Exchange diaries Manchester: Student, tourist, artist

Anticipation. Nervousness. Excitement. These were the three overwhelming bundle of emotions I felt all summer before embarking on my trip to England in September.

There were a million things to do and it was hard juggling all that with my family time and work life. Most people who come back from exchange only ever mention their amazing memories and experiences, but no one ever brings up the fact that there is tons of paperwork, course management and administrative correspondences between your own home university and the partner university.

Personally, I found that the most difficult part of the preparation stage was everything to do with student visas, course transfer credits and finances. Of course, when you finally get it all done, it’s worth it.

I was immensely excited for my trip and on the day of my flight, I could hardly sit still on the way to the airport. I’m still trying to remember my first impressions of England when I first stepped off the plane but I think I was more concerned about passing through customs with all my documents.

I fell asleep in the taxi from the airport and later I remember opening my eyes to a gorgeous city. Not only does the city and its landmarks hold thousands of years of history, the buildings themselves are visually stunning. It doesn’t matter whether they’re old-fashioned taverns and stores renovated over the years or new skyscrapers that reflect the busyness of the modern day. All of this and more culminates a cultural aesthetic unique to England itself. There’s always something new to admire or old to discover.

Although I’m studying at the University of Manchester, I decided to visit London first. My parents had never been to Europe before, so my first week in England became a family vacation of sorts.

Though I’m enjoying the tourist life – unfolding big maps, taking cheesy pictures and general sightseeing — London is also the type of city that beckons wanderers. There’s so much to discover in the city that sometimes you want to get away from the popular sites and get lost in the small streets. I feel very blessed not only to be able to travel abroad for an exchange, but also to be able to share this new experience with my loved ones.

I’m looking forward to being absorbed into the England lifestyle.

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