What to expect of Manchester and the UK

Part 1 – Shopping

Many of you guys reading this have probably never been to the UK or have been here only for a short amount of time; it is likely that you wouldn’t know what it’s really like to live here. For the next few posts, I will be talking about life in the UK and in particular Manchester.

Moving to a new country can be exciting, but at the same time, it can be incredibly daunting. I hope by writing this blog, I can fully prepare you for your student life in a strange country. When I first moved to Manchester two years ago, my first impression was that the city is big. Not London big, but BIG none the less. There are lots you can do here, I am sure you will not be disappointed when you arrive.

The first place you want to get used to is, of course, the campus. There will be campus tours given by our student ambassadors during welcome week. For more information, you can ask our student ambassadors when you arrive on campus during Welcome Week. If you are not keen on spending an hour walking around campus, then my advice is to have Google map (or whatever map app you like to use) ready and search for where your lecture rooms are for the first week or two. Slowly you will get used to it and can walk around campus blindfolded🙂.

You can read my previous post on our campus if you haven’t already!

Once you have settled in at your accommodation, you should start exploring Manchester and buy all the necessities you need for your new place.

What you should expect shopping in the UK? There are two main shopping districts in Manchester; both places will have everything you’d need and more. They are perfect for dates, meet up with friends and just hanging out in general as there are many entertainment options available in both places.

  • Trafford centre
    • This place is quite far away from our campus. You can reach here at the final stop of the “250” bus from Oxford road or the City centre takes about 30 minutes.
    • It is the third biggest shopping mall in the UK. This means you name it, you’ll find it here somewhere … eventually … if you don’t get lost.
    • The best gaming arcade in Manchester, Odeon cinema, and Sealife (aquarium) are all located here!
  • City centre
    • This is closer to our campus as it takes only 20 minutes of walk and 10 minutes on the bus(less if traffic is smooth) to get to.
    • Same as Trafford centre, everything you want can be found here.
    • Personally, I prefer the city centre over Trafford centre as it is closer to campus and the shops are more compacted.
    • Any bus on Oxford road towards the town centre direction will take you here.
    • China town is 5 minutes walk away where many of the Asian restaurants are located; this includes Chinese, Thai, Japanese, Korean, etc.
    • There are multiple Asian supermarkets where you can buy most of the things you can get back home (if you are from Asia of course).
    • There is this store on the upper floor of Arndale called “Clas Ohlson” (my favourite shop for reasons I do not know 😐), this place is where you can get all your necessities for your accommodation. They will have most of the things you need. Everything for your kitchen, your room and your bathroom can be found here so make sure to check it out!

The University and Manchester City Shoppers on Manchester's Market Street

Manchester City Centre

The last thing I want to touch on is grocery shopping. This is where I think most new students will struggle. Budgeting how much you can spend a week and following it through is surprisingly difficult (from an experienced budgeter with 90% fail rate 😐). I am not the best person to give you advice on how to budget and follow it through, but I do know all the good places you should shop at to get the most out of your money so here is a list(yes, More lists!)

  • Tesco
    • BThe biggest supermarket chain in the UK by market share and surprisingly, you will only see their small to medium-sized stores in Manchester.
    • One of its’ stores is conveniently located on Oxford road
    • The store is quite small (more like a convenient store) so you only have limited choices on what you can buy.
    • This place is also quite expensive compared to other options on this list so I’d suggest you try to buy your groceries elsewhere and only shop here when you are lazy to reach for the other stores.
  • Sainsbury’s
    • The second largest supermarket chain in the UK by market share.
    • They have one store located on Oxford road, and very close to all the major building on campus.
    • You are more likely to shop here as its’ location is too convenient.
    • Prices are similar to those of Tesco’s so I’d advise you to shop here only for your lunch when you are on campus.
  • Morrison’s
    • The fourth largest supermarket chain with a medium sized store located a few minutes walk from campus (next to a Sainsbury’s).
    • They have the best lunch meal deal here (it is my favourite!). If you want a quick and cheap lunch then come here! Downside it most of the food that is worth getting is cold. If you prefer hot food then there are plenty of places around campus for that too!
    • Morrison’s tops both of our two previous choices as it has a bigger store and cheaper price tags on many things. Shop here, guys!
  • Lidl
    • The seventh largest supermarket chain in the UK by market share.
    • A fairly large store is located at the end of Oxford Road
    • The style and layout of the store is a bit different to the traditional supermarkets like the 3 listed above
    • Has almost all you need at the lowest prize red all the other options on this list (I do most of my grocery shopping here).
    • A bakery with freshly baked bread, baguettes, pastries, etc.
    • Closer to most accommodations than the others
  • Aldi
    • Their store is located in the city centre so it is not as convenient compared to the other options listed above.
    • The style of Aldi is similar to Lidl’s with the small difference in prices for a few items.
    • if you shop here without looking at the sigh before you walk in, you’d think you are shopping at Lidl.

Once again thank you for reading and stay tuned for the next part😉😉. If you have any questions please leave a comment and they will be answered as quickly as possible!

7 thoughts on “What to expect of Manchester and the UK

  1. Thank you for these wonderful and practical advises before. It gave me many useful information about Manchester and the UK, but I am still worrying about my accommodation… In this case, would I ask for the suggestions about the rental issues? I must say that I have totally no ideas about the renting. Such as, how to paid , or where to find the suitable place to live, and does the school have some accommodations for freshmen?

    And lastly, I want to say Thank you for giving me the changes for leaving the reply, and if you could give me the ideas or advises about the problem, I will be deeply grateful!


    1. Hi Eva, I am really glad that this blog has been useful to you. You are guaranteed to get a room in one of the student accommodation halls if you are a freshman. This means you don’t have to worry about not being able to find a place to live in. You can use this link to apply for student accommodations in halls (I’d suggest you to apply for it even if you decide in the future that you don’t want to live in halls, you don’t pay anything before you make your mind up). As for payment with halls, you will have to pay £400 as deposit to secure you room before you move in. The rents are normally split into 3 instalments where you will pay 1/3 of the total rent each time. You will normally pay once in September, once in January and once in April.
      There are also private halls which you can check out. These are halls that aren’t owned by the University, you can be living with people from another university if you do choose to go with them. If you don’t want to live in halls, you can live in a flat or a house. Use this link to search for your future home (all accommodation listed are approved so you won’t have to worry about scams). As for payments with private accommodations, most of them require you to pay monthly, but you can choose to pay in multiple instalments if the option is available.
      Hope this is helpful to you. If you still have questions please ask and I will answer as soon as I can.
      Thank you.


      1. Thank you very(very! ) much! It’s great helpful for me to plan for the university , and I know how to do then! As well as, I read all the blogs from the homepage, It had really wonderful ideas and useful information for me (and also for the other students!) !
        THANK YOU very much!!

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Hi Jun!
    Firstly, thank you for all the information you are providing, it is quite helpful!
    Secondly, I would like to ask you if there are vegan options to buy in the most popular supermarkets such as Tesco, Lidl etc or it is necessary to go to specialised stores?


    1. Hello Marta, I am glad that you have found this blog helpful. Manchester is a big city so there are plenty of vegan specialised shops, most of them are in town. there is one called The Eighth day Cafe that is on Oxford Road (10minutes walk from Campus and should have most of the things you need and want). Lidl will also have plenty of Vegan options for you to choose from.


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