Living at university

Living away from home is one of the biggest and most significant aspects for any new student at university. For the first time the prospect of living away from home is tangible. You’re filled with both excitement and apprehension. You’ve watched countless YouTube videos of hall vlogs to get a feel for what may be to come. You’ve searched Student-Forum and prodded every last drop of insider tips you could get. But even with all this information you’re still nervous and excited and expecting the unexpected.

As a fellow Mancunian I have experienced living away from home and living at home. In my first two years of my degree (Medicine) I was timetabled to be on campus so this meant I could easily commute from my parent’s home to class which saved me lots of money and meant I could do more with my student loan.  But everything changed when my campus became the hospital and so I moved out to make the journey easier, but it turned out to be more of an experience of a lifetime than just a way to cut time spent travelling.

So, what is it really like to live away from home whilst at university? I would say: Fun. Different. Enriching. Despite not living in halls I have countless friends who did and they absolutely loved it – halls gave them an opportunity to meet new people, form strong friendships for life, and learn how to cook and find your first university family. Everyone says you become independent in your first year (and in the next few) and this is very true, there’s nobody to do your laundry; YOU have to commit to that laundry trip every week. On top of this you will have to learn how to budget, so between attending socials and doing the weekly shop you should always consider what you can afford. Get a budget calculating app to help you breakdown your weekly or monthly spend – this can help you save for those great holidays to come. If you’re not a fan of tech, write down a rough estimate of input versus output and get a visual idea of what you have in your pocket and what you allow yourself to spend.

Brightside do an awesome student budget calculator to help keep you financially organised:

Halls are where the majority of first-year students move into.  There are various different types of halls including catered versus self-catered, so consider what you would prefer to have. Some people don’t mind sharing a shower; others hate it – if you’d rather have your own then choose an en-suite room. After getting settled you’ll meet your roommates and attend lots and lots of fun socials with them. This group of individuals are commonly the first family you’ll have at university. Most students move out into private shared housing after their first year, but some people choose to stay in halls until they graduate.

The way in which you are put into groups for your first year in halls is by random selection, this means that you can sometimes be living with people who you may not necessarily click with.  However, don’t fret – a lot of people find themselves in this situation and it’s totally OK. If this is you, I would stress the fact that whilst halls can give you one way of meeting people, there are tons of other opportunities to meet others (e.g. societies, sport clubs, people on your course and so on). No matter what you decide to do you will find your group of friends at university – whether that’s in halls, in a sports club or a society.

To find out more about accommodation at The University of Manchester visit:

Halls and living away from home can both be great experiences. You become less dependent on others to do things for you and you get to have fun with a very likely-awesome group of individuals from different courses and backgrounds. But don’t worry if you don’t live out – there are still opportunities for you to get involved including course and society socials. The University accommodates all, both in the literal and metaphorical sense! So enjoy your time at University whether you decide to commute or move out.

Best of luck,





My top five things to do on campus!

In today’s blog I’m going to be giving you a run-down of the top five things to do on campus!


  1. The Students Union

The University of Manchester is home to the largest Student’s Union (SU) in the UK. Twice per year it welcomes thousands of students during the BIGGEST student festival (Pangea) in the UK! BUT don’t fret if raving isn’t your cup of tea, I don’t drink and I don’t go clubbing and this has never limited how much I can get from the SU. The Manchester Academy, based at the SU, hosts all types of concerts and events for everyone to be a part of. The SU also has a café, a bar with pool tables and is the centre for over 400 societies that cover a wide range of interests. A society people never believe exists is the Quidditch society – yes, adult students run around a field with broomsticks and a ball!  Harry would be proud.


  1. Sport centres: Aquatics, Sugden and The Armitage

Unquestionably, sports play a huge part of the University’s ethos. We have so many facilities accessible to students, made for students and that offer student discounts. The Athletics Union (AU) has 42 sports that represent The University of Manchester and compete against other universities. We also have campus (intramural) league teams that cater for different sporting abilities and aren’t as competitive. Doing sport at university is not only about your body, but also about having a good mindset and meeting new people outside your course and your halls of residence. Sport societies are great because you don’t have to stick to one team. The AU and SU also run short programmes to give you a taster of different activities without having to commit a lot of time. Last year I did a free six week, women-only, programme which focused on improving my self-defence. I would totally recommend finding a healthy passion where you can burn off some of that stress from work or just daily life during your free time.


