November 2016: Your first day in Manchester (plus Brathay!)

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Whether you are an international student coming overseas or a home student coming from the UK, let me just promise this blog will be of great use for you because all the information comes from personal experience and lessons that I learnt along the way. The aim of this first blog post is to give you information about the essentials you will need for your first day and night in Manchester!

First things first, you will arrive at the airport or at the train station. Let me say that it is preferable to book a flight that will get you here during day time. Don’t get me wrong you have nothing to fear but you will have a –let’s say- more clear mind on your decisions and most importantly time to think or buy things that you may need. Remember that if you ride a bus, train or hire a taxi to your accommodation you should have with you a credit card or valid UK currency (pounds sterling). If you have neither there will be exchange offices inside the airport but sometimes the currency exchange rates are not the best. A good tip is to look on google maps about where exactly your accommodation is compared to the airport just to get an idea of where you are going and what it’s like. Normally it will cost you around 15-30 pounds to get to the University in a taxi (that depends on the traffic mostly).

When you arrive at your accommodation make sure that you make yourself at home as placing your personal items in order will help to identify what you will need to buy later. Make sure to bring two clean sheets (flat preferably), a pillowcase and a bath towel. I know the luggage weight limit is 23kg and most of us don’t get a second one but for your first night in Manchester it is important to have a sheet for you bed and another one to cover yourself as even if you buy new ones here (as we all do) you will not do laundry on your first day!

Second most important thing is to get your WiFi connection done as soon as possible. When I arrived here I couldn’t phone home and I didn’t have internet connection so until I was able to speak with my mom she was already preparing to take the next flight and come find me! But regardless of that, WiFi will give you access to research all the supermarkets in the area that you should visit on your first day. Most of the supermarkets are on Oxford Road which is the main street through campus.

If orientation is not your strongest point (like me) and you don’t have 3G or 4G signal on your phone (like me) take a screenshot of google maps on your phone to show the direction or take a picture of your laptop screen. Even if you’ve done all that and still managed to get lost (like I did…) just ask anyone on the street. Don’t worry, everyone is really kind and helpful and they will probably use the word “luv” in the end of their phrase (don’t complain! I hear that in some regions they use “duck” instead. What?!).

Here’s a list of the things you will need for your first day:

– toothbrush and toothpaste
– shower gel and a shampoo (you might want to get a warm shower after a long day)
– hand wash
– toilet paper
– cotton buds
– pillow and duvet
– sponge-washing up liquid- kitchen paper
– forks/spoons/knives
– glass or cup

But most of all look up in the sky, breathe in and exhale with a big smile on your face. You made it! This will be your home for the next year and believe me, it is going to be absolutely great!

Brathay bonus post

The Brathay trip in The Lake District at the start of the course is covered by our fees (that means you don’t need to pay anything extra, transportation, accommodation, alimentation, the program’s activities, everything is included) and its aim is to help us understand something pretty basic that few people seem to obtain: teamwork! Teamwork is an important skill for your Masters but also for any work experience you will have after that. At all times we are surrounded by people we need to collaborate with and carry through with projects and so forth.

The landscape was wonderful and there were friendly staff and amazing activities! Just after we arrived there was a warm cup of tea or coffee waiting for us, until we settled in our accommodation. The first day was more about settling in but during the evening and during dinner we got the chance to talk to people from our course and from other courses and hang out later at the bar.

The next day we woke up to an English breakfast and found out that there were lots of activities scheduled and waiting for us. We got the chance to row a boat on the lake (yes! Actually row a boat!) which helped our team a lot as we had to cooperate and each of us had to do our job right, otherwise we would stay in the middle of the lake. We did a bunch of activities such as climbing, zipping and other more strategic and challenging tasks. At the end, each team had to present a poster about what we learnt and the winning team got a ribbon and a bottle of wine!

Take a look at the photos below – because I do believe in that proverb that one picture is a thousand words…

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Pelagia Avloniti

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