My Masters experience is slightly different from most people on the course. I grew up just south of Manchester and currently live outside of the city and commute in to University throughout the week – it’s a growing trend with UK based students and lends itself to a slightly different experience in settling in.
I was lucky in one respect as a lot of the basics I already have set-up, although I can understand that moving to a new city can be quite overwhelming. Setting up all the rudimentaries such as wifi, phones, banks, doctors (GPs), National Insurance Numbers for part time jobs – there’s lots to think about before you even walk through the doors for your first lecture. So, my advice – don’t worry! The University and Student’s Union has a great team that can help you settle in and I would recommend reaching out the guys and girls who are native to the UK as I am sure they will be able to help you out if you’re struggling with some of the above.
As we embarked on induction week, I’m not going to lie…it can feel a little awkward as you have the same conversations with about 50 different people, then if you’re anything like me, you can’t remember everyone’s names when you next bump into each other outside of class! That’s where the trip Alliance MBS organizes to Brathay at the end of induction week really helps.
For me, I was nervous about all the different cultures, the potential for language barriers with a multicultural course (including but not limited to students from Germany, Taiwan, India, China and America) and the size of our overall cohort being over the 100 people mark…how would I get to know my classmates I asked myself? Well those fears soon disappeared as we jumped off the coach following a short hop up the northbound M6 motorway. Having been to the wonderful Lake District before, you are always taken aback by the sublime views and this time was no different.
Brathay is situated on the Northern tip of the largest of 7 lakes in the district, Windermere. It’s a short 5 minute drive up from Ambleside and the setup is fantastic. Split into groups we had a series of team building and problem solving tasks which helped prepare us for the vigor of group work during Semester 1. A particular personal highlight was trying to row our boat out onto the lake into headwinds, I think we got the short straw in doing this as our first task and we ended up going round in circles – but that experience helped bring out the best in each of us.
As well as staying in your groups, take the time to get to know your room-mates over the weekend. I’m pretty certain a memory that will stick with our IBM course forever is a certain lad earning the nickname of ‘Toast’ after entering our overnight accommodation and immediately and inadvertently burning the provided toast resulting in us all climbing out the fire exit 2 minutes after we were let in! I should note everyone was safe and the staff were brilliant and that this moment helped put everyone at ease.
The food is great on the evening and in the morning and the Brathay staff open the bar for a couple of hours at night too so there’s a great chance to unwind, get to know your new classmates in an informal setting and look forward to the year ahead.
My overall tips for Brathay are to simply enjoy yourself and make sure you do go as it’s included in the course fees! Finally, really get to know the types of people you want to work with in Semester 1 – as the week after you’ll be asked to choose your working groups for assignments, so if you’re proactive – you’ll save yourself some stresses as you approach November and deadline days!