University of Manchester

Manchester

Tuesday, July 16th, 2013

Written by: Sarah Breysse

 

So I’ve come to realize that I have a lot to catch up on but it will be impossible to say everything. I have a lot of commentary about my life here that goes on in my head throughout the day that I try to remind myself to write down so I can post it, but let’s be real, that rarely happens. I wish it was socially acceptable to talk into a voice recorder as I go about my day just to get out everything I want to say, but it’s not so here we are…

Sarah Breysse 1

Overall Manchester is a truly amazing city. It actually reminds me a lot of Seattle and I’m pretty sure that the contractor that built Foster also came here. The University of Manchester campus is all on one road but has 3 different locations where class rooms and residence halls are located. I live in Victoria Park, the central campus, which is in between the city campus where I have class, and Fallowfield where most students live.  I have a cute little dorm room right across from the dining hall. I’ve gotten to know two Australian girls who are also on exchange that live by me, so that’s been a nice comfort to have. I have my bus pass that gets me up and down Oxford Road through the different university campuses and up to the city center. Though I have yet to figure out what bus number to use, besides the 141, it’s been incredibly helpful considering things are pretty spread apart. On that note, everyone who used to give me crap for “only having to walk to Paccar” can suck it, because now my walk to class every day takes me at least 20 minutes. I never thought I would envy the UW pre-med students and their walk to class.and built MBS. The city center, bus stations, and Starbucks are very similar to Seattle, but with more people. I feel like Manchester is has a more concentrated population and people have no understanding of what a cross walk is. This is an incredibly diverse and culturally aware city with Chinatown, Curry Mile, and a LGBT area of town. Different languages are thrown around almost as much as gum is thrown on the street (which if you could see the streets around here, you would know is A LOT!) Cigarettes are much more prominent here, enough to actually make me think about second hand smoke, but you still can’t smoke inside which is nice. People are very friendly, especially when they hear my American ‘accent’. Though I think some of them might have been mocking me in the process.

I had my first week of classes last week, and overall they went well. There was nothing too surprising about them and nothing really caught me off guard. I don’t have class on Mondays, which is awesome (though nowhere near as cool as Foster Fridays back home). Professors are very international, but not in the same way as home. The biggest change for me is the way MBS grades. My overall mark (aka grade) is usually based on only a final, or a group project and a final. Though that is not completely unheard of at Foster, the final exam is an essay, which is unheard of. I need to brush up on my topic sentences and paragraph  structure for sure.

The buildings here are both modern and rustic, which can lead to some strange combos, but are beautiful in their own way. Pubs and bars line the streets. Football is a religion. MCR is the acronym for Manchester, which should give nightmares to any current Alpha Chi.  The weather is almost the exact same as Seattle. Taxi’s aren’t yellow but they are everywhere.  The British accents are just as amazing as I thought they would be, but contrary to popular belief, it does not automatically makes someone attractive, it only adds to the allure of pre-existing attractiveness. And I am so excited that I get to call this city my home for the next five months.

I’M FINALLY HERE!!!

Tuesday, July 16th, 2013

Written by: Sarah Breysse

The first day after we landed wasn’t a real day because all I did was eat and sleep. The next day, Saturday the 19th , we took a train (extremely impressed with the train system here. It isn’t super inexpensive but it is efficient and easy to use,) to Edinburgh, Scotland. I’ve been to Edinburgh before, but the second time was just as amazing as the first, if not better.
Unfortunately we had some serious travel mishaps including me running 2 miles back to our hotel to get our train confirmation number and getting back to the station with only 2 minutes to spare. The second mishap started with my mom asking for directions to our bed and breakfast in Scotland and lead to us on the opposite side of town because the guy gave us the wrong directions. This wouldn’t have been such a bad thing if it wasn’t snowing, windy, and up-hill. On that note, cab drivers around here are not the best at maneuvering through their own city. At least 2 taxi drivers have given us bad directions or taken us to the wrong destination.

