Missing Home, and other Not-So-Perfect-Study-Abroad-Experience Feelings

By Shannon Mahon, Villanova University, USA

My study abroad experience is somewhat unique (at least by American standards) in that I am studying at University of Manchester for the entire academic year. Of my friends and peers that go abroad, nearly all of them will only be gone for one semester or a summer. With that unique experience comes a unique perspective-especially because I went home for a month for our winter break.  Continue reading

Time of your life.

By Chiara, University “Federico II”, Italy

 

When I went to the airport with my friend, a couple of nights ago, I later took a taxi to go back home. It was six in the morning and not at all near dawn, and the car followed the same route of the taxi that got me home for the first time, five months ago. I remember my past self looking out of the window and wondering whether my new house would look the same as the ones I was seeing passing by, all red bricks and round edges.

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A month before that, I was looking at the city on a map, trying to imagine what my life – what everything would be like. It all feels like centuries have passed, as if I were a completely different person from when I began.

To be honest, I think I am. And that’s what makes going home so scary now.

Will I be the same as I am now? Will I go back to being what I was before? Will I remember the important things this city has taught me? Will I forget?

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Last night on Earth

By Chiara, University “Federico II”, Italy

 

As a child, I loved to travel at night. I loved to get up when it was dark outside and watch as the sky turned light blue then gray then pink and gold. It felt like an adventure, and as if my excitement couldn’t be contained by a normal night’s sleep.

This kind of travels were rare, but I still woke up before dawn on some other special occasions; I remember doing this on my tenth birthday, and before school trips, and after my last high school exam. Watching the sun go up would make me feel so calm and peaceful and at the same time impatient to see what the new day would bring me.

Sometimes I would not even go to sleep: I would stay awake all night until the sun rose. Some of these nights are the best memories I have in my life, moments in which time seemed to stop and the night stretch on forever, then bursting in the blinding light of a new day. I call these moments my ‘last nights on Earth’, maybe because it feels like leaving something behind, maybe because it feels like beginning anew again. Tonight is both.

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Being busy isn’t that bad

It’s taken me longer than I expected to write this second post. Anyway, here it is, finally! First of all, I wanted to thank everyone for the positive messages I received after my first entry; the reactions were unbelievable and made me look forward to the following post. I planned on writing more during this last semester, but I’ve been up to so many things that I found impossible to find time to sit down and write something “decent”. I did many drafts and I had already written a new entry that I was about to upload, but I wasn’t convinced with the result. So now that exams are over, I think it’s a good moment to take a look back to these four months.

It’s difficult to believe how fast time has passed. It’s not an upsetting thought though; it means that I’ve made the most of my first semester and that I have been so busy that I lost the track of time. I love Manchester, very much, indeed, and it makes me happy to be here. Of course, not everything is a bed of roses, but even with some ups and downs, I wouldn’t change my time here for anything. I feel like I am in one of those places where I can be myself, a place that makes me feel alive and full of energy to make the most of every day. Going to university feels good, even going to the library feels good, travelling feels good, meeting new people feels good, partying feels good, making mistakes feels good, being in Manchester feels good. So yes, I feel like I’m in the right place, at the right time, and, honestly, it feels great. But I think I should start writing about all I’ve been up to lately.

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Look at that chubby Santa. It’s lovely, innit?

Among all the things that I’ve been doing these past months, going to the Christmas markets has been one of the highlights. I don’t remember being this excited for Christmas time in years! I felt like I was 10 years old again haha! We don’t have these type of markets in Bilbao (where I am from) and it was only when I travelled to Germany and the Czech Republic that I saw them for the first time. I loved them and having them here in Manchester was very nice. The market in Albert Square with Santa in front of the town hall and all the stands with different foods and beverages was particularly stunning. I had the chance to try mulled wine as well and it was… interesting? I don’t know, I wasn’t very attracted to the idea of drinking warm wine, so I had mixed feelings when I first tried it. I will better stick to hot chocolate.

IMG_2581It is true that I did far less travelling than I was expecting to do around the UK. I did go to London to visit a friend and to Edinburgh and Glasgow during reading week, but that was pretty much everything. London was as beautiful as per usual, but if I’m honest, I have a love-hate relationship with this city. It is one of my favourite places in the UK and I do think it is lovely and full of stuff to do; however, it is so big and crowded that I sometimes find it overwhelming. Still, I have been in London quite a few times and I am one of the happiest people on Earth whenever I go back. But I thought it was high time I discovered a new place in the UK, so some friends and I chose Scotland as our destination for the reading week. I fell in love with Edinburgh since the very first moment. We made the most of the three days we spent there. We climbed up Arthur’s Seat and had a panoramic view of the city and we did the same thing from Calton Hill and the Scott Monument and the views were spectacular again.

The view from Calton Hill on the left and the one from the Scott Monument on the right.

