New beginnings…

So today is my last day in the Orientation office! My 8 week internship has flown by so quickly, and I’ve had so much fun. I just wanted to thank you all for taking the time to read my blog, and for all the kind words you’ve given me. I’ve never blogged properly before, so hearing your words of encouragement has made me determined to improve my writing skills! Who knows, I might even carry on with this blog…

My internship has mainly revolved around assisting in the preparations for Orientation Week – from giving our student ambassadors t-shirts to wear so that you can easily spot them at the airport, to creating posters and tickets for all of the fun events we’ve arranged. Of course, Orientation Week begins on Monday, as does your new beginnings. I know some of you are just hopping over the English Channel, from France, or Ireland, but there are also lots of you coming from the other side of the planet, from New Zealand, or Malaysia. Some of you will just be here for a semester, until December, whilst others will be here for 5 whole years. Some of you will speak English as a second language, whilst for others it will be your native language. However, you will all be going through the exact same experience – the nerves as your plane takes off, bound for Manchester, the jetlag and disorientation – having to get used to the weather, cars driving on a different side of the road to what you may be used to at home, and learning to adapt your ears to the dialects and accents which the people of the UK speak with. In addition to adapting to the culture shock, you will also experience similar things to all of our ‘Home’ students, who are from the UK, such as finding your way around campus, making friends, and getting used to university classes. You’ll never really be alone, then.

There will be times when you’ll get homesick, and times when you wonder if you’re capable of studying abroad. But then there will be so many amazing times, too. I remember a few years ago when I was sat in the library one Sunday, over the Christmas break, revising for my exams. The only other people in the library were about 5 Middle-Eastern students, and suddenly they screamed, and ran to the window. I wondered what they were doing, before realising that it had started snowing outside, and they had never seen snow before. It was  pretty lovely seeing how excited they were over something which is so normal, so mundane for me :). In addition to the snow, you’ve got the joy of experiencing the few sunny days Manchester experiences each year. You can sit in the park, with your friends and some food, just sitting and sunbathing and feeling content with things. The sense of accomplishment of finding out that you got a good grade in a piece of work you found really difficult, or finding out that you’ve been selected for an internship, or a place on a study abroad programme to another country. There are so many things to look forward to, and they will outweigh all the niggling doubts or worries you may have in your head about your time studying at Manchester. Seriously though, Manchester is one of the best universities in the entire world, and tens of thousands of people apply to study here each year. However, it was you, who secured a place here, which proves that you are one of the most capable and intelligent people on the planet.

I genuinely hope that you will all make the most of your time here. Make friends, and try new things. There are so many opportunities for you. And there will always be somebody around who is willing to help you, from fellow classmates to your teachers. Of course, you can always reach out to me if you would like, as you have done for the past 8 weeks – I feel like I know some of you quite well by now, as a result of your comments on here and Facebook and it would be lovely to know how you are all getting on!

Don’t forget that I will be one of the ambassadors helping out on our City Bus Tours – we will go all around the city, taking in all of the sights and maybe even a football ground or two! During the first week of Orientation, we will also stop at The Lowry shopping centre for a bit of shopping. If you’d like to come along, pick up a free ticket from the Students Union when you arrive in Manchester. We will be running the tours most days, at 10am and 2pm, but please do check your What’s On Guide for actual times and dates. I’m really excited to help out with this, it’s a nice way to round of my summer of ‘Orienteering’ by seeing all of the work I’ve been involved in over the past few weeks put into action1

 

I hope to see some of you on the tours, and hope you all arrive in Manchester safely 🙂

– Vicki

 

 

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10 steps to registration!

It’s really important that you register with the university. You’ve got until September 30th to do this, but the sooner you do it, the better 🙂

Here’s a step-by-step guide to completing Registration online. You must complete steps 1-9 before paying your tuition fees (step 10).

If you need any help along the way, you can contact our Student Services Centre on ssc@manchester.ac.uk or +44 (0)161 275 5000, or ring the Registration Helpline (September only) on +44 (0)161 306 5544. Alternatively, you can wait until you are in Manchester to get help from a member of our IT Support team.

To begin the process, access the Registration portlet in My Manchester. You’ll need your central username and password which you were given when you activated your IT account.

