Edward Small is a 4th-year dental student and a student ambassador for the BDS Dentistry course. Although it’s been a few years since he was a ‘fresher’ back in 2016, Welcome Week is by no means just for first-years.
Students from all year groups get involved with helping you settle into the city, your accommodation, your course and, obviously, keeping the party going! That being said, Eddie still has all the insider info on how to make the most of your first week at Manchester…
As this is the time of year when so many students are arriving at The University of Manchester, ready to learn, discover new things and keep an open mind, I thought it would be best to write a little about how I found it settling into life in England and give you some top tips that helped me make Manchester my home.
I had been told many different stories about life in the big smoke of an English city and what to expect when I arrived here from Northern Ireland: bring a raincoat everywhere you, ‘they love a “brew” over there!’. These things were all true but what I didn’t expect was the heartfelt warm welcome that I received.
The first person I met ran across the kitchen of my flat, quickly hugged me and said hello. Luckily, she was indeed one of my flatmates! (she turned out to be an amazing person at too). From there, your first week is a whirlwind of exploring the city and meeting new people; the University runs a whole host of events from tours of the city, to pop-up cinemas and student shopping socials at the Arndale Centre, which are all great ways to meet new people with similar interests.
The University has lots of resources to help you get ready to prepare for uni, including the ‘Starting at Manchester’ website. This is an excellent guide to all the basics, from getting your student card set up (an essential for all the student discounts!) to what there is to do around the city and much more – I would definitely recommend giving it a read through!
After the initial few weeks when you are settling in I would recommend taking advantage of the various physical activities Manchester offers. These include a range of excellent university-run gyms and world-class aquatics facilities – there’s even an Olympic-size swimming pool in the Sugden Sports Centre. Look out for the ‘Sporticipate’ program: it’s a great activity and encourages you not only to take up new hobbies but to meet new people who share interests with you.
If you’re a foodie, you’re in luck! My favourite thing about Manchester has been the food: every country and culture is represented and no matter what you’re feeling hungry for, they’ve got you covered. From the spices of ‘The Curry Mile’, I would recommend MyLahore, which has the largest portions known to man! If you’re in Fallowfield I would recommend Tzaikis for food right near the accommodation campus and that won’t deplete your student loan! It holds a special place in many hearts.
In the second week back, the Students’ Union will be running the Clubs and Societies Fair with hundreds on display. This includes your subject’s socials, which help you meet more of your course mates – we even have a fancy ball at the end of each year! – as well as all the others held by the 400+ societies, like the University of Manchester Skydiving Club. There are so many options that you will definitely be able to find the perfect one for you, so I would highly recommend going.
For any students living in Fallowfield, it is well worth getting a Unirider, which is an annual student bus ticket from Stagecoach and allows you unlimited bus travel in Manchester – there are similar passes available from companies like First but these are the most common buses in the city. I lived there in first-year and found it not only essential but an easy way to get familiar with the city layout. As well as having the biggest bus route in Europe, there is also a world-class bike lane running from along Wilmslow Road, through campus and into the city centre if you prefer to cycle.
If you ever have any questions, all arriving dental students are assigned a second and third-year peer mentor – they aren’t just lumped with you: they have actively volunteered to help you out. I benefited a lot from this in my first year and enjoyed becoming a mentor myself in the years after, so believe me when I say all your mentors are sincerely looking forward to helping you!