Reflections of a final year Master’s student

Many of you who are about to enter their third year, will be faced with the decision whether to do a Bachelor’s degree or a Master’s.  There are many factors which will influence your decision and many questions you should ask yourself, such as am I interested in research?  Do I want to study for three or four years?  What do I have to gain from a Master’s?  Is an extra year worth the extra money?  Do I want to prolong the work-hard-play-hard student life of balancing exams and assignments with a busy social life and extracurricular activities?  Or do I want a proper salary and be able to buy avocados and fancy coffee without a shred of guilt?

These are all important questions that should be addressed.  I’m a fourth year Physics student doing a Master’s year, and by no means an expert on whether or not a Master’s is the right choice for you, but perhaps by explaining what my Master’s is like, what I’ve gained from my Master’s and why I chose to do it, it will help you make a more informed decision on whether or not this is the right path for you.

When I first applied to The University of Manchester as spotty 17 year old, I knew very little about what I wanted in terms of my career.  I didn’t even know that I liked Physics that much, but my A-level science grades were good, I knew that Physics degrees were very well respected and gave you a broad skillset, and at the time Brian Cox was making Physics cool with his BBC documentaries full of pretty computer-generated spiral galaxies.

So I applied for an MPhys Physics degree, without really even knowing what an MPhys was and whether it was a good idea, but I knew that it was easier to transfer from the 4 year MPhys to the 3 year BSc, so it seemed sensible.

Fast forward four years later and I’m now sat in the library of the Physics building (pretty much my second home), in the midst of my MPhys research, reflecting on my choice.  The biggest and brightest thing that comes to mind is that the past few years being a student have been the best of my life.  I’ve made the most out of the huge amount of amazing opportunities available to students in this city, such as the awesome student societies, charities, cultural activities and nights out.  I’ve met many marvellous people and have made fantastic friends for life.  I studied abroad in Canada, got a job blogging for the University, learnt loads of new skills, and had a great time along the way.

However, don’t think that time was fun only.  It addition to experiencing the most fun years of my life, my Master’s years have also been the most stressful, sometimes demanding 12 hour work days to stay on top of multiple deadlines, long spells sat in a lonely lab, and evenings spent pulling my hair out over a tricky assignment.  But despite all this, I feel that the huge amount I’ve gained from studying my degree and being a student at UoM has made the blood, sweat and tears all worth it.

Currently I spend two days a week on research, on top of four courses.  My MPhys in Biological Physics investigates how graphene affects bacteria, which contributes to other research efforts aiming to produce new antibacterial materials and ways to kill bacteria.  Most of my time is spent taking data in the lab and analysing this on a computer to try and draw meaningful conclusions.  I regularly talk to world-leaders in this field, have weekly meetings with my supervisor, and even had a terrifying assessment by Sir Novoselov (the graphene Nobel Prize winner guy!).

Despite the cool sounding name of my research (well, cool in my opinion) and amazing opportunities I have to pursue a career in Biological Physics, I’ve learnt that at this stage in my life research isn’t for me, as my passion does not lie in spending long hours alone taking measurements and trying to get various programs to work.  I’ve also started to reconsider my relationship with academia and other ways I could be using my degree, like science communication, enterprise or teaching.  Many of my contemporaries are now considering PhD’s, but 3 or 4 years is a long time for me to commit to something that I’ve learnt that my heart isn’t fully in.

This change of heart is by no means a reason for me to say that my Master’s was a mistake.  On the contrary, I’ve learnt an enormous amount about myself, my likes and dislikes, and some really cool stuff about science, and I can always return to academia in future.  I’ve also learnt that I love being surrounded by bright, enthusiastic and dynamic young people, and I love the flexibility of academia and student life in Manchester.  I’ve picked up loads of transferable skills, amazing friends, new hobbies (like blog writing and climbing), and fantastic memories, all of which I wouldn’t have gained without committing to my 4 year Master’s degree.  I now believe that my experiences, good and bad, have all been opportunities to learn and improve myself, and that sometimes it’s worth taking a risk and trying something new even if you’re not sure about the outcome.  If I’d never have taken the jump and done my MPhys, I never would have learnt these invaluable lessons.

