Manchester

Escape to the Peak District

As exams and deadlines start to creep up on us, University life can start to become more stressful than usual.

Work can start to get on top of you and it is easy to feel trapped with nowhere to go. But don’t worry, I have felt like this myself many times before, and so have the majority of students. My one piece of advice for you, would be to escape the city for a few hours and clear your head.

One of the many advantages of studying in Manchester is that we are surrounded by amazing national parks, one of them being the Peak District.

Below I will outline what you can do in a single afternoon in the Peaks.

12:50pm: Catch a train from Manchester Piccadilly to Edale

13:30pm: Arrive in Edale

13:35pm: Grab a bite to eat at Penny Pot Cafe

13:40pm: Walk to Mam Tor

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14:00pm: Arrive at the bottom of Mam Tor

Here you can climb to the top to see amazing 360 views of the peaks.

14:30pm: Head down the other side of Mam Tor towards Winnats Pass

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14:45pm: Arrive at Winnats Pass

This is a great photo opportunity and at the bottom of the pass on weekdays there is the Speedwell cavern, which is a boat trip through the underground caves, If you decide to do this then I would recommend heading into Castleton, the nearby town and grabbing a coffee and local pastries before heading home, you could catch a train home at around 17:00pm. However if you don’t do this then…

15:15pm: Walk to Jacobs Ladder

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This is a long walk, but you pass through Baber Booth and over some stunning rivers.

16:45pm: Arrive at Jacobs Ladder

From here I would recommend you take the long route though Kinder Scout National Nature Reserve back to Edale.

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19:30pm: Train Home, Edale to Manchester

The itinerary above is just one of the many trips you can do into the Peak District. With hiking, Cycling, Rock Climbing, Photography, Museums, Art Galleries, Historic Houses and Castles, wildlife and so much more it really is one of the best places to go to feel a sense of freedom from university life.

The world is a lot bigger than oxford road, a lot bigger than Manchester and so when university gets too much, or even when you have some free time just escape.

For more information please go to ‘Experience Peak District and Derbyshire,’ the official Peak District website where they have all the information you need.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

From here I would recommend you take the long route though Kinder Scout National Nature Reserve back to Edale.

My Mancunian Bucket List

As I write this, I truly can’t believe I’ll be saying goodbye to Manchester in just a few days. The soggy (but also sometimes surprisingly pleasant) weather, the malt-scented air courtesy of the nearby barley breweries… The 3 for £5 jäger bombs at the Students’ Union.

No, really though, despite or… In addition to its unique features and sometimes having wished away weeks of seemingly unending deadlines and exams here, it will be with so much fondness that I’ll look back on my student years in this great city.

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Spotted: The Malt-Maker

Like all good send outs and in keeping with the thrilling format of digestible paragraphs, I felt it only right to mark my departure with a bucket list – a lineup of lasts that I will be trying my best to check off before coming to terms with packing… So without further ado!

One Last Curry and/or Pizza

Preferably both shall be achieved! Renowned for its curries, it’s nearly impossible to leave Manchester without investing in one last spicy blow out. Pizza does follow closely behind the smoking tracks of a good ole’ vindaloo though, and some of the best I’ve had have been here. Hit Rudy’s in Ancoats for an amazing Portobello or stray from the Curry Mile and feast on the blissful vegan and veggie friendly street-food-style food at Bundobust just off Piccadilly Gardens.

One Last Campus Photo Shoot

One of the Less Soggy Days… 

It’s hard to fathom that once the irreversible process of graduation occurs, (well done) you’ll simply be a nosey tourist or desperate alumnus reliving the glory years at your Alma Mater ‘for the laughs’ *snort*. Save your pride and dedicate one last -preferably sunny- afternoon to taking it all in! We’re lucky to have some gorgeous buildings on campus, both old and new, so enjoy them while you can. Of course, the sensible time for such a narcissistic selfie fest would be graduation, but there’s nothing like capturing that final post exam feeling at the end of your degree!

One Last Night Out

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McDonald’s: The all too Familiar Conclusion to a Night at Revs de Cuba

It almost goes without saying that one last night out on the town is a must! Over 21’s treat yo’ selves to a sophisticated evening at Albert Schloss, or go vintage and return to the sweat-clad walls of Factory for old times sake.

 One Last Night IN with Friends

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Just as important, and a lot more budget-friendly, a final night in with friends should be ticked off too! Sit in, chat and relax or furiously fashion some traditional Japanese cuisine!

