I received quite significant number of questions related to arrival and preparation to study in Manchester from international student candidates through my social medias. I understand that the university through their admission office has also provided some information, yet possibly they want to explore or to listen to stories from the student who really did it. So, in this article, I’ll try to summarize questions I received so far:
Most common question is about ‘which one is better between living in student accommodation provided by the University or in a private one’. As I met 2 other friends from Indonesia with the same scholarship program before making any plan, we decided to rent a private flat with 3 rooms. It’s indeed way cheaper as we shared also the water and electricity bills. I’ll discuss the cost of these stuffs on the next section. Yet, if you already know somebody/some people before coming to the Manchester / UK in general, would be nice to consider to share the flat so you can allocate the rest of your money other necessities.
The accommodation from the University and other private student accommodations usually consist of a private room and bathroom but a shared kitchen for several people. It would be different if you rent an apartment / studio where you’ll have everything yourself. So, it depends how you want to interact with other students that sometimes you cannot choose because they’re allocated by the administrator. However, isn’t it good to get to know new people?
If considering to use the student accommodation from the University, you’ll usually receive an offer through your email from the university. But, in case you want to take a look on private (non-uni) student accommodation near the university, you can try Liberty Living, Unite Students, Sanctuary Students (Denmark Road Manchester), or Vita Student. And if you want to explore private flats, the website people usually use are rightmove.co.uk, zoopla.co.uk, or gumtree.com. To note, if you occupied a private flat, you may be will need to set up accounts for water, electricity, Wi-Fi, and take care of your rubbish bins like what me and my flat mates did. If you’re living in apartment and both student accommodation from university or non-university, you probably don’t need to.
- The Cost of ….
Now comes to the cost of life in Manchester. Some people don’t need to consider about the cost as their money is probably unlimited. But for some of you, taking care of your cash flow probably quite important. Just so you know, my flats cost 900 pounds per month with 12 months’ contract and in average 50-90 pounds of water and electricity bills each month (in winter will cost so much more since you might need heater). So, each of us roughly would need to pay 330-350 pounds monthly for 12 months. If you use student accommodation both from the university or non-university, it possibly cost 450-600 pounds per month including bills. A studio or apartment near Manchester city center might cost 700 up to more than 1000 pounds.
Related to food and beverages, eating in a proper restaurant will cost around 8-13 pounds (1 meal), a global fast food chain (e.g KFC, McD, or Subway) cost around 4-6 pounds for a meal. If you can cook or process any kind of foods would be huge advantages. With the same amount of money, you can buy some foods from LiDL, ASDA, ALDI, or TESCO for several days. In those stores, a bottle of good wine cost at least 5 pounds (I tried not to buy wine under 5 pounds as it usually tastes horrible LOL). A pint of beer in a pub would need you to pay 3.5 – 5 pounds, yet with the same money you can buy several cans or bottles from the stores aforementioned. Lastly, a cup of cappuccino cost around 2.5-3 pounds based on size that you ordered.
If you’re coming from a tropical country, like me, you might not have a proper winter clothes. Don’t bother to buy from where you’re from as it would be way better to buy it here. Go to Primark or H&M to find affordable clothes (prices are available on their website if you want to take a look). You can also explore other brands in the Arndale Mall and other stores in Manchester city center if you fancy to buy different models.
In relation to transport, I bought a year bus pass for student from the Stagecoach bus company which cost 240 pounds last year (2017). With this bus pass, I could travel wherever I want in the Greater Manchester area only by showing my student ID and that bus pass to the driver. Traveling to other cities using train would be cheaper if you made a 16-25 type of railcard for student. Ask student service center from the university to give you a form to make that railcard in the nearest train station (Oxford Road / Manchester Piccadilly) train station. Also download Trainline apps to buy the train ticket easily. If you’re using bus, a NUS card will give you discount for Megabus (I sometimes used this bus to travel to London and Glasgow); but you’ll have a different card if you prefer to travel more with National Express.
Lastly is about a SIM CARD for your mobile phone. You can use Vodafone, Three, EE, Lyca, or Lebara. Some of them might offer you a 12 months’ contract with unlimited monthly internet, cost 20 pounds – or you also can pay as you go that usually also cost around 20 pounds. Make sure they can be used / roamed in Europe countries if you plan to travel around as well. To note, free WIFI is available quite everywhere (e.g. in your accommodation, university, bus, cafes/restaurants, etc.) so you might also would be survived without buying mobile phone credit or only buy if you plan to go somewhere, LOL.
- Study Load & Part-Time Working
Quite a lot of people ask me if they might be able to have a part-time working or not during the study. I simply said why not (?). Nevertheless, you need to check your schedule and load carefully. Some courses might require more time to work on several issues, some others only need few. My advice to them would be: why don’t you try a month of study before doing a part-time work(?). If within a month of study, you felt like okay to have part-time jobs, then go with it.
This might vary, but a master study in Manchester usually involves 180 credits that consist of 120 credits in form of 8 taught modules and 60 credit in form of dissertation (or project, for several courses). Try to look at the schedule and make sure to your program administrator in case you don’t understand anything related your course timeline before making any decision to work, etc. Any misunderstanding related to academic timeline and assignment / coursework’s requirements might be problematic.
Good friends of mine tried to have a part-time work during their master studies. Yet some of them decided to stop because of taking lots of energies, some others found it quite enjoyable. Tried to compare the pay/fee/wage offered by your employer with the national minimum wage set by the UK government (currently 7.38 pounds/hour for 20-24 years old and 7.83 pounds/hour for 25 years old and over) to know whether you’re underpay or not. I, myself, decided not to take any part-time job as my schedule was quite filled with activities from my scholarship secretariat and other events from the communities / organisations I joined in.
- Traveling (within and outside UK)
I travelled within UK quite a lot because of activities from the Chevening Scholarship, where I’m part of. I also managed to travel to some parts of Europe during academic breaks (also for spending my weekends with friends in Europe). Some of you might need to apply for a Schengen visa to enter several Europe countries. You can apply through VFS in Manchester or in London, but for France you can apply through TLS in London. I heard that you better apply for France through TLS in London if you previously have never been granted any Schengen visa, the chance is higher than VFS (it’s indeed only based on what I heard from friends).
As I travelled quite a lot, some of my friends asked if I ever study as they saw my social medias updates from places. I am quite gratefully that I actually read more journals or books when I travel as I used to read in bus, train, and plane. Traveling helps me to see different sides of the world and gives me lots of inspiration which I usually try to relate to what I read and what happen to me so far.
It’s also important to know our capacity and capability in academic learning. As to me, I understand that my writing skill might not as good as my speaking skill; although I spent 2 weeks or 2 days in writing essays, usually the result (grade) not so different. I feel that I might get better result / grade if there’s any oral exams for the courses, but unfortunately not. My point is, because I know that the time I spent for academic purposes might not give ‘best results’, I prefer to use my time for learning something else while I am in the UK. That’s why I’m traveling, attending professional forums or conferences, and joining activities outside the classrooms. Try to make the best of your time while studying here, based on your version, of course 😉
More questions can be addressed to my Instagram @yosea_kurnianto