You’ve been through the selection process, received your acceptance letter and said yes to the amazing opportunity to study a masters at the University of Manchester. Now what? Here are 6 things you should be doing by now in order to prepare for your amazing journey:
If you are an international student like me, finding a good deal to come to Manchester, is a must. Apart from the traditional airline websites, you can use search engines such as Kayak, Skyscanner and even the new Google Flights platform. These websites help you search among different offers of airlines and make recommendations on when to buy the tickets. If you are travelling from another city in the UK or even Europe, I recommend using Omio, a place where you can find good plane, train or even bus deals.
An alternative option is to use airline miles/points to buy your tickets.
Also, you do not have to come to Manchester or even to the UK in a non-stop flight. If you check, sometimes it is cheaper to land in another European country (e.g. Spain or France) and from there buy a low-cost ticket to Manchester. Keep your options open!
Sort your accommodation
If you haven’t sorted your accommodation by now, do not worry. A few students arrive to the city and stay in a hotel or an Airbnb during the first weeks and find private flats to lease within that period. To make things easier, you can use websites such as Gumtree and the app Zoopla to search by location and price range.
What to pack?
For a good detailed lists of what you should bring, check out both Malaika’s and Lydia’s blogs. Besides the obvious things to pack (clothing, toiletries and your laptop), I found the following essential:
- Pictures of your family and closest friends. Having these in my flat allowed me to be connected to them every day!
- An internationally unlocked mobile phone. This means that you can use it with any phone carrier provider. This is very helpful for international students.
- A good and sturdy umbrella if you have it! Believe me, you’re going to need it.
- A reasonable ration of snacks and goodies you’re going to miss from home. These will last a month, but you’ll feel really good when eating them!
- A winter jacket just if you have it! No need to buy one beforehand because you’ll find better and cheaper options here (especially if you come from a country where there is no winter like mine).
…and what NOT to pack?
Once you arrive, you will realise you could have spared some extra kilograms in your bag. The following are items I do not recommend bringing but instead buy here, either from retail stores, thrift shops, or second-hand shops:
- Bath towels
- Pots, pans, cutlery, and dishes
- Duvet and sheets
- Too many books…
- Too many summer clothes…
This is a piece of advice I would have liked to hear a year ago. Most of the masters’ programmes will have a Facebook group and/or a WhatsApp group chat. These groups are created by other students to get in touch with people of their class beforehand, discuss expectations and ask questions about the programme in general. My recommendation is to be aware of these social media interactions and get to know who your classmates are and to make plans for your first days in the city!
A little bit of research
Make sure you read something related to the topic you are going to study in advance. It doesn’t have to be that much, maybe just the current news about your topic just to get in the flow. Even if your masters is related to your undergrad studies, a bit of refreshment will not kill you and you will land to your first weeks prepared!
Say a proper farewell to your family and friends
It is not as dramatic as it sounds. Just make sure you spend time with your closest ones before starting your journey and make plans to communicate with them. During your studies, you realise how much you love your family and friends and you will surely miss them. So, spend those five more minutes in the café with your best friend, give that big hug to your siblings and tell your parents you will call them every day or week (and fulfil your promise).