Clicking the ‘Register’ button will take you through ten screens to officially register your place with us. At the end of each step, a green ‘completed’ tick will appear. To go back to a previous section, simply click on the step you want to return to; do not use the back button on your browser.

Step 1: Name and personal details

  • Check that your name is spelled correctly as your details in this section is how they will appear on all University documentation, including your degree certificate.
  • If you have a disability, you are strongly encouraged to let us know as we offer a range of services that can help support your studies. Alternatively, contact our Disability Support Office to discuss support and facilities available.
  • If you are joining the University as a Care Leaver and would like to request a new student advisory meeting, please contact our Adviser for Care Leavers on +44 (0)161 275 3033.

Step 2: Address details

  • You must enter your ‘permanent home’ address, and ‘mail’ and ‘term time’ addresses if known.
  • Your ‘mail’ address lets you specify which of these addresses you want us to use to write to you.

Step 3: Bursary options

  • UK/EU students who began their studies in or after 2012/13 should indicate their preferred option for receipt of any University bursary they may be eligible to receive when assessed. This is not confirmation that you are eligible for a bursary.
  • UK students in University accommodation can select either an accommodation discount or a tuition fee discount.
  • UK students in private accommodation and EU students will only see an optionfor tuition fee discount.
  • PGCE students will not see this step as it does not relate to any Training and Development Agency for Schools (TDA) Bursary you may be eligible to receive. If you are not in receipt of a TDA Bursary, you will automatically be assessed for the Manchester Bursary without completing this step.

Step 4: Phone numbers

  • Add your term time and mobile phone numbers in case we need to contact you.

Step 5: Email addresses

  • You will automatically be given an email address that ends ‘@student.manchester.ac.uk’, or ‘@mbs.manchester.ac.uk’, or ‘@postgrad.manchester.ac.uk’. This is the address we will use when contacting you by email.

Step 6: Emergency contact details

  • This information is needed in case you are involved in a serious incident.

Step 7: Other information

  • Indicate the highest qualification you have gained (e.g. A Levels or previous undergraduate degree) prior to your starting at the University. A drop down box is provided for you to select the relevant award.
  • If you have any queries regarding this section, please contact us via the details at the top of the page.

Step 8: Programme details

  • Check that the details showing on this page regarding your chosen course or programme of study is correct.
  • Please contact your School or Faculty if your programme details are incorrect.

Step 9: Declaration and data protection

  • It’s very important you read and understand the Declaration Statement and tick the box to confirm that you agree to abide by The University of Manchester’s statutes, ordinances, regulations and by-laws, including academic malpractice.
  • You should read the Data Protection Statement carefully so that you are fully aware of what we will do with your personal information, and your rights in connection with the Data Protection Act – and then tick the box at the end to confirm you have read and understood it.
  • For more information, go to our Data Protection website.
  • If you have any concerns about data protection, you can contact our Records Management Office on foi@manchester.ac.uk.

Step 10: Paying your tuition fees

You need to have completed steps 1-9 before you can pay your tuition fees. Any tuition fee you are due to pay will be displayed in the Student Contribution box, along with any sponsorship information you have provided.

If the amount is incorrect or you have any other problems paying your fees, call our Registration Helpline on +44(0)161 306 5544 or email ssc@manchester.ac.uk.

Please note: We reserve the right to charge the correct fee for your programme or course in the event of an incorrect fee being displayed.

For more information around tuition fees and payments, visit the Student Support website.

Phones and SIM Cards

A few of you have been asking me about SIM Cards for your phone, so this is just a quick post which will hopefully give you some useful info! UK SIM Cards are often referred to as being ‘Pay-as-you-go’, which means that you top up your SIM Card with credit each month, and means that you are in control of your spending.

We will be giving out FREE Lebara SIM Cards in our university halls of accommodation, and we also have a limited number of SIM Cards from GiffGaff in our Welcome Boxes from Great British Mag! However, stocks are limited of both of these. If you are unable to get your hands on one of our free SIM Cards, you can order one (also for free) from either Lebara or GiffGaff’s website and they will be delivered to your UK Address.

Lebara offer a wide range of plans which include international calls to over 40 countries, including China, India and Thailand, in addition to UK calls and internet use, from as little as £10 per month.