Moreover, as a huge fan of Harry Potter, I couldn’t miss going to The Elephant House, the birthplace of these books. I was delighted to be there and things got even better when I went to the toilets. Yes, THE toilets, full of stuff written by fans that had gone there from all over the world. They were so cool that people would just get in with their phones or cameras to take pictures of the walls! On the other hand, Glasgow wasn’t really my kind of city. Its people were nice and interesting, funny in a way. However, the city itself wasn’t my cup of tea although it had beautiful parts and interesting stuff to do.

We were already quite exhausted from the previous days and we didn’t feel like walking much so we took a taxi. The driver was this Scottish man with a very strong accent, who, besides, was apparently feeling very talkative that day. For some seconds, I felt like my brain was melting. Was that a new language? Were all my years of learning English useless? Why am I studying this degree? Too many questions in my head. Overall, it was a great trip. To be honest, I could summarise my time in Scotland in beautiful places, nice people and cake. Yes, I ate a loooooot of cake.

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Just a tiny bit of these walls.

However, I have to mention as well that I did two other trips in January: one to Brussels before coming back to Manchester for my exams, and another one to Cologne, to celebrate that those were over. I loved both cities despite the cold and the massive flu that I had while I was in Belgium. This trip was particularly lovely as I got the chance to see the city as a local with the best tour guide, my friend Alicia (shoutout to her!!). I must say I loved the waffles and fries! The pics I decided to share this time are both during the night as both cities were really beautiful at this time of the day.

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La Grand Place

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Hohenzollernbrücke

 

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Rag’n’Bone Man

In November, I also had the chance to celebrate Halloween. It’s not a big thing in Spain, but come on, I was in the UK! So without thinking it twice I bought tickets for Vevo Halloween, featuring Rag’n’Bone Man, JP Cooper and Jonas Blue among others. It was one of the best nights that I’ve spent in Manchester so far. Their performances were insane, and that’s one of the things I like the most about Manchester: its music scene.

 

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BANKS

It is wonderful and there are plenty of concerts and live music events to attend. Speaking of concerts, I went to see BANKS as well. She was so pure and powerful on stage… that I’m really glad I got tickets to see her.

 

As a “typical” Erasmus student I’ve been partying a lot, more than I do back home and more than I was expecting to do. However, I use the word typical between brackets because that’s what many people think studying abroad is all about, but I’m sorry to tell you you’re wrong, it’s much more than that. I have had the time to do a bit of everything, not just go from club to club. A bit of travelling, a bit of getting to know other cultures and cuisines, a bit or art and entertainment, new friends, new feelings, loads of live music, uni work that I actually enjoy doing and what I love the most: time for myself to spend it as I please doing what I want to do.

Long story short, Manchester has been good to me, very good I could say. I don’t regret choosing this place for my year abroad, not at all. Every day I fall in love with this city just a little bit more and it makes me truly happy to have chosen such an amazing place as my Erasmus destination.

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Hope it doesn’t take me this long to write the next post xoxo

Travel First: In which I Make The Most Of Being In The Northern Hemisphere

Author: Michaella//University of Auckland//New Zealand

Hello lovely readers! Long time no see! I hope you all had a fantastic Christmas and an even better New Years. It’s crazy knowing that I’ve started 2018 in a country that isn’t New Zealand – it’s even crazier knowing that I’ve got three weeks until I have to fly home! Back to that little corner of the world to a country that some people don’t believe actually exists. However, before that happens I made sure that I got to have a good taste of the countries surrounding England, those countries being France, the Netherlands, and the Republic of Ireland.

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“Time flies”

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London October 2017

No matter how cliche it sounds, it is true, time flies when you are having fun, and too fast if you ask me. Before I left I remember thinking ‘four months is going to be too much’, but the opposite is true it is not enough and there are still so many thinks I want to see and do. Since I am person that is very attached to home, it feels wierd to say that I’m not really missing it. Maybe, because I don’t really have time to do so. The last few weeks have been a lot of fun, some highlights… While reading week is actually ment for reading, I must admit that is not really (at all) what I used it for. Continue reading

Just like time travel

By Chiara, University “Federico II”, Italy

One week from today I’m going home.

I spent 92 days in this country. In seven days I’ll be seeing my family again. Yesterday I took one of my final exams. Two days ago my roommates left our house forever.

Let it sink in: it’s Christmas in less than two weeks. I made it to week 12. Three months ago I didn’t think I would make it to week 3.

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A Month Left

As I sit in Kro Bar, a cozy restaurant/bar that has easily become one of my favourite spots in Manchester, two men sit down at the end of the table next to me.  My interest was piqued at the mention of research grants.  It appears to be an interview about some type of research job.  There’s a mention of biology, biophysics, gene regulation, cancer, cell behaviour.  The older man starts talking about what his lab at Yale is like.  I listen to their conversation, unable not to.

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