Settling into Manchester

By: Travis Rind, Foster Undergraduate

Before arriving in Manchester, I took a month to travel elsewhere in Europe. For anyone doing an exchange in the future, make sure you set aside time either before or after the program to travel, even if only for a few days. It was a nice icebreaker to get me introduced to Europe before arriving in the UK. I’ve only been in Manchester for a little less than two weeks, but I’m already adjusting to the city fairly easily. Despite the business school being a 40 minute walk away from my dorm in south campus, I enjoy the walk back and forth every day – rain or shine. It really isn’t so bad as most people make it out to be, plus I save money not paying for the bus… or a gym membership. The international society and business school made sure that during the first week all the international students became well-acquainted with one another. Already I have made friends from all over – Australia, Sweden, Norway, Austria, Japan… And, already, a group of us have a trip planned to Scandinavia for reading week.

The learning style here is different than what I’m used to at UW. Lectures are only once a week, and some classes also have seminars once a week. The low contact time with professors means that a lot of actual learning is reliant on self-study through reading. I hate to admit it, but it is really hard to find the time to sit and read when there is so much going on! Fortunately, assessments for exchange students are essays submitted at the end of the semester. Hopefully I’ll have enough time to catch up on readings by then!

As the UK is an English-speaking Western country, I didn’t expect to experience so many cultural differences. From the food (it’s true – it’s awful), to the colloquialisms (“cheers” instead of “thank you” – already adopted that one) Manchester has been surprising me in (mostly) good ways. The most difficult adjustment has been paying attention to the traffic. I’ve had several close calls with many more to come I’m sure, but I am proud to report that I’ve escaped unharmed so far. My least favorite part of living here has to be the cost of living. Everything would be normally priced… if it were in US dollars, but since it’s in pounds you add 60% to everything. Needless to say, checking my bank account is never the highlight of my day. However, it’s definitely been worth it. The experiences I’ve had so far are priceless.