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Here are some of the things I will most definitely miss about UMASS (ZOOMASS)

unnamed-10.jpgWhen in doubt, GREEK it out !

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Our all time favourite university liquor store because Tesco and Aldi does not existunnamed-8.jpg Be sure to try out insomnia cookies, they are the best thing that ever happened to mankind, oh and Antonio’s pizza of course! unnamed-9.jpg Southwest? The best! I mean, you gotta give the RA’s in Prince hall some credit for their creativity unnamed-6.jpg

Southwest? Still the best place to be on campus unnamed-5.jpg Casual Friday night in…

I will miss all the funny, unforgettable and fond memories that I had made at Umass!  Study abroad is a once in a lifetime opportunity and I would recommend it to everyone if you have the chance to do it, do it! You won’t regret it.

Adapting to life back at Manchester 

Greetings viewers, today is the 17th of October, I have been quite busy catching up with work and deadlines, and applying for masters. I honestly cannot believe how fast time flies by me just when I was busy adapting and enjoying the American way of life and forming my close circle of friends over at Umass. I am currently sitting in Starbucks down on Oxford Road, reflecting on my time at Umass and looking around at the familiar Starbucks I usually study at since first year, the very place I had received my acceptance letter to UMass one year ago today. I feel as though a lot has changed in Manchester, but at the very same time, I feel as though nothing has. I want to reflect on adapting to life back in Manchester after being abroad for a semester because I know some students are probably excited to be back in Manchester to see their friends, their family, the familiar university place, and the good ol’ quids in Monday night at Factory club and of course I can’t forget the good old sausage rolls at Greggs (I miss sausage rolls from Greggs while I was away can you believe it? ). However, on the other hand, there are probably students, like myself, who are getting the post-exchange blues. So in this blog, I will tell you some of the things I was not expecting to experience being back in Manchester.1.jpg

  1. Sometimes, you will feel as though you have never left Manchester and your time abroad was all just a dream
  2. As unbelievable as it sounds, if you believe in soulmate connections, you might just find your soulmate and meet some of the coolest and most compatible friends while you are abroad. For instance, I spent the night Skyping my best friend whom I met during my time abroad at Umass in the learning commons just the other day, while she was sitting in WEB DU BOIS library over at Umass. I had also met my significant other while I was abroad in the States, so if you don’t take the chance, you never know what you are missing out on!
  3. You will miss American food and the Friday after lecture drive thru’s at Dunkin donuts ! Especially UMASS food! Whoever is doing a semester abroad at Umass, please do yourself a favor and enjoy Berk dining hall and don’t get too crazy on sushi and wok!  I would also recommend Anotonio’s pizza, momo and bubble tea at VIVI
  4. American college workload is more like breadth, not depth, and Manchester workload is the complete opposite, so being back in Manchester, suddenly, I feel like the readings feel a lot harder, but my willingness to ask questions and engage in class discussions have actually improve ever since being back in Manchester
  5. You have to start getting used to the English accent and slangs
  6. At least back in Manchester, the magic bus can take you everywhere whereas at Umass, you have to drive to places, or you can take the free buses that take you from North Amherst to the city center
  7. Peter Pan bus is a MUST if you are planning on travelling to Boston or New York
  8. At least the weather in Manchester isn’t as cold and we don’t use fahrenheit
  9. You will probably, like myself, have post-study abroad blues, but think of the reasons why you chose to study in Manchester in the first place and remember, there are two sides to everything so enjoy Manchester while you can, and remember, you can always go back to your exchange university to visit your friends and the place !

Tasmania Made Easy

By Lauren Howie, The University of Melbourne

Unlike the other Universities in Australia, Melbourne coordinates its midterm break with the AFL final (this is normally around nine weeks into the academic term). By this point you will defo want a holiday, so take that time to plan and book yourself a great trip away!

Chain of Lagoons, Tasmania
Continue reading “Tasmania Made Easy”

Some photos from a year in New Zealand

Emily Barnes // University of Auckland

New Zealand is such an amazing country and the landscapes and views are always beautiful, no matter what the weather or time of year. Over the course of my year I took thousands of photos, so for my last post, I thought I’d share a video of some of my favourites so you can really get an idea for how diverse and awesome New Zealand actually is!

My Top 5 Beaches in Sydney

By Issy Jackson (University of Sydney, Australia)

On my very first day at the University of Sydney, I walked out of my last lecture for the day at lunchtime to beautiful blue skies and sunshine when I was met with a problem that I would get very used to over my time on exchange: Which beach to go to?! There are over 100 beaches in Sydney so I’m going to share with you my top 5.