To wrap up, for me, my Master’s has been a great choice and I have no regrets, but this doesn’t mean it’s a good idea for everybody.  It depends hugely on your personality, how you like to live your life, how you like to work, and how you feel about dizzying fluctuations in workload.  But if you have the time and energy to spend another year experiencing the student life in this fun, youthful and exciting university, why not give it a shot and carry on making the most of student life and learn more about yourself?

Exam Survival Guide

It’s that time of year again and arguably, out of the two exam seasons we undergrads have, this is the hardest one. The truth is, the festive season is over and exams are upon us leaving us with two choices: sit and wallow or get ourselves together and show these exams who’s boss.

I know it’s not always as simple as flicking a switch and becoming a revision machine.  Over my years of studying, I’ve managed to come up with some simple yet effective ways to combat the exam time blues, in a way that makes me feel studious yet relaxed, and achieve the grades I deserve.


  1. Positive Mental Attitude

‘My philosophy is if you worry, you suffer twice’ – Newt Scamander

Worry can be the devil in exam time. Whilst in small doses, a little can spur us on and actually improve our drive to do well, too much and we collapse under our pressure. So be positive! I start off by picking out the negative thoughts I’m having, which currently happen to be:

  • I can’t do this, I don’t know anything.
  • Maybe I should just drop out now and buy a load of cats.

I then turn these thoughts around, choosing to focus on the positives rather than the negatives:

  • Yes you can, you’ve done loads of exams just to get to this point.
  • Buying cats is not a viable life plan even if you want it to be. Stay in school kid.
  1. Take regular breaks

It’s all well and good planning a fifteen minute break and just using it to check Facebook but try to be more mindful! Remember that there are great services on and off campus to help us make the most of these breaks. Some of my personal favourites are:

  • meditation sessions at the Main Library
  • Workshops at the Counselling Service on managing stress and finding motivation
  • The Buddhist Centre based in Manchester’s coolest district, the Northern Quarter, has daily lunchtime meditation classes and is next door to a really tasty (and cheap!) café in northern quarter.  Win, win, right?
  1. Nourish Yourself


Eating fruit and drinking water is obviously the goal, so make sure you have plenty of those to hand. I have this terrible habit of skipping meals in favour of revision but eventually my concentration wanes and my hangry, irritable side comes out. Taking time to eat a good hearty lunch is not a waste of precious revision time, but a way of improving the quality of the work you get done.

I’ve also found that cooking up something nutritious and fun is a good way to allow you to focus on something else. Try my favourite food blog Hot for Food.

  1. Get Outsidepic1

We all need a bit of fresh air and time away from our computer
screens If the sun is out (I know, funny joke) head to the park with a few friends for a stroll or if it’s a bit gross, take a trip to the supermarket to stock up on revision fuel. . Not only does it break up revision stints but it allows us to remember that the world exists outside of our busy minds.

  1. Make a Plan

Whatever your revision style, taking time to make a rough guide of what you are going to do is invaluable.

For those of us who struggle with the motivation to revise, this can also be a great way to split up revision into bitesize chunks and make the task more manageable. Remember, you don’t have to do everything at once and once you start, you’ll probably realise that you know more than you originally thought.

  1. Treat. Yo. Self.


You’re working hard. Really hard. So instead of just working your butt off or wallowing in self-pity until that end-of-exams victory night out that we all look forward to, choose to reward yourself for the work you are doing as you go along. Using realistic goals from your revision plan make sure you have something to look forward to when you complete them. It can be a coffee with a friend, buying your favourite chocolate bar or going out for a cheeky Nando’s (or a cheeky Chiquito, which is way more fun to say). By celebrating the little things, you allow yourself to appreciate all the hard work that you do every day and it makes revising all the more rewarding.

(This is my ultimate tippy top tip and I’ve found it motivates me above everything else. Try it, I promise you’ll feel better for it)


 Remember to trust in your own abilities this exam season. You’ve already achieved so much to get to this stage. Whether this is your first year of university or your last, you have got yourself this far and whilst it might seem daunting now, in a few weeks times you’ll be able to look back and know that you gave it the best shot you could. Just remember to look after yourself and use the resources available to get the most out of this challenging time of year.

Good luck!

How to achieve more

Glancing at the clock and wondering where the day’s gone?  Fretting over a mountain of work and imminent deadlines?  Wish you had more time for hobbies and new activities?

We’d all love to have more hours in the day or a time-turner like Hermione’s, but sadly we can’t bend the laws of nature and magic apparently isn’t real 😦 .  But there are many things we can do to improve our efficiency, make the work day more productive and ultimately achieve more.

