About us

Help! I don’t know which university to apply to!

Advice on choosing where to apply to, from a Human Geographer’s perspective.

En route to Bergen, Norway!

The IEP application can be an overwhelming and daunting process. The pressure to decide where to go, and where you will be happiest, can seem immense. What if I choose the ‘wrong’ place? What if I hate the city? What if there’s nothing to do I enjoy? All these thoughts were running through my head as I stared at the long list of partner universities on offer to me. As a Geography student, there was over 35 partner university to choose from, across approximately 10 countries, even with Australia and New Zealand off the list (thanks Covid). It was still a long and overwhelming list. Where to begin?

Continue reading “Help! I don’t know which university to apply to!”

Academia and the university system in France

By Eva Kristinova

When you come to university in your first year you have a lot to learn about how it all works. Then, if you decide to spend a year abroad, you often have to go through that learning experience again at your host university. And because there are plenty of other things you could be (and you would probably like to be) doing instead, let me make it a bit easier for some of you. Here are four key aspects of student life and the university system in France that I learned about during my first weeks at Toulouse.

Sciences Po Toulouse
Continue reading “Academia and the university system in France”

Eat Out like a Finn (for less)

by Amber Musgrove-Benford (University of Helsinki, Finland)

One of the first things anyone will realise post arrival in Finland – whether as a tourist or to study – is that eating out is expensive.

Where once I was enjoying a hearty meal (and maybe even a drink) in the Northern Quarter for under £15, I was now in Kamppi, or Kluuvi, where prices can range from €15 to, at worst, €20 plus for food alone.

But have no fear! The following will ensure you a chance of exploring the amazing food scene in Helsinki, all whilst not making too much of a dent in your student budget.

Continue reading “Eat Out like a Finn (for less)”

My First Month in Warsaw

After initially being allocated to study at ANU in Canberra and then UNC at Chapel Hill, both of which were cancelled due to Covid, I finally accepted a place at the University of Warsaw.

The 25th of September came around very quickly and I packed up my life into three suitcases and travelled to Poland for the very first time. My dad came with me for the first few days while I sorted out my accommodation. We did all the touristy things like visiting the old town, trying local foods and strolling along the Vistula River. I took a trip to the campus to collect my student card and see which buildings I would be in. The campus is stunning, a lot prettier than Manchester! The best part has to be the Main Library which has a botanical garden on the roof. It took my breath away, especially in the sun and as the leaves change colour to gorgeous reds and oranges. 

Continue reading “My First Month in Warsaw”

Travelling sustainably in Hong Kong

By Gemma Dignam (University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong)

One of the highlights of going on exchange is getting to travel in your spare time, whether that be in your host country, or visiting neighbouring countries or cities. Due to Covid restrictions still being in place in Hong Kong, we are not able to travel abroad without hotel quarantining on our return- which is not an option on our student budget and schedule! Although this was disappointing to most of us exchanges who wished to travel to surrounding countries, we quickly realised the extent of travel options within Hong Kong itself- and most of them can be done in a much more sustainable way than if we had travelled elsewhere by plane. Hong Kong boasts excellent public transport facilities and here are the ways I have used them to visit the must-see sites of Hong Kong so far, there is no need for a car or even a taxi!

Continue reading “Travelling sustainably in Hong Kong”

Quarantining in Hong Kong

By Yiannis Kyriacou (University of Hong Kong)

After a 9-hour flight finally landing in Hong Kong, it brought a huge sigh of relief that I had finally made it after all the trouble and work needed to get here. As soon as you get off the plane, it becomes clear that there are still some things that need to be done before you can enjoy what Hong Kong has to offer. That is the two-week quarantine and the covid testing in the airport. It took me four hours of waiting for my covid test at the airport before I could finally be transported to my designated quarantine hotel, which felt like a whole day as the fantastic view you had from the airport only made you want to leave that place more and go outside.

Continue reading “Quarantining in Hong Kong”

A Guide to the French Life (on a budget)

By Eva Kristinova (Sciences Po Toulouse, France)

France is full of awesome places that you can explore, food you can try and events you can attend. But living the ideal exchange experience rarely comes cheap – don’t know about you but I certainly cannot afford to buy a fresh baguette from the local bakery every single morning (yes, this stereotype about the French is actually true). Well, don’t worry, I got you 🙂 Here’s five tips for getting the most out of a stay in France, and not going broke in the process.

Continue reading “A Guide to the French Life (on a budget)”

The Tennessee Tales

Well this entry is a little late, but if you’re reading it in 2025 it’s on time! I have been here in Knoxville, Tennessee for a about a month and a half now. Obviously, it has gone way too quickly, of course I have learnt a lot, but I don’t aim to dwell on the lessons learnt as it’s not as interesting to say ‘remember to do your work to keep your GPA high’ as it is to spread gossip.

Why is it worth the hassle you ask?

Continue reading “The Tennessee Tales”

Cheap things to do in Amsterdam

I found that Amsterdam is a lot more expensive in comparison to Manchester. However, there are ways to live cheaply in Amsterdam. Here are a few top tips to help you navigate Amsterdam on a budget! 

