hey im from wisconsin and im thinking about doing my undergrad at manchester starting next year (on the linguistics + russian course) but im intimidated by choosing to go with one subject and learn through the english university system instead of the american 'you can do whatever you want' thing. do you like university there as oppossed to the usa? are there some big differences youve noticed? i just dont know what i want to do ah@2peaks
Haha I really like the system here of less flexibility, weirdly enough. You graduate a year earlier than in the states, but you have to go in knowing what you want to do since switching majors means starting all over again. I do despise the system of 1 long essay + 1 exam for the entire course - your grade is based on very little, and you do almost no learning throughout the semester since you have no motivation. I thought that was the basic means of learning at my school, but it’s 10x worse here. But it also opens up a lot of free time (which is awesome), and as long as you’re smart about it, you don’t do half bad.
I'm an American student, and I plan on attending U of Manchester, I just wanna how's it there, how are the people, the social scenes, and everything there?@Anonymous
It’s awesome - definitely different from U of I (where I attend), but still cool. People here are basically the same as on any campus (willing to befriend, that sort of jazz), but the social scene is definitely different. They go to pubs and clubs a lot more (since everyone’s legal), and they seem to do it a lot more in the middle of the week than the weekends. Aside from that, I’m not sure what to say about “everything.” School’s easier here (I say). You spend a lot fewer hours in class, and the assignments come in a single giant essay form rather than spread throughout the semester. Feel free to ask anything else ya like. :D
One Month Left: Reflections
I’m almost home. Almost. It’s crazy - I’ve got a month left in this place, and it’s only just started to feel like home. Well, that feeling actually sunk in by the end of month 3: the feeling that this wasn’t just some sort of extended vacation or a place to crash in between traveling to other cities and countries. It’s home. Of course, the end of this summer will mark a full 1.5 years of my not living in a single place for more than 4-5 months at a time, so what I’ve considered home is incredibly flexible, but still. I’m actually gonna miss this place, which I don’t know that I could say for those first 3 months.
I’m going to miss the accents (not just British, but those of all my culturally diverse flatmates and the people from the countries I’ve visited), the traveling, the constant influx of new experiences, classes that start 5 minutes AFTER they’re supposed to start, having all these local grocery stores on my block, and my schedule’s crazy emptiness (I’ve been reading for fun and working out and writing stories and learning Russian in addition to traveling what with all my free time). This semester is definitely what I needed. It’s a break, but it’s an AMAZING break. I’m now addicted to travelling and will probably go broke in the future ‘cause of it, but I’m anyway attempting to get a job that’ll give me summers off which means I will be spending summers the way I’ve basically been spending this semester - traveling and focusing on honing skills I actually care about. Maybe I’ll even write a few screenplays.
Studying abroad is so completely worth it and I don’t know that I haven’t been lying to people when I told them that before that 3-4 month mark. Only by month 3’s end have I fully adjusted and grown to love this life. Yeah, I highly recommend trying to study abroad with a friend or an acquaintance at least, just to make traveling alone happen less frequently and so that you have someone who understands the homesickness you’re going through on a personal level, but you can still manage without this sort of person.
I love studying abroad. I love traveling. Everyone needs to spend a serious chunk of life outside of their country, even if it’s just England. The differences between the US and the UK is tangible, and the distance is even more so. You get to be a more cultured, independent human being. And maybe you’ll even learn Russian if you have as much free time as I have.
Britain is a strange place.
yOU’RE JOKING RIGHT
No, I’m not. It even has a wiki page.
Oh my god.
Yeah, it’s been almost 2 months since I actually went to Edinburgh. But I’ve gotta record these thoughts somewhere so oh well.
I took a miserable 6ish hour bus trip up to Edinburgh, Scotland, that didn’t arrive until around one in the morning. It was really frightening because highways (motorways?) were mostly unlit, making for some terrifying turns and high-beaming on the part of the driver whenever he could. What made it worse was that the trip to Edinburgh from Manchester should take 3.5 hours, but because of all the stops, the time almost doubled. D:
I did get to spend Friday night-Sunday morning with one of my friends from U of I (Ethel) who came down from Oslo for the weekend to meet me there though, which was great. Traveling not-alone style is the best when you know the person you’re traveling with fairly well.
Tried finding Arthur’s Seat to climb it but failed and ended up at Edinburgh Castle instead.
Went on the Sandeman’s New Europe free walking tour! It was sleeting and horribly cold, but our guide was a trooper and an amazing tour guide despite the weather. Went to a graveyard (Greyfriars) where at any one point you were standing above 10 bodies, the hanging site where a woman was hanged, died, and then basically resurrected later, and a bunch of other awesome Edinburgh places. Ethel and I got separated from the group in the last 10 minutes of the tour, so we never tipped, meaning it was my mission (completed Monday) to make sure our tip got to our tour guide. It was rather sad. The tour was great though.
We then went to Camera Obscura, which is home to so many optical illusions and amusing visual things. The camera obscura itself is a sort of old-fangled live camera that allows you to creep on Edinburgh from this device on top of the building. Google it. It was definitely one of those things that was cooler back in the day.
The sun came out for the first time that day as we were leaving, so we booked it over to actual Arthur’s Seat. Worst idea to date. Never decide to climb a dormant volcano just before dusk. Even though you asked for the best directions up/down from a real Scot, you will get stuck, encounter several cliffs, fall down numerous times in the cold, icy mud because it’d been pouring sleet for hours just before you went, and you will be trapped for 3 hours on it, just trying to get down. It’d been dark for 2ish hours by the time we made it down the other side (which we were told would be fastest route), and we ended up on some highway which we walked along until we reached the city centre. It was the sort of story you read in the papers. Two Genius American Students Die on Arthur’s Seat in Scotland.
We ended up eating at an aptly named pub called World’s End (it was almost 9 by this point and we were scrambling to find places that even served food at that time). Fast service. And it only added to my love of fish ‘n’ chips.
Then it was off to the Mercat Haunted Tour, during which we were told Edinburgh ghost stories and led through these abandoned tunnels under the city. Not actually as scary as Arthur’s Seat, but I don’t believe in ghosts so to each his own. It was then back to the hostel for much needed rest.
Sunday I went on the Hairy Coo tour through the Highlands, which I highly recommend. :D We went to some famous bridges, the Wallace Monument (WHERE I SAW A FULL RAINBOW), Doune Castle (where they filmed Monty Python), stopped for lunch in Callander where I had a Blood Pudding and Haggis Tower (surprisingly not bad), then went to Loch Katrine (our tour guide taught us how to say Loch like a Scot, which involves a lot of spit) which was stunningly beautiful, and then met up with and fed some hairy coos! We saw other stuff as well, but these were the basics and the highlights. Great day trip.
I started Monday by going through Old Town, a scenic area of Edinburgh that has an awesome cheese shop where I didn’t actually end up buying cheese. I then went to the National Museum of Scotland for lack of other free things to do, where I saw Dolly the (first cloned) sheep illuminated by some fancy disco lighting.
On my way to hearing the one o’clock canon shooting at Edinburgh Castle, I stopped by a little bakery called Piemaker. Incredibly delicious and inexpensive. It was wonderful. I had me a Bridie some Irn-Bru, the most popular drink in Scotland (outselling Coke).
I then basically just saw the National Monument and wandered Edinburgh until my bus left that evening/late afternoon.
Scotland/Edinburgh/the Highlands are my absolute favorite place in the UK. Even more than Manchester. Even more than London. That’s where I shoulda studied abroad - it’s beautiful, so many great authors come from there (maybe it’d rub off on me?), and I just loved its vibe. I will come back in my lifetime.