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.


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.


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.


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.


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!).


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

Summer in the City!

It’s been so long since I’ve last written. Manchester seems both like just yesterday and like forever ago; I completed my spring semester, and it was definitely the best year yet overall. Now, I’ve just settled in to my apartment in Boston for the summer! I am so happy to finally be living here and working here. Given that I’ve spent my entire life frequently visiting Boston with my family, I’ve come to love the city, and it has become familiar to me on many levels. My sister goes to Boston University, I love the Italian atmosphere in the North End, and it makes me feel more alive to live by the ocean.

I am so blessed to have an internship in such an exciting city. I’ll be working on medical writing and editing at a very inspiring and successful pharmaceutical company, and this is the perfect time for me to learn about awesome career opportunities. It’ll be different than simply learning about career paths during my previous years at Colgate; this is so much more real because I will be graduating in 2019. Exactly a year from now, I’ll (hopefully) be settling in to begin my official first job, or perhaps graduate school.

The other interns are from all over the country and world. I am definitely looking forward to meeting new people and networking. Here are some of my goals for the summer:

  1. Always be confident.
  2. Work like Jason. (Jason is a guy from my dad’s work who is an incredible worker, always asking what else he can do, always contributing ideas for new ways to move forward).
  3. Don’t worry about anything.
  4. Fearless pursuit of excellence.
  5. Live in the moment, enjoy the city!!
  6. Write more.
  7. Be kind to yourself.
  8. Always go above and beyond, be mature, dependable, and responsible.
  9. Be a self-sufficient and independent worker, but also work well in a team.
  10. Learn new things each day in order to prepare for an exciting career.

I think ten is a good number, and this is a good variety of goals. Here are ideas of places to go this summer and things to do, which I’m sure will grow as time goes on:

  1. The Lawn on D at night.
  2. Eat lobster tails from Bova’s outside!
  3. Read outside, or even in the Boston Public Library.
  4. Walk around Boston Common (or have a picnic).
  5. See a baseball game at Fenway.
  6. Eat more lobster rolls.
  7. Go to the Mapparium.
  8. Eat a Boston Cream Pie.
  9. Gym membership at the Fit Rec.
  10. Watch a performance by the Commonwealth Shakespeare Company.
  11. Go to the ICA.
  12. Go to Museum of Science Planetarium.
  13. Go to Museum of Fine Arts.

I can’t wait to go to at least a handful of those places, and I know that time will go by faster than I expect. I’ll sleep soon, but I have a good feeling about this summer and my first day! I’ll write more later.

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

Sorry Mom, I’ve Been Talking to Strangers

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

I am not a well-travelled person- well, not yet at least. My life has been limited to my small corner of the world in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA. My social circle pre-departure closely reflected this fact- nearly all of my friends hailed from the same area, with travel history about as limited as mine. In choosing to spend my second year of university studying nursing in Manchester, I made a promise to myself.  Continue reading