In today’s blog, Jamie describes his experience of moving from Barrow-in-Furness to study Management at Manchester Metropolitan University from 2016-2019.
‘I moved from Barrow-in-Furness, a town in Cumbria predominantly known for their industrious shipyards and steelworks. This wasn’t the career I wanted to pursue myself therefore I moved away. Don’t get me wrong, there were plenty of options out there but I always had my heart on living in much different surroundings doing something more office focused which wasn’t always easy in the area.
I moved to Manchester as I had always been interested in the heritage of the city and the lifestyle that would bring. Although it was around 100 miles away from home, it equated to a two hour car journey and it was close enough to home for me to return and see family and friends even if it was just for a weekend.
The university is located in the centre of Manchester, around a five minute walk from one of the most used train stations in the city in Manchester Oxford Road. It is split between a number of buildings all within close proximity of the city centre which was a major pull for me. I decided to choose this university as I felt confident in moving to somewhere I had visited so many times growing up, and knew the area well. Although this was great for me personally, I feel an on-campus university also has its benefits as it has everything you need and again, is very close to your accommodation. It can also offer a quieter surrounding to that of a busy city!
There were plenty of places to socialise as the Student Union is right next to the main university building. This was a great place to meet with friends and go for a coffee or meal after a long day of lectures! The study facilities were excellent although I sometimes had the feeling they were not big enough given the amount of students that studied there, especially before exam season. The university library which is alongside the main building is made up of five separate floors, there were different options on each of these floors varying from silent study zones, to more group-focused working spaces.
Although there was plenty of support available from the tutors outside of lectures and tutorials, it was sometimes hard to contact them via email simply because of how many learners they were seeing week in week out. A few weeks into the course I decided the best way around this was to prepare questions for the tutor about the assignment or essay I was working on prior to the lesson. I was also able to speak to them and book in one-to-one time with a personal tutor you are allocated in your first full week enrolled on the course. With that said, the tutors always provided an in-depth analysis of your submitted assignments with improvements and suggestions on other ways to approach other pieces of work.
I arrived at university already having a part-time job at a supermarket and decided to carry on working there throughout my three years of study. The majority of stores in Manchester were small and took on many students who had different university timetables to myself. This allowed me to be flexible when taking on shifts and I could choose which worked best for me. I worked two 8 hour shifts a week which I found to be really useful for that extra bit of cash to enjoy myself outside of lectures! It gave me a nice personal timetable to work from and help balance study with socialising whilst also earning a wage. I felt working away from home helped me meet a different group of friends outside of my flat and course mates and this really helped me settle as many of the students I started working with, were in there second and third years of study.
My first day of university was very exciting for me, I had waited what felt like 5 years (3 months), to move away from home and meet people from all over. Once I unpacked my things, I was itching to say goodbye to my parents and get mingling, the first thing I did originally was connect the Xbox up to the Wi-Fi – always a main priority!
The student accommodation I chose boasted a super easy two-minute walk to the campus. This proved to be a fantastic decision for me as I did not have to get up as early as some of my course friends (which really helped me when I was running late!). I shared with three other people and found this to be very manageable and was very appreciative that I did not have to share with 10 other people like the accommodation across the street! The three students I lived with were very friendly and clean – which isn’t always the case!
The university offers student accommodation anywhere in and around the university area reaching as far as four miles south of the campus. Whilst the bus connections can make this journey easy, I decided against this as I knew my surroundings from the get go and helped me settle much more easily starting with something I knew.
Looking back on my Higher Education journey, I am very happy with the way things turned out. I felt I became more confident in myself and really enjoyed all of the responsibility that came with living independently. Of course there are challenges that come with this and it was not always plain sailing, I struggled to cope with the learner – tutor engagement initially but once I began to speak to new people, I settled in just fine. Making lots of memories on the way, I do not regret university one bit and it has broadened my horizons to once again move away from home and learn from the experiences that came with it.’