FBMH Stories: James Hein

As part of our #FBMHstories feature for Instagram we caught up with James Hein, a final year BSc Physiology student. He shared his experience of settling into England and how The University of Manchester has opened up opportunities in both social and work situations.


Why did you choose to study at The University of Manchester?

In science subjects, The University of Manchester has the best research centres. The course is really flexible too. I think it’s brilliant in Manchester. I applied to other universities, but Manchester gave my first offer, and then I got the grades. I didn’t apply to London because I went to college there and I didn’t like taking the tube in the morning – it was so crowded.

In Manchester, you can see the whole city. The University occupies most of the city, so everything is located very close together. In terms of student life, it’s the best.

As an international student, did you find settling into Manchester easy?

I moved to London first, when I was 17. I had no idea what England looked like. It wasn’t the best experience. I lived with a host family and I didn’t like any of the food they made. So, at first it was tough. In college itself, I didn’t know anything about transport, so I walked 45 minutes to college every day. I didn’t go out as I was so focused on studying. It was a different culture here.

But at Manchester, I adapted and I started to go out to clubs, and that way I made more friends and found out that people are really nice. It wasn’t all easy; when I first moved here, I didn’t like my flat very much, but the accommodation office were great and let me move to another flat where I was much happier.

What is it like being an International Ambassador for FBMH?

It’s the best way to share my experience. I have had a lot of experiences, and I want to give others advice based on my experience.

What has been the best thing about your course?

I’m doing a group-based Enterprise project at the moment. I’m not very into lab work, so this is a better project for me. I am doing my project on diabetes, so will be looking at new drugs to help diabetes. I will be in touch with well-renowned drug companies and doing lots of research into the field. The project will be presented to start-up CEOs.

The group I will be working with will be great, because it’s a good chance for me to meet more new people. In first and second year. you’re in labs with the same people, so it’ll be a good change.

Do you have any plans following your course?

I’m not into lab work, but I will definitely do something science-related. I am most probably going to go back to Burma, where my family are.

What is your favourite thing to do in Manchester?

I would probably say the nightlife. Deansgate is great – there are so many clubs. Spinningfields has great bars and the Northern Quarter is really good too. There is no generation gap; it’s all students in these bars, so it’s great.

At first, it was hard to adapt because I don’t drink, but my friends respect my traditions and they don’t force me to drink or anything like that. It’s not true that you can’t have fun without drinking. I like dancing and having fun in clubs without the alcohol, so it is possible.

My favourite bar is The Alchemist and the best club for students is Factory or maybe Revolution in Deansgate.

Where is your favourite place on campus?

At first I liked the Alan Gilbert Learning Commons, but it is busy during exam time, so now I go to the Main Library. Sometimes I also go to Central Library near St Peter’s Square. It’s very quiet there. I just can’t study at home.central-library

Do you have any advice for prospective students?

Please come to Manchester. My course is one of the best courses at the University. Look at the biosciences reviews — they’re all great.

Just get engaged with the student life, especially international students – please don’t say “I’m not interested in doing that”; just try it, and if you really don’t like it, then you can choose not to go again.

If someone asks you to go out, just go out. From my experience, when I have said no to going out a few times, people don’t ask again. If people think you’re not going to go, they just won’t ask you.

For students struggling with English not being their first language, don’t be shy, just talk. Nobody will laugh at you!

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