TRAVEL REPORT: MANCHESTER BUSINESS SCHOOL, UK. Fall 2014

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1 TRAVEL REPORT: MANCHESTER BUSINESS SCHOOL, UK Fall

2 1 Table of contents 1. Preparing for the exchange Exchange studies Free time and other information Accommodation Cost of living Getting to know other students and free time Weather Good to know Final Comments... 9

3 2 1. Preparing for the exchange After about a month of accepting the exchange position in Manchester Business School, I received an from international programmes administrator Andrew Walker about the application procedure in order to be officially accepted to the MBS. This contained attached the required application form and a list of all the needed documents. In addition, the included a Fact Sheet and a Frequently Asked Questions document which were both really helpful in clarifying some issues and explaining what I was about to face. I had to complete and return the following documents by 16 th of May, Application form Latest Academic transcript 2 recent passport size photographs Scan/copy of photo/id page of passport For students whose first language is not English, a copy of the latest English Language Proficiency Certificate As for the English Language Proficiency Certificate, I asked from the International Student Services at the Aalto a document which stated that I have the required level in English language to be able to complete my exchange studies in English. One should note that visa is not needed for Finnish students since UK is part of the EU. After fulfilling the application form and the supporting documents, I sent them by post to the UK. It was said in the that the International Programmes office would preferable like to receive the documents in this way. For this reason, I recommend that all the students being nominated to the MBS take this into account and remember to send the documents well in advance to the deadline date. The next time, I heard from the MBS was in the beginning of June. I received a thick envelope, which contained a confirmation of being officially accepted to the MBS, I also got my student number and some fancy maps and brochures about the MBS and the city of Manchester in

4 3 general. With the student number, I was able to apply for student accommodation and register to MyManchester webpage, which works as a similar online space as WebOodi and Noppa. It provides access to learning resources, services and information. For example, through this website I was able to apply for courses, access to library databases and book a room for a group work. In general, the site was really helpful because everything was in one place unlike at the Aalto. However, the site did not work always properly and sometimes it took a long time to open. On 13 th of June, I received an , which asked me to choose my courses. The course choice form and the timetable were attached to the . The deadline for receipt of the form was 12 July The course selection was quite broad and there were almost 60 different courses of which you were able to choose from. One was able to select courses from the fields that were really similar to the main study programmes at the Aalto. The courses were meant for second and third year students and they were all taught in English. As an exchange student, I was required to take 6 courses for a total of 30 ECTS, with each course being worth 5 ECTS. Even though it is recommended that you select your courses with care in the first place, there is still time in the beginning of the semester for course changes. One should also carefully read the course descriptions because some courses are very similar to the ones offered at the Aalto and if one has already completed those courses, they cannot be included into the exchange study programme. One can get help from the International Student Services at the Aalto. Finally a month before my departure to the UK, I received the s, which stated where I would live during my stay and when I should arrive in Manchester. It was kind of a relief to get these s that I had been already waiting for a while since I needed to book my flying tickets. The compulsory orientation week at Manchester Business School was meant to start at 9.00 am on Monday 15 September. I decided to arrive in Manchester a few days earlier. Andrew Walker also prompted everyone to contact their mentors in advance. However, in the end many exchange students did not meet even once their mentors during their exchange period.

5 4 When I arrived at the Manchester Airport on 11 th of September, I was warmly welcomed by students who were wearing purple shirts and waving the University of Manchester signs. The students lead me and some other exchange students to a bus which took us to our accommodations. When I arrived at the Victoria Park campus, the place where I lived, I had to first fill all kinds of documents. After having done this, I got the keys to my apartment in the Burkhardt House. Having arrived a few days before the start of the orientation week, I had plenty of time to get everything ready and to get to know my flatmates and surroundings. 2. Exchange studies The first semester ran from 22 nd of September to 12 th of December. Before the modules began, there was an orientation week ( ). Examination period was after the Christmas from 12 th to 23 rd of January. The second semester runs from 26 th of January to 5 th of June and the exams are during the last weeks. There is also a break during the spring semester from 20 th of March to 13 th of April. In general, the courses I took were quite well structured but some lecturers were not very inspiring, which made some lectures a bit boring. The courses were either first semester only courses or full year courses. In the case of full year course, I had to take the special assessments and was assessed on the work covered in the first period because I was supposed to leave at the end of the January. Every course was worth of 5 ECTS and the grading system was as follows: % Excellent, First Class Degree 60-69% - Very Good, 2.1 Degree 50-59% - Good, 2.2 Degree 40-49% - Pass, Third Class Degree 39% and below - Fail I chose the following courses:

6 5 a) Financial Statement Analysis, UG, 2 nd year, first semester course The course was not only about the accounting and financial ratio calculations and interpretation but it also focused on the information needs of different stakeholders; how the interpretation of financial statements can be connected to an organization's strategies, risks and opportunities. The course also discussed about the quality and reliability of accounting information. In my opinion, the course was interesting and I recommend the course if one wants to know more about how to interpret the financial statement information. The assessment was based on a group project and on the exam. One thing I especially liked on the course was the possibility to listen the lectures afterwards via podcasts. This opportunity helped if there were course overlaps. b) Accountability and Auditing, UG, 3 rd year, first semester course The course focused on what auditors do and on issues connected with understanding the roles served by auditing. The course was not about auditing practices and techniques. I would not recommend this course if one already knows what auditing basically means. The assessment was totally based on the exam. I think this was the worst course out of all the selected courses. c) Behavioural Finance, UG, 3 rd year, first semester course This course was really interesting. It was an introduction to the field of behavioural finance and it focused on explaining multiple stock market anomalies from the point of view of behavioural finance. The assessment was based on a group project and on the exam. One should take this course if one is interested in knowing what the behavioural finance is all about. d) Share Prices and Accounting Information, UG, 3 rd year, first semester course