As someone who’s juggled a social life, part-time jobs, society committee positions and a full-time degree, I’ve learnt a few tricks over the years to keep myself afloat and still get the grades I want.

Here are some of my top methods for maximising productivity and achieving as much as I can:

Buy a planner

It seems obvious, but having one place to note down the times and locations of your classes, meetings and other commitments really helps you stay on top of things and seeing opportunities to  fit in other activities.  Staying organised and managing your time well is definitely one of the best ways to make the most of your day.  A two-hour gap mid-afternoon might be the perfect time to catch up on an assignment or hit the gym, or that class-free afternoon you have every week might be a great opportunity to squeeze in some volunteering.

Not only does a planner help you maximise the amount of work you can get out of your time, but it can also help you maximise the number of social activities and fun events you go to as well!

Make a to-do list


Another simple idea but still certainly one worth considering.  Having a list of tasks that you want to accomplish (e.g. ‘email Dr Thingybob’, ‘look up blah blah for essay’, ‘buy hummus’) and splitting them into smaller, more achievable targets, will help you stay organised and motivated throughout the day.  By keeping this close at hand, like on your phone or in your bag, you can easily check your list if you have some spare time and want to fill it with something useful.  I send loads of emails whilst stood in lifts or in the queue at a shop!

Take breaks and observe your natural patterns

birchfields park autumn

Taking regular breaks whilst working on a mentally demanding task is often the best way to fight off the fog of fatigue, keep the brain juices flowing and maintain productivity.

But don’t just spend 5 minutes surfing the web or texting your friends – getup, stretch your legs and have a change of scenery. This is a much better way of shaking off the cobwebs and refreshing your hard-working mind.  Maybe go make a cup of tea with a friend or step outside to enjoy some fresh air?

Listen to your body

On top of taking regular breaks, try planning your work according to your natural rhythm.  By that, I’m not talking about the magical New Age energy field governed by the movements of celestial bodies, but the typical change in your mental energy levels over the course of the day.  For example, I find that my brain is usually at its best in the morning making this the best time to do my most mentally demanding work, like thinking about a project, writing a well-worded essay, or learning a new concept.  By late-afternoon my mind starts getting tired, so I usually go for a run or a cycle to help re-energise and get some fresh air pumping through my lungs.  I then save the easiest tasks for the evening or just go out and do something fun.  By observing how you tend to feel over the day and planning your work accordingly, you can really help boost your efficiency and get more done!

Make your health and fitness a priority

UoM exercise

A healthy body supports a healthy mind, so devote time to looking after your body and keeping fit.  Not only does exercise invigorate your concentration, boost your productivity and help your mental well-being, but it can also be used as a refreshing break from your studies.  Aerobic exercises are particularly good as they stimulate the release of endorphins into the body – natural painkillers and mood elevators that help reduce stress and revitalise the brain.  One of my favourite breaks is to go for a run around one of Manchester’s parks – it feels wonderful to see some greenery and it provides a great excuse to blast some music or have some time to think to myself.

A good diet is also essential for a healthy brain, so support your concentration levels with lots of nutritious fruits and veggies, and remember to stay hydrated too!  Omega-3 fatty acids are also needed for optimal brain health, so treat yourself to some oily fish like salmon now and again.

Get some sleep!

The amount of good-quality sleep you have also has a huge impact on your concentration.  We’ve all heard people saying that we need 8 hours a night to be healthy, but this actually tends to range between 7 to 9 hours depending on your physiology and how mentally demanding your work is.  Ensure you get a restful night by avoiding electronic screens close to bedtime, as these stimulate the brain and can make deep sleep more difficult.  Steer clear of alcohol if you’re needing some good quality zzz’s to help you through a tricky assignment the next day.  Despite its drowsy effects, alcohol can drastically reduce the quality of your sleep meaning that you’re not rested for the next day.

So there it is – my top tips for making the most of your time and increasing your productivity.  Give them a try and achieve more!

Top tips for moving into a new home

Moving into private accommodation can be very tricky, particularly finding people to live with considering you’ll be with each other most of the time, sharing the same spaces. Here are a few tips when deciding where to live and things to do or keep in mind before making the decision. While many of them might seem like you’re looking too far ahead and they’re not things to think of now, trust me they’re very important! Small things from daily life, like (not) cleaning up after eating, can be what tires you the most when living with someone and may increasingly build up tension.


