My final exams at university are over, my dissertation is done. As I eagerly await the results and ponder upon the next chapters of my life, I feel this is a good time to reflect upon my time in Manchester in relation to my time abroad in the Netherlands.
There were some obvious intense changes as I returned back to Manchester, some I enjoyed and others I did not. First was the change in accommodation. I had shared a flat in Amsterdam with one person, who is now a great friend and undoubtedly someone i’ll never forget, not least for his poor cooking. On returning to Manchester though I moved into a house with five others, making it six in total, including myself. Whilst the mess, noise and number of potential mood swings increased, I found it in a way more comforting and more sociable. Not to criticise my flatmate from Amsterdam who in my eyes enhanced my time, but a word of warning, if like me, you like having lots of people around you, then travelling to a country where you do not speak the language (like in the Netherlands), the first few weeks can be a challenge. Certainly for some a sense of loneliness can be overwhelming, particularly if you’re on your own or your accommodation location is not central to the town, city or ‘place to be’. So what I’m really trying to say is before you go abroad, do your research on where you’re going to live and who you’re going to live with, because it certainly for me wasn’t as simple as it was on returning to Manchester, to Fallowfield, where students, like London rats, are never 6ft away from you.
A second change, a predictable one, was the workload. I don’t want to bore you with stories of all night sunday sessions in the library on my return to Manchester, but rather reflect on the way that the constant testing and increased contact hours in Amsterdam helped me get into a routine of regularly working, which actually limited the number of times I felt I was rushing work. In fact, I would say the more regular work in Amsterdam gave me time management skills and mentality that I carried through into my last year in Manchester. Of course any younger student, or yet to be student will hate me for writing this, but I think that increasing contact time and somehow enforcing more regular study would make university far less stressful, as there would be less pressure on large assignments or anxiety about one exam that at the time seems as if it will seal your future fate. Having said this I want to say that my year abroad was a time like no other, and don’t be put off if you are considering it by what may seem like more contact time, because on your time abroad you’ll have time to do things you would never have done before. You can travel from your location, immerse yourself in a culture that I can comprehensively say you will have never experienced before and best of all meet people you otherwise would have never met and as Robson Green often says ‘theres a lot of lovely people in the world you and you have to try and meet as many of them as possible’.
I feel I could talk about my time and the changes that have occurred since coming back to Manchester from Amsterdam and finishing university, for quite a while. I could go on about some of the more trivial changes, like the fact that you cant cycle to your night out in Manchester, or that in Amsterdam you cant find anywhere that does good fried chicken (other than the one K.F.C.), whereas in Manchester every other shop seems to be a chicken shop. However, as I’ve just said these are the trivial changes and I hope that the reflection on what the changes are like to actually live and work abroad, have been more interesting.