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What to expect of Manchester and the UK

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Part 5 – Student life

Having briefly mentioned what student life is like studying in The UoM in my last post, I thought I would elaborate more on that and give you a better idea of what life is like here. High expectations lead to hard disappointments. However, you can’t be disappointed if you know exactly what to expect 😎😎. Let me tell you all about life as a student in this post and save you from disappointments.

Humanities G

Let’s start with the weather. You are going to arrive in September; the weather during this time will be nice compared to what is to come later on in the year 😈😈. Most days during your Welcome Week and Orientation will be around 20 degree Celsius (could be as low as 12 or 10 but I would say it is quite rare). It rains quite often here so an umbrella should be picked up as soon as you can. Make sure you get those small extendable ones so you can put it in your bag and have it with you WHEREEVER you go! Speaking from experience, it could look sunny in the morning before you leave the house and starts pouring down by the time you have walked half of the way to university, then it stops by the time you reach your building (yes, it happens all the time).

During winter we have shorter days and longer nights (8 hours day and 16hours night) with the sun rising at 8am and setting around 3 or 4pm. To compensate for the lack of sunlight, this cycle flips during summer (16hours of day and 8 hours of night). This was unusual for me when I first arrived in the UK as where I came from we had 12 hour day and night cycles throughout the year so I think this might surprise you as well😐. Snowing is rare even during the coldest days and when it does; it gets flushed by the rain that follows shortly after. Basically, you are not likely to be building your snowman or even having snowball fights, disappointing right 🙁🙁?

What is it like to be a student a The UoM? Well, this will vary with the course you are doing. For me (I study Mathematics so I think my course structure will be similar to other STEM courses), I have 12 lectures and 6 tutorials every week (each session is one hour long). Lectures are where your professor/course coordinator will teach you the course; they will deliver it in front of the whole class in a big lecture room or a classroom depending on how many people are in the course. Although some lecturers will provide a set of typed up notes, these are notes from the lecturer and contains everything you need to know for the course, some lecturers will leave gaps in the notes as a way to encourage you to attend the all the lectures. Most lectures now are recorded so you can watch them online, it is still important for you to attend as many as you can because this is the best way you can learn the material (you are paying for it so don’t waste your money!). Tutorials are in smaller groups of around 20 people where you get the chance to ask your lecturer questions about materials of the course they teach. For my course, we have an example sheet every week where we have to work on prior to the tutorial so we can ask questions during this time.  Self-studying will also be a big part of student life, and this is where you will spend most of the time doing.

History, Faculty of Humanities, SALC

Now onto the topic of holidays! We have two big holidays in one academic year, the winter break, and Easter break. Winter break is 4 weeks long and starts on the third week of December up to the second week of January. Then we will have 2 weeks from the third week of January till the end of January for the end of semester 1 exams. This means you will have one month of free time before the January exams. Use this time wisely to prepare for your exams! The second semester starts between the last week of January and the first week of February. Easter holiday is 3 weeks long and starts between late March and early April. Compared to the winter break, you will still have a month worth of lectures when you return from the break. This is the perfect time to catch up on coursework and start preparing for your end of year exams (it’s stressful, and it only gets more stressful in the second and third year🙁). All lectures finish around 2 weeks of May and then you will have exams for the following 3 weeks. This means there are no breaks between the end of the semester and your exams like in the first semester; this will make exams a bit more stressful as you might need some extra time to digest the material of your course. Apart from these two long-term holidays, there is a reading week in week 6 (the 6th week of the first semester) where we will not have lectures. However, some lecturers will have things planned for you so it’s not entirely a break (midterm tests, lab classes, etc.).

This is all I will cover on today’s post, there is still your nightlife, society, travelling, etc. we can talk about, but these are unique experiences to you so I won’t touch on that and leave them for you to explore. I hope this post has given you an insight into what university is going to be like. As usual, thank you for reading and if you have any questions please comment and I will answer them as soon as I can!

What to expect of Manchester and the UK

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Part 4 – Manchester

Student life will be very tiring. Typically, people will start getting busy around week 3 or week 4 to prepare for their midterm test or coursework deadlines. Week 6 is what we call ‘reading week’; we don’t have any lectures during this week. However, this doesn’t mean it is a week to relax, some lecturers will utilise this week to give you a midterm test (or you will have it in either week 5 or 7) and some may run lab classes. This will vary based on what courses you are doing and you may not even have a midterm test or coursework to hand in, but the point is, you will be busy in one way or another.

Although your first year results don’t count towards your degree at the end (you need a minimum of a Third Class or 40% to pass your first year, otherwise you will have to resit exams or be dropped from the course), putting in the effort and getting the best result you can will still be beneficial. This will allow you to gain an edge on applying for internships in the second year (big companies generally open up their vacancies in September of the year so your results in the first year are what will reflect your academic performance). With all this being said, I am here to talk about having fun in Manchester and all the places you can visit. You can’t work hard if you don’t play hard 😆😆.

