with a £40 deposit) to rent it for the entire semester and I rode off with a rented bike, to which I already had an emotional connection with. I now volunteer at the bike shop on Wednesday evenings, getting my hands dirty helping students fix their bikes, so awesome.

My bike
My sweet pair of wheels. Not the type of bicycle I’m used to, but it does get me to and from campus in under 20 minutes (slightly faster than the bus).

Academically, things are going well, though it is a little difficult to get back into studying mode after about two months off. I’m taking five classes, two of which are aerospace engineering topics, so that’s fun. My schedule is lighter than I would’ve thought, but this is due to the fact that there are no tutorials and lectures are only 2 hours per week.

My schedule
My schedule is fairly light; only composed of lectures with three labs sessions throughout the semester.

Due to the small amount of in-class time, studying here is much more self-regulated. This is accentuated by the fact that final exams are worth 80% of your final grade, compared to the 60-70% that I’m used to. There are no mid-term exams here, only labs and a handful of assignments, so revising along the semester is key, although a lot of students here simply cram during the last two weeks of the session before exams (and by cram, I mean sleep in the library).

So far, it’s going okay, though I feel like I have a bit more adjusting to do. The absence of close friends is taking a toll on me; I don’t laugh as much as I used to, I stay in my room longer than I’d like, I chat with friends and family in the late hours of the day. It is nice to talk to other international students, we’re all going through the same thing; we miss home. So talking about it is alleviating. The trick I’ve been told to solve homesickness is to go out and make experiences. Every time I force myself to go out and do stuff, I’m always glad I did. So in a few weeks, all should be great.

You can some more blogposts from Vincent at the following address –

Top Tips for your time in Manchester

After reflecting on the past 5 months on my semester abroad in Manchester, I can confidently say it was the most unforgettable experience of  my life! The European travel adventures, games at Old Trafford and most importantly the friendships I made will stay with me for a long time, thanks for everything @Uni of Manchester!

Top Tips

1. Go to as many orientation/meet n greet events at the start to make loads of exchange friends, most of whom I ended up travelling Europe with

2. Fallowfield has the most sociable campus, made a lot of local British  friends there, Squirrels Bar was also fantastic especially in the earlier weeks to meet new people

3. When travelling around  the UK or Europe make sure to have planned accommodation  and flights in advance to save time, money and stress instead of doing it throughout the trip, (can work out things to do on  a day by day basis though..)


4. Most importantly enjoy the whole experience, for most of us it will be the highlight of our lives and time genuinely flys by so make sure to make the most of each day!!


Vrushabh Sekhar