GiffGaff offer international calls to China and India from 2p per minute,  and you can also buy 1GB of internet, unlimited UK texts and 500 minutes of calltime to other UK phones for £10 per month.

Some international students I know prefer to buy UK SIM Cards which offer lots of internet data, instead of ones which offer cheap/free international calls and texts, as they use apps like Skype, Whatsapp and WeChat to call and message people back in their home countries over the internet. The choice is up to you 🙂

The other main phone operating companies which offer international rates in the UK are O2, EE, Vodafone and Lyca, and you can order a free SIM Card from their respective websites, to be delivered to your UK address.

If you are having trouble setting up your UK SIM Card, feel free to visit our student ambassadors in University Place at our IT Support Desk, who will be able to help you 🙂

 

 

I’m sorry this is such a quick post! I’ve been on holiday for the past few days in London, and as this is the last week of my internship, and the week before you all arrive, things are pretty hectic in the office! It’s all very exciting though 🙂

 

What to bring!

Where has the time gone?! I finish my internship a week on Friday – my time here has gone so quickly! Then, the week after I will be working as an ambassador during Orientation Week, on the city bus tours we are putting on. Remember, if you’ve got any last minute questions or things you would like me to blog about, let me know 🙂

Today’s blog is a request I’ve had from Mas, on what to bring with you. When you’re travelling so far away, you don’t want to risk forgetting to bring something, and it’s easy to bring every single thing that you own, but from my own experience of studying abroad, there’s no need to do that! I only studied in the USA for one semester, but ended up taking three suitcases with me, and didn’t need most of the things I took with me… so don’t make the same mistake as I did…

Of course, don’t forget to keep all your valuables, such as your laptop and money, in your hand luggage when you are flying to Manchester. The UK Border Force have created this poster (below), just for international students, and offers some tips to ensure that you are prepared for going through customs/immigration at Manchester:

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It’s also important to bring all the following documents:

  • your Letter of Acceptance
  • enough money for tuition fees, accommodation and living expenses
  • a valid passport and visa (if necessary)
  • travel insurance and health insurance
  • documentary evidence that you have enough money to support yourself
  • evidence of your qualifications (usually original certificates with certified translations where appropriate)
  • information from your doctor about any medical condition you have and prescribed drugs you need to take
  • any original documents required for enrolment (original qualifications certificates, IELTS/TOEFL  documents, letters of reference)
  • If you are staying in University Accommodation, and have booked onto our Airport Collection Service shuttle bus, your ticket for this.
  • Your accommodation address

 

Don’t forget that most airlines will make you pay extra if you are taking multiple suitcases, or if your suitcases are really heavy, so try to pack as light as you can, so you can save some money!  I think the most important thing to remember is that you can buy most things you will need when you arrive in Manchester. We will be offering trips to the local supermarket from Thursday 15th to Sunday 18th September, where you can buy kitchenware, and other things such as bedding, towels and toiletries. It’s so easy to forget how much space and weight bottles of mouthwash and shower gel can take up in your suitcase, so just bring small bottles to start with and buy more when you are here.

(Also, I recently bought this duvet cover from the supermarket we will be taking you to, and I am so in love – who doesn’t love cats dressed up as astronauts?!) Image result for Catsronaughts

If you are staying in university accommodation, you can pre-order a pack of bedding, which will be placed in your room when you arrive. These are quite reasonably priced, and include a duvet (comforter), a duvet cover, sheets and pillows. Things can be pretty hectic on the day you arrive in Manchester, and so you may not have time to visit the supermarket with us, so it makes things a bit easier and less stressful to know that you’ll at least be able to get a good night’s sleep to get rid of your jetlag! You can order them by following this link: http://estore.manchester.ac.uk/browse/product.asp?compid=1&modid=1&catid=132

If you don’t have time to come with us to the supermarket, you can always take the bus into the city centre, where there are lots of shops which will sell the basics you will need. Primark is a huge store which sells clothes, bedding, towels, and some kitchenware for super cheap, and there is also a store called Argos in the Arndale shopping mall which sells pretty much everything – from phone chargers to towels, bedding, and rice cookers.