I hope you now have a rough idea of how the public transport system works in Manchester(you can read part 3 to learn more if you haven’t already). If not, don’t worry, you will get used to it after a week or two so just let it flow~~. Now I am going to introduce you to some of the popular tourist attractions you can visit when you are here. They are great for weekend trips or you can visit them after you finish your classes if you happen to finish early in some days.

Famous attractionsTUOM, UNDER GRADUATE PROSPECTUS

National Football Museum is the building on the left side of the picture.

  • Football stadiums – with two of the best football teams located in Manchester. Watching a game from both teams should be on you must do list. If that is too pricey then you can visit the stadiums and participate in the stadium tour.
  • National Football Museum – this free entry museum located in the city centre a variety of football displays that it worth a visit even if you are not the biggest football fan. If you are a football enthusiast then this place is a must go to place for you!
  • Museum of Science and Industry – a large museum with 12 galleries devoted to the development of science, technology and industry. It is situated on the site of the world’s oldest rail station. Lovers of trains, planes and science need to come here!
  • Manchester Art Gallery – located in the city centre of Manchester, this gallery possesses one of the largest art collections in the UK. It’s free to enter so go inside when you are shopping in time and enlighten your inner artistic mind🙂🙂.
  • John Ryland’s Library – built over 100 years ago and now part of the University of Manchester Library. Although it is part of the University, you are unlikely to use this library as the one located on campus is far too convenient compared to this one. Make sure you go and have a look inside this beautiful neo-Gothic building before you forget about it 😐😐.
  • Chinatown – this is one of the biggest Chinese communities in the UK, there are plenty of good restaurants (Chinese, Korean, Thai, Japanese, Vietnamese and some more) you can choose from.
    • here is a picture of the arch of ChinatownChinese-Studies_005.jpg

These are just a fraction of what Manchester has to offer, the rest is left for you to explore! If visiting museums and old buildings doesn’t suit your taste, there are still many things you can do. You can have a food tour (many good restaurants are located in Chinatown and city centre), a club tour, a pub tour, etc. The only thing stopping you is your imagination haha😉.

As usual, thank you for taking your time reading and don’t be afraid to ask if you have any questions.

What to expect of Manchester and the UK

I have some pictures to show you!

They are what our staffs and student ambassadors will be wearing on Welcome Week and at the airport for pick-up service. Make sure you remember what they look like so you know who to ask for help (we are wearing purple so it’s easy to spot us!!).

david.jpeg

Part 3 – Public Transport

The University of Manchester is not a campus university, its’ campus is built within the city of Manchester (called a city university). What this means is that the university is based in the central area of Manchester rather than in some rural area far from town with its’ big campus (called a campus university). There are pros and cons of being a city university but we are not going to discuss that today… maybe in another post though🙂.

The UoM was the result of two universities (UMIST and Victoria University of Manchester) merging together back in 2004. This separates the campus of UoM into the north (formerly UMIST) and south (formerly Victoria University of Manchester) campus. North campus is located closer to the city centre but the south campus is located on one of the busiest bus routes in the UK. It takes around 15 minutes to walk from south campus to north campus. With the convenient locations of both campuses, no matter where you live you will be able to get to campus with ease and how you can do it is what I will be talking about today 🙂.