We packed a lot of activities into our day in Edinburgh. We started by going to dinner with our old friends who live in the city and it was literally the best. I got to hang out with baby Freddie and then go out for a pint with all the grown-ups. One of the best nights I’ve had in a while and I learned a lot about living in England (including the fact that you have to ask for the check at restaurants, there are no street signs anywhere, and everyone lives in flats.)

The next day my mom and I climbed the stairs of the Scot Monument, toured Holyrood Palace (I felt like Kate Middleton), went through the Castle (it was built in the 12th century and was unbelievable), and had lunch at a little pub right down the street from where they used to do public hangings and just down from where the Germans bombed in WWII. Just from walking down the Royal Mile I learned that Edinburgh is known for their cashmere, to be a city in England the area must have a Cathedral (St. Giles) and the number of kilts are still unflattering on pretty much everyone.The one strange thing I have experienced is repeatedly seeing some random person on the street and thinking they look just like someone I know from home. Even if it’s just a slight resemblance I think it’s one of my friends. Probably just home sickness. Seattle seems like Mars over here.

More on Manchester soon!
xoxo

 

Manchester Bound

Tuesday, July 16th, 2013

Written by: Sarah Breysse

So as I sit on my couch watching TV thinking about getting through the next couple weeks, while I should be packing, I’ve decided to start my study abroad blog instead. All of you should be extremely excited about this by the way, because it’s about to win a Pulitzer. (I am a horrible writer, please do not judge me.)

I’ll start off with some background. I will be attending the University of Manchester, Manchester Business School. The process has been long and quite a struggle to be completely honest; especially considering I found out I was accepted to the program over a year ago.  The biggest pain in my butt was getting a visa. No, I didn’t have to go down to San Fran to get it like other people, but I did have expensive and unfortunate relationship with the British Embassy in New York after I applied for the wrong type of visa. The UK should really try and clarify their student visa process, (granted I’ve never even thought of applying to come into the US so I admit my bias).  The other rather large issue with “studying” abroad was trying to convince my professors to give me credit towards my degree for actually doing the “studying” that the 6 business classes I’ll be taking require.  This led to many trips to the counseling office and an unreal amount of emails to a very nice guy named Andy at the MBS admin team.

The anticipation is seriously killing me. I would totally hop on the next plane right now and hitch-hike through England just to not have to wait 2 weeks to start my very own, less graphic, version of Eurotrip. I have so much to look forward to and knowing that my beautiful, rustic, and very English single dorm room is waiting for me feels like partial torture.

In all seriousness, I cannot wait to see everything, be everywhere, and meet everyone that I possibly can. Getting out of the GS bubble is going to be a much needed real life wake up call. As much as we all try and deny it, we are pretty sheltered at times. I’m not saying that Manchester is some worldly utopia of life revelations or culture shocks (especially since they speak English), but it is a different country, a different upbringing, and a new educations system. If nothing else, I will at least learn how to use public transportation that actually works.

The waiting continues.

Stay tuned….

xoxo

Exploring

Wednesday, March 6th, 2013

By: Andrea Gagliano, Foster Undergraduate

“I never thought I’d be homesick from my abroad exchange.”

Studying abroad was the time of my life. Why? Because I was continually exploring. People, class, activities- it was all new. Nothing was mundane. Life was never simply “just the same.” This made every single day new and exciting. It made every memory vivid and dream-like. I constantly found quirky words and sayings, tried some pig blood when some black pudding showed up on my plate, took a spur of the moment trip to Poland just to explore something random. I had tea in queens English territory, skied on fake snow in an indoor warehouse, went to the same Christmas market three times in one week just because I couldn’t get enough of it. I could find something different around every street corner, and in every conversation.

