I’m not the first one in my family to study in the UK. My older brother came two years before me to study in Edinburgh, so I was very excited to have the opportunity to be seeing more of him during my year in Manchester. Before the course started, I spent a week in Scotland with him and had the opportunity to see a bit of the Highlands. It’s a beautiful region and during my first train ride to Manchester from Edinburgh, I was equally amazed by the landscape of the Lake District, through which the train passes. Arriving in Manchester at Oxford Road station, you are immediately confronted with what I think is Manchester’s best feature – the way it is reinventing and transforming itself. There is lots of evidence of the industrial era which made the city grow and the city’s creativity in converting that infrastructure into attractive bars and shopping areas to me creates a really unique vibe for the city.
In my time leading up to my departure from Canada I had spent a lot of time researching accommodation. I felt that, since I had not lived in student accommodation for many years, I was going to try and find a flat myself. Luckily for me, I had a friend (whom I had met during my undergraduate exchange) who was also planning to study in Manchester and so we were able to find a flat together. It was a bit of a daunting process but I did manage to find something with the help of a letting agency and it all worked out in the end. Most of my classmates are either in University or private student halls and it doesn’t really matter what you choose as long as you feel comfortable with it. For me, I like to have my own cooking space but definitely living in student halls gives you the opportunity to meet lots of people in other programs, something that is more difficult when you live in private accommodation.
Because I was going for private accommodation I wanted to have a bit of time to get myself settled before being thrown into lectures so I arrived a week or so before orientation and spent some time exploring the city centre. By chance, I made a friend right away (Manchester is a friendly place) and was able to visit Blackpool. I was pleased to catch a Belgian film at a cinema-café-restaurant-art gallery (pretty much everything) called Cornerhouse, which would later come to be our go-to spot for studying or just for relaxing with food and a great atmosphere. My first few weeks in Manchester were a lot of fun and for the most part fairly sunny too! It was a great start and I’m looking forward to sharing about the course orientation and first week of classes in my next blog post.