While you are studying abroad, one of the last things you are thinking about is returning to Manchester to finish your degree. Whether it is a single semester, your final year or returning to do a masters, returning to academic life in Manchester offers a unique set of challenges which is not often associated with the process of studying abroad.
Having spent an academic year at Arizona State University (ASU), one of the main differences I found was the weather. This may not sound like a big deal, but having gone almost an entire year not having to wear anything more than shorts, it can be surprising how much of a difference walking to a few lectures in the rain can do. This can significantly affect your mood and potentially your academic progress. I found the best way to overcome this was remind myself why I had chosen the University of Manchester in the first place, which involved getting stuck back into my course and playing football again after a summer off. After the first week or so once I had adapted to Manchester to being the norm again and stopped drawing constant comparisons with my year abroad, I soon found that this initial shock could be easily overcome.
While studying abroad there can often be a big difference between the academic side whilst abroad compared with back in Manchester. This means that getting back to Manchester and doing assignments again can be daunting. This is especially the case for returnees like me whose year abroad did not count towards their final grade but instead was pass/fail. In addition to this, courses in Manchester may also include information from the previous year, which you may not be aware of if the classes during your study abroad did not cover the same topics. Getting by this may include spending a little extra time on assignments and study than you would normally need to initially, however this is far outweighed by the benefits of studying abroad and all the amazing experiences you have had. This is also not that of a big deal in the long run, in my own experiences I only had to deal with acclimatizing to doing assignments in Manchester for the first couple.
The biggest challenge I found, which is probably different for different people, was going from studying abroad where I was travelling and constantly experiencing new things to being back in Manchester, where the initial shock of moving back is replaced by a sense of familiarity and the every day. Going from one to the other is often coupled with not enjoying Manchester as much as you used to and the feeling that your study abroad never actually happened. While I was walking to the Ali G it was hard to believe that just a few months earlier I was travelling around America on the back of studying there for a year. Despite this however it was good to see people again that I hadn’t seen since the last summer and overall getting back to Manchester after a summer of seeing friends and family isn’t so bad. While studying abroad is a great experience and one I wish I could re-live over and over again, returning to Manchester is often not discussed or viewed as part of the process. Overall I found that because of this when I returned back it took me a while to get back into my stride. Once I had done this however, I could get on with finishing my degree while being able to look back at all the fantastic memories I had of the time I was away.