A little bit further afield is an IKEA store, in the suburb of Ashton, and it takes about 30 minutes to travel there from the city centre on the bus or tram. Although it’s quite far away, you might prefer shopping there as every Ikea in the world is practically the same, so you’ll know what you’re doing!

The key things which I would recommend you bring with you from home are as follows:

  • Clothes – UK weather can be quite unpredictable – it can be super hot and sunny one day, and cold and raining the next! So it’s a good idea to bring a mixture of clothing, from thick jumpers to shorts and t-shirts. You may wish to buy a thick winter coat when you arrive in the UK, as they can take up a lot of room in your suitcase! They are also pretty cheap to buy here
  • Laptop
  • Chargers for your phone/laptop/camera etc
  • An extension lead from home. The number of plug sockets in your room aren’t that many, so it’s more convenient to bring an extension lead so you can plug in all the things you will need
  • Travel Adapter Plugs. It is so important to bring plug adapters with you, as it’s quite difficult to find them once you are in the UK. The voltage levels in the UK can differ from other countries, so you may also need to bring a Voltage converter with you, to ensure that your electrical appliances are safe to use. This website can tell you if this applies to you: http://www.power-plugs-sockets.com/england/
  • Photos etc to put up in your room. Your room will be your home for the next few months, so it’s important to make it your own! Just remember though, that you aren’t allowed to have candles or incense in your room as it may cause a fire.
  • I loveeeeeee reading, and it’s lovely at the end of a stressful day of classes to sit in bed with a nice book (and some ice cream). Fortunately, the city’s Central Library has thousands of books for you to borrow, and also has a wide collection of books in different languages, such as French, Mandarin and Arabic, so you don’t need to bring that many with you from home!mcr2
  • Home comforts. Although I am positive that you will all love Manchester and make it your second home, there will be some things you will miss about home. For me, when I studied abroad, I missed English food, so I made sure to take as much Cadburys chocolate as I could with me! Remember that you are not allowed to bring fruit, meat, fish or dairy products into the UK, but you can bring chocolate, sweets (candy) and crisps (potato chips).

Image result for cadburys

  • If you are an exchange student, coming to Manchester for a semester or a year, I would recommend downloading your home university’s VPN. This will allow you to access their resources whilst in Manchester (and although I shouldn’t say this, also gives you access to your home country’s Netflix…UK Netflix is a bit of a disappointment)

    Image result for friends cast
    UK Netflix doesn’t have Friends 😦

 

 

There are also some useful apps you may wish to download to your phone before you arrive, which can make your life here sooo much easier!

-iManchester is the university’s app, and contains a campus map, your timetable and lots of other useful things!

-CityMapper will be so useful to you, especially during your first few weeks in Manchester! It will tell you how to get anywhere in the city from your location, using public transport and it is so detailed, and more accurate than the public transport option on Google Maps.

-BBC Weather is the most accurate app for the weather forecast in the UK, and is free! You will get into the habit of checking the weather each morning as soon as you wake up to check if you will need an umbrella to fend off the rain!

-National Rail – if you are planning on travelling around the UK by train a lot, this app is a lifesaver! It shows train times, live departure boards and you can also buy train tickets through it.

-Google Translate –  can translate 90 languages in an instant. The app works both online and offline, making it convenient when travelling, and can translate through your voice, camera, keyboard or handwriting. The app is good for translating in everyday situations, but it’s important to remember that if you are really struggling with the English Language, speak to your tutor or someone from the university’s Language Centre so that they can help you to improve – it’s nothing to be ashamed of.

-Units Plus – I use the Units Plus app all the time, and I’m sure you will too! Units of measurement in the UK may be different to what you are used to in your home country – for example, we use miles instead of km, and Celsius instead of Fahrenheit when measuring temperature, and this app will help to convert these units in seconds. It also has a handy currency exchange feature, so you can see how much things cost in UK £ compared to your home currency.

 

I *think* that’s everything! If I think of anymore tips, I will post them on our Facebook page. Don’t forget to leave me comments with any questions or things you want to know 🙂

 

Have a fabulous week,

 

Vicki

Best gyms in Manchester!

