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

Friends  

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 !

The City never sleeps

By Luna Sickau, Heinrich-Heine-University, Düsseldorf (Germany)

The city that never sleeps. I know that this is what people say about New York, but Manchester can compete with this (if you know the right places to go).

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42s Nightclub

There are loads of different opportunities to go out (almost every day of the week) and 42’s is my absolute favourite one. They are playing Indie and Rock music and the music scene of Manchester is not missing on the playlist. A must visit for everyone who wants to have a good time with friends and likes to dance until the night is over.

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Jimmy’s Bar

Some people might not be the dancers – but in the NQ you can sit together with your new friends and have a good time without going into a club.

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Oktoberfest Manchester

My German roots made me go to the Manchester Oktoberfest and we had a good time (even though it wasn’t very German and even the music was English, they tried to get the famous ‘Wiesn’ abroad – another sign for the multicultural city).

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Christmas Market Albert Square

Christmas is the most wonderful time of the year. And I definitely fell in love with MANCHESTER CHRISTMAS MARKETS 2018. There are many different areas around the city where little stands of food, drinks and Christmas gifts present their goods – some of them try to be German as well. My favourite one is the market at the Albert Square in front of the town hall with its lovely old wooden stalls and Christmas lights.

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05/11 – Bonfire Night

Bonfire Night or Guy Fawkes Night is on the 5th of November. There are lovely bonfires and fireworks around the city and in different parks.

If you want to find out what the Britains are celebrating at this day check out http://learnenglishteens.britishcouncil.org/uk-now/read-uk/bonfire-night

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Peak District

If you need to escape the buzzing city for a day and the weather is not too bad, you should take a train from Manchester Piccadilly into the Peak District. This National Park offers you a large number of different hiking routes and little villages to visit and the view once you made it to one of the peaks is amazing and worth the walk.

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Peak District

When my mum came over to Manchester for a visit, we decided to climb the Mam Tor (Hope Valley) (one of the famous peaks in the area). If you are a fan of nature and fancy a hike without the best path walks, feel free to go to the Peak District. Please wear hiking shoes or at least boots or learn from your mistakes as we did!

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Media City UK

Media City UK is a place where I love to go when I need some fresh air. You can have a walk around the area and the wind will blow your mind free. You can sit at the waterfront and enjoy the silence or have a look around the big media companies like BBC. If you go one a weekend its calm, on weekdays you’ll see business people and students.

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Media City UK

In the background you can see the Imperial Way Museum which is worth a visit (in the UK you have free access to almost every museum).

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St Ann’s Square

If you prefer staying in the city center there are multiple places to go. Manchester is versatile city …

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John Rylands Library

… one of the best spots (especially for Harry Potter fans) is the John Rylands Library. The building is absolutely amazing and you can feel the power of the place while you’re standing in the old halls between thousands of old books.

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The Etihad Stadium Manchester City

If you’re into football you need to see a match in an english stadium. As tickets are always sold out, the secret is to go to a Champions League game! The ticket prices are affordable (at least for students) and the chance to get a ticket is relatively high. I’ve made it to matches of Manchester City twice and absolutely loved the atmosphere in the stadium – even if the fans are extremely quiet in comparison to a real german football match.

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Liverpool Road

To conclude my little “What to do in Manchester”-guide one last advice. If you feel like you have seen all of Manchester – there are other cities around. I would recommend Liverpool – it is only a 1 hour train ride away from Piccadilly Station and its quite different to Manchester.

Manchester – the global city

By Luna Sickau, Heinrich-Heine-University, Germany

When you’re going abroad, you always inform yourself about the place which is your home for a couple of month. You may google it, check the wikipedia entry or ask your friends and family. You may also visit the city before you’re even decide to apply for a university exchange. But you’ll never know if you made the right choice before you start living in the city and start to live a daily life there. If you’re reading this and already know that you will come to Manchester – CONGRATULATIONS! You made the right choice.

My name is Luna, a 21-year-old girl from Düsseldorf (Germany) and decided to come to the University of Manchester before finishing my bachelor class of Social Science at home. I fell in love with this amazing city one year ago, when I made in internship in Manchester for a month in the summer of 2017.

Now, more than a year later I am finally back and able to experience Manchester for half a year. I am living in a private flat, shared with international students (I would always recommend staying in a private house rather than living in a small and expensive student accommodation) and I want to give some insights of my daily life and the tell you how it is to be a part of this vibrating city – the city of Manchester.

Manchester is a colourful and busy city with endless opportunities and places to go. Since the day of my arrival, I felt welcome, accepted and appreciated. You’re never alone and even if you feel so, there are so many places to go (in Uni and everywhere else in the city). The people here are friendly, open and helpful (even though I was a bit confused that the bus driver called me ‘love’ on the first day).