  1. Reliability of landlord
    • If you’re moving into a house, the reliability of the landlord is very important; you want to make sure that if there are any problems they will make sure to repair them in a timely manner.
    • If possible, try and look for accommodation approved by Manchester Student Homes (or any other equivalent) and read as many reviews possible for the accommodation and the area.
  2. Area
    • Keep in mind that you need to be in a safe area. No matter how cheap something may be or how nice it may seem, if it’s down a dark alleyway or has very high crime rates, it’s best not to risk it.
    • If you’re more of a quiet person, stray away from the party-like areas otherwise you won’t be happy with the noise-levels of the neighbourhood.
    • Don’t forget to think about transport costs get familiar with walking routes, find out which buses go where and how much they cost/if they’re covered by your Stagecoach bus pass),.
  3. Bills included
    • Bills included can be a great way to manage your budget.. It’s easy to waste electricity without realising it and ending up with big bills, but more importantly, it’s just a hassle having to follow up to pay bills and splitting them each time. This gets even worse in situations where people might argue that someone uses up more electricity than someone else so they should pay more or less (respectively.) 
  4. UK guarantor needed
    • Before going to a house/accommodation viewing or getting attached to the idea of anything, make sure you’re familiar with all the requirements. Many private accommodation requires a UK guarantor. 
  5. People you’re living with
    • You need to make sure the person you’re living with is right. It needs to be someone you’re comfortable with, feel safe around, trust that they will not bring home strangers, someone who will also be responsible for keeping the house clean, paying bills, keeping up with rent payments etc.
    • Don’t confuse friendship with living with someone! While it might sound great and like a movie to live with your friends, it doesn’t mean it will be dream land. It’s okay to be best friends with someone and not think you’re suitable for living together the same way not all relationships would survive living together. giphy2
    • Ultimately, it’s better to have one uncomfortable conversation with a friend telling them you’d rather not live with them and save the friendship in the long term as opposed to living with them and getting into conflict so deep that your friendship isn’t as strong by the end of the year.
  6. Establish ground rules before getting tied down to a deposit
    • Are you okay with people having visitors? How many, for how long? Do you mind people of all genders staying with you?
    • Are you okay with house parties? When is quiet time on weekends and weeknights? giphy3
    • Is there any protocol for using common areas? Helpful rules might include cleaning up right after cooking or the latest by the next day etc.
  7. Talk about practicalities
    • Decide on things like who will do the grocery shopping, how often it will be, if you will split it each time or pay in turns, what you will be purchasing together and what will be bought individually. Also keep in mind things that need to be bought like kitchen paper, cleaning products etc. giphy4
    • Think of how chores will be divided and how frequently. For example, vacuuming, taking out the rubbish, cleaning the bathrooms etc. 

Top 5 coffee shops to write your PhD literature review in…

If you’re just starting out on your PhD course this September chances are you’ll be spending a lot of time between now and Christmas learning your subject and writing the literature review. While it’s good to spend time in the office, learn the ropes and get to know your colleagues, it is also useful to change the scenery once in a while and work away from your desk.

A good coffee shop is the perfect escape and Manchester has plenty for you to choose from! And no, I’m not talking about the 10,000 branches of Starbucks you find across the city. Let’s face it, you’re not going to be motivated to get any work done when you’re drinking overpriced coffee from a paper cup surrounded by swathes of undergraduates Instagramming their skinny-soy-caramel-cappuccinos. If independent tea and coffee shops are more your thing, here are my favourites that I think you should try…


Ezra and Gil

20 Hilton Street M1 1FR

Situated in the Northern Quarter, Ezra and Gil is 100% hipster. Offering teas, coffees and ‘provisions’, it is a peaceful space resembling a Victorian warehouse with exposed brick walls and wooden tables. There are chairs set out by the window sills so you can watch the world go by as you write. There are also plenty of plug points for laptops!


Pot Kettle Black

Barton Arcade, M3 2WB

PKB is a specialty coffee shop located in the Victorian, glass-roofed Barton Arcade just off Deansgate. It is the perfect spot for people who really appreciate good coffee and an ideal destination on a rainy, autumnal day. You can get cosy and stay protected from weather outside while you crack on writing with no distractions.