I’ve noticed a few of you have been commenting asking me about gyms and other ways to keep fit in Manchester…I wish I was as motivated to keep fit as you all are! However, the Olympics has really inspired me to do more fitness and sport, and I’m looking at joining the Velodrome  in Manchester to take up cycling. The Velodrome is where Team GB’s cyclists train, so everyone in Manchester is really proud of their success in Rio. It has just been announced that Team GB will be doing a Celebratory Parade through Manchester in October, to celebrate their fantastic achievements at this year’s Olympics. More information is yet to be announced, but it is guaranteed to be an exciting experience!

There’s no shortage of gyms in Manchester, it’s just a case of finding one which suits your budget and fitness requirements. Do you want a facility which offers classes? One with a swimming pool? One near to campus or one nearer to your halls of residence? Below is a compilation of some of the most popular gyms and fitness centres for students.

Aquatics Centre

The aquatics centre is situated right next to main campus, and is only a short walk away from North Campus.  It was built in 2002 for the Commonwealth Games, and it is where many local swimmers train to try and get onto the Olympic swimming team. In addition to the pool, there is a gym facility which has recently been renovated. This is the gym which I am a member of, and it’s okay for a basic workout. However, the mats where you do your core workouts is quite small, and when swimming races are on, this area is filled with spectators, which makes it hard to focus.

Cost – £250 for 12 months, including gym, swim and classes.

£130 for 12 months access to the swimming pool only.

Armitage Sports Centre

The Armitage is owned by the university and is in the middle of Fallowfield campus, making it easily accessible for most. Membership is fairly cheap, too, with 12 months access to the gym costing £165. The centre also offers fitness classes, but the price of these is not included in with the price of memebership. There are also large sports fields outside the centre which can be hired out to play tennis, netball, football etc.

Cost – £165 for 12 months of gym.

Sugden Sports Centre

Sugden is also owned by the University, in conjunction with Manchester Metropolitan University, and is situated halfway between Main and North Campuses. They offer a range of membership options, and have a wide range of gym equipment and fitness classes available.

Bannatyne Gym

This gym is fairly close to North Campus, and is a 20 minute walk from main campus. It’s one of the most affordable gyms in the city, and has a jacuzzi and swimming pool, too. They also have a Power Plate, which most gyms in the area don’t have.

Cost – £25 per month, or £230 for an annual membership

Withington Leisure Centre 

2 minutes on the bus from Fallowfield, Withington Leisure Centre  is home to the only working Edwardian swimming pool in Manchester, which is pretty cool. This leisure centre has a gym, pool and fitness classes, but is sometimes a bit busy, as children under 16 and adults over the age of 65 get free  entry. Their 9 month membership is ideal for students, and saves you from buying a 12 month membership as due to summer holidays, most of you won’t actually be in Manchester for 12 months!

Cost – £190 for 9 months of swim, gym and classes.

Lifestyle Fitness

Lifestyle Fitness is situated in Deansgate, in the Great Northern Warehouse, so is a little out of the way,  but is one of the best equipped gyms in the city. As well as standard gym equipment, they also have ropes and monkey bars, and a women’s only workout area. There is also a little café which serves high protein post-workout snacks, such as omelettes.

Cost – £21.99 for 12 months, with an initial joining fee of £25, or £24.99 per month with no contract, with a £20 joining fee.

National Cycling Centre

If cycling is more your thing than the treadmill, the National Cycling Centre (or Velodrome) is a good place to consider! It’s on the other side of the city – next to Manchester City’s Etihad Stadium – but the facilities are suitable for cyclists of all levels, from absolute beginners to pros. You can bring your own bike, or borrow one of theirs.  In addition to an indoor track cycling circuit, there is also an outdoor BMX course and spaces to play Football or Netball. You need to book at least 7 days in advance for a place on one of their courses/classes.

Cost – prices vary depending on activity and duration. Please phone for more details.

There are also many ways to keep fit in Manchester without joining a gym. Parkrun is an organisation which organises FREE 5km runs every Saturday morning, in local parks. They are a great way to get fit, in a fun and safe environment. You need to register online, but then you can turn up to any runs in the country. Additionally, the Students Union hosts a number of different sporting clubs, from Netball and Ice Hockey through to it’s own running club (Run Wild). Take a look at all the sports and fitness societies on offer at the SU, so you have an idea of which ones to look out for during the Start of Year Fair, which is where you will sign up to them .