Amongst all these differences, I did resort to something familiar and comforting- sports. I play volleyball. But even this, at every single practice, differences were being revealed. I call the ball differently, I interact with my teammates differently, I play by slightly different rules. These findings were my favorite. I got more excited about unexpected differences in my day-to-day activities than going out and exploring a new city. This was the benefit of studying in a culture very similar to America. With English speakers, it was possible to identify these small differences between cultures instead of getting overwhelmed with drastic changes.

Whether I was exploring minute, detailed differences, or exploring an entirely new city, I was continually surprised by the unexpected. Now that I am back home, I try to recreate this. I try to explore Capitol Hill with a fresh pair of eyes, or take a conversation in an unpredictable direction. I gravitate towards any hint of an accent. But it just isn’t the same. It doesn’t replace this explorative craving that now runs through my veins.

The Friendship Experience

Wednesday, March 6th, 2013

By: Andrea Gagliano, Foster Undergraduate

When I first got to Manchester, I was meeting so many great people every day. You start off continually meeting so many great people. Then everything settles in. People get into their routine. The British resort back to their long-time friends. The weather gets kind of dreary and rainy. You hear what your friends back home are doing, and you wonder why you left this great life you had at home. I really began to question how I ever made close friends. Not just friends to do activities with, but close, comfortable friendships that make a place feel like home. I was really missing this piece of life and wanted to go back to it. I was homesick.

I was really good at asking someone their name, having a small talk conversation with them, and going to a football game with them, but I was struggling with how to take that next step to being comfortable with them. How to avoid the awkward dinner parties, or pauses in conversation on walks to class? And the truth is, there is no magic trick or strategy. The only thing that helps with this is time and persistence. It took continually hanging out with people until you break that barrier.

Although the friend making experience was a bit of a roller coaster and quite frustrating at times, the rewards in the end were so worthwhile. My heart has been heavy this week, two months after returning to Seattle, because I miss the great friendships I made. In the process, I learned that I don’t need to have super close friends near to me at all times. I’ve realized that I don’t need to hold back in moving to a new location or going someplace where I don’t know anyone because those friendships will come. Going through this process of knowing no one to finding close ones is absolutely invaluable.

Post-Study Abroad Reflections

Wednesday, March 6th, 2013

By: Travis Rind, Foster Undergraduate

The last few days spent in Manchester were bittersweet and filled with some of the most memorable times of the entire experience. Fortunately, most lectures were cancelled to give students extra time to prepare for examinations in January (or, perhaps to have an earlier Christmas holiday). In any case, the exchange students had the short end of the stick as we were stuck finishing up our final essays. Traditionally classes let out mid-December and students return towards the end of January for final examinations. But, being on exchange and unable to return, our assessments consisted of 2,000 to 3,000 word essays. Just two of mine were due before leaving Manchester, so I was working on my remaining three well into the beginning of Winter Quarter at UW. Results aren’t returned until early March, so there is a long and anxiety-filled waiting period!

Already I miss the sense of spontaneity, adventurousness, and openness to try new experiences. Not only visiting, but truly living in, another country forces you to change your mindset, learn to be more flexible, and adapt to the unexpected. For better or for worse, I have returned to the relative comfort of home. There are no more missed buses, language barriers, or unusual foods here in Seattle. While it was often times frustrating and stressful dealing with such circumstances at the time, I now cannot help but long for the feeling of knowing that there is so much left to explore and experience right in the palm of my hands.

Having met so many people from more than a dozen countries, I am proud to now say that I have forged such strong friendships with these individuals and sincerely cannot wait until I can see them again. I know I will travel again soon, and encourage everyone to grasp that opportunity.

My advice to anyone considering living, working, or studying abroad would be to simply do it. It’s too easy and convenient to make excuses for not doing it – it’s expensive, I don’t speak the language, it’s uncomfortable, I don’t know what I’m doing, what if something goes wrong. I’m sure your experience will be similar to mine, in that you’ll find that the similarities vastly outnumber the differences and that at the core, most people are truly benevolent and overwhelmingly welcoming towards others.