7 6 This course was the one that I liked the most. The lecturer was really inspiring and even though the course was really math based, the lectures were not boring at all. The focus was on how various theoretical models that have been proposed can be used for calculating a firm's intrinsic value. The models utilize the accounting and share price information. I recommend this course if one wants to know how different models can be utilized to calculate the theoretical intrinsic value for a company based on the accounting information. Students were assessed based on the exam. In the exam, one did not have to calculate anything it was about explaining the theories behind the models. This means that one should not be worried too much about his/hers math skills. e) Financial Reporting & Accountability, UG, 2 nd year, full year course The course was divided into two sections. The first section, which was lectured during the first semester, focused according to the course description on the following main themes: (i) the nature of the basic issues underlying financial reporting choices, accounting principles and concepts of income and value; (ii) major theoretical approaches to the analysis of the production and use of financial statements; and (iii) the framework established to ensure the quality of financial reporting, through the legal and professional structure of regulation and financial statement auditing. In my opinion this course was not well structured. Sometimes it was hard to follow the lecture because the lecturer was jumping from one thing to another. It felt like the course was only about the IFRS and different regulatory bodies and their roles. The assessment was based on a 3000 word essay. f) International Finance, UG, 3 rd year, full year course This course also being a full year course was divided into two sections. In the first semester, the module examined the foreign exchange market and exchange rate regimes, foreign exchange rate determination, the link between exchange rates and macroeconomic activity, measures of competitiveness in international markets and

8 7 foreign exchange market efficiency. The lecturer was really good and I recommend this course to anyone who is interested to know more about the international financial markets. There was also the podcast possibility. The evaluation was based on a 2500 word essay. 3. Free time and other information 3.1 Accommodation Almost all of the exchange students were living in the halls. The university has a policy that every exchange student, who applies on time, will get an apartment. So I definitely recommend to use this opportunity. Of course, one can get a little bit cheaper room from the private markets but it requires more effort. In addition, some of my friends had negative experiences of living in the private sector. The halls are in general well-equipped and there are many activities and sporting possibilities. The electricity, water and Internet are all included in the rent. In addition, it is easier to meet new friends in the halls because there are all kinds of get-totogethers. There are three campus areas: City campus, Victoria Park and Fallowfield. City campus The City campus is basically in the city centre. Everything one needs is nearby and the university is within a few minute walk. However, I did not know any exchange student who was living in there. Victoria Park campus This is the place where I lived and more precisely I lived in the Burkhardt House. In my opinion, this is really pleasant place to live. Many exchange students also lived there. Everything is nearby, especially if one lives in the Hulme Hall or close to it. Many grocery stores and restaurants are just around a corner. Almost all of them are open late till night. The famous Curry Mile is packed with large number of restaurants, take-aways and kebab houses specialising in the cuisines of South Asia and the Middle East. If one

9 8 prefers more McDonald s or Subway, they are also within a 5-minute walk. And if one wants to try something else one can take a bus and get to the city centre in 15 minutes. In the Hulme Hall, there are a decent gym, a football pitch, a squash court and a bar with billiard and poker tables. One can reach the university within 10 minutes by foot. Fallowfield This is the biggest campus and many exchange students were living there. There is a big sporting centre which includes a gym and all kinds of courts. There are many major shops, restaurants, bars and clubs close-by. However, the campus is a bit further away from the university and one needs to take a bus to get there. In addition, this is the place where many parties took place. However, as a friend of mine described, Fallowfield can be like a warzone during the weekends. 3.2 Cost of living The school itself did not cost anything and it was not necessary to buy any books. I was living in an ensuite room and it costed 131 a week. The ensuite room is a room with a little bathroom. One should expect to spend between per week on food. I also recommend to buy the bus pass called Unirider (around 100 ), especially if one lives in the Fallowfield. Unirider is a student only bus ticket valid on all the buses of the major bus service in Greater Manchester and the ticket allows going for an unlimited number of travels during the semester. 3.3 Getting to know other students and free time By living in the halls one will meet many new people. I also recommend to participate in the activities and trips that the International Society at MBS organizes. One will get to know the other exchange students and is able to travel cheaply around the UK. During the weekends one can head to the city center and to the clubs which are packed with students.

10 9 3.4 Weather In general, it can be really warm till late fall. On average it is a bit warmer in Manchester than in Helsinki. During my stay the temperatures dropped close to zero only in December and January. One should also note that even though Manchester has been said to be the rainy city, it is basically a myth according to some statistics. However, I think that during my stay it was raining at least on average more often than it rains in Helsinki. One third year student once said that it feels like it is raining half of the year. So be prepared and remember to buy an umbrella when you arrive in Manchester. 3.5 Good to know Remember that Brits drive on the wrong side of the road. This might cause some confusion and during the first days in the UK your head probably keeps spinning around when you cross a road. By night it is advisable to stay in groups and avoid some specific areas. For example, a friend of mine was once out for an evening run in the suburbs, when he encountered a some kind of gang which started to throw rocks on him. Hopefully my friend got away without a scratch. 4. Final Comments I definitely recommend the University of Manchester. It is one of the best universities in the UK and it is highly ranked in many international rankings. The quality of teaching was pretty decent in many of the courses I took. During my exchange I got many new friends and learned a lot about England and different cultures as I met people from different backgrounds. I learned about myself that I can be really adaptable when needed. In addition, I realized that the free higher education in Finland is something that we Finns should be really proud of.

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