It’s not long now until I head off for Manchester to start my exchange! Leaving a couple of days after Christmas means I’m trying to juggle two important events at once, which seems overwhelming with how much there is to do! Excitement and nervousness are just two of the many emotions that I’m feeling about this adventure of a lifetime, which I still can’t quite believe is actually happening in under a month.
I’ve had my heart set on doing an exchange from the moment I saw the Learn Without Borders stand during O week, and as soon as I looked into Manchester Metropolitan University I knew that was where I wanted to go. Being able to travel and live in a different country while still doing my degree is a dream come true! Ever since my first overseas trip to China I’ve had the travel bug, always looking for new places to go and new things to experience. The UK has always at the top of my list of places to go, and getting the opportunity to live there for 5 months is something I previously could only have dreamed of.
The idea of living on campus and having to do everything for myself is terrifying as I still live at home here, but I know that it will be an amazing experience and great opportunity to push myself out of my comfort zone and really embrace the student lifestyle in Manchester. I’ve never been away from all my friends and family for that long, and while I’ll probably feel a bit homesick at some point the idea of independence in another country is so exciting and refreshing!
My main concerns at the moment is my subjects, which have not yet been finalised. There is a limited selection of topics for exchange students at MMU because all other students undertake topics for a full year instead of just a term (Australian semester). Some subjects I was really keen on doing (e.g. Classical Studies/Ancient history) which aren’t offered as part of my course at Flinders are not actually available for exchange students! This was frustrating but I have nominated other subjects which should be just as interesting (hopefully!). My accomodation has just been sorted and finalised, and I will be staying in the university halls, in a flat with 4 other people. It’s such a relief to finally have this organised, as up until a few days ago I had no idea where I would be staying, or whether I would have to find private accomodation at such short notice.
I’m not really sure what to expect once I arrive, except that it will be very cold, but I am planning on making the most of everyday that I’m there and taking every opportunity I can to experience life both as a Mancurian while I’m studying, and then as a tourist for the month and a half before I fly home.
I don’t have many solid plans for my time travelling around, however I do know that I am going to make the most of my time in England and see as much of it as I can. I have a friend in London that has offered me free accommodation which will act as a good base for me during this time. The idea of not having specific plans during this time is great, as it means I can just do whatever I feel like once I am there. I have booked one trip – to Ireland, which is another place I’ve always dreamed of visiting, even planning hypothetical trips there with my friends when we were younger!
There’s still so much to do before I can head off, and time seems to be flying by, hopefully I can fit everything in before I say goodbye to Adelaide. It all still feels like a crazy dream, and I am so excited to get started on this adventure!
Tara Mayne, Bachelor of Arts-Enhanced Program for High Achievers student, Semester 1 2018 exchange at Manchester Metropolitan University, the United Kingdom