Parkrun in Heaton Park

I only have 2 weeks left of my internship, so if you have any questions to ask me, or blog requests, get them in as soon as you can! 🙂

Best walks and hikes around Manchester!

Every person I’ve met whilst I’ve been travelling abroad has a sort of stereotype in their heads of what the UK is like. Most of their stereotypes sound like something out of a Jane Austen novel, of polite gentlemen and ladies in dresses skipping over rolling hills and sparkling streams to Buckingham Palace, where we will all drink tea with the Queen. (Fun fact: when I was studying abroad in the USA I managed to convince at least 10 people that I am related to Will and Kate…)

Sadly, these stereotypes of life in the UK are mainly incorrect. I’ve never met the Queen, and I’ve never actually drank a cup of tea in my life *shock horror*.  Mercifully however, the image people have of Britain being a country of beautiful landscape is true. As an island nation, you are never more than 75 miles away from the sea, and really, the UK is just one large island of hills, moors, and woods, with a few large cities scattered about in-between.

Corby Crags' landscape is so stunning that it was used as a backdrop of Middle Earth in the <a href="http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/australiaandthepacific/newzealand/9549670/Middle-Earth-moves-to-Northumberland-in-The-Hobbit-film-posters.html" target="_blank">"The Hobbit</a>" <a href="http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/australiaandthepacific/newzealand/9549670/Middle-Earth-moves-to-Northumberland-in-The-Hobbit-film-posters.html" target="_blank">movie poster </a>in 2012. Corby Crags lies in Edlingham, a small village with 196 residents.

 

Us Brits love getting out and about whenever we can, whether it’s for a day at the beach, or a long weekend camping. Manchester is perfectly situated for all you outdoor types – to the north is the Lake District, to the east is the Yorkshire Dales and Peak District. To the south is Cheshire, and to the west is Wales, and Snowdonia National Park. We are also close to the beaches of the west coast, with Southport and Lytham St Annes being popular resorts for a day trip. There’s no better place to eat traditional fish and chips than on the sea front…

I had a request from Seb – one of our exchange students coming from New Zealand – for some of my recommendations of some of the best walks and hikes around. It’s been so hard for me to not write about every walk I’ve ever been on! I’ve tried to make sure the walks I’ve included below are easily accessible by public transport, but if you don’t want to brave the British wilderness alone, why not join the university’s Hiking Club. They organise a wide variety of walks each weekend, from residentials in Scotland, to day trips to the Peaks. Everyone is really friendly, and the trips are really affordable to do! Keep an eye out on their website for an upcoming timetable for the 16/17 academic year, and join their Facebook group 

Don’t forget to be prepared, especially if you are walking by yourself. Check the weather conditions before you set off – ideally, you should only go hiking on clear, dry days. Ensure you are well equipped with warm clothing, an Ordinance Survey map, food, water, a first aid kit, a torch and a fully charged mobile phone. If you get into difficulty, phone 999, and ask for the POLICE, and then MOUNTAIN RESCUE. Mountain Rescue is an organisation of highly trained volunteers who will rescue walkers who have gotten into difficulty on Britain’s mountains and hills. Their website offers some really useful information on what to do in an emergency: https://www.mountain.rescue.org.uk/mountain-advice/in-case-of-accident

 

PEAK DISTRICT

DOCTORS GATE

One of my favourite, more ‘basic’ walks is on Doctor’s Gate, from Glossop, a town about 30 minutes away from Manchester by train (and is also the town where I live!) Doctor’s Gate is a road /pathway which was first used by the Romans thousands of years ago, and takes in some of the best views of the Peak District. It’s also pretty cool knowing that you’re retracing the steps of the people who lived in this area thousands of years ago! Unfortunately it doesn’t lead anywhere special, it just takes you to the middle of a very busy road called The Snake Pass, which links Manchester to Sheffield, so you have to turn around and retrace your steps to get back home. Nonetheless, it’s a really nice walk which I love to do.

doctors.jpgGet the train from Manchester Piccadilly to Hadfield, and get off at Glossop. Turn right outside of the train station and go down to the crossroads, and turn left so you’re on High Street East. Follow this road for about 10 minutes, until you get to a road on the left called Manor Park Road (after the roundabout). Walk down this road, until you cross the river, and turn right onto Shepley Street. Follow Shepley Street right down – you’ll go past a factory on your left, and end up at a turning circle in the road at the end. There will be a path straight ahead of you, which you need to follow for about 1km until you reach a stile straight ahead of you, which will be signposted as Doctors Gate. From here, it’s fairly straightforward to follow the well-trodden path, which generally follows the river on your right until you cross over it on a bridge, before descending up a hill.