One Last Magic Bus Journey

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Despite bus-ing quickly becoming one of the more expensive ways to get around town, the Magic Bus remains a faithful steed to us all. Take one final voyage on one of the ole’ gals just to see the look on someone’s face (preferably someone unfamiliar with Manchester’s transportation services) when you describe a vehicle they can only imagine resembles the night bus from Harry Potter.

One Last Good Deed

Whether it’s a karma-increasing exercise or simply a genuine good deed, there is so much opportunity to do something positive and give back to the community!

From the ‘Give it Don’t Bin It’ campaign and the textbook donation scheme on campus to simply handing someone on the street a sandwich or signing up to become a regular blood donor, the impact to made is never far away.

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So there you have it, a list of Mancunian lasts! It’s been a great, until next time Manchester!

Keeping in touch with friends

The countdown to the end of exams is on!  With the summer holidays being just around the corner it’s a time for excitement, the making of plans, and getting ready for some long summer days of much needed R&R.   However, the prospect of leaving this glorious city for a few months and saying farewell to uni friends is a cause of worry for many, and you may be concerned about missing them.  As a final year student myself, the thoughts of missing and losing touch with friends are more prominent than ever.

Having spent every summer away from the UK and doing study abroad in Canada during my third year, I’ve learnt that staying in touch with friends is super easy and that you needn’t fear about losing friends.

We’re told often that long-distance communication is easier than ever, and that until only a few decades ago the ability to have a real-time conversation with someone on the other side of the globe was pure science fiction.  Today, social media lets us keep track on what’s going on in our friends’ lives across oceans and the internet lets us chat for free with anyone across the world (except China and North Korea of course, and interestingly Bangladesh and Tajikistan according to Wikipedia).  This is all very obvious, and if you can sustain a good social life in 2017 without Facebook then I’m honestly amazed.

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But the most important lesson I’ve learnt is that it’s okay not to stay in regular contact with friends and that you shouldn’t be scared of losing touch.  One of my concerns when moving to Canada for my study abroad was that my wonderful UoM friends would drift away and that things would be different when I came back.  But at the same time I wasn’t willing to spend loads of time nattering with friends back home – I wanted to dive head-first into my new life in Canada, and focus on meeting new people, trying new things and travelling.  I didn’t want to be held back by spending evenings tapping away on FB chat.

By keeping busy and spending a lot of time with people, I kept the feeling of home-sickness (or Manchester-sickness) at bay – I was having too much fun to be sad!  I did occasionally Skype a friend back home for a catch-up or if I was feeling down, but in all honestly this was never as good as a proper chat face-to-face.  Don’t feel weird if your Skype conversation feels a bit stilted or awkward – how often in real life are you staring at your friend and devoting 100% of your attention to them for a prolonged period?  Normally you have natural breaks, look away, have a drink etc.  You’re not forced to make constant conversation!  Also, as great as FB is for maintaining connections, I find being sat there tapping away pretty boring – it’s no match for a real chat and you’ve probably got more interesting things going on.

When I got back to Manchester it was just like old times – if you really are good friends with someone it’ll take way more than a few months or a year to change that!  If anything, the lack of constant contact made the reunions extra special and I definitely didn’t feel like I missed out.

However, my worries about leaving Canada were about 10 times greater than those about leaving Manchester.  When flying out of MAN airport I knew that I’d be back in less than a year, but when would I be going back to Canada anytime soon?  As well as making some wonderful Canadian friends I’d also gained amazing friendships with people from all over the world, and thought of losing these was heart-breaking.

Thankfully, this last year in Manchester has proven to me that I didn’t have to be scared, and that things work out for the best.  A group of us met in Copenhagen this February for a mini-holiday, and it was just like old times!  Within an hour we joking, chatting and cuddling up on the sofa, and it felt like only a week since we’d seen each other.  I feel fully assured that I’ll be able to sustain my friendships in future, even if it’s many years before I see people again.  Eventually I’m sure you’ll cross paths with many old friends again.DSCN2081.JPG

(A photo of me and my Vancouver friends having a reunion in Copenhagen)

Of course, there are probably some people who I won’t see again and some friendships will have to be confined to memory.  But I don’t let this get me down as it’s natural for friends to drift apart as the times change as well as people, but I’m always immensely grateful for the good times we had and the things I gained from the friendship.  I feel that most relationships are quite transient and that’s quite beautiful in itself, because as well as drifting away friends in life we can always make new ones and become closer to others.