The organisation of the University was brilliant, I already got loads of information at home and the welcome week is a must for everyone who’s coming over for their studies. Luckily, I found my two besties on the first day of the welcome week during a campus tour and we started to go to events and parties during freshers week. After spending the first days (and nights) in the city, you’ll get to know other students and the most popular places to go. Even if you experienced the freshers flu week (week 2), it is easy to catch up with your courses and the teachers and tutors are willing to help students if there are individual problems. At the beginning I was a bit confused because of my timetable (as I didn’t have as many courses as I normally have at home), but the workload might be higher than at home and before the first due dates after reading week, you’re happy to have enough time to focus on essays and catching up with readings.

Enough of first impressions – the next post will have loads of photos and tips where to go and what to do. MAKE THE MOST OF YOUR TIME IN MANCHESTER!

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Northern Quarter

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St Peters Square

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University in September

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The University of Manchester

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Oxford Road

All photos made by myself, please do not copy or use.

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!

Don’t Forget to Call Mom

By Kiana Lim

Nursing student, Villanova University, United States of America

 

I like to consider myself a fairly independent person.

Back at my home university, I would take a two-hour bus by myself from Pennslyvania to New York whenever I would go home for a holiday break. I thought that this would prepare me for a seven-hour plane ride from New York to Manchester. I definitely underestimated myself.

I had so many worries racing through my mind the day I was leaving home. It had finally hit me that I wasn’t going to see my family for three months, the longest I’ve been away. I was concerned about not having packed enough, packing too much, not making any friends, the list goes on. When I got on my plane, I started to worry about my friends back home. I wasn’t sure how my adjustment would be once I got back to my home university. There are not many people from my home university who study abroad for a full year. However, I soon realized that I shouldn’t let my nerves ruin my experience abroad. This is a once in a lifetime experience, and I knew that I should take advantage of it.

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Missing Manchester

It’s been 2 months since I’ve left Manchester. I ended my semester-long exchange here in mid-December, and after a 2-week trip across Europe, I reached Singapore, right on time to usher in a new beginning.

So, what took me so long to come up with a reflection post? I guess I’ve finally had time to myself so I could pen down my thoughts about these 3-4 months. In between finishing up the essays for my alternative assessment and starting a new semester back home, it was easy to put off the writing of this post. The fact was that i was in denial – I didn’t want to face the fact that exchange had come to an end for me, neither did I want to think about all the things I was already sorely missing.

 

The daily commute to and from school. Oh, bus 147, how I miss running after you.

Wetherspoon’s breakfasts, a gem I discovered far too late. It’s the simple things. Less than 5 pounds for probably the most delicious English breakfast I’ve ever had? Yes please.

How much students here use their voice, to stand up for a cause they believed in.

Strike for pay cuts, the student union building was always decked out in banners and posters publicising some public campaign or another. One that caught my eye was the bright orange banners that called for an end to gender violence. I remember another campaign that aimed to raise awareness about the issue of homelessness in the town. To someone like me, who comes from a country in which platforms for voicing one’s opinion in such a public manner are not as established, these signs and events were amazing.

Afflecks building, and the well-known “on the 6th day, God created MANchester” sign. Blasphemy? Maybe. Quintessential photo spot for anyone who visits the town? Definitely.

In the meantime, I’m still receiving promotional emails from UNiDAYS and Virgin Trains, as well as emails advertising day trips to UK towns. Perhaps I’ll unsubscribe to those in a few weeks’ time, but for now, let me hide away in the corner under my blanket so I can pretend it’s still winter in Oxford Road.

Goodbye Manchester

So my time to say goodbye to this amazing city arrived eventually. I haven’t been home for a week yet, but it does feel nice to be back. However, this whole year in Manchester, both working and studying, has been amazing and I’m very grateful for it. Thank you to all the people that have run into my life during these months, you have made them truly unforgettable.

As my final post I wanted to share a little project I did for one of my classes where I combined Trainspotting (one of my favourite films) and the experience of studying abroad.Choose studying abroad-001.jpg

 

On Making Your Study Abroad Experience Your Own, and Other Final Thoughts

IMG_9008By Shannon Mahon (Villanova University, United States of America)

I started writing this post as a cheesy, nostalgic account of how much my year abroad meant to me and all of the great things I learned about myself and the world while I was here. I got about three sentences in before I realized how that would do nothing to accurately depict my point, and it would get nowhere in telling others what it’s like to study here, and here is why: Continue reading