Public transport within the city

  • Bus – like most cities in the UK the most common transportation method is by bus
    • There are many companies with buses operating in Manchester, but the company with the most buses operating in Manchester is Stagecoach (another big company is the First group). Therefore I will only be discussing the fare prices and term tickers of Stagecoach.
    • There are different types of tickets you can get. If you are just travelling from one place to another for once, then you can go on the bus and ask for a single ride to the place you are going to. You need to say where you are getting off because the fare price is based on how far you are travelling.
    • There are no return tickets available for buses, but an all-day unlimited rides ticket is available. You simply just tell the bus driver that you want a ‘dayrider’ and pay.
    • The more economical day rider is £3.60 and you can get access to limited routes but if you are travelling on Oxford road and within university buildings then this is a good option.
    • The normal day rider cost £4.50 and this allows you to get on any Stagecoach bus within the Greater Manchester region.
    • If you plan to travel many times for a week then you can also get a 7day ticket called the ‘megarider’ and this will cost you £8 or £12 (the more expensive one will allow you to go on more buses).
    • For term passes, this is most valuable for those who live far away enough to require travelling by bus to uni every day. There are various plans and term tickets will allow you to get on any bus (basically 90% of the buses available in Manchester) within Greater Manchester that is under the Stagecoach company.
    • Below are the plans they offer
    • tics
    • How does it work? You can buy it online here and have them send you a plastic card (only do it when you are in the UK). This plastic card will have your ticket stored digitally, you can use it by tapping it on the machine when you get on the bus.
    • The ‘magic bus’ is a yellow and blue double-decker bus and a typical Stagecoach bus can be either blue and white or green and white. The magic bus is cheaper and has a uniform fare price for single journeys so it cost the same no matter where you go (£1.50 for single, £3.60 for a whole day, £8 for a whole week).
    • One more thing I want to say is the bus route 147 is free for all students, just show your student ID to the bus driver when you get on.
    • Here is what a typical Manchester bus looks like.IMG_0326 copy.jpg
  • Taxi/Uber
    • Most bus routes will stop operating from 12am – 6am
    • The popular bus routes will continue to run at late night with longer waiting time in between.
    • If you plan to travel at night time then Uber or black cabs will be your best options, but of course much more expensive.
    • Download the Uber app when you are in the UK just in case you need it one day… like when you are drunk after a night out, or for whatever reasons you may have. You will thank yourself for doing it when you need a taxi immediately.
  • Tram
    • There are trams available in the city, but they don’t go through our campus so it’s not the most popular way for students to travel.
    • You will see them in the city centre and may want to give it a ride because they look really fun hahaha.
    • Here is a picture of a tram in Manchester.ManchesterUniversity--190.jpg

Intercity transport

  • Coach – relatively cheap and convenient way to travel across cities. Very ideal for when you are travelling to another city that is close by (Liverpool, Birmingham, Leeds, etc.).
    • The biggest company with the widest range of service is the National Express, they have services to and from Manchester across the country
    • Not ideal for long distance travel as seats are not comfy to nap in and many other reasons (smelly toilet on some buses… sometimes🤢🤢).
    • Fares vary from where you are going but they are generally very affordable.
    • If you are looking for even more affordable coaches then you can write down ‘Megabus’ on your notebook. It is a branch under Stagecoach and they offer very very very cheap rides from Manchester to London and other cities (takes about 5 hours to arrive). Although it is cheap (around £10 normally), the destinations are very limited. You can check out more on their official site
    • National express official site
  • Train – this is the most convenient and the fastest way to get to any major cities in the UK. The trade-off is it’s much more expensive.
    • Trainline is an amazing website you can use to book your tickets (you can also book tickets for the coach with National Express here). They also have a mobile app to plan and book your journey. Tickets will be sent directly to your email and your app as a QR code and then you can scan it to get on the train.
    • There are 2 stations close to our campus. Piccadilly station and Oxford Road.
    • One more big station is the Victoria Station, it is in the city centre and further away from our campus.
    • Piccadilly station is one of the busiest stations in the country and has trains directly to many of the major cities in the UK.
    • Oxford station is one stop away from Piccadilly; it is closer to our campus so you can also choose to travel here.

Overall, it is relatively easy to get to where you want without a car in Manchester. Although I do think all the options are a bit expensive, that’s what you get for having the convenience (I guess ??🤔). I didn’t mention what number bus you need to take, this is for you to figure out as you spend your time here. Many of the halls in Manchester are all within walking distance to the campus, if you do get the halls that are far away then you can try to find accommodations closer to our campus for the second year. This way you can utilise our 24-hour facilities (mainly the Ali G).

When you first arrive, you will struggle with directions and how to get to certain places. For this problem, you can use Google Map to guide you, they will even tell you what bus to take and how to get to the bus stop. Another useful app is Citymapper. Both apps work for other cities as well so when you are travelling to other places, they will come in very handy.

This is all I have to say about public transport, as usual, thank you for your time reading and any questions just leave it as a comment and I will answer them as soon as I can. Thank you

What to expect of Manchester and the UK

Part 2 – Welcome Week/Freshers

For international students, your Welcome Week starts a few days earlier (15th September) than local students. This is so that you can get a head start on settling down in Manchester. This way, when Welcome Week starts (17th September), you can fully concentrate on enjoying the most exciting moment of your life (exaggerated… but it should be super fun 😐😐).

This post is to introduce you to some of the activities we have in Manchester and what you can expect from it. But before you start enjoying all the fun activities the uni has to offer, you will have to attend a welcome presentation and some other workshops(not compulsory). Some of these events are very important for international students so make sure you know the dates, time and locations of these events.

All the scheduled events for Welcome Week are listed in this booklet called “What’s on”. For past years, the university would send them out to students before they arrive. For this year, you will have to pick one up when you arrive on campus. Please make sure you pick up a copy as soon as you can so you can start planning your Welcome Week with all the events you want to go to. As of now, I will just give you a brief guide on what’s going to happen 😃.