Camp Cove

Getting the ferry to any of the beaches along Watson’s Bay from Circular Quay is a ‘pinch-me’ moment every single time as you watch the Harbour Bridge, the Opera House, the North Shore and the Royal Botanical Gardens pass you by. What’s more, you can set up your towel on the never-too-busy harbour beach, look out to the ocean and see both the CBD sky line as well as the infamous Harbour Bridge too. Watson’s Bay is more of a domestic suburb than your touristy Bondi and Cooggee, so rather than having a load of shops, Camp Cove just has one little kiosk for your mid-afternoon ice cream. If that’s not enough, the Hornby Lighthouse National Park is right next-door for a thirty-minute walk overlooking Middle Head and North Head. It’s one of my favourite places to watch the sun set.

Tamarama Beach

Located along the infamous Bondi to Cooggee Coastal walk, Tamarama is the perfect spot for an afternoon surf that feels slightly more local than the sprawling white sands of Bondi Beach. Nestled at the bottom of a Tamarama Park with beautiful cliff edges, greenery, water and sand, this petite bay is one of the most picturesque beaches in the Eastern Suburbs. Not only does it make for a great surf in the Pacific, it has just one little café next to the park where you can enjoy your food on the patio overlooking the sand.

Cronulla Beach

Slightly further afield is Cronulla, where the hour-long train journey is perfect to get cracking with some uni work while watching tall sky scrapers of Central turn into boutique shops and beach houses. As a busier beach and one of the main surfing destinations away from the touristy Eastern suburbs, Cronulla is the perfect place to try and learn from the locals. Aside from the sand itself, Cronulla has a thriving town centre so whether you’re looking for the best acai bowl in Sydney or souvenirs for the family, a walk around these wide, bright streets is a great place to start.

Clontarf Beach

The Spit to Manly Walk is one of the nicest coastal treks in Sydney which includes lizards, crabs, forest and Indigenous artwork. Getting a bus to Spit and the ferry back from Manly means you get to see heaps of the city itself too. Halfway through this track sits Clontarf Beach. The Harbour Beaches are usually slightly off the beaten track and provide a nice contrast from the hectic waves and chaos of the Pacific shore. Such serene stillness paired with some of the clearest waters I have ever seen makes Clontarf a great place for snorkelling or paddle boarding too.

Balmoral Beach

My favourite thing about Balmoral Beach is how it really seems the heart of the community in Mosman. It is always thriving with dog-walkers, locals swimming lengths along the shore line, families setting up picnics and friends meeting for coffees. Balmoral is also a great place to go for a typical Aussie brunch, whether you fancy sitting along the boardwalk or even at the end of the jetty, there are plenty of cafes serving every style of Eggs Benedict you could possibly imagine.

Hong Kong: Settling in and Moving Out

Orientation day

For my first full day in Hong Kong, it was the orientation and registration day at the University of Hong Kong (HKU), so I was thrown straight into travelling on the MTR! Luckily, the Metro to the University could not be easier- lasting about 20 minutes to the HKU stop, which is right on campus. Travel on all public transport uses the Octopus card, (Hong Kong’s answer to London’s Oyster card), so is a necessity before using the MTR. This is easy enough to purchase from the customer service desk, and top-up at all MTR stops. Not only is the Octopus card used for transport, but can be used for purchases in the supermarket, buying food in the canteen and even in shops.

The day itself consisted of registering for the student card; general introductions and advice for life in Hong Kong; the societies fair; a talk from the British Consulate; and a Social Sciences orientation. Disappointingly, the societies fair had a lack of sports societies, which I hope to join in the following weeks. However, they said there will be a lot more societies dotted around for the first few weeks of Uni. Considering all the students at HKU, it was to my surprise that I managed to bump into some of the other exchange students from Manchester during the day!

Weekend explorations

The first exploration of Kowloon around the Airbnb, was a 30-minute expedition to find an impressively reviewed (2,663 in total) dim-sum restaurant. A 30-minute walk in the humidity of Hong Kong could be described as a little uncomfortable, turned more so by torrential rain a few minutes before the destination. The many, many, many restaurants passed on the walk made it even more essential the dim-sum was worth it: it definitely was! This fact was confirmed by the queue outside of the restaurant, despite the downpour continuing outside… Another highlight was getting the tram to the harbour, just a couple of stops from the Airbnb. The views of Hong Kong island were incredible, with an extremely panoramic view of the impressive skyscrapers. Yet another highlight was exploring the surprisingly massive Kowloon Park, which was about 15 minutes’ walk from the Airbnb. Facilities included: 2 outdoor gyms, an aviary, 2 swimming pools, a statue walk, open areas with people practicing Kung Fu and of course a McDonalds… The amount of space provided for this urban park was good to see, but surprising considering the massive issues with a lack of housing space in Hong Kong.

