5 Enviro Things Before You Go!

by Holly Smith, Wellesley College

Congratulations on securing your placement on a study abroad scheme – the excitement and adventure starts here and will not stop for a longggg time! In the whirlwind of preparation it can be hard to think about your environmental impact. I’ve collected 5 easy things that you can do before you leave to help reduce the environmental impact of your study abroad experience. Most of these also save you money or time…


  1. Update your address

Junk mail is a huge problem in the student community and affects the environment on multiple levels: the wasted paper, the printing costs, the distribution, the emissions, etc. Update your address, cancel your subscriptions and leave a forwarding address for the things that escape through. This is important from a data stand point for things like HMRC and NHS communications that may contain personal information. Tell your friends and family too – especially those who like to send birthday cards with money in them… Waste of effort, paper and love.

2. Order a food waste bin

If you don’t already have one for the house you currently live in, order a food waste bin and compost bags from Manchester City Council. This sets up the new tenants for eco-success when they move in. It’s completely free and easy to do! Maybe even leave a little label on the bin explaining how to reorder bags for extra encouragement.

3. Utilise UoM resources

If you need course texts for your study abroad, consider popping into the library or checking out the extensive collection of e-books available at UoM. This will not only save you money (the library is part of your tuition fee why would you pay again?!) but will also prevent you panic-buying a brand new copy when you get to class. If this is not an option for you, or the book can’t be taken for a semester (remember that you need to be back in the UK to return it), look ahead for second hand copies either here or in the student community abroad.

4. Lend out your big items

If you are struggling to find a space for all the stuff that you have accumulated in Manchester, consider lending bulky things to friends whilst you’re away. I didn’t want to bring home my bike to Essex for it not to be used for a year, and then bring it all the way back to Manchester when I return. So, it has stayed here with a friend who was interested in cycling but didn’t want to invest at this time. She now has access to a more sustainable form of transport and gets to try before she buys!

5. Prepare for moving out

Have a sustainable move out by not leaving it all to last minute. Fallowfield and Withington are areas especially notorious for the damaging student move-out weekend. Perfectly good items are thrown in the bins and streets – I’ve seen flat screen TVs, yoga mats, lamps, pots and pans, you name it! You know that you’re leaving the country so act accordingly – eat up your food, rehome items you don’t want or can’t store, donate to charity shops, recycle and so forth. If you find yourself with a lot to do in the last few weeks call in your friends, use the app Olio and Facebook groups.

Author: Holly

La fête de Noël (even if a little late)

By Eva Kristinova (Sciences Po Toulouse, France)

Hi everyone and happy new year! I’m back with another post, this time a little past its relevant time frame, but one that I hope you will find interesting nevertheless. I am, of course, talking about the wonderful end-of-year holiday (also my personal favourite) that has become celebrated pretty much everywhere – Christmas! Or, for those who prefer to go with the French spirit of laïcité, simply the holidays (so, belatedly, Joyeuses fêtes!).

Now, even though I was lucky enough to go home for Christmas itself, I have still been able to experience and ask about the French twist to this popular time. What is Noël like?

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Why You Should Consider Applying to The University of Warsaw

When I was making my application to study abroad and choosing cities, Warsaw didn’t even make my Top 10. I knew nothing about it, and I had never been to Poland. Due to other allocations being cancelled, it was the only option for me if I wanted to go abroad this year. However, now that I’ve lived here for almost three months, my expectations have been truly exceeded and I would recommend studying here for lots of reasons!

These are some of them…

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Home Comforts When You’re Far From Home

By Eleanor Gaskill-Jones, Rutgers, the State University of New Jersey, USA

It’s no secret that one of the hardest things about studying abroad is the homesickness; it’s one of the first things the Go Abroad team warned us about as we prepared our applications.

No-one thinks it will happen to them, and I certainly didn’t. I’m a big girl, I thought, as I packed my life into 2 suitcases and waved goodbye to a grey Manchester Airport Terminal 2. The sight of the Manhattan skyline as we landed into Newark Airport smugly reassured my confidence, and I was certain I could handle being 3357 miles from home. How hard could it be? It’s only America, they speak English and have the same TV shows as us!

How wrong I was.

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The perks of living with Internationals

By Hannah Wheeler, Vrije Universiteit, Netherlands

This exchange has opened me up to so many new experiences. For the first time, I am living with a group of internationals. My apartment of four holds a combination of seven nationalities and seven languages between us. The mixture of cultures and perspectives is incredible.

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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. 

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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!

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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.

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Erasmus in times of Brexit and Covid

Today marks my final day in Amsterdam participating in the Erasmus+ Programme at Universiteit Van Amsterdam. I am extremely sad to be leaving such an amazing city and I am so grateful for the amount opportunities I have had whilst on my study abroad.

Having grown up in a multicultural household (Spanish mum and a South African-Indian dad), taking part on the exchange programme wasn’t a massive cultural adjustment for me personally, but I can still say that the Erasmus+ programme has made me more open and tolerant towards other cultures.

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A bit like high school

Even though COVID-19 put an end to my experience abroad I’ve been thinking about how Arizona State University is quite different from Manchester.

First of all, there is a designated week for final exams while the rest of the semester has different deadlines. For example, only in March, I had to write three papers, one poster and an oral presentation, a group project report, and an online quiz. All these assignments are worth between 5-20% of the course. This changes my time management quite significantly because rather than having one long paper that is worth 100% of my course and four months to write it, in this case, I have many short tasks to complete, which are spread throughout the semester.

Secondly, not all courses have finals. For example, for one class the professor chose not to have us writing the final but rather presenting a group project, so the last week of the semester I will be free from that class load work and I will be able to focus on the rest.

Third, there are no official mitigating circumstances, instead, it is the student that by talking to the professor works out a different date for the assignment. This speeds up the process and, for me, it alleviated much anxiety that could be caused by the negative response of the request in some cases. In addition, attendance is mandatory and affects the final mark, so there are no podcasts like in Manchester and missing a class means lowering one’s average. This guarantees that students are almost always present and participating, even though months after the class there is no chance to rewatch it online.

All these differences made me feel as if I was in high school again, where I had less autonomy and more time constrictions. Even my relationship with the rest of the class is very different because I have about 15-20 classmates versus 90 in Manchester. So I know all of them quite in-depth, I have participated in activities with everyone, and overall I have a better idea of who I am sharing my classwork with. However, the style again resembles that of a high school and it is far from being that of a lecture, which made me lose the habit of taking many notes and staying focused for longer.

Overall, these two systems are very different but I don’t find any better or worse, it is just a question of preference. However, I also think that having the possibility to try them both was amazing because it helped me become more conscious about my study habits and preferences, and I definitely became more flexible!