Orientation events (begins on Friday 14th September, this link will have all the information you need)

  • Global Village Fete
    • The ‘Global Village Fete’ is one of the biggest events planned for our new international students.
    • We will have stands showcasing some of our national and faith societies, a stage area with music, dancing, singing, and performances of all kinds in our big, spacious and beautiful marquee.
    • This will be held on Saturday 15th September(two days before Welcome Week)
    • Make notes of this on your planner now! You don’t want to miss it!!
  • Campus tours and city bus tours
    • These will be given by our student ambassadors. You can find more information at the Global Village Fete (see above 😃)
  • Welcome presentations and workshops
    • There are a total of 4 welcome presentations taken place in University Place lecture theatre B. They are not compulsory, but they will cover all the essential information you will need to know for your life in the Uk. The dates are…
      • Friday 14th September, 11am
      • Friday 14th September, 2pm
      • Sunday 16th September, 10am
      • Sunday 16th September, 2pm
    • There will also be workshops for international students
      • Please check out this link! It contains all you need to know about orientation
    • I am not an international student so I wouldn’t know what these events are like, but I would definitely go to as many as possible so you don’t have to worry about how to set up bank accounts, registering, etc.
  • Also, please go on this page and fill out the form for which welcome presentation you would like to attend. this will be extremely helpful for us as it will give us a rough idea of how many people will attend each session. Thank you😃😃😃.

Daytime events during Welcome Week (begins on Monday 17th September)

  • Society fair
  • _JIL9313.jpg
    • The society fair is one of the main attractions of Welcome Week, there will be many stands set up by different societies to grab your attention and convince you to join them.
    • The fair is held across multiple buildings within the campus. Make sure you pay the Students’ Union Building a visit upon your arrival on campus and ask one of our student ambassadors for the details.
    • Societies are the best places to meet new people and make good friends; it gives you the chance to bond with someone who has the same hobby as you. You like playing chess? If you go and join the chess society. You like to play football? Join the football society and be active!
    • Joining a society is the best way to meet new people and make good friends; it will give you’re the opportunities to bond with others with the same interest as you (make sure you go and have a look!!!).
    • We have the most societies out of any universities in the UK so don’t you worry about not finding a society that’s right for you 😉😉.
    • My personal opinion on societies is that you s
      should join one or two. Make sure you take some time and turn up for the events for those societies. Studying hard and getting the best grade possible is important, but making the most out of your student life and meeting people is equally as important. Widen your social circle and enjoying your time here should be your priority. : )
  • School events
    • School events are the ones created and set up by the school you belong to, so if you are a Student of School of Mathematics, then there will be events set up just for students from your course/school.
    • As every school will have their own event’s, I am not entirely sure what will be available to you, but what I would suggest is that you go to your school building (if you don’t know what building your school then leaves a comment and I will find it out for you😃😃) on the Monday of Welcome week and ask what is on.
    • Make sure you attend these events as you are most likely to meet your lifelong friends there. After all, the friends you will spend the most time with are your course mates.
    • I met most of my close friends through the school events so please make sure you go to them! To make the most out of these events, don’t be afraid to arrange meetups after.

Night events during Welcome week

  • If you think you can take a break after sunset then you are WRONG! This is when it starts!
  • For those who live in halls, this is a great time to bond with your flatmates. Don’t need to be shy and just go for it, they want to have fun and make friends too.
  • If you don’t live in halls then this is a good chance for you to invite them out for a few drinks (doesn’t have to be alcoholic 😉).
  • There will be clubbing events set up just for students (I won’t be listing them here, but you will be able to see posters all around campus during Welcome Week). These events will be attended mainly by students so you will be able to meet even more people by taking part.
  • If clubbing events aren’t for you then we have Movie nights (some halls will also have their own movie nights too) in the Student Union Building. More details will be available on the What’s On guide (pick up a copy when you arrive on campus!).
  • There are bar crawls available if you are more into social drinking (again, doesn’t have to be alcoholic). This is where you and a group of people going around the city to try different pubs. This way you can find your ideal pub to chill at English people love to hang out in pubs so yeah, get used to it 😉).
  • There will also be events set up by societies to meet at night time. These can be a small party, and dinner with other new students at various restaurants.
  • Most nighttime events aren’t free and you will have to buy tickets. Some events might not have tickets on the door so be sure to buy your tickets in advance!
  • Nigh time Manchester is amazing! Although it might not be what you have been expecting, I am sure you will love it
  • Here is a website you can have a look at to see what it’s like

This is all I have to say about for Welcome Week. There will be an event for you so don’t worry if what I have listed doesn’t interest you. As usual, I want to thank you for taking your time reading this and if you have any questions, please ask! Oh and stay tuned for future posts 😉.