  • Rent a bike – I rented my bike from Swapfiets for €20 a month, this includes any repairs for free and a replacement bike if your bike gets stolen! I found this was cheaper than buying a bike in the unfortunate event that your bike may be stolen. It puts your mind at ease knowing you will get a replacement at a small cost provided you have the key. Biking is not only a good form of exercise, but also free to ride around the city. It is therefore much cheaper than constantly getting public transport! 
  • Buying a museumkaart – this was €64 and allows free access to or discount on over 400 museums in the Netherlands. Going to a museum is a cheap way to fill your day and there are so many museums catering to everyone’s interests, it would be hard to find a museum that doesn’t peak your interest. 
  • Avoiding Albert Heijn – these shops are on almost every corner of Amsterdam, but their prices equate to Waitrose prices in the UK. Therefore, I found going to Lidl and Aldi meant I was getting more for my money than doing my weekly shop in Albert Heijn. Also Jumbo was another shop that is cheaper than Albert Heijn and props up just as frequently around the city. 
  • Shopping in thrift shops – there are a multitude of thrift shops all around Amsterdam, not only can you source cheap clothes but also cheap household items too! Shopping for cheap deals will save you more money in the long run! 

The coolest museums I have been to in Amsterdam

Amsterdam has a multitude of museums on offer across the city and in my short time here I have managed to visit quite a few of these spaces. A lot of these museums I have been able to attend for free through purchasing a museumkaart, a museum pass that cost me €64 for a year. Here is a shortlist of the coolest museums that I think warrant a much needed visit if friends and family come to visit you in Amsterdam or to enjoy by yourself! 

Cobra Museum 

  • The Cobra Museum is situated in Amstelveen, around a thirty minute bike ride away from the city centre. Here they showcased an exhibition of Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera’s most famous works. Whilst also retelling their eventful relationship as a couple. I was most surprised to hear that Frida had an affair with Trotsky (the Russian Bolshevik) and that her relationship with Rivera was an open marriage. The cobra museum is known for showcasing art with a critical lens on the world we live in, so will peak the interest of those fascinated by anything anti-capitalist or critical. 

Stedelijk Museum 

  • I stumbled upon this museum whilst wandering in the city centre. It is located nearby the Rijksmuseum, Van Gogh and Moco Museum. At the time I visited, it presented an ‘Expressionisme Kolonialisme’ exhibition by Kirchner en Nolde, this exhibition focused on colonial African art which created a space to critique the male white gaze in the colonial era. Not only was it interesting for me as an anthropology student, but I think it would interest anyone fascinated in aspects of race, gender and power within art. They host a range of exhibitions all year round so if you are interested in art this museum is sure to offer something for everyone. 

The Fashion For Good Museum

  • This was one of the more interactive museums I visited in Amsterdam. This museum is for anyone interested in fashion, sustainability, effects of global capitalism, fast fashion or activism. It not only told you the negative effects of fashion on the environment, but gave you tips and ideas to change your actions within fashion consumption for the better. I bought biodegradable glitter here, as most glitter has microplastics that contribute to the waste in the world. I definitely learnt a thing or two about how my clothes are made on the other side of the world as well as the science behind making clothes. It was also free with the museum pass. 

The Cannabis Museum

  • The Netherlands are among a small number of European countries that have legalised the consumption and possession of a small amount of Cannabis; and Amsterdam is a particularly popular location where tourists go to smoke weed. Therefore, it is only fitting that there is a museum here that outlines the history and prominence of this drug across the globe. This museum was interesting in a few ways. I learnt about the history of the war on drugs and how the popularity of cannabis use has still managed to withstand this opposition in the states and elsewhere. It also outlined the medicinal benefits for people with Parkinson’s disease, whereby it showed a video of a man who stopped shaking when smoked. Also, I learnt that Shiva, the Hindu God, supposedly smoked cannabis frequently. Whilst the smoking and acceptance of weed is a mixed response, the museum posited useful information on a drug that has widespread popularity across our planet. 

Sex Museum 

  • Amongst cannabis, Amsterdam is also famous for the sex workers in the Red Light District and the city does not shy away from sex as a tourist attraction. This Museum presents both serious and amusing elements of sex with pictures of erotic women and men in pornographic settings. It is definitely worth a visit, giving a history of sex within pornography and telling stories of key sex celebrities like Marilyn Munroe. 

Moco Museum 

  • I loved this museum as it displayed a Banksy Exhibition. Banksy being an anonymous graffiti artist with his art represented a powerful anti-capitalist rhetoric, the museum also had some rooms with trippy mirrors and lights which was fun to walk through and experience. Although small, the Moco museum is definitely worth a visit, especially if you are a fan of Banksy’s work! It is half price with the Musuem pass too! 

Van Gogh Museum 

  • This huge building showcased most of Van Gogh’s works, whilst outlining his tumultuous battle with mental health and learning the craft of intricate art. I learnt that he cut his own ear off before admitting himself to a mental hospital, this depression was reflected in a few of his key pieces like sorrow. However, the breadth of different genres Van Gogh painted was impressive, my favourite pieces were ‘Skull of a Skeleton with a smoking cigarette’ and his paintings of Japan. I found there was a lot more to Van Gogh than the Starry night and the Sunflowers paintings and his career as an artist was anything but boring. 

Anne Frank museum 

  • This is one of the most popular museums in Amsterdam and rightly so. The museum is actually the annex where Anne hid. It follows the famous story of Anne Frank, a Jewish teenager who spent two years in hiding during the Second World War in the Netherlands, fleeing Jewish persecution from Nazi German takeover. There is an audio tour that you follow throughout the museum and it is free with the museum card! Due to its popularity you will need to book in advance but it is a must see when in Amsterdam!