Wow, I’ve deviated quite a lot from my initial blog idea to talk about how easy it is to stay in touch with people.  This is getting quite philosophical now – talking about the nature of relationships and how times change.   Ultimately what I want to say is don’t worry about losing touch and that good friendships take a lot to diminish, but that it’s good to accept that good things come to an end and that we should appreciate them for what they were.  Namaste.

 

Manchester – The Capital of the North

‘This is Manchester, we do things differently here’ – Anthony H. Wilson

Coming to Manchester to attend an Open Day soon?  Well, not only is this a good opportunity to check out our wonderful University, but it’s also a super chance to explore the greatest, boldest, and most fabulous city in the North!

Mancunians are famously proud of their city, culture, and football club, and having lived here for a few years it’s easy to see why.  Not only is Manchester one of the UK’s most culturally diverse, exciting and famous city (narrowly beaten by London), but it has sights and activities to suit all tastes.  With wild nights out until sunrise, a world full of cuisines, and a multitude of museums and more, Manchester has something for everyone.

If you have time on your Open Day, there are loads of things you can see and do within walking distance of the University to have a taste of what Manchester has on offer.And_on_the_sixth_day,_God_created_Manchester

If food’s your thing

Foodies flock from all over to sample the one million and one different cuisines available in Manchester, so be sure to treat your taste buds when you visit!

The heart of Manchester’s South East Asian community is found in Chinatown, a few minutes’ walk from Piccadilly Gardens in the city centre.  For top-notch Vietnamese food, I recommend I Am Pho for their delicious noodle soup.  Or if you have a sweet tooth and fancy a twist, get a green tea or lychee dessert from Wasabi.

Closer to campus you can find the famous Curry Mile where you can find flavours from all over the Middle East, North Africa, Central Asia and the Indian Sub-Continent.  As well as offering food for all tastes there are also options for all budgets, from mouth-watering £2.50 shawarma from Atlas to elaborate Indian banquets at Mughli.

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Shopaholics’ Anonymous

If you’re keen for a shopping experience that takes you beyond the usual chain shops, the Northern Quarter has an eclectic selection of boutiques, independent cafes and record stores.  As Manchester’s beating bohemian heart, it’s also home to some of the most avant-garde bars, underground music spaces and galleries.

NQ market

If you only have an hour or so, I whole-heartedly recommend a quick tour of Affleck’s Palace.  In this multi-cultural bazaar, you can browse a marvellous mix of alternative fashions and knick-knacks, and experience the indie-vibes that make Manchester so Manchester.

Feed your brain in Manchester’s museums

Another reason why Manchester is the best city ever is the vast number of free museums and art galleries found across town.  The Museum of Science and Industry is a must-see if you’d like to find out why Manchester is such a hub of scientific excellence and innovation, with fascinating exhibits on how Manchester became the birthplace of the Industrial Revolution, Alan Turing’s computers, and graphene.

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Avid football fans should consider a visit to the National Football Museum near Victoria Train Station – not only can you learn some fun facts about the city’s renowned teams, but you can also gain a fascinating insight into the history and global impact of the beautiful game.

The University’s own Manchester Museum is an award-winning institution situated in a beautiful Neo-Gothic building in the heart of campus.  If you only have a short break in the day between classes this is the perfect place to ogle at the museum’s beautiful collection of natural history and anthropological artefacts.  Get involved with their hands-on activities and expert talks, and check out my favourite exhibit – the frogs!  (They’re so cute and colourful.)

MCR art gallery

If you’re more of a da Vinci than a Darwin, then the Manchester Art Gallery has a number of world-class collections showcasing the work of some of the world’s most renowned artists.  Here you can view classical masterpieces as well as modern art, and also admire the work of Manchester’s own L. S. Lowry.

Closer to campus you can find the University’s own Whitworth Art Gallery for an eclectic variety of artwork and avant-garde exhibitions.  Its café is also a beautiful spot for lunch with floor-to-ceiling windows overlooking the lush greenery of Whitworth Park.  Their salads and cakes are absolutely delicious too!