You can also do this walk, but with the addition of visiting Bleaklow Moor, first, before coming down a section of Doctors Gate on your return. Details of which can be found here: http://www.trekkingbritain.com/bleaklowfromoldglossop.htm#peakdistrictwalks

MONSAL TRAIL

Monsal Trail is a series of old, disused railway tunnels and bridges which span across the middle of the Peak District for 8.5 miles. It is a really flat, well lit and well paved so it is suitable for everyone of all abilities. I enjoy cycling the trail, and you can rent bikes out at various points on the trail.

To get there, take a train from Manchester Piccadiilly to Buxton, and then take a bus from the train station  to Millers Dale. The owners of Monsal Trail have made a really useful guideexplaining just how to get there, using public transport!

If you would like to cycle the trail, get the bus to Topley Pike for Wyedale, where you can rent bikes out.

KINDER SCOUT

Kinder Scout is the tallest mountain the Peak District, and as such is often busy on warm clear days. Most people walk up it from the town of Edale, (which is served by train from Manchester) but when my friends and I go hiking we take a quieter route from the little village of Hayfield. You can get a bus to Hayfield from the previously mentioned town of Glossop, or there is also a bus from Stockport.

From the centre of the village, it’s a bit of a walk up Kinder Road, until you reach a car park on your left. Keep going past the car park, until you reach Kinder Reservoir on your right. At the first gate you can continue on foot but at the second set of gates you should branch left up a steep path by the side of a wall. This path is well trodden and easy to follow, and will lead you to Kinder Scout, but not before going down Kinder Downfall.

LAKE DISTRICT

HADRIAN’S WALL

Such a historic part of the British Isles, walking Hadrian’s Wall is something on many British walker’s bucket lists. It’s 135km long, which means that you probably won’t be able to do it all in one weekend, but it’s easy and just as enjoyable to walk a section of it, and soak up the history behind this 1,500 year old wall.

The Wall runs from Carlisle, in the west, to Newcastle in the East, and both are easily accessible by train from Manchester. The towns dotted alongside the Wall are well connected to these two towns by bus, and you can plan your trip and download bus times here: http://hadrianswallcountry.co.uk/travel/bus

 

WALES – SNOWDONIA

I’ve been fortunate enough to spend lots of time in Snowdonia National Park over the past few years. It is really one of the most beautiful parts of the UK – the air feels so clean and there’s an almost magical feel about the place (probably due to all the tales of Welsh folklore which take place in the forests and lakes of Snowdonia). One of my favourite places is the village of Bwets-y-coed . Snowdonia quite an isolated part of the world, and it can be pretty difficult to get around using public transport, as it requires careful planning as buses and trains are infrequent.  This can make it difficult to go it alone. If you can find a friend who drives, it’s well worth going though! North Wales is only a 2 hour drive from Manchester, and there are so many walks to choose from, from easy strolls to tough hikes for pro hikers, a full list of which can be found on the official website. 

There are so many other walks around which you can do, but part of the fun is researching them yourself, and finding out what sorts of walks you enjoy the most. As well as the University hiking club, you can also join the local walking group for 20-30 year olds; MAD . They organise a wide range of walks, so that everyone of all abilities can get involved! Membership is £31 per year.

Things which might be different in the UK…

Sorry I’ve been so slow with updating this blog over the past week! Your arrival into Manchester is now less than a month away and things are getting hectic in the Orientation Office! I’ve been creating tickets for all of our events, organising the delivery of the clothes our student ambassadors will be wearing, arranging the Cafe Crawl we will be taking you on around the Northern Quarter, and much more! Additionally, the weather here in Manchester this week is b-e-a-u-t-i-f-u-u-u-l and it’s so distracting – all I want to do is sit outside on campus eating ice cream! I haven’t forgotten all of your requests though, and I’m going to try and get them done as soon as I can!

