university

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.

 

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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 to Manchester

It was this time last year that the status of my application on UCAS changed from ‘conditional’ to ‘unconditional’ – time to begin the admin fun! Accommodation, plane tickets, health insurance and, the biggest issue, packing, all had to be sorted out by September. There seemed to be plenty of time for everything, but when you squeeze in goodbye visits to your relatives all across the country, a volunteering project and the last holiday spent with your childhood friends, September seems to come out of nowhere!   (more…)

Adam’s blog – 10 June

Hi guys!

All of the exams have finally finished – my first year at the University of Manchester has been completed! I’m currently writing from the beach of Gümbet, Turkey. Like Eleanor, I decided to celebrate the end of my first year by spending two weeks abroad and, as most schools do not finish their academic year for a few more weeks, there are some fantastic deals available! Many of the students who live in university-owned accommodation are able to stay in their flats until the 20th, giving them ample time to make arrangements on how they are going to move their possessions back home, or to find a place to hold them until their next academic year begins (as I live close to University, I’m hoping that some of my friends will be available to help carry some of the load once I’m home!). It is also possible to extent your contract if you wish to; if a student has been able to obtain a placement opportunity (like Eleanor has) or has a job in Manchester,  this option could be especially appealing, as it allows students to gain vital practical experience of within their desired career field.

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Eleanor’s blog – 4 June

Now I’ve finished exams I am half way to becoming a speech and language therapist

Second year is over, and now summer has begun! I’m back at home after lugging all my stuff into my stepdad’s car and looking forward to 3 months of relaxxxxxxing. I’ll also be working, at uni as an ambassador and back in the pub I worked at before uni, so it’s not all lying around. I’ve not been doing anything particularly exciting, just making the most of the b-e-a-u-tiful weather at the moment, going on walks and sitting in the sun. I am very much enjoying being back at home, I love living in Manchester but it’s nice to be back in the countryside for a little while.

I’ve also decorated my bedroom, having spent all last summer decorating and with plans to decorate for my Grandma soon, I’m getting not half bad at it. I still end up with myself and the floor being covered in more paint than the wall, but that’s not important…

I’ll hopefully be going on holiday with my boyfriend which I’m very excited about! There’s loads of cheap holidays of all kind on websites such as Groupon, a daily deal website with new offers every day. We’re thinking a city break just for a couple of days, which, if you do a bit of searching, can cost as little as around £70 each, including travel! Perfect for a student budget, and meaning I don’t have to take a long time off work as well.

To raise a bit of extra cash for the holiday, I did a carboot sale last week to get rid of some of my unwanted stuff. I have far too many clothes and could probably do 3 or 4 carboot sales and still have a packed wardrobe left over. I did quite well and sold a lot (although I’m just seeing it as more money and space to be able to buy loads of new things!). I love carboot sales, as I’m sure I’ve said before I really like recycling and giving unwanted items a new home! I’m sure I’ll find time for a few more carboot sales, both buying and selling, over the summer!

 

Eleanor’s blog – 22 April

Hello everyone!

I’m back in Manchester after a lovely Easter break at home ready for my last few weeks before I complete my second year. Easter was a good time to relax before the exam period coming up in March, and I spent a fair portion of it eating chocolate eggs. I also went on a 12 mile walk around two of the reservoirs in my area (why? I will never know as towards the end I felt like I needed carrying home) and was hoping to do a bit more walking but those plans were scuppered by SNOW – in March… A white Easter?! It’s been freezing! On the rare occasion I did manage to leave the house (this is the countryside remember, when I say snow I mean A LOT of snow) I ventured out to Buxton, of Buxton Water fame, the nearest town to where I live. Although I’ve lived in the area all my life, I had a touristy day wandering round the Pavilion Gardens and visiting the spring water from which is now drunk in bottles up and down the country. I also went in a lovely second hand bookshop, spread over five floors with books of every age and genre, it’s a great place to get lost and spend an afternoon!

Eleanor's bookshopAll the snow did give me a great excuse to stay inside and complete my uni assignments, I had two to finish over the three weeks I spent at home. So apologies for not posting anything sooner, my mind has been full of dysarthria, phonemes, augmented communication devices, phonetic inventories and lots and lots of referencing. I came back to Manchester a few days before my lectures began again to beaver away in the library and to use some books from the high demand section. Often, important and sought-after books are found in this section and can only be taken out for a few days or a few hours at a time to allow others to have a chance to read them as well. Luckily for me I was done with my high demand books after just a few hours so was able to return them for some of my fellow SLT students to use for their assignment too!

With those assignments finished, it means I just have one more piece of work to hand in and three exams before my second year is officially over! Scary stuff!

Eleanor’s blog – 21 March

Hello it’s me again 🙂

Apologies for my lack of a posting, last week saw me give two presentations, sit an exam, start writing an assignment, write up some work for a seminar and just about have time to do some Student Ambassador work. There’s always a flurry of activity before any kind of break from lectures, as is coming up soon with the Easter break. I can’t believe 2nd year is nearly over already!

Apart from all that Uni work, last week went by pretty uneventfully. As a nice break from doing work, I went for a swimming session at The Aquatic Centre on Oxford Road. Built for the 2002 Commonwealth Games, it houses an olympic size swimming pool as well as a a training pool, diving area, gym and fitness studios. If you show your student card you get a discount as well which is always nice. I haven’t been swimming in so so so long, and I realised that I was genuinely the slowest person in the entire pool. Including all the children and old people that were there. I went with my housemate and she was literally able to walk alongside me in the water. I think a bit of practice would do me good!

Something which I don’t think I’ve mentioned in my blog before is the fact that almost every other weekend throughout 2nd year I’ve been hopping on a train to Sheffield as my boyfriend is at university there. It’s probably a big worry for a lot of people who are in relationships that once you go off to uni it’ll be really hard not seeing your boyfriend/girlfriend if you end up in different places across the country. Not going to lie it can be a bit hard sometimes, especially if one of you is feeling down or in a bad mood and the other is busy or unable to do anything to help. We’ve managed pretty well so far, with things like skype and obviously texts and phonecalls. We see each other most weekends with Manchester and Sheffield being only a train journey apart, and booked in advance with a 16-25 railcard it’s not more expensive than any other weekend activity would be really!

I think if we’d have been going out at the beginning of 1st year, as freshers it would have been far more difficult to make time for each other as that’s when you have to be busy making friends and finding your feet. It can work out just fine though, so don’t despair if that situation is looming for you this September! Sometimes I even think it’s slightly preferable to not live in the same city, this way we still have time to spend with our respective friends and get work done without being in each others’ pockets all the time. If we break up at least we won’t have to see each other around uni afterwards(!).