My Year Abroad Experience with Christevie – Manchester 10/10

My name is Christevie, and I study Philosophy, Politics & Economics. I moved to Manchester from London and I am from the Democratic Republic of Congo. I spent a year abroad at The University of Toronto (UofT) in Canada.

During this time I got to do a lot of exciting things. Canada bordering the US meant I got to travel to New York, Los Angeles and San Diego for affordable prices with friends! I also got to live in a multicultural city on the 41st floor with an amazing view. Of course, my year abroad was for studying, and since UofT has such a diverse range of courses I got to learn about so many new things. One of my favourite courses was African Youth Languages! If you are considering a year/semester abroad, I would recommend it! It is great to put on your CV and it is a fantastic opportunity to explore a new country as a student, which is an affordable and enriching experience. You will meet so many amazing people and create memories that you will never forget. If you want to fall more in love with your degree, travel and develop your independence send that application

My experience as a Summer School student in Denmark 

By Catherine Bird, University of Aarhus, Denmark

Having previously visited Denmark before, I was delighted to have received an offer from the University of Aarhus to attend their Summer School. When most people think of Denmark, the first place that comes to mind is Copenhagen, so I was excited to embark on my journey in Aarhus to see how it compared to my previous experience in the capital. It’s safe to say that I wasn’t disappointed. Aarhus is Denmark’s second largest city, with a population of just over 300,000 people. Aarhus offers a cozy and vibrant atmosphere with an array of creative as well as green spaces to explore. I felt at ease almost immediately because of how warm and approachable everyone was. One thing that you’ll observe about Denmark is that you’ll rarely find any grumpy individuals on the streets, which I found quite refreshing. As a result, it’s no surprise that Denmark is the world’s second happiest country, making it an ideal environment for individuals seeking to develop their confidence.  

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Building a Life Abroad

By Tara Brougham, University of Melbourne, Australia

I arrived in Melbourne for my exchange nearly 3 weeks ago, and the last three weeks have been a whirlwind of meeting new people, getting to grips with classes in another academic system and all the (sometimes boring) life admin you have to do to live somewhere new. The vast number of things I needed to do once I had arrived in Melbourne was overwhelming, so the aim of this post is to make it that little bit easier for anyone else embarking on exchange, particularly in Australia.

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Q&A with a Mitacs student

The Mitacs Globalink Research Internship scheme is a UK-Canada mobility programme for undergraduates to develop their research expertise. The competitive programme co-funds undergraduates from partner countries to complete an intensive 12-week summer research internship, in a variety of academic disciplines, under the supervision of a professor at one of 70 participating Canadian universities.

We took the chance to speak with Nichole, who participated in the programme in the academic year 2022-2023. She even managed to get an offer for a PhD with her former MITACS supervisor!

Read on to find out all about Nichole’s experience in Canada:

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Heart and Seoul

by Charlie Timson, Summer School in South Korea

It doesn’t matter how many countries you’ve been to or how many friends you’ve made, moving to a new city for 5 weeks with a group of Manchester uni students is scary. Seoul is so foreign to most, due to its culture and proximity in the world. It doesn’t matter how many shows you watch or articles you read, you still don’t really know what to expect until you get there. And there can be so much paperwork with Covid and travelling you land with a headache and a half empty suitcase wondering what might be waiting for you. This is what was waiting for us.

On arrival we had barely left the terminal, and someone had lost their passport. We panicked but it was eventually found exactly where she’d left it, next to the sink in the bathroom. No one had dared touch it; Seoul is too safe for that. It provided 5 weeks’ worth of jokes towards that poor girl that soon became one of my closest friends. She then went on to leave her phone halfway up a mountain, so she clearly didn’t learn her lesson. At the welcome day we had our own cheerleaders welcome us and an incredibly awkward group photo taken by our cutie international programmes leader Mr Yu, who was in charge of everything.

On my first day of uni I was shocked to find out my Asian art class actually involved painting! I thought it was art history and suddenly felt way out of my depth. That was until the incredibly kind Ms Kim started speaking and at an instance I was at ease. We started painting with ink sticks and her enthusiastic encouragement along with teaching assistant Seungeun Lee made me feel proud of what I had made even if other Manchester students were wondering if what I painted was a tarantula or bigfoot’s hairy toes. It was actually supposed to be a grape tree. Art is subjective anyway.