It’s only a matter of weeks before you arrive in Manchester, and whether you’re here for 5 years or a single semester, you will quickly notice that there are a lot of things about the way of life in the UK, and the expectations on you as a student at The University of Manchester will be different from what you may be used to back in your home country. So, for today’s blog I thought it would be useful to do a little list of things which you might find different, and how to deal with them.

CARS DRIVE ON THE LEFT  don’t forget that in the UK, cars drive on the left…so when you cross the road you will need to take extra care before crossing! When I studied in America, it took some time to get used to looking the opposite way before crossing the road, I kept forgetting that cars in America drive on the right hand side :’)

TAP WATER – it is safe in the UK to drink water from the cold tap. In fact, our tap water is some of the cleanest and safest in the entire world. It’s also more environmentally friendly to drink tap water instead of buying bottled water from the supermarket

TIME AND PUNCTUALITY is such a small thing in our lives that many of us don’t really think about it, but it’s worth noting that in British culture it’s considered to be really rude if you arrive to class, or an appointment late. Always aim to be early – I always try to be around 10 minutes early to my classes. Plus, it can be super embarrassing having to walk into a full lecture theatre late, and having to climb over other students and disrupt their learning, so that you can get to the last free seat in the room 😦

TALKING AND USING YOUR PHONE IN CLASS – I’m sure this won’t be a surprise to many of you, but it is really disrespectful to talk to your friends in class, when others are speaking, as it disrupts the learning and concentration of your classmates. Similarly, using your phone in class to text your friends or go on Snapchat is very distracting to the people sat around you, and gives them a really bad impression of you.

SMOKING – It is illegal to smoke in any public building, or on public transport. You can smoke outside, but must not smoke within 5 metres of a door or window.  You can also get fined for leaving your cigarette butts on the floor, instead of putting them in a bin. In May 2016, the UK Government introduced a law which says all cigarettes must be sold in plain, unbranded packets.

LITTERING – there are waste bins everywhere on campus, and lots dotted around the city centre, too. If you litter, you could get a fine of up to £2,500, so although it may be tempting to leave an empty drinks bottle on the floor, it’s worth walking that extra few metres to dispose of it in a bin!

ALCOHOL – the consumption of alcohol is common and generally accepted in the UK. You can purchase and consume alcohol from the age of 18, but will need ID, such as your passport or an EU Driving Licence.

There is an assumption that drinking is something which all students do, either in nightclubs or in the pub at the weekly pub quiz, but this is not true at all! Many students at Manchester don’t drink alcohol, and everyone respects this choice. It’s easy to say ‘no’ when you’re a university student, and you won’t be excluded from social activities just because you don’t drink.

THE ROLE OF YOU AS A STUDENT – when I studied abroad in the USA, one of the biggest shocks which I encountered was how I was expected to act as a student.  Classes were small, and most of my teachers in the US were PhD students, which is somewhat different to how things are in the UK.

In the UK, most modules which you study comprise of two parts: lectures, and tutorials (or lab workshops). Lectures are where lots of students sit in a room and listen to a lecturer/professor speak. Tutorials/workshops are where you are in a smaller group of students (around 15), and a PhD student will lead a discussion, where you discuss the lecture and any books you had to read, or questions you had to answer in preparation for the lecture.

Having a PhD student as your tutor is quite good as it’s easy to get in touch with them and arrange a meeting if you need help with anything. They are also the people who mark your essays and homeworks and as they only have responsibility for a small group of students, they are able to give you more detailed feedback and assistance. However, it is also really good having an experienced academic giving the lectures, as they are able to draw upon their own expertise and research to make the topic they are teaching more interesting and engaging.

You are encouraged to ask questions, and even dispute the opinion of the lecturer/teacher. You’re encouraged to form your own opinions on topics, instead of simply accepting what you are told, and I know that for some international students, this dynamic can be a difficult one to adjust to.

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My next blog posts will be a little more cheerier than this – I’m currently working on a request of my favourite walks/hikes around Manchester, which will be going up later this week! When the weather is as nice as it currently is, there’s nothing lovelier than going for a walk in the countryside, surrounded by rivers, tress and fields of animals… the photo below is what I see from my bedroom window every morning, and I feel so lucky to live in such a beautiful place 🙂