  1. Contact theatre

The Contact Theatre is a great place to experience something new or pick-up a hidden passion for the performing arts! You can book tickets for shows and there are many opportunities to get involved with, such as being part of the creative process or helping with logistics. If you’re interested in drama and the arts, this is a great place to start and pursue your passions.


  1. John Ryland’s library

This library is a famous landmark in Manchester – many tourists flock each year to see the inside of this beautiful, historic site. The first time I went to this library I thought it looked like Hogwarts.  This library is accessible by members of the public as well as students from the University. It also has a variety of special collections, including historical artefacts and maps, accessible to alumni from the University of Manchester.


  1. Whitworth Art Gallery

The Whitworth Art Gallery has recently been renovated and provides students and members of the public with free access to a variety of artworks. It also has a café indoors facing The Whitworth Park giving you a great space to relax or work. This gallery received the Art Fund Prize for Museum of the Year in 2015 for excellence in the arts and introduces a fusion of modern and vintage architectural designs into one building! So whether you like art, architecture, finding new picturesque areas or you’re just a complete café-addict (like myself), come visit the gallery and experience something new!

From art, sports, theatre, good food or all of the above, I can say without hesitation that The University of Manchester and the city of Manchester has something to offer you. My tip would be to get involved and find things you are interested in; you’ll meet new people, find or continue a hobby, pursue your passion and have fun at the same time.

Good luck,


Manchester – The Capital of the North

‘This is Manchester, we do things differently here’ – Anthony H. Wilson

Coming to Manchester to attend an Open Day soon?  Well, not only is this a good opportunity to check out our wonderful University, but it’s also a super chance to explore the greatest, boldest, and most fabulous city in the North!

Mancunians are famously proud of their city, culture, and football clubs, and having lived here for a few years it’s easy to see why.  Not only is Manchester one of the UK’s most culturally diverse, exciting and famous cities (narrowly beaten by London), but it has sights and activities to suit all tastes.  With a wide range of world cuisines, a culturally rich scene and much more, Manchester has something for everyone.

If you have time on your Open Day, there are loads of things you can see and do within walking distance of the University to have a taste of what Manchester has on offer.


If food’s your thing

Foodies flock from all over to sample a plethora of different cuisines available in Manchester – so be sure to treat your taste buds when you visit!

The heart of Manchester’s South East Asian community is found in Chinatown, a few minutes’ walk from Piccadilly Gardens in the city centre.  For top-notch Vietnamese food, I recommend I Am Pho for their delicious noodle soup.  Or if you have a sweet tooth and fancy a twist, get a green tea or lychee dessert from Wasabi.

Closer to campus you can find the famous Curry Mile where you can find flavours from all over the Middle East, North Africa, Central Asia and the Indian Sub-Continent.  As well as offering food for all tastes there are also options for all budgets, from mouth-watering £2.50 shawarma from Atlas to elaborate Indian banquets at Mughli.


Super Shoppers

If you’re keen for a shopping experience that takes you beyond the usual chain shops, the Northern Quarter has an eclectic selection of boutiques, independent cafes and record stores.  As Manchester’s beating bohemian heart, it’s also home to some of the most avant-garde bars, underground music spaces and galleries.

NQ market

If you only have an hour or so, I whole-heartedly recommend a quick tour of Affleck’s Palace.  In this multi-cultural, multi-storey bazaar, you can browse a marvellous mix of alternative fashions and knick-knacks, and experience the indie-vibes that make Manchester so Manchester.

Feed your brain in Manchester’s museums

Another reason why Manchester is a great city is the vast number of free museums and art galleries found across town.  The Museum of Science and Industry is a must-see if you’d like to find out why Manchester is such a hub of scientific excellence and innovation, with fascinating exhibits on how Manchester became the birthplace of the Industrial Revolution, Alan Turing’s computers, and graphene.


Avid football fans should consider a visit to the National Football Museum near Victoria Train Station – not only can you learn some fun facts about the city’s renowned teams, but you can also gain a fascinating insight into the history and global impact of the beautiful game.

