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!