Report of exchange semester in Manchester Business School. Background to why you were interested in studying abroad on exchange

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1 Report of exchange semester in Manchester Business School Written by Julija Laskovska Background to why you were interested in studying abroad on exchange When a person studies abroad, he or she gets invaluable experience (both cultural and educational) that is why I was interested and fascinated by the opportunity to study abroad. Being put in a completely different environment with inherent norms, values and various cultures is, first of all, a challenge for a person to adapt to them and to train tolerance towards multiculturality. Secondly, the person is given the opportunity to start everything from a new page. Having no friends and relatives in that country, knowing no one is a great situation for understanding that one s life depends on his or her decisions and actions. Thirdly, it is the best option of how to improve the language of the country a person stays in. And, lastly, the employer might take the exchange semester into an account since the experience there is gained through both educational process and being and managing life in noneducational environment. These were the main points of why an exchange semester seemed so attractive to me. Which courses you took and the quality of these (were they different, and if so, how?) The teaching system in University of Manchester is quite different from Stockholm University s. In the host university I had to pick 6 courses which were happening in parallel over whole semester. The courses I chose were International Marketing, International Competitiveness and Innovations, Consumer Behaviour, International Business Environment, Introduction to Business Information Systems, and Management of Projects. All of them were comprised of lectures and seminars. The assessments of these courses were special assignments essays ranging from 2000 to 3000 words long which were to be submitted by the end of courses or by the time right after the winter break (depending on the course). However, exchange students were entitled to the special assignments if they were not able to stay for regular exams due to home university s next semester s early start (as it was in my case). At the beginning of the exchange semester I started to panic a bit since I had to follow all 6 courses at the same time and there was lots of material for each course, and I did not know from where to start. But once the person understands how it works it is not difficult to manage with such system and keep up with all the readings assigned for courses.

2 How did contact with the host university work? The contact with the host university worked really well. If the person was concerned with something or had questions, the replies with helpful information from them were almost instant. They kept updating us with all important days for registrations and other important activities, the explanations of various important procedures we had to undergo, as well as interesting activities which were taking place at university every week. How did you find housing and were you happy with the housing arrangements? I applied for student halls (the one I stayed in was called Victoria Hall) through University of Manchester. They send out s concerning the accommodation in student halls, therefore the person will get all needed information regarding where and how to apply for it. There are various halls with different conditions: catered or self-catered, sharing or having own bathroom in a room, mixed or single sex halls, etc. I stayed in a flat where were 4 people: 2 girls and 2 boys. All of us were having rooms with own bathrooms (which is a bit more expensive than paying for a room where people share bathroom area). The kitchen was merged with communal area (where TV and sofas were located) an important place of having a rest and funny conversations with flat-mates. It was a great experience to live with other students and learn from each other different things. Besides, all of them were from England, so it was a great opportunity to improve my English and my flat-mates Russian (since when they found out my first language was Russian were interested into learning alphabet and useful phrases to manage conversations). What was the cost of living like in the host country? Was it expensive or cheap to live there? If a student lives in student halls the accommodation cost is approximately the same as average in Stockholm. However, if the student finds the people who want to rent the house (which does not belong to the university) it is much cheaper than student halls. In general, the cost of living in the UK is cheaper than in Sweden. The bus-pass for the whole semester cost a bit more than 100 pounds, but it is an important investment. The prices in supermarkets are cheaper than in Stockholm; therefore, a student can afford him- or herself buying more. The cheapest option is Lidl and Asda. However, close to the university there are located Sainsbury s and Morrison s which are a bit more expensive than the cheapest ones, but still with the

3 affordable prices and often with good offers. Besides, Manchester is a great city for night-life, therefore the tickets for clubs are cheap as well as prices for different kinds of drinks in pubs and bars. Moreover, the prices for eating dinners in restaurants are in average 8-12 pounds, but the variety of places to eat and different kitchens food to taste is amazing. Therefore, it is worth to visit Curry Mile and its restaurants with Middle East food offers as well as Chinatown. Concerning the sport activities (Manchester has lots to offer) there is Aquatics Sports Centre where one swimming visit costs only 1,90 pounds which is an excellent price. What type of budget does a student need in that particular host country? It depends on the student s preferences. Therefore, I would say the prices range from 60 to 110 pounds per week. But it is worth to visit as many places as possible and do as many things as possible since these are the memories for the whole life. Moreover, the travelling is not expensive; therefore, the student definitely should plan travelling to different places (for example, Liverpool) and many other towns and cities. Undoubtedly, it adds to cost, but it is definitely worth it! How has the time abroad affected you academically and personally? Have your language skills developed, if so, how? I am sure that the exchange semester has developed me both academically and personally. From the academic perspective, I improved my language skills by attending lectures, seminars, leisure time activities as well as by constantly communicating in English (ending up thinking not in mother tongue but in English). Moreover, I learned how to manage time while having 6 courses in parallel with lots of readings for each of them as well as how to work under pressure. Concerning the personal development, I am sure that this exchange semester has contributed to my vision of the world. I started to believe that everything is possible the only thing you need is to put efforts into it. Moreover, at the beginning of my stay in Manchester it was difficult mentally as I did not know anyone and anything. However, it was a good driver to be active and even pro-active in making friends, attending various activities organized by the host university, spending great time, and of course studying and gaining knowledge. What advice would you give other students who would like to study at the university at which you chose to spend your semester abroad? First of all, they are having welcome (or as they call it fresher s) week with various events every day, thus, my advice is to attend as many as possible. There are lots of different activities going on in Manchester: sport activities (I played volleyball as well as Hall Sports organized by University of Manchester), attending football games, musical performances, clubbing (5 th Avenue was the best place with great music, i.e. mainly indie-rock but perfect for dancing moves), bars and pubs (The Footage was

4 the perfect place to watch different football games), food venues (Curry Mile, Chinatown) and many more. Secondly, at the welcome lecture they told us that we will meet our best friends here. No doubts, it mainly referred to the regular students of University of Manchester, however, in my case I attended pub-quiz event, on the third day of my stay in Manchester, and I met great people from Switzerland, Germany, Australia, Liechtenstein, Austria, France, etc. We became really good friends and spent perfect time together for the rest of the semester (we are still keeping in touch every day!!!). Therefore, be in the right place at the right time! And, of course, it s never bad to be pro-active and come to people and start communicating with them. Thirdly, if it s affordable travel! The prices for busses (e.g. National Express) or trains (if booked well in advance) are not expensive for travelling! I ve been to Liverpool, Edinburgh, Glasgow, London and Dublin (booked well in advance Ryanair flight ticket) and now I m having unforgettable memories. Liverpool

5 Howth, Dublin Edinburgh

6 Any highlights that you would like to share with other students? It s important to make friends there since mainly they will be the ones who will support you if you are stressed from studies and mountains of work! And don t worry at the beginning of your stay since everyone is in the same situation not knowing other students. Over time by attending various events you will make many friends from various countries (who will be willing to learn your language ). It s a great opportunity and experience of life (no matter where you are going) DON T MISS IT!

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