The pitter-patter of rain, sirens going off in the background, red brick everywhere – no doubt, you have arrived in the great city of Manchester. Whether this is your first time in the U.K. or you have come as a tourist before, settling in as an actual student can be quite difficult, especially when you feel like the culture you are used to is worlds apart from what your eyes are now eagerly taking in.
I have visited England a non-negligible total of four times in the past, and yet, preparing to live here for a year is an entirely different thing. Whilst I would normally stuff my days with museum visits and dinners at every possible restaurant, this time, I chose to adopt a slower pace, preferring to walk around the city and breathe in its atmosphere instead of gulping everything down at once.
Although you might be scared of being so far away from home, without any bearings, you should try to remind yourself that time will give you new habits, and before you know it, you will feel like you’ve lived here all your life.
On my first day in Manchester, I got completely lost trying to find the hotel I was supposed to be staying at before moving into the University dorms. I remember how tired my arms got after dragging my heavy suitcase through miles and miles of walking, only to come face to face with a construction site that my GPS app insisted I absolutely needed to cross in order to reach my destination.
At this point, you can probably guess that I was getting just a tad desperate. I followed the indicated path and was soon stopped by one of the workers whose voice I can still remember saying, this is a construction site, dear, please be careful not to injure yourself.
I asked for directions, and I think the reason why this memory is so clear in my mind is because of how nice and helpful every single worker was. They told me how to reach Cross Lane, where I would find my hotel, gave me the name of a nearby groceries store where I could ask for clearer instructions should I need them, and no more than five minutes later, I was happily lying in bed, suitcase unpacked, an official student at the University of Manchester.
My first impression of the city is hard to put into words, but if I had to make an attempt, I would probably tell you this: dynamic, educational, musical, and a perfect balance between old and modern.
Many people who’ve never been to Manchester tend to think of it as purely industrial, but I beg to differ. Sure, Manchester shines for its great number of researchers, and seems to be constantly growing new buildings here and there, a constant work in progress. But it is also filled with historical monuments such as the University buildings themselves which are an absolute pleasure to visit.
Do not be worried about settling down; I personally found the University staff extremely helpful when I first moved into the Whitworth Park residence. They had asked a doctor as well as a banker to be present at the reception so that you could gather as much information as needed in order to correctly prepare for your exchange year in the U.K., and were there to answer any additional questions.
Living in the dorms can definitely be a challenge when you are as shy and reserved as me, but it is also an opportunity to learn how to adapt in a completely different setting. For this reason, I strongly recommend that you choose one of the many student accommodations available on campus no matter your personality and character.
Never forget that there is room for everyone in this world, and every student will be just as lost as you at first, eager to make friends and expand their horizons.