After our first night out, we struggled to get a taxi until our Korean knight in shining armour Semin arrived. Semin became our own personal tour guide and introduced us to a chicken restaurant that was approved by Gordon Ramsey, a hike up Inwangsan mountain that made me nearly pass out and he took us to traditional restaurants where the food blew my socks off. On a Friday cultural trip, we went to the demilitarised zone (DMZ) where we literally walked through a tunnel the North Koreans made. At the end of the tunnel, through a window we saw North Korea which was eerie. That divide has separated families for decades due to the Korean War.

On a lighter note, at the weekend we headed down to Jack’s game bar in Itaewon to celebrate a successful week where we had games of ping pong with Korean strangers. No night out is complete without heading down to a Noraeban (karaoke bar) to sing cringey throwback songs with those you adore most. In Korean art class during the week my painting got somewhat better with Ms Kim only occasionally saying: “that looks good, but what is it?”

On the next trip to Everland we went on a safari where giraffes poked their heads into the van and one nearly snatched the sunglasses from the top of my head, but it was worth it for a picture. We even experienced cuteness overload when going to the meerkat cafe and having them sit on our knees and chase each other happily. One evening after uni we went down to the Han river and had a takeout chicken picnic with Semin; the weather was still humid, but much more bearable after the sun went down. As the South Korea trip came to a finish, we started wrapping up all the activities we still wanted to do and of course having our last day trip with our new bestie Semin. We spent the whole of the final week with him including him cooking us all my favourite spaghetti dish, going to board game cafes with him, going to Boramae park and him cooking one last meal which was basically a ginormous feast. He made sure to not add too much spice because he knows I’m weak.

At the closing ceremony there was another dance performance and goodbyes from all the teachers in charge. We received our certificates which looked like fancy diplomas, and everyone got a free tin water bottle as a souvenir. We said our last goodbye to Mr Yu who blushed shyly when we said how much we enjoyed the programme. It was going to be strange to leave Seoul, to leave uni, to leave behind friends who were merely strangers a few weeks ago. I didn’t want to leave, but I am forever grateful I even got the opportunity to go in the first place. If you are considering applying for the summer programme to Seoul, just do it. You will get over the initial doubts of whether you will make friends or will like the food, you will get over the long-haul flights, you will get over the anxieties of travelling to somewhere new. But you will never get over the city of Seoul, you will never know a safer place nor a more vibrant one. You will never get over it, it will be a memory you will never let go of, nor would you ever want to.

Seville Summer School 2022

by Ahmed Raza, Summer School in Seville, Spain

My summer school experience in Seville has been fascinating in many ways. From the places I visited to the different people I’ve met, it really has made me appreciate things from another aspect. On a personal level, I believe I have improved on many things such as shopping, budgeting and cooking. Being able to travel alone, use different currencies and speak another language has made me a well-rounded person and these skills will definitely be useful in the future. I used Revolut and having done my research I knew I would avoid conversion fees if I got the money on weekdays and using market trends over the month and year to see if it’s better to delay the conversion or to do it on the spot.

I hadn’t travelled and lived out alone before so this was a new and highly enriching experience. Even going through the airport was a mission on the way there, but the journey back was quite relaxed. Putting yourself in the deep is tough but you learn fast, build confidence and it sticks with you, becomes a part of you. I didn’t travel as much as some other people but I’m glad I went Granada because it was beautiful. There was a religious event taking place on the weekend I went and the main mosque of Granada was stunning. The architecture, patterns, colours and the views of the Alhambra from the mosque were well worth the 3 hour trip. Just a little heads up that visiting Granada is like doing a leg day. It’s literally walking up many floors of stairs because of its location.

Maria Luisa Park

I can say that I have already used some of the recently learnt Spanish to communicate and being able to speak Spanish will no doubt be a contributing factor in building rapport with a patient that can speak either Spanish or Portuguese. The whole region of Andalucia has impacted me in a way that I want to return to it and enjoy the rows and rows of olive trees growing in the scorching sun.

There is a lot of Islamic history and a big population of Muslim Arabs, residing in Granada and Cordoba especially, and what makes it interesting is that their practising of the religion is slightly different to how we go about matters at home. These differences are clear proof of the all-encompassing, enveloping and tolerant nature of our religion such that any differences beyond core beliefs are showcasing the beauty of freedom within Divine limits. Hence, learning and respecting how or why such-and-such is the way it is in a certain part of the world enhances one’s appreciation of their own way and those who do things differently. This can influence you in a positive way if you are selectively wise and sound, leading to being a better-rounded and informed person who can then go on to become a source of knowledge, obtained via critical thinking and Divine inspiration and light to ultimately impact all those around you. It was in the Islamic Golden Age that the Alhambra was made, algebra came about and universities emerged, but what is beyond these outward tangible advancements and accolades is the conquering of the hearts of many people across continents. This rich Islamic history was everywhere, like the phrases repeated in the Alhambra and the 8 pointed stars serving as adornments of walls and as fountains, in not just the palace but also the Maria Luisa park beside Plaza de Espana. This raised so many questions as to how and why this was done, and where and how did such knowledge come to these people. For me, one question kept ringing in my mind: how did this all come to an end?