 

Cultural Differences

Wednesday, March 6th, 2013

By: Travis Rind, Foster Undergraduate

This was my first Thanksgiving spent outside the US, and the first time experiencing it with non-Americans. We took the opportunity to share a cultural tradition and host a potluck. Everyone brought dishes from their home countries to share – with everything from crepes to sashimi! (But don’t fear, we still had the traditional oven-roasted turkey and mashed potatoes.) Everyone was very curious about this distinctly American tradition, and I enjoyed sharing our culture with others.

I was particularly surprised with how wide-spread American influence was overall. Grocery stores had Thanksgiving displays, and even our dormitory dining hall offered a ‘traditional American’ Thanksgiving feast complete with spicy chicken wings, chili dogs, BBQ ribs, and French fries. Clearly there is a bit of a cultural gap that may take a bit more understanding.

Europeans were also very interested and well-versed in American politics. Because the US is such an influential power player in global affairs, many felt that their nations were directly impacted by American policy. The presidential election was followed ardently, and a lot of the other exchange students and locals even stayed up through the night to watch the election results live on television.

These experiences have made me realize how lacking Americans typically are in understanding other cultures. I’m not sure how many people know what St. Andrew’s Day is or can name the prime minister of the United Kingdom, but being abroad has helped me realize the importance of educating oneself about global affairs. Not only is it practical knowledge for being in the realm of business, but you are able to have much more lively and engaging conversations with others when you expand your knowledge base.

Until Next Time England

Wednesday, December 12th, 2012

By: Amy Imus, Foster Undergraduate

Well I will be heading home in one week so I thought that this would be a good time to write my final blog entry. I don’t think I can sum up my experience here in Manchester in a few simple words because it has been such an incredible experience. From the places I traveled to, to the amazing people I’ve met I could not imagine spending my study abroad any other way. This all happened while I got to know this unique city. One of my favorite parts about studying in Manchester has been that fact that it is not a tourist city. There are not many landmarks or big attractions here (unless you are a big soccer fan!) but that allowed me to feel like a local and really immerse myself in the city instead of feeling like a perpetual tourist. The city has so much to offer students and it really made my time abroad wonderful. It’s also conveniently located close to London, Scotland and Ireland for travel.

I am currently in the middle of writing my final essays, which is the alternative to exams for international students, and it is not as bad as I thought it would be since there is plenty of time and places to study. Also, most of them are due in January but it’s better to do them before break since UW starts before they are due. I was worried about finding an average of 15 sources for each paper but most teachers will give you a bunch of articles to use as sources so it’s really not that bad. I will take away from this trip new experiences, new friends, a new appreciation for the places I’ve been, and 5 business classes (awesome deal if you go fall quarter!! =20 credits back home or 24 if you take 6 classes).

I already have plans to return to Europe and to meet up with the life-long friends that I have made here, which is the only thing making leaving bearable. I would recommend Manchester study abroad for anyone who is independent, easy-going, makes friends easily and wants a real UK student experience. You meet just as many locals as you do international students. Hope this helps anyone looking into Manchester, Cheers!

Settling into Manchester

Thursday, October 4th, 2012

By: Travis Rind, Foster Undergraduate

Before arriving in Manchester, I took a month to travel elsewhere in Europe. For anyone doing an exchange in the future, make sure you set aside time either before or after the program to travel, even if only for a few days. It was a nice icebreaker to get me introduced to Europe before arriving in the UK. I’ve only been in Manchester for a little less than two weeks, but I’m already adjusting to the city fairly easily. Despite the business school being a 40 minute walk away from my dorm in south campus, I enjoy the walk back and forth every day – rain or shine. It really isn’t so bad as most people make it out to be, plus I save money not paying for the bus… or a gym membership. The international society and business school made sure that during the first week all the international students became well-acquainted with one another. Already I have made friends from all over – Australia, Sweden, Norway, Austria, Japan… And, already, a group of us have a trip planned to Scandinavia for reading week.

