Whitworth ParkLife

Throughout my time studying for a PhD at the University of Manchester I have worked in the university’s halls of residence as a Residential Pastoral Advisor (or Halls Tutor as we used to be called).

The Pastoral Care teams in the halls are postgraduate students or members of university staff who live in the halls of residence and act as the point of contact for any domestic or personal issues affecting our residents and also take turns on an evening and weekend duty rota to respond to student calls. The payment for the job is free accommodation in the halls of residence, an attractive prospect to many a hard-up postgrad, especially those self-funding their way through self-inflicted masochism a PhD.

Whilst the reimbursement is considerable, the job itself is not an easy one and to succeed in the role you have to really be interested in helping students with a wide array of problems (small and large) and be able to proactively deal with what are often quite unexpected situations. Most importantly you need to like students, especially undergraduate students, which isn’t always easy when you are a good few years down the postgrad road of maturity and intellectual and cultural refinement (not me, obviously, but some postgrads reading this might be).

Most halls tutors will be able to regale you with their favourite stories of colourful cases they have dealt with, whether it be the time you broke up a party in a nearby room at 5am in your pants (because you’d just been woken up – but also to really shock them into silence), the student whose room and contents had been totally encased in silver foil, or the day you walked into the common room to find the floor covered in perfectly-laid turf, complete with rockery and shrubs (highly impressive, but also definitely against the rules).

Saying that, over the years, the people and incidents who really stick with you are the ones where someone was having a difficult time or some issues that were preventing them making the most of their halls life or studies and you are able to make a valuable intervention to sort out a problem, or get into contact with someone who could help and seeing the difference that can make for an individual.

One of my favourite halls days came a couple of weeks ago at the Students’ Union Societies Awards night, when our Residents’ Association at Whitworth Park (the Toblerones next to Big Hands) won the RA of the year award.

A thoroughly well-deserved prize after putting on an astounding number and range of events through the year, from a Christmas Ball to weekly quizzes, Lip Sync Battles and Kareoke Nights, trips across the country, and charity cake sales and fundraising evenings. It’s been a pleasure for me to be able to help out (in a very small way) with such a great bunch of people, each of whom has made really a huge effort to create a social, inclusive, and fun atmosphere this year.

So I’m looking forward to their events arranged for Whitfest after exam time has finished and hopefully not too many colourful calls over the party period!


Manchester area guide

Student quote of the day: ‘I FORGOT THE RUBBER DUCKS DAMMIT’.

Manchester. It’s a huge city lying within Britain’s second most-populous urban area with a population of 2.55 million people. However as with every city, once you settle in you will usually only see small parts of the city in daily life. Why, after living in the city for around 8 months now I’ve only really explored a small area around the university and student-dominated areas. So with a late new years resolution of sorts, I have the intention to explore much more of the city – and whilst I’m at it you might as well learn a bit about it too!

The city can be broken up into different districts, each with a different mishmash of cultural backgrounds, housing areas and attractions. Unfortunately I can’t look into all of the districts, simply because there are too many (57 in total)!


Break free from Oxford Road

In fresher’s week, a 3rd year told me “Uni life in Manchester revolves around Oxford Road”. I have to admit, at the time I thought she was a bit loopy. How can your whole life revolve around one road?! But after spending 6 months in the city, I understand.

Living at Whitworth Park Halls, having all lectures at South Campus, and working at the Aquatic Centre, my life literally does revolve around Oxford Road! The 1.6 mile stretch is filled with students, bars and restaurants but sometimes you do need to escape from the rat race and break free from Oxford Road.

“…probably the best place for breakfast in Manchester.”

Over the past couple of weeks, I’ve been doing some exploring in and around Manchester as well as venturing a bit further afield! Here is a list of the top places I’ve found to escape to…


What I’ve learned from my first semester at Manchester- the lowdown from ten Freshers across campus

As the Christmas holidays and New Year spirit slowly die away and the students flock back to Manchester in the hundreds and start infecting Fallowfield with their off-key singing and Kebab King remnants once more, the thoughts of the second semester of university begin to plague the hearts and minds of the once young and (questionably) wise students of this great university. However, thoughts cannot possibly move forward to the second semester without thinking back to the weeks that have passed, and what we have learned about our first semester as a fresher at the estimable University of Manchester. I have taken the liberty of surveying the university campus far and wide, from Owens Park to Ashburne Hall and Richmond Park to talk to real students (seriously, I’m not witty enough to make up these quotes on my own) to find out what they really learned throughout the first 12 weeks of being a Fresher at Manchester.

So let’s meet the Freshers and hear their (definitely) invaluable words of wisdom…


5 tips for living in halls!

Quote of the day: “Double the pineapple, double the greatness”

Week 10 has turned up and the last few weeks have passed in a whirlwind of assignments, takeout’s and visits home to Northern Ireland. Enough time has passed that I have become accustomed to life in university halls and may be able to impart some words of wisdom. Living life in university (or private) halls can be tricky, but there are a few tips and tricks, which can make life easier.

“…there are a vast array of halls with different lifestyles and mixes of people inside.”


Cooking for Beginners

Student quote of the day – ‘You don’t understand until you understand’.

5 weeks gone in Manchester and I’ve established a few things:

  • Takeaway is one of man’s greatest inventions.
  • Cooking fires are very exciting but not recommended.
  • Don’t eat raw chicken (obvious, but I feel it should still be mentioned, you know what students are like).


Despite some mishaps with the cooker it’s been a success story in general and my flat mates and I have even gotten a cooking system in place – myself and one other prepare the meals whilst the rest clean. Various Shepard pies, a taco casserole and meatball marinara have graced our kitchen over the weeks (and unfortunately have disappeared in next to no time at all).

Sheppard Pie

And my culinary exploration of Manchester has had me fine dining on pizza, chicken wraps of all types and even some fish and chips. It’s been heart-warming (all blame goes to the cholesterol for that) however the thrill is wearing off and some care packages being sent in from family have been met with tears of appreciation (admittedly I did stub my toe at the time but nevertheless the food was delicious). I even managed to snag a free meal at Zouk and some chocolate laced pancakes on the Curry Mile, paid for by some much loved uncles.

Unfortunately some bad habits are creeping in most particularly in the kitchen area, where the once endangered dirty dish is now as regular a visitor as I am. A second midnight cleaning session undid most of the damage however an uneaten watermelon whose presence I had become accustomed to had to leave. RIP Steve the watermelon.

Steve the watermelon, RIP

Steve the watermelon, RIP

Aside from the loss of Steve all is well in the world and even the 40 minute trek to university has been accepted and dare I say it, enjoyed from time to time. Plug in the phone, blast some ‘Learn to speak Spanish’ podcasts and faze out the world as you dander down the road whilst trying to dodge cars (the red and green traffic men are ignored in this strange land). Life is good! Hasta luego!

The big hello – halls, hangovers and a hell of a good city tour!

Hiya guys,

Seeing as this is my first blog I think a good way to start would be to introduce myself! I’m Chloe and I’m currently 4 weeks into my first year of studying Chinese and Linguistics at the University of Manchester.

Coming from a little village in Cornwall where the most exciting thing that happens is the bus turning up on time the move to Manchester was super exciting for me! So after numerous goodbyes to my extensive family, my decision was made and on the 18th of September 2015 I began my journey “Up North”.