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If the main UoM campus doesn’t sate your appetite for stunning Neo-Gothic architecture, then the John Rylands Library on Deansgate Road is a must see.  A veritable cathedral of books with its lofty ceilings, exquisite stained-glass and dark wood bookshelves, it’s not surprising that this is one of Manchester’s top visitor attractions.  As a student at UoM you’ll have full access to the Wi-Fi and resources available here – I like to study in the main reading room and pretend I go to Hogwarts!

See you soon!

An Open Day here can be so much more than just looking around campus.  Take the time to explore Manchester, discover its eccentricities, and get excited for a jam-packed few years studying in this wonderful city!

 

How to make the most out of your open day

Ah Open Days – an exciting time for any prospective student.  I remember when I was an excitable teen taking trains across the country, swimming in free pens and comparing the complimentary buffets provided by different uni’s.  Not only is an open day an exciting time and a great excuse to travel, but they’re also the best way for you to make a well-informed decision on which course and uni is best for you.  This decision could be the biggest you ever make, so make sure you make the most of your open days by following this advice.

Planning and preparation – most universities will release a timetable of events taking place throughout the day, so make sure you read this and come up with an itinerary that best suits your interests.  Usually there’s loads of stuff going on, so get an in-depth insight of studying and living at the uni by attending a couple of subject talks, a campus tour and a finance talk.  Give yourself some time to explore the city and student accommodation too – you’re going to be living there for at least three years as well as studying!  Try to imagine the campus on a wet day in February – everywhere looks good in the sun and in prospectuses.openday

Getting a map in advance of the day too will let you see if these events will take place close to each other, or if you’ll need a good chunk of time to get between venues.  This will also be essential if you need to find the university when driving or getting a train in.  Many larger universities run shuttles to the different campuses and sometimes even to the train and coach stations.

Come up with your own list of questions you want answered to help your decision-making.  Feel free to pick the brains of the academic staff to help you learn about the courses and styles of learning – but remember some of them might have their own agenda when answering you!  Also they might have a narrow view of just the particular module they teach.

Alternatively, the student ambassadors assisting in various events will be a great way to find more objective views from a student’s perspective, such as how much they enjoy the courses, what life’s like at the uni, and tips for picking accommodation (shout out to UoM Campus Tours team! #PurpleAndProud).  It’s definitely worth asking as many people as you can for their opinions as everyone has different tastes and experiences.

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Good things to know include:

  • How many hours a week will I probably be working?
  • How many contact hours are there?
  • How big are the classes?
  • What opportunities are there for you to broaden and deepen your understanding of the subject?
  • Are there industrial/research placements or study abroad on offer? Where are they and how are they organised?
  • How are you assessed?
  • Is there much to do around campus? Societies, Students’ Union events, sports etc…
  • What accommodation suits you best? Which are the party residences and which are quieter?
  • Do I prefer a bustling city uni or a more relaxed campus-based/small town one?

To wrap up then, remember to make a plan, ask looooads of questions, see as much as you can, and have fun.  Good luck with your decision-making!

 

Moving Out

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Why I’m opting for UniBaggage this June

As the academic year draws to a close and the freedom of summer becomes a real, tangible concept, one seemingly small task stands in your way… Moving out. 

For the majority of students at university, term-time accommodation is exactly that – a term-porary arrangement. Like the noble hermit crab, students too have learnt to adapt to their surroundings, moving from abode to abode, upgrading to more suitable shells when they outgrow their old. Our similarities with the crustacean end there, I hope.

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Shinneayy – When you spot a new shell

 So whether you’re looking forward to a few more years at Manchester and just bidding adieu to halls or in your final semester and reluctantly handing in the keys to your flat, here are a few points to check off before you go!

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Avoid panic scoffing 101

  1. Food

Get rid of it! Try to plan out your meals for the last few days before moving. No one wants two fishcakes with a side of rice pudding for dinner… Make your final culinary ventures triumphant! I’m a big fan of batch cooking and find it really useful to keep a note of any extra portions I have hiding away in the back of the freezer. If you find that you do have an odd combination of leftovers, collaborate with a housemate to make something half decent! Too much food and need to clear it in a rush? Donate it. Food banks like Manchester Central on Oxford Road do an amazing job and would only be happy to help you with that surplus of baked beans!

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Me to my past self when I remember the chilli I’ve frozen

  1. Cancelling Bills

A less enthralling task, but one that needs to be done unless you intend to pay for your successors’ utilities… You can do this by simply ringing up and explaining when you will be moving out. This may require a meter reading depending on what bill you’re cancelling so be prepared to find ‘the box’.

