Reading week trip in Edinburgh

By Julia Nazzareno, Paris School of Business, France

For all Harry Potter’s fan out there like myself, Edinburgh is probably the best magical experience you can get here in Britain. It will make you go back in time and experience the town that J.K Rowling got her inspiration from. 

The reading week was an opportunity for us to travel and discover a little more about the country (and work on our assignments of course…). We thus booked a weekend trip to Scotland very spontaneously because I had heard so much about it, especially during Christmas time. We took the train from Piccadilly to Edinburgh  very early in the morning which lasted for around three hours. We also planned on staying one night to give us some time to actually enjoy our visit. I therefore booked the first hotel I was recommended online: the Black Ivy Hotel. It is a little bit on the pricier side compared to an Airbnb but it was the most beautiful hotel ever. Our  bedroom had a view on the Meadows Park which I cannot even begin to explain how beautiful and magical it was. We were so lucky with the sun and everything looked golden and autumnal.

The Castle 

The most outstanding building in town in probably the castle. It lies on top of the mountain looking at you with some real mystic vibes and smog (typically Scottish).  We doubted whether or not we should visit it because one entrance for a student is almost 20 pounds and we were spending a lot in restaurants and hotel already but we decided to go for it anyway because we had to make the most out of this trip. Let me just say that it was one of our best decisions because it was so beautiful and so sunny. 

Calton Hill 

Another landscape that you should not miss if you truly want to experience Edinburgh is the Calton Hill.  It is full of vestige and a great view on the city that makes cool pictures. 

Harry Potter vibes

Victoria Street

If you are looking for a little Harry Potter inspired tour, you can start by Victoria Street which was the street that inspired Diagon Alley in the story. The buildings are so colourful and the architecture in very English. One of the buildings I absolutely  wanted to see was the Balmoral Hotel which is where the author J.K. Rowling was actually staying in when she wrote the very last lines of book 7. It was the most beautiful place ever! 

Doctors pub

Places to eat 

I know Harry Potter is important but what matters most is food isn’t it ? After having walked and travelled for hours, we settled for « Doctors » which was not needles and white blouse but crispy fish and chips and pies (much preferable). If you are feeling like a little coffee, you should check out the Brew Lab Coffee (which was actually recommended to me by the university’s instagram). Pretty much every restaurants looks yummy and you cant really go wrong on that because the city is full of nice pubs. 

When two Frenchies meet two americans


The best part of this trip was when we bumped into my boyfriend’s American class mate in a random pub at a random time just randomly. What are the odds ? He had  not talked to him about the trip nor were they very close. We thought it was so funny and unlikely that we instantly connected and stayed together until we left. We actually saw each other in Manchester when we came back because we could not get over the fact that we had met in Scotland when we had not even bumped into each other in the streets of Manchester. They say exchange programs help you meet amazing people and make unforgettable memories, well it is definitely true and Edinburgh allowed us to truly experience that. 

Overall, I think that the best way to visit any place is to simply wander around and you will end up finding everything you did not know you were looking for. This 48h trip was one of the best trips I have ever had and we are actually considering going back before we leave the country. 

« Coming back to Edinburgh is to me like coming home. » – Charles Dickens


Christmas in Manchester

By Julia Nazzareno, Paris School of Business, France 

I have got some bad news… Christmas is over. The most magical time of the year is now far behind us and I have already missed a few of my resolutions… oops. Let me just say, Manchester really made an effort in bringing warmth and festive vibes to the city. I think that the Christmas Market was probably one of the highlights of my journey here in Britain. I may have eaten all the food every single night because the spirit just made me so happy. If there is one time of the year where you should spend a few days in Manchester, it is definitely during Christmas! It made every night out special as you could just wander by the shops and have an excuse to eat some candy or/and chocolate.  

Such a cosy little market

The urge to buy any Christmas themed homeware or clothes was real but when you stay in one place for less than a year, you need to restrain yourself otherwise it is going to end up in the bin, not your already jammed suitcase. To compensate this frustration I would go to the Christmas market almost every night to enjoy the big Santa Claus on top of the Town Hall as well as the smell of hot mulled wine.  You know, Manchester is quite a small city so you quickly go round and round the centre a million times and you may get tired of it but during Christmas, I could never get fed up with it. There were so many lights, shops and smells to discover which made it incredibly entertaining.  

Christmas Spirit

December also meant that I could go back to Paris to see my family and spend the holidays with them. The only downside of the Christmas holiday though is that you know the exams are just around the corner, patiently waiting for you to return from weeks of eating roast dinners, pudding and red wine. However, this time of year just  passes by so quickly! In one month, you get the end of semester one, Christmas, the new year, the exams and the start of the new term. I cannot believe that this trip is already halfway over. I know I should not see the glass half empty but time flies… I remember my first weeks in Manchester and now it has become a habit and a new lifestyle. The New Year is always a good time to reflect on memories, adventures and impressions. Manchester sure made it feel like home during Christmas and I wish the Christmas market could just stay there all year long.

“Cheers to a New Year and another chance for us to get it right.” – Oprah Winfrey

A New Adventure Begins

By Julia Nazzareno, Paris School of Business, France

Ever since I was a little girl, I have always wanted to live in England because the culture and the Britishness fascinated me. As I grew up and visited the country a fair bit, I knew that I had to live here to truly experience the « British way of life ». So two years ago, when I was given the chance to study abroad as part of my school program, I put Manchester in my top priority list. Could there be a better dream for my younger self: come and study in England and on top of that in one of the best schools in the world ? Certainly not, and that is why I intend on making the most out of this opportunity.  

The University Main Building
Charles de Gaulle Airport – Paris

In September 2018, my boyfriend and I took the plane from Paris and embarked on this adventure together. This was our first time leaving our family for longer than a few weeks which was both really scary yet exciting. I have always been very close to my parents which made the process of going away a lot harder than I had anticipated. Our generation usually dreams of having freedom but it is only when we are on our own that we realise we really need the support of our family. 

So many bricks in the North Campus

When we arrived in Manchester, we were a bit disconcerted with the mix between very modern-new- looking buildings and the more authentic ones like Principal Hotel or John Ryland’s Library. This strange combination is at every corner of the streets which I thought was weird at first. However, through the process of getting accustomed to this new daily life, I found myself discovering so much about the city and the surroundings. Progressively, you forget about your homesickness and you start making Manchester your home. Every time I step foot in the campus, I am always amazed by the beauty of the main building that looks like Hogwarts. This kind of English architecture is  mainly the reason why I love England so much. In France, we do not really have any ancient school premises like that, looking so traditional and authentic. But when you look at London, Oxford, Cambridge or Manchester, it instantly makes you want to study there and have the best of grades.

Automn is the best season

I feel so much like home or myself when I look at Manchester. The modern side of it keeps me integrated into the real world of business that I am pursuing in my studies but I can always count on the traditional brick buildings to bring me back to my passion for history and Britishness. The first few weeks were not easy because the English system is so different compared to the French one. I was certainly not used to having only ten hours of class a week and not knowing how to manage my remaining free time. However, after feeling homesick, lost and having a fair amount of tea, here I am on this new adventure, learning more about myself than ever and more about this city that I can now call home. 

« Wheresoever you go, go with all your heart » – Confucius

The Town Hall !