The incredible view of Hong Kong Island

Classes begin

For the first week of classes at HKU, it has been an amazing experience mixing with other exchange international students and local students. The classes themselves are a lot smaller, with my busiest class having just 30 students; a nice contrast to some of the classes at UoM. This has meant classes have been a very different experience to Manchester so far. The highest number of international and exchange students is in my Mandarin class, as you might expect. This was clearly apparent to my new Finnish friend: leading with the introduction of “Hello, fellow Westerner.”

Sorry to keep emailing, but…

Continue reading “Hong Kong: Settling in and Moving Out”

First impressions of Perth and the University of Western Australia

Moving to Western Australia, I remember someone telling me that Perth was the most remote capital city in the world. Initially this didn’t appeal to me as I have enjoyed living in the UK. My family home is about an hour away from London and studying in Manchester I had direct links to all major UK cities. Additionally, adventure is never far away with flights all over Europe being cheap and relatively inexpensive. Perth located in Australia’s largest state of Western Australia is completely isolated surrounded by nature and tiny towns. However, what I have found is so much greater than I imagined. Perth offers something totally unique. You get the benefits of living in a large modern metropolitan city, whilst being surrounded by some of the most beautiful and secluded spots on the planet.

When I first arrived in Perth I stayed in ‘Mumma’s Hostel’ located in the trendy area of Perth known as Northbridge. Soon after I was offered a place at St Catherine’s residential college. Living in college is a completely different experience. It is like halls, but the residents tend to stay there for their entire degrees. Everyone is super friendly, so despite only having just arrived I was able to celebrate my 20th with friends.

The university itself is beautiful, the architecture is stunning. I’ve seen people come and take their wedding photos here. My walk to class feels like walking through a botanical garden. There are even peacocks that wonder around the campus!

Although it was initially weird leaving, especially going from summer to what the Aussies call winter (20c weather and blue skies). I am really enjoying my time in Perth so far. The people are relaxed, the coffee is great, and the natural beauty of the area is exceptional. I can’t wait to live and create many memories here in Australia.

Life back in Manchester

Emily Barnes // University of Auckland

I’ve been back in Manchester two weeks now and have just finished my first week back in lectures. It’s been surprisingly easy to slot back into life at Manchester and it’s almost like I never left.

One of the reasons I was initially hesitant to do a study abroad year was that all my friends would graduate, and I’d have no one when I got back to Manchester, however it’s turned out to be almost the complete opposite. Minus two of my closest friends, everyone else is still living here, either doing masters or working, which has worked out really well. I also feel a lot more confident making new friends now and joining societies and stuff, so I’d say if anyone’s feeling something similar, not to worry as things do tend to work themselves out!

Another reason I wanted to go on a year abroad was that I didn’t feel quite ready to really knuckle down for third year and start thinking about what I wanted to do after university. After spending a year abroad, with minimal university pressure as I only had to pass the year, I feel like I now have the motivation that I was maybe missing before. I’ve also had time to really think about what I want to do both in my final year, and after university which is something I wasn’t expecting but am now glad to have.

But of course, I really miss Auckland and the more relaxed kiwi style of life. Living so close to the sea and being able to go on road trips every weekend was really cool and can make living in Manchester a little bleak in comparison! I used to love walking around Auckland with all the volcanic cones so not being able to leave my flat and walk up Mt Eden in half an hour does take some getting used to!

harbour
My favourite view in the city centre – looking at the sky tower from the harbour 

I honestly couldn’t recommend going on a year abroad to anyone enough as it is hands down the best thing I’ve ever done and I’m so grateful that I had the opportunity to live and study in New Zealand for a year. But now it’s time for third year and I’m excited to see what my final year at Manchester will bring!

The end of a chapter

Returning to Manchester has been great, the whole transition has been surprisingly smooth – more so than I expected.

Having had an incredible year in Amsterdam, it also strangely feels as though I never left. It does feel a little odd that I could have had such a big year of growth and adventure in the Netherlands and then moved back to the UK with such ease.

I expected to have a hard time coming back and returning to Manchester as a lot of my friends have now graduated and i’m now going into the year group below. However, this isn’t the case; instead I got to move in with my best friend, and I have seen old friends and picked up where we left off. Manchester just feels like home again.

Without sounding cliché, I’d like to think that coming home has been so easy because of the life lessons and skills I learnt in the Netherlands. The year taught me how to be resilient, positive and more confident, enabling me to tackle challenges head on. And therefore, coming home was less of a challenge than I anticipated.

However, that doesn’t mean that i’m not sad that my exchange has come to an end. I miss the city, cycling around in the sunshine. I miss the beautiful buildings and sunsets. I miss the experience of living abroad. But most of all, I miss my friends.

Attempting to describe how my year abroad has been is a task which I find difficult because it has been such an interesting, exciting and happy time but also one which had its lows. It is bitter sweet that this chapter has ended and i’m now back to reality. However,  all I can say is that I am very grateful that I got to have this experience and would definitely do it all again in a heartbeat.

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