The University’s own Manchester Museum is an award-winning institution situated in a beautiful Neo-Gothic building in the heart of campus.  If you only have a short break in the day, this is the perfect place to ogle at the museum’s beautiful collection of natural history and anthropological artefacts.  Get involved with their hands-on activities and expert talks, and check out my favourite exhibit – the frogs!  (They’re so cute and colourful.)

MCR art gallery

If you’re more of a da Vinci than a Darwin, then the Manchester Art Gallery has a number of world-class collections showcasing the work of some of the world’s most renowned artists.  Here you can view classical masterpieces as well as modern art, and also admire the work of Manchester’s own L. S. Lowry.

Closer to campus you can find the University’s own Whitworth Art Gallery for an eclectic variety of artwork and avant-garde exhibitions.  Its café is also a beautiful spot for lunch with floor-to-ceiling windows overlooking the lush greenery of Whitworth Park.  Their salads and cakes are absolutely delicious too!

john rylands

If the main UoM campus doesn’t sate your appetite for stunning Neo-Gothic architecture, then the John Rylands Library on Deansgate Road is a must see.  A veritable cathedral of books with its lofty ceilings, exquisite stained-glass and dark wood bookshelves, it’s not surprising that this is one of Manchester’s top visitor attractions.  As a student at UoM you’ll have full access to the Wi-Fi and resources available here – I like to study in the main reading room and pretend I go to Hogwarts!

See you soon!

An Open Day here can be so much more than just looking around campus.  Take the time to explore Manchester, discover its eccentricities, and get excited for a jam-packed few years studying in this wonderful city!

Five common myths about being a first year student

It’s one of those situations you can never imagine yourself actually being in before you are stood outside the accommodation entrance, wondering what crazy part of your brain told you that university was a good idea.

For me, it didn’t really sink in that I was at university until I was lying in my bed on the first night with my brain screaming at me: you are now fully responsible for yourself! You have to go food shopping! You have to wash your own underwear!

I think that’s how it is for a lot of people. At school, everyone makes such a big deal of university, that once you’ve actually made it, the whole scenario seems unreal. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying university is not a big deal – it’s probably one of the most exhilarating and life-changing experiences you will have in your life, but when people build something up in their minds, it leads to a lot of misconceptions being formed.

University is wrapped up in a lot of myths – everything from what lectures will be like, to what friends you will make. So I’m writing this post to address some of these myths and to reassure you that, if you’re panicking right now, things really aren’t as scary as they seem.



You have to drink to have fun

This is probably one of the most common misconceptions about university and one that is the least true. 1For example, the events during Welcome Week, which include bowling trips, quiz nights, club nights, treasure hunts and movie and pizza nights, offer students the opportunity to get involved in a variety of activities. Each university hall of residence has a student-elected Junior Common Room (JCR) who work together to enhance student life in halls.  The JCRs are well-aware that there is a good proportion of students who don’t drink alcohol and therefore make it their aim to have all-inclusive icebreaker events that everyone can get involved with. Manchester is such a diverse city with so much going on, that you won’t be stuck for choice of what to do!


I’m going to be too homesick to enjoy Welcome Week

This is another worry that a lot of first year students have, but there is so much support at hand that it should not worry you at all. I thought I was going to be really homesick, but I was so busy during Welcome Week that there really wasn’t time to think about what’s going on at home! A few of my friends were homesick, but we all had each other to talk to about it, so it didn’t last for long.

You will be surprised how quickly first term goes – before you know it, you will be back home for Christmas!



 I have to change who I am to fit in

No! There are thousands of students in Manchester, all as unique and different as you can imagine! With all the different subjects, societies and communities within the University, you will find your people. What makes us different is why we make such a great University!



I will find my best friends in Welcome Week

Apart from those I met in halls, who are still my best friends today, it’s highly unlikely you will complete your circle of friends by the end of day one. Welcome Week is a great opportunity to meet as many people as possible and try things you’ve never done before – like joining crazy societies and taking impromptu trips! However, don’t panic if you don’t find your ‘best friends’ during the first week. A large majority of the friends I have now are a mix from my subject and halls, but a lot of them I only met after Welcome Week.


I don’t need to work hard in first year, it doesn’t count!

I wish this one was true, but alas, it is not. Although my first year didn’t count, I still felt it was important to work as hard as you can.  It is important to build up a good reputation among tutors and try to improve as much as possible to set yourself

in good stead for second year.

