Nathan – Manchester Metropolitan University – England
Semester 2, 2022
Bachelor of Behavioural Science (Psychology) / Bachelor of Business
Hi, my name is Nathan, and recently I concluded my time studying on the other side of the globe. Rewinding to when this process all began in November 2021 – I submitted my application completely oblivious to the life-changing experience I was about to embark on. It wasn’t for another 10 months I would arrive in Manchester with a full semester in front of me and a city full of possibilities. To say I was nervous is an understatement. It’s these nerves, however, that motivated me to push myself and cherish the opportunity QUT had given me – ultimately making these five months the best of my life.
The UK do it different
Unlike many students at QUT, almost everyone in England moves away from their home cities and experiences independent living in student accommodation. For me, this was an incredible experience – completely different to what I was accustomed to in Australia. So, in the English way, I was quickly moved into a flat with 5 other students from all over the country. This was an opportunity for me to live independently for the first time and an experience I thoroughly promote if you are thinking about exchange in the UK.
Upon arrival, I was quickly notified about fresher’s week. Fresher’s week is a similar concept to O-week here and QUT but more like schoolies. It’s designed to immerse you with other students and find your way around the city, numerous events were hosted by the University and associated businesses. This was a great opportunity for me to meet fellow exchange students and was a pillar for many of my friendships throughout the semester. I recommend involving yourself as much as you possibly can during this week.
I wanted to include this aspect of my reflection just because I know how anxious making new friends in a completely foreign country can be. For me, this was my main concern when departing. Friends are such a big part of my life here in Brisbane and leaving them to live a completely new life was terrifying. However, when I tell you not to worry, I mean don’t worry. From being my biggest concern to the reason this trip was so incredible, the people you meet during this experience will be lifelong friends. The greatest part about friends from exchange is that you now have friends from all over the globe. And for me, these connections took me around the globe. I was lucky enough after the semester had concluded to visit my friend’s home and stay a few nights with his family in Rome, Italy. Experiencing an authentic Italian way of living and his family opening up his home to a stranger from the other side of the world is definitely a highlight from my time away. Although this wasn’t a part of the University exchange it goes to show just how powerful the connections you make during this time can become.
I got a similar opportunity during the semester with another one of my friends that I made, taking me to his small hometown Derby for a weekend. I was so eager to understand how my mates grew up and what ultimately bought them to study in Manchester. Meeting their families and seeing their cities is an experience I’ll cherish forever.
Travel is a must
I know this is again not about university but I couldn’t disregard the fact that EVERYTHING is so close. A weekend getaway to another country is a concept that we Australians can simply not comprehend. 20-pound flights and 1-hour journeys are just some of the advantages of living in Manchester. I was lucky enough to go to 8 different countries whilst studying, an opportunity I would have never gotten if I hadn’t embarked on this journey. A few highlights being all of Italy, Amsterdam, and Paris.
Life in Manchester
Finally, I will talk about my time in Manchester. This is an experience ultimately designed to immerse yourself in a new way of learning, a new way of life and a new city. In Manchester all of these criteria were amazing. University was great – very accommodating to international students and had a similar setup to QUT in regards to one tutorial and one lecture per subject, per week. The campus is very immersive and has plenty of co-circular activities to involve yourself with. For example, I played rugby union during my time there which was a very cool experience – although extremely cold. Life in Manchester was even better. A small city centre made it very easy to navigate around. There are plenty of spots to drink and watch football, which is really what the city is built upon. Although on a serious note, this exchange taught me many things, with the books and away from uni. Learning to grow up and become independent is just scraping the surface. I always thought it was cliché when people said that it is a life-changing experience, but I will join the club – exchange is truly life-changing, and I couldn’t recommend it more. I would like to express my gratitude to QUT for giving me this opportunity and to anyone reading this to make an application and sign up, the fact this is accessible to anyone who studies here at QUT is extraordinary, so make the most of it.
Find out how you can apply for exchange via the QUT Student Exchange website.