  1. Changing Postal Address

Another sleep inducing chore, but again, important! Think magazine subscriptions, your contact lens deliveries and voting cards. You can notify most companies and organisations of your change of address online so it needn’t be too time consuming. Don’t forget to let your family and friends know to divert your care packages over the summer as well! 17813919_1694617144168942_968862816_n

The moment you realise someone else has your National Geographic

  1. Cleaning Up

The big one. The event you’ve been postponing for weeks now, but can barely bring yourself to begin, unless of course you’ve procrastinated a bit a la Kim and Aggie during exams and are ahead of game now. I’d recommend tackling your own bedroom first, once you know you’ve conquered the self-inflicted filth, you should be good to attempt the communal areas. Try to divide the rooms up fairly and make it fun! Get a good playlist going and treat yourself to a meal out afterwards… Wouldn’t want to mess up that immaculate kitchen!

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Yeah, jump into cleaning this house

5. Recycling

Not your weekly bins, although that’ll need doing as well. You may have spotted the large colourful recycling containers dotted around campus and University halls. These are exactly what they claim to be – an easy, fuss free and accessible way to donate any items you may want rid of, from pots and pans to old books and that duvet your Mother has pleaded with you not to bring home. It’s a no brainer – good for you, good for the environment and good for charity!

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Suitcase bashing: Valid exercise

6. Storing

For the items you do want to keep hold of, decide what you will need over the break and what you want to do with the rest. There’s a whole range of storage companies out there, eager to take the load off you for a while if you are returning in September. If you can, it’s worth getting in touch with your new landlord or letting agency to discuss the possibility of storing things at the new property over the holidays as well.

(6.5 …and Shipping)

Whilst more than a third of current students will be staying on to continue their studies or live and work in Manchester, the rest will be moving on and no doubt will have accumulated a considerable collection of possessions during their time. Enter UniBaggage. Without sounding too much like an article with a questionable injection of product promotion that could set off anyone’s overactive cringe gland, this company has truly been so great in moving me over, back and here again, saving time, money and energy that would otherwise have been spent on driving a car-load of things from Ireland.

7. Returning Keys

So, you’ve done it! House – pristine, food – all gone, unwanted items – donated and everything else in storage. You’re ready to go… Just don’t forget to return your keys! Most landlords and agencies will expect the whole set when the last tenant moves out, so it’s a good idea to have this individual look over the house inventory before they leave as well.

For further tips and advice, see the Union’s ‘House Advice’ campaign, with a few more points that are definitely worth remembering when moving out!

https://manchesterstudentsunion.com/top-navigation/advice-service/accommodation-advice/moving-out

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Moving Day

Coming to a house near you

Meet Sebastian

As a PhD student and winner of the Eli and Britt Harari Graphene Enterprise 2016 Award, Sebastian is tackling the global issue of water scarcity and looking at ways to improve the quality of people’s lives with graphene.

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Sebastian began his career at Manchester where he studied for his undergraduate degree in Material Science. He had the opportunity to do an industrial placement year which helped to boost his CV. The placement also gave him the chance to experience what industry is like and helped inform his decision to pursue a PhD.

“I’ve loved my time here. I started my undergraduate degree at Manchester and I met some great academics and friends. Getting experience in my final year to work with graphene was great. It was a dream come true. I joined the University a year after the Nobel Prize was awarded, so you could say I was eyeing it up from the beginning!

“I applied for the Eli and Britt Harari Graphene Enterprise Award not really thinking I’d win. But I thought it was worth the shot and would be a good experience to think through the idea of seeing how a project could be commercialised. I took on the challenge and discovered how there was space for my idea.

“Winning the award was a big surprise, but it was great and very exciting. As part of my graphene NOWNANO CDT (centre for doctoral training), I’m working on a desalination project which looks at incorporating sustainable energy to tackle the global issue of water scarcity. This project in particular caught my eye as what motivates me the most is working on technology which improves the quality of living and people’s lives.

“The aim of the game is to think how technology can solve problems and have an influence for the better in the world. I’ve been interested in science for as long as I can remember and I have two main channels of interest. One being the curiosity side of science and analysing how things work in particular ways. The other is more focused on how human history has evolved and how technology has factored in to it. There are big problems to overcome, but I think being on the verge and change in technology is really exciting – particularly at Manchester.”

You can view Sebastian’s full story here