Your first year is a really good opportunity to get to grips with university level of study and you’re not going to get any better if you don’t put any effort in. Also, it feels good when you get grades back and you can see how much you’ve improved from the start of the year! However, it’s also a good idea to keep a balance between working hard and having fun – first year is about making great friends and trying out lots of new things to start your university career off with a bang!

Why did I choose Manchester?

Hello everyone!

My name is Safiya, I’m a University of Manchester undergraduate student! Ever wondered what university is like? Want to have access to a student perspective? Well, this is perfect! I’m going to be answering some of the most common questions people have about university and I will also be writing from my own personal experiences so you can get to really know what to do if you choose to go to university!

First and foremost a little about me: I study Medicine with European Studies (in Spanish). I chose to study Medicine because I feel like it’s my passion and I hope one day to give back to others using my skills and expertise. The University of Manchester is the only medical school in the UK to offer a language as part of the course and since I did a language in school I really didn’t want to forget it so I took up it at university.

I think that picking the right course for you is key.  A lot of people decide to do degrees for reasons other than out of their own desire and passion for the subject. This can often make the work tedious and the experience a gloomy one! So, my first suggestion is to pick something you’re passionate about. Doing something you enjoy is far more fun and it will feel just way, way easier. But don’t stress, there’s always room for change: if you feel like the course you’ve picked isn’t for you, you can seek help from your tutors and academic advisors, they are there to guide you.

Now you might be asking why I chose Manchester? When I initially applied through UCAS I was torn between two cities. I wasn’t sure which city to choose so I consulted my peers and the staff at the two universities, I found that in terms of research opportunities, which is something I’m very passionate about, The University of Manchester outranked many other universities. I also found out that it’s considered a Russell Group university. Follow this link to find out more about research here at the university.

I am originally from Manchester and therefore I know the area well, which is another reason why I chose Manchester. Now, do not fear a city because you don’t know it very well – many of my friends say the best thing they did was move to a completely new and unfamiliar city; this gave them independence and an opportunity to grow and develop as individuals. I would say that the best way to decide whether a city is for you is to visit each university on their open days. These are very useful ways to see the university, the campus, the faculty buildings and staff, and get a feel for the city. The University of Manchester hosts open days in the Autumn and Summer seasons so if you want to find out about the university come visit us!

I saw that this campus had the largest student’s union in the country and has around 40,000 students in attendance each year! This blew me away! The number of societies and sport possibilities are endless and it’s all up to you what you want to get involved with! I’m currently part of several medical societies where I attend talks and events put on specifically for the society – free food is good food!

I also work part-time for the university as a student ambassador which involves me doing different types of work, from campus tours to open days, to even writing blogs for new prospective students exactly like this one! It’s great how many opportunities there are both on and off campus.

I have had many opportunities as a student in Manchester. Last summer I went to Spain for a medical placement that I found thanks to the large host of information about the Erasmus programme made available by the university. Whilst away in Spain I didn’t just go to my hospital placements, I also had the opportunity to explore Spain and I went to lots of different places included the Arc de Triomf in Barcelona – it was so beautiful and I can’t wait to go back! It was one of the best aspects of my degree and I encourage everyone to take up the opportunity to study or work abroad.

Before attending university, I was subscribed to UMASS and I received emails and newsletters about various opportunities from access programmes to personal statement tips and advice. I used the UMASS website along with other resources to help me in my application to university and four years later I thank them greatly for giving me a greater insight into university life. It’s a great tool to aid your university application if you decide to go! Follow these blogs for more information in the coming weeks and if you have any questions or ideas please let us know. I’ve attached some useful links to resources I’ve mentioned in this blog so check those out below,

Thanks for reading and all the best,


Useful resources:

Applying to university, choosing the right course and more:

Open day information:


What’s done is done!

That is what I tell myself as soon as I leave the exam hall. Whether I think the exam went well, went okay, or went badly, I leave the building reminding myself to move on and do the next thing. I go home, take a shower, a nap, and have a hearty meal to replenish myself for all the hours of intense study. If I have more exams, I let my impressions of the exam motivate me to work harder at understanding and not merely memorising material for the next exam. If it’s the last of my exams, I think about my next steps or whatever else I look forward to, which brings me to my next post-exam wind-down technique.

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