21 days and counting until I begin my study exchange at Manchester Metropolitan University (MMU)! I am currently galavanting around Europe so I’ve been a bit distracted. I left my family and my precious dog Rosie back in mid July to attend an international Scout Camp in Iceland. 5000 participants from 96 countries were represented. There, I made invaluable connections from people all around the world, including those from the UK. Everyone I met from the UK talked up Manchester, describing it as a really cool place.
When I think towards my exchange, I knew I was going to Manchester from day one. During O Week I sat an Exchange session and I made my decision that I was going. This was before I had enrolled in subjects or got my ID card. I want to live in the UK after my degree. I want to put the exchange on my resume and have The Edge that other potential employees don’t. More importantly, I want to gain new experience and learn from a different culture.
When the news of the Manchester bombings came out in May, I watched every news report and read every piece of information I could get my hands on. I watched the charity concert start to finish. The thing that struck me most was the way the city banded together to support each other, the singing at the memorials and the resilience of the everyday Manchurian. I wanted to go to Manchester more than ever, I was really inspired by their community spirit. I knew for certain that there is no place I’d rather go to study.
My main concerns with starting at Manchester is the accommodation, subject selection and enrolment. Most of my other friends going on exchange have their housing sorted out but Manchester is different: only when you study a whole year can you get automatic housing. They have a housing program set up and it has worked for numerous years. Unfortunately this does not reassure me. I don’t know who I will be housing with, where it will be or what facilities it will have. What if it is really far out of town? I hope I am lucky and get nice housemates who aren’t psychotic. By the time I get there, I will have been sleeping in a tent for almost 2 months, so I guess just a proper bed would be nice!
Subject selection is another issue. I have to sit an enrollment session prior to the first week, otherwise I won’t be able to enroll. At this point, most other students would have chosen their subjects, meaning that there will be limited selection for exchange students. Also, the subjects I had picked out from this lists given to me have changed. Not one of the topics I have approval for are running this semester. I was really keen to do some medieval topics, ones that you can’t do in S.A. but now I don’t have much interest in any of the topics in offer. It’s a bit frustrating as you need passion to be able to truly succeed. The other topic I have is French, where I have to sit an interview in French and prove that I’m at an intermediate level. It is vital that I get the right class, otherwise the topic won’t count towards my degree. I haven’t practiced French for a while, I hope I’ll be alright!
I try to keep my expectations at a minimum. I reckon I’ll just have to enjoy the ride, sit in on all the sessions and go in the direction they point me in. They have a good exchange team and I was lucky enough to meet James, a representative who came to Flinders and answered our questions. They know what they are doing and I know that I’m in safe hands.
Currently I’m on a Contiki camping trip which a lot of fun. We have been through France and Spain and are on our way to Italy and Greece. I figure I may not have the time nor money to travel this way after my degree so I am making the most of it. All my friends back home are in the middle of term, handing in assignments, studying hard. Meanwhile… I’m sitting in a bar, 30°C with a glass of local French wine, overlooking the beautiful beaches of Nice. Don’t get me wrong, I know where I’d rather be, but I just hope beyond all hope that my brain hasn’t dropped out my ears by the time I get there!
Louise Harris , Bachelor of International Tourism/Bachelor of Letters (French) student, Semester 2 2017 exchange at Manchester Metropolitan University, the United Kingdom