And just like that a month had passed and I was back.

A Month Abroad in Lyon, France

By Alice Guan, Lyon Summer School

Hi there, I’m Alice. I’m a Biomedical Sciences student. At the time of writing this, I am going to enter my second year of my degree programme. For the summer, I wanted to go abroad, expand my horizons, and challenge myself. As such, I decided to take a one-month French intensive course at Lyon Catholic University. It was one of the best decisions of my life. In this post, I will share my experience in Lyon, France.

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Lyon Summer School 2022

by Amira Nazir, Lyon Summer School

As a person who was apprehensive about studying abroad as I’d never been so far away
from home for this long before- I cannot recommend it enough! I studied in Lyon, France for a month during summer and I can honestly say it has been one of the best things I’ve done in my life so far. Not only does it give you a great chance for independence whilst exploring a new country, but it also helped me find my confidence and I made some strong friendships along the way.

The summer school also gave us opportunities to explore France and
neighbouring countries as we had Wednesdays off for cultural activities and the university I studied at provided a few trips for us. During my time in Lyon, I also visited Nice, Paris and Geneva, which was great as I wouldn’t otherwise have had the opportunity to do so! Adding to this, the actual summer school itself was super useful too. I have now moved up a level in my French, but more importantly I have gained confidence by speaking to locals daily. I hope to continue my French lessons in Manchester next year!

This experience has opened a huge door for me as I’m now considering studying a masters’ degree in Paris after I graduate, which I would never have considered if I didn’t come to Lyon. If you’re considering applying, I say go for it!

The City of Smiles

by Bo Nicholas, Aarhus Summer University, Denmark

Spending 3 weeks abroad studying in Aarhus, Denmark has been one of the greatest opportunities I’ve ever been given, and I am thankful every day that I took my chance. I have been able to study the subject that I love, while in a beautiful city and experiencing a whole new culture. Being my first time travelling alone, I was very nervous, but now I cannot wait to explore the world more.

During my time studying Translational Psychobiology at Aarhus University, I have gained so much knowledge in a specific area. The course I study in Manchester, Biomedical Science, has a very broad spectrum of content. Having spent three weeks looking at neuroscience, I have developed a wealth of knowledge that many of my peers will not have. I have been able to look in depth at not only the theory but also the important experimental techniques by world-renowned researchers. I have refined my skills in reading and understanding academic papers and giving presentations. I am now considering specialising in neuroscience after my undergraduate studies, and I know that I will have a head-start on others. I also believe my employability has increased, not only because of the things that I have learnt, but because of the confidence studying abroad has given me.

I will not lie; I was absolutely terrified to travel abroad. I had barely travelled before, and never on my own. I was worried about whether I would make friends, how I would travel around, and what I could do. All my worries were for nothing. I have made so many amazing friends while I’ve been here and have done so many things. I’ve eaten so many different types of food, been to so many different museums and beautiful green places. I visited Copenhagen and the beautiful town of Ebeltoft. I have experienced the nightlife, and had cosy days in a bakery, reading my book. It has not always been easy, and I have felt homesick at times, but luckily, I met some beautiful people who have helped me make the most of my time in Aarhus.

Taking the opportunity to travel on my own has taught me that I am capable of so much more than I would have expected of myself. I have become a more confident, social person who is much more open to trying new things that I would have never considered before. While the academic side of studying in Aarhus has been amazing, I really cannot express enough how much I have developed as a person. A year ago, I would have never thought I could travel alone to a foreign country. Now, I am already planning my next trip. I feel more confident in social situations, and I have managed to make friends for life while I have been here – in all honesty, I expected to be quite lonely. I couldn’t have been more wrong.

All in all, my biggest lesson that I have learnt is to be a “yes person”. Say yes to opportunities, yes to making friends, yes to making plans. If I hadn’t said yes, I would be a very different person right now, and all I can say is that I am glad for the change that the opportunity to study abroad has given me.