Simone Malekar is a first-year student studying Cognitive Neuroscience and Psychology. We asked if she would share her thoughts on her course, Manchester and her journey thus far. Here’s what she had to say…
First of all, studying a joint honours subject, my schedule keeps me pretty busy, but it’s a unique one as Cognitive Neuroscience and Psychology overlaps with two different schools: Biological Sciences and Health Sciences. I personally think that having these schools create a course together provides a greater level of depth than studying just Neuroscience or Psychology, and I love it for that reason.
My schedule can vary: we have seminars and labs every alternate week, so one Tuesday could be a 9am-11am lecture and the next could be a full 9am-5pm day packed with a lectures, seminars, and labs; we get Wednesdays off so a lot of my peers use it to meet with their academic advisors, catch up on work, or get ready for the next few days. Thursdays and Fridays are a bit more chill: I’ve realized a lot of the work comes down to individual motivation as uni students get more time away from teachers compared to high school/college, so it’s up to us to make the right choice and prioritize our commitments.
Why was I was drawn to Manchester? First and foremost, why would I miss out on the ultimate curry destination? In all seriousness – not that I don’t like the US – I think this country has more to offer than some people think. The train and travel system here is great, which allows me to take weekend trips without having to fret about travel times and connections; plus, Manchester has its own airport which opens up a lot more destinations for travelling.
I love the culture here too: the people are friendlier here and coming from a city with a (false) stereotype of rude people, I can definitely see why people consider British people to be more polite. As for my family, I’m about the same distance from them now as I would be if I went to university in California, but now I know I made a better choice by coming here.
Manchester has provided me with a new experience and a new city to work with; I’ve moved around a bit, so I appreciate the thrill of trying to figure out the culture of a place. I like that everything is so close, the uni is in a prime location: Market Street is only a 20 minute walk and it has everything I would ever need – plus, all the student discounts don’t hurt!
Being originally from Mumbai and having lived in NYC for the past 6 years – cities known to be quite congested and full of crowds – I didn’t think that many people lived here when I first came! I’ve found Oxford Road to be one of the most crowded places in the city, so just walking to class reminds me of when I would walk to my high school on Wall Street surrounded by hustling New Yorkers.
The biggest difference is the transport: I was so used to taking subways and trains everywhere that the thought of taking the bus made me shudder – I take buses regularly now but I still miss my beloved subways.
I am excited for second year as it means I can take a University College for Interdisciplinary Learning (UCIL) unit. I wanted to do one this year, however, they are not open to first-years; I’m planning to pursue more leadership opportunities and possibly get a job depending on the amount of free time I have.
My course has an option for a third-year placement, however, I’m still undecided on whether I want to do it. As an international student, I miss my family and extending my degree by a year means another year being far away from them; I still appreciate the opportunity and will make up my mind as the year goes on.
My current plan is to get a postgraduate degree in International Development and take it from there; I know development is quite a stretch from Cognitive Neuroscience, nonetheless, I find it interesting and relevant to me. I love my course, however, I don’t see myself pursuing research after I get my undergraduate degree: I want to embark on a career path where I can combine science and development economics.
I know everyone says that but it is very easy to feel lost or like you don’t know what you’re doing and I definitely wouldn’t feel as comfortable as I am here without my society committee positions and socials; there’s also free sports with ‘Sporticipate’. I encourage you to get as involved as you can (but don’t ignore coursework, obviously!). So I guess my biggest advice for new students is get involved!