North Tea Power

34 Tib Street, M4 1LANTP

If, like me, you love a loose leaf tea or a choice of coffee beans, then North Tea Power is the place for you. It has a huge selection to choose from; so much more than just a simple tea or coffee! The large tables mean you’ll probably be sharing space with other tea-lov
ers who are writing their literature reviews too which I always find motivating!



Greengate Square, M3 5AS

This one is definitely for coffee lovers. Situated on Deansgate, Grindsmith is a trendy coffee stop which aims to be ‘a modern oasis in the heart of a busy city, with an aim to engage, reconnect and refuel the people of Manchester’. The space itself is often used for events and the huge windows look out onto the busy street. So, if you like people-watching while you ponder, then Grindsmith is your spot!




Manchester Cathedral visitors centre, 10 Cateaton Street, M3 1SQ

If Grindsmith is for the coffee drinkers then this one is for the tea lovers. Propertea is just across from Manchester Cathedral and offers a huge selection of, you guessed it, tea served loose leaf in a pot as it should be. It is a peaceful and bright café which always looks lovely, especially on a sunny day. They also serve great sandwiches and cakes to keep you going. A definite must if you’re after a calm, distraction-free zone!


So there you have it! Manchester’s best hidden coffee gems! Good luck with the literature review and if you see me in there writing my thesis, come say hi! 😉

Tips for your MSc Dissertation – Do’s and Don’ts while you work

All postgrads sigh a breath of relief once exams are over. No more classes. No more setting up an alarm and you may sleep as much as you can until you wake up naturally. Although that might sound quite ideal, but the dissertation is not a piece of cake.

Planning Trips


The idea of travelling around the UK, going back home, or visiting a friend somewhere in the EU might look very ideal at this time while there are no lectures or assignments to worry about. However, those on a close target of a 12-weeks submission should err on the side of caution. It is wise to let your supervisor know if you already have any such plans before he schedules a meeting with you on a date when you wouldn’t be able to see them. This puts an overall negative impact on the quality of work and your professionalism. Don’t even think that your supervisor won’t know if you could escape for a week without him noticing.  Your lack of progress will reflect your absence or poor time management.

Plan any travels on weekends and work like a full 9 to 5 job during the weekdays so you stay ahead of your proposed project plan. Inform your supervisor when you are away and if possible arrange a Skype call or a telephone meeting to show that your care about your work.


Choosing a Study Space

Trust me, your home is probably the worst place to work for your dissertation if your task is desk based. Laziness creeps in like the mouse that sneaks into your kitchen cabinets at night and you never know when it takes away the piece of cheese you had been keeping all locked and tight. Your time is as valuable as that cheese block and procrastinating is so likely for someone like me who gets easily distracted, especially when it is time to work.

The problem could be that you are on your own, with minimum support from your supervisor and you need to work efficiently. Find a study space in the library. The Learning Commons are quite free these days with the undergrads gone, so make the most of it and your time. An hour of focused study is better than spending 5 hours pretending you are studying.


Keeping track of progress

It’s very simple to lose track of where your dissertation is going if you have not built a Gantt chart or other similar project plan. Starting out late, being stuck in the middle of the work could easily build up a bottleneck of work pressure at the end when you sit down to write your report. You must leave at least 3 weeks for the final write-up and spend time wisely on each stage of your plan, noting down which phase would take the most time and is most important for your thesis.

It would be best to keep a weekly meeting (or email) to update your supervisor so that he could guide you if you are slacking off. For engineering projects or lab work, this is often measurable in terms of the results obtained.

It could also be helpful to see how far other people have progressed in their projects, so you could set a benchmark if you are going too slow or have the right pace.


10 Reasons Why You Should Do A Placement Year

If you’re coming to Manchester University (or hoping to!) to do a science-based degree you may have had to decide whether or not you want to do a standard 3 year course or whether to opt for the 4 year version with a year in industry. This can seem like a daunting decision to make, especially when you haven’t even started the course yet! I completed my undergraduate degree with a year in industry (granted this was at Liverpool University though the experience is the same anywhere!) and now that I’m here in Manchester doing my PhD I’m so glad that I did as the experiences I gained were so valuable, not to mention I was able to skip the Masters 😉 The placement year is often something you can opt onto (or off!) once you have started your degree, as you only start applying for places in your second year so if you’re thinking about it even at this early stage and want to find out more, here is my story…

For me I always had in my head that I wanted to do a placement and only actually applied to universities which offered Biochemistry with a year in Industry as a course. At the age of 16, in my first lab job, someone told me about someone they knew who had done a placement year in the pharmaceutical company AstraZeneca; I was told there was a gym and a pub on site it was so big, that there were lots of students and fun social activities and that it was a great experience to have on your CV. Well I was sold! I would get a placement at AstraZeneca if it was the last thing I did! In reality the competition for a place was EXTREMELY competitive, (especially as the money was so good!)  but I managed against all odds to get the place.

