Time has truly flown by since I started my major in Chemistry at the University of Manchester – I’ve completed the first semester of my course and it has undoubtedly been both a challenge and a joy. I was, unsurprisingly, initially apprehensive about moving alone to an unfamiliar city. Saying goodbye to my friends and family at the airport and realizing I likely wouldn’t see my parents until the next year was incredibly sobering. Despite meeting hundreds of students within the first few weeks of the semester, I felt isolated and homesick; a sentiment, I am sure, many first-year students share.
Since then, however, I’ve started to feel at home in Manchester. I’ve formed amazing friendships, and I’ve quickly fallen in love with the city and my studies at the university. To begin with, I was upset I’d been placed in a catered hall, but I’ve come to the realization that it’s a blessing in disguise. Although the food at the dining hall leaves quite a bit to be desired, I’ve been able to make many friends by simply sitting at different tables – spending two hours winding down with my friends during dinner is unequivocally the highlight of each day. I will also begrudgingly admit the food has grown on me and there’s something comforting about having a hot meal after spending a long day in the chemistry laboratory.
To all the students who are starting to look into their university courses, I would emphasize considering the university location in your research, whether it be in a bustling metropolis or a close-knit town. When I did my research, I didn’t consider the location of each university, but upon reflection, I’ve realized there’s far more to university life than simply attending lectures and studying for exams. I’ve been able to enjoy the rich music scene, the vast range of sports and the diverse restaurants here; participating in activities beyond my studies with my friends is the sole reason I’ve been able to settle into the city and feel happy, secure and at home in Manchester.
Whatever you may be considering for your higher education plans, it is unquestionably going to be challenging transitioning away from the comfort of high school. Whilst I’ve learned far more about chemistry than I thought was possible, I’ve also learned skills beyond my studies. I’ve quickly adapted to a more independent lifestyle, become far more sociable and conquered my fear of taking initiative. Moving away from high school is a terrifying concept to be sure, but it’s an invaluable opportunity to grow as an individual and I promise it’s going to be easier than it looks.