Just thought I’d introduce myself! My name is Rachel; I’m studying Life Sciences with Industrial Experience and I’m a first year student here at The University of Manchester! I’ve officially been here for a bit over a month now and it’s ridiculous how much it feels like home! As in, I called my flat “home” the other day and experienced genuine guilt… but it really is! I was pretty anxious about making friends at uni but I needn’t have worried. It is physically amazing how fast you get to know people: from using Facebook to track down and talk to flatmates beforehand, meeting a ridiculous number of people on your course and in societies… you’ll always be met with a handshake or hug (or ridicule at the “Geordie language” I use in my case) as everyone is in the same boat!
I’m actually currently writing this blog post on the notes page of my iPhone in Oslo airport!! There’s a bit of a story… sooo my friend and I did a Jailbreak for RAG – the charity fundraising branch of the Student Union! The challenge was to get as far away from the university as possible without spending a penny in 30 hours; so we would have to rely on begging in the street, donations and free stuff. And after four free buses, a lovely conductor who got us on a train to Edinburgh, some very generous Scottish people and living off about three hours sleep over the two nights we slept in two different airports, we made it to Norway!!! … and then realized we had no food, warm clothes or a place to stay. It was a hilarious adventure though! And we managed to fundraise a lot of money for Breast Cancer Care; being the fourth furthest away team out of the nineteen taking part. It’s just one example of the many opportunities The University of Manchester gives you; the chance to be independent and try new things!
Living away from home has definitely been a new experience! It was scary at first but you come to love your flat and it really is your second home. We’ve even started planning our Christmas decorations! I was lucky in that I was given my first choice accommodation (we have double beds and en suites so feeling very grateful!!) but the worst thing is the chores… I’ve never been more grateful for the free Nandos and no washing up when my parents came to visit!
But there’s been so much to do around the uni and in Manchester itself; whether it was dressing up for the Neverland Festival for Pangaea, getting chased by zombies during Zombie Takeover or feeling very Harry Potter-like when looking around the beautiful John Ryland’s Library; you always discover new things to see and do! The other week some friends and I did a Café Crawl in the Northern Quarter of Manchester (a lot of cake was consumed and it was awesome). It’s just the quirkiest place. There were café’s with umbrella’s and fairy lights on the ceiling, and one that was simultaneously a bookshop, forest and type-writer-try-out place… so beautiful!
I have also been involved with some of the societies here. There are SO many! So much so that every week you discover new ones: a friend I made when going for my scuba-dive told me ‘Extreme Picnicking’ existed (like wow?!), and the other day we discovered the horrific screams in Whitworth Park were due to many people charging at each other with wooden swords – I think it was the Medieval Re-enactment society?!
Although I’ve enjoyed playing in the Wind Band and learning how to tackle my Quidditch friends (YES – QUIDDITCH EXISTS and it’s full of Harry Potter awesomeness!!) – my favourite society so far has been Mountaineering. One weekend we visited a place in the Peak District that had one of THE best outdoor crags for climbing and bouldering I’d ever seen – so many cliffs and amazing scrambles when you topped out – literal climbing heaven. And everyone is so lovely; it’s so easy to make friends with people who have a common interest in the same thing! We’ve already organised a climbing meal and have gone to the Athletics Union social dressed as bats. I go bouldering at Rockover Bouldering Centre on Mondays and belaying at Manchester Climbing Centre on Wednesdays that is stunning – it’s in an old converted church so you can climb really high routes, and then go bouldering in the cosy alcoves in the rafters.
The Life Sciences course has been awesome so far; the other week was our first Labs session and we got to work with all these micropipettes (honestly, firing the tip from the pipette into a bucket is the most satisfying thing!!) to investigate properties of our blood and saliva. Plus, our ‘Genes, Evolution and Development’ lecture the other day was just UNREAL. We all came in and our lecturer said that if we’d printed out the slides yesterday evening they were wrong, because there’d been a new discovery overnight: in a cave in China, archaeologists had uncovered 47 human teeth that were 100,000 years old, showing that our ancestors left Africa in two waves; earlier than the known movement 60,000 years ago. How cool is that?! It was one of those inspiring moments when you can really see we are getting taught THE most up-to-date scientific research, and also that there are many things we still don’t know.
Well, I now have to say goodbye because we need to establish how we’re getting out of Norway and back to England… thank goodness it’s Reading Week! Until next time!! 😀