But I did all this without really thinking about the implications. Before I went it dawned on me that friends from uni will have left by the time I return, and I was to be living in Macclesfield (where even is that??) with some strangers I’d found on Facebook (psycopaths??). Was this really such a good idea??

However, all anxiety was INSTANTLY expelled when I met my housemates for the year (also AZ students), now friends for life. We got on so well and even ended up going on a wild girls holiday together! The same can be said for all the other students in the company (about 60 of us!), and as we all had money and no uni work to do, it was rather like being a fresher again, but with more partying 😉 My placement year was genuinely the BEST year of my life and I’d give my right arm to go back and do it all over again!

So here is my list of 10 reasons why YOU should consider doing a placement year based on my experiences…

  1. Fantastic practical experience of labwork (or whatever it is you do) and project management– University practicals, particularly in life sciences, are NOTHING like what happens in the real world, or even in your final year research project. Working for a year in industry allows you to see what life is really like in your chosen field, get hands-on experience and most likely make your final year project seem really easy! Also gives you experience in managing your own time and your own project, a valuable skill employers look for!
  1. Practice writing a dissertation before the real thing-For my placement year I had to write a 30 page scientific report on the project that I carried out. Having never done one before this was a little tricky, but with my industry experts on hand, I got 85%! This made my 5000 word limited dissertation seem simple in comparison and I was well used to the format of a scientific report!
  1. Get a taste of corporate/industrial life – Working for a big company is a lot different to working in a university. Academia and industry work in very different ways and I’m glad I had the chance to see both before deciding which is best for me. Industry has a lot more of a ‘team’ feel, whereas academia can be more individual and 6isolated. During my placement year there were always things going on within the company, be it tai chi in the mornings, to the time we had a casino night in the restaurant, the huge Venetian-themed Christmas party and the Olympics event in the summer, which included fancy dress rounders and ‘It’s a Knockout’ obstacle course! You worked hard and you played hard!
  1. Money £££ – You will probably get paid quite well. I earned more as an undergrad 7placement student than I do now as a postgraduate and most of my furniture in my flat was bought with money I managed to save up from placement year, even with
    Champagne Friday as a weekly tradition…
  1. No coursework or revision = Free Christmas/Summer– Best feeling ever to see everyone on facebook complaining about revision while you’re going to parties and enjoying the festivities. Of course, this is reversed the next year, but you can enjoy it while it lasts!
  1. Wild Parties– 60 students in a small town meant we had lots of house parties, and lots of nights out! As we were all earning, people weren’t adverse to going to 3more expensive cocktail places either, so it’s like fresher’s but with a LOT more class!
  1. Go and explore things– It wasn’t just parties though there was lots of culture too; Weekends free from work and more income meant we went on quite a few road trips, to the theatre, Ladies’ Day at Aintree Racecourse and even on holiday (twice)! Make the most of having time and money while it lasts and spending time with adventurous, like-minded people!
  1. Made friends for LIFE– People often worry about the friends they leave behind at uni2 when going on a placement year, but what about the friends you’re going to MAKE? We were all in the same position of not knowing anyone so everyone was really
    friendly and making friends was easier even than at university! Now that we have all gone our separate ways, I am left with friends all over the world and I look forward to reunions with my old housemates to remember the good old days!
  1. You might even meet The One–  Happened to me. Could happen to you. Just sayin’ 😉5
  1. Because you’ll never know how great it could be until you jump in and go for it! 
    I’m not saying my experiences of placement year are the same as everyones, your
    year will likely be very different from mine, in a different place with different people. You may well dislike your company, miss home or find it difficult to make friends, but what if you don’t? It’s up to you to decide whether to take the plunge and embrace what could be the best year of your life, if you give yourself a chance…