The learning style here is different than what I’m used to at UW. Lectures are only once a week, and some classes also have seminars once a week. The low contact time with professors means that a lot of actual learning is reliant on self-study through reading. I hate to admit it, but it is really hard to find the time to sit and read when there is so much going on! Fortunately, assessments for exchange students are essays submitted at the end of the semester. Hopefully I’ll have enough time to catch up on readings by then!

As the UK is an English-speaking Western country, I didn’t expect to experience so many cultural differences. From the food (it’s true – it’s awful), to the colloquialisms (“cheers” instead of “thank you” – already adopted that one) Manchester has been surprising me in (mostly) good ways. The most difficult adjustment has been paying attention to the traffic. I’ve had several close calls with many more to come I’m sure, but I am proud to report that I’ve escaped unharmed so far. My least favorite part of living here has to be the cost of living. Everything would be normally priced… if it were in US dollars, but since it’s in pounds you add 60% to everything. Needless to say, checking my bank account is never the highlight of my day. However, it’s definitely been worth it. The experiences I’ve had so far are priceless.

When in Manchester

Thursday, October 4th, 2012

By: Amy Imus, Foster Undergraduate

I have been in the UK for a full month already but it has gone by in the blink of an eye. Luckily I have already had some memorable experiences and learned new things about myself and the new city I live in.

I initially spent about a week in Scotland before I moved to Manchester and I would recommend a trip there to anybody. Although I stayed in Stirling, I was able to make trip to Edinburgh and some of the surrounding countryside. I was lucky with the weather most of the time but Scotland is gorgeous rain or shine. The castles, old streets and buildings, and friendliness of all the locals really gave me a wonderful experience and I look forward to returning as soon as I can.

Moving on to the main event, I was finally off to Manchester to begin my study abroad at the Manchester Business School which is part of the University of Manchester. Manchester is known for being one of Britain’s largest cities but you wouldn’t know it just by looking at it. There we only a handful of buildings taller than 10 stories and most of the buildings looked like they were from the industrial revolution era, not from centuries past. This disconcerted me at first but the more time I spent exploring and learning about the city, the more I came to love its unique character and admire the reasons it was the way it was. Now I couldn’t imagine studying anywhere else!

Housing: I was very happy with my rooming arrangements and feel very fortunate to have ended up in Oak house. Although it is a fresher’s dorm, it is so easy to meet new people and there is a good mix of local and international students. 99% of the locals in my dorm are freshmen so it’s nice to have other exchange students so I don’t feel too old! I live in a flat of 3 girls and 4 guys, we each have our own room and all share a kitchen. It might not be the prettiest or the most spacious but it already feels like home. The 7 of us have a family dinner every Monday since we all have busy school schedules and like to cook together at least once a week.

School: Academics here have some similarities to UW but are very different in terms of assessments. Lectures and seminars (quiz sections) are the same style and size and the professors are all nice and knowledgeable. However, the reading requirements are much heavier here and they only grade you on a single essay at the end of the year (about 3000 words). I am taking 5 classes which keeps me busy but allows me time to take trips on weekends and go out during the week.

Nightlife: Being 20 years old, it is so nice to live in the UK! Since there are so many universities in the area, Manchester has one of the best nightlife scenes in the UK. There is always something going on every night and there are too many bars and clubs to count. It can get a bit pricey on the weekends but a lot of students go out on weeknights when there are good deals. The first week of school, known as fresher’s week, was exhausting but so much fun! I managed to make it out 10 days in a row before I finally couldn’t stay awake another night.

Also, just as a side note, if you are a music lover, Manchester is the place for you. I couldn’t believe how many bands/singers/Djs come here! From Armin Van Buuren to The Band Perry to Trey Songz they have so many concerts at decent prices.

I guess to sum it up, you’re never short on things to do here.