You’re a fresher, you’ve arrived in the best city in the world and you’re about to embark on what is regarded by many as the best time of your life. You’ve also settled into halls, unpacked your hand-me-down kitchen supplies and have met your new housemates, so what’s next?
Manchester can be an intimidating place at first for people who are not used to big cities and/or independent living, but as most of the university campuses are located in the the city centre, you are sure to get your bearings in no time.
And you will be in good company, too, as Manchester has several universities, which means you are never too far away from another student. As well as the University of Manchester and Manchester Metropolitan University, the region is also home to the University of Salford, the University of Bolton, the Royal Northern College of Music and the University of Football Business.
Here are some of the things freshers need to know about their new home.
Fallowfield and Withington
Starting off in the centre of student life in Manchester – Fallowfield. This is where most students live in their first year and beyond and it has everything you need in one place – from clubs to supermarkets, takeaways to gyms.
One of the area’s biggest attractions is Platt Fields park, which is the original home Parklife festival and one of the largest parks in Manchester. It has a big pond, as well as a skate park, a BMX track and Manchester’s Costume Gallery, which is free to visit.
Withington is another popular area with students and it has a lot to offer, especially when it comes to food and drink. There are also a few independent shops and charity shops.
If you want a taste of what life could be like once you’ve graduated and are earning some money, Withington is a short walk away from Didsbury and a couple of met stops away from Chorlton. These more affluent areas are popular with young professionals and foodie – great areas to take your parents when they come and visit.
Fallowfield is connected to the city centre via several bus routes, therefore getting to lectures or the city centre is very straightforward. Transport for Greater Manchester has a webpage dedicated to student travel advice, including passes. Individual universities will also have more information about getting to and from university, as well as discounts and offers. For example, the University of Manchester has free travel on the 147 between their north and south campuses.
Unfortunately, the Metrolink trams do not stop in Fallowfield, but there are stops in Withington and Didsbury, which are a short walk away.
By now you will have received flyers for pretty much every student night in the city and you probably have an idea of which clubs and bars your tribe frequent. Whether you find your people among fellow bassheads at Hidden’s Hit & Run or the indie kids at 42s, or even if you’re just out to get your money’s worth at Factory’s Quids In on a Monday night. There is something for everyone.
Also remember to make use of the Academy and catch a gig or two at one of the student union’s multiple gig venues. It is constantly hosting big international names, as well as up and coming artists, so it’s well worth checking out.
And even if you prefer to venture out during the day, there are so many free ways to soak up some culture in Manchester, including the newly-refurbished Manchester Museum, the Museum of Science and Industry and the Manchester Art Gallery, to name but a few.
Finally, adjusting to student life can be tough, emotionally and financially, so it’s important to remember that support is out there. Both the University of Manchester and MMU have information on their website about what to do if you are struggling with your mental health, and both offer counselling services.
The National Union of Students will be able to advise you on your rights when it comes to financial issues, dealing with landlords or other problems with your university.
Facebook groups are also a good way to connect to other students, especially when it comes to finding somewhere to live, knowing which letting agents to avoid – or even selling unwanted Warehouse Project tickets at the last minute.