An Amazing Semester in Manchester

Yicong Li
Tsinghua University, China

Since I became an undergraduate two years ago, I have been looking forward to participating in the exchange programme for third-year students because my university is too familiar to me. I graduated from Tsinghua Primary School and Tsinghua Middle School, and now, I am an undergraduate of art history at Tsinghua University. I have spent almost ten years in the campus of my home university, so you cannot imagine how much I want to step away from the campus and explore a new environment.

Finally, the chance came. I applied for the exchange programme at the University of Manchester. I have plenty of reasons for making this choice: I need to practice the language in an English-speaking country; I love British culture; I want to live in a city that I have never visited before; Manchester is the second-large city in Britain with convenient transportation…. And as one of the leading universities in the world, the University of Manchester will provide me with me a wide academic platform.

I did lots of things for the first time when I came to Manchester. For the first time, I received an offer from a foreign university. For the first time that I took an airplane alone. For the first time, I left my home university and my family. Then I realized that for the first time, I must face various challenges without assistance from my parents or my friends. Luckily, I can always get assistance from students and the university. When I arrived at Manchester Airport, volunteers from the university had been waiting for us at the gate. Without their assistance, I can’t imagine how long I would have spent trying to find the right route to the campus. It was also volunteers who taught me to take the bus.

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As the university permits exchange students to choose course units from all disciplines, I finally chose three courses from archeology, history and cultural study. Although I love my major, I really wanted to experience other academic fields to engage in interdisciplinary study in the future. After the welcome week, I started to have lectures and seminars. I found it was not difficult to learn the course contents, but it was challenging to express my own opinions. I am not a native speaker, so I struggle with grammar mistakes and complicated referencing systems during writing essays. But after constant practice for more than ten weeks, I realize that I have improved a lot in speaking and writing. Besides, tutors are so helpful. They always listen to me with patience and encouragement, which make me gain more confidence.

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I did not want to confine my experience just to the campus, so I have visited lots of British and European cities this semester. As I mentioned above, transportation is very convenient in Manchester, even though the trains are delayed sometimes. I went to London, York, Coventry, and Edinburgh. I also participated the daytrip organized by students to Windermere. The view of the lake is brilliant in autumn.

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In the last two months, I also went to Amsterdam, Copenhagen, and Spain. I will have a two-week trip to France and Italy next month. Travelling is regarded as an important way to get the education in European history, and those museums and historical relics deeply impress me. What is more, as a fan of vintage and antique, I bought some great stuff when traveling. The 1910s gate-top purse in Art Nouveau style that I purchased in Denmark is so elaborate and beautiful.

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While all students are expecting the coming of Christmas, I have mixed feelings about the holiday. After the Christmas vacation, I will come back to Beijing, and I am pretty sure that I will miss the life in Manchester. I will miss my accommodation, Whitworth Park. The beautiful triangular buildings and small gardens make me feel that I am living in a fairy tale. I will miss the libraries, where I always have a cup of coffee and enjoy the warm sunshine. I will even miss the food market in University Place because the “chicken and rice” in Vietnamese style has become my favorite food in Manchester (They do not provide the sauce now. What a pity!).

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This amazing semester is going to end, but the memory will never fade away!

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