Meaghan Couture, originally from the US, is in the final year of a BA in English Language at the UK’s University of Manchester. She shares some of her favorite things to do in Manchester, and explains why student life in Manchester has been easy to adapt to – despite the city’s notoriously rainy weather!
When I first arrived to attend university in Manchester, I was impressed by the beauty of the city’s old buildings, including those which are part of the university, such as Whitworth Hall. I’d never seen anything in the US quite so spectacular, and it was amazing to experience for myself things that previously I’d only read about in history books.
I was surprised to find how much there is to do here, and how easy it is to access. Manchester seems to revolve around its student population, by which I mean it’s very supportive. Getting around is easy, there are lots of student deals when shopping or going out, and there’s always something to do, right on your doorstep.
Things to do in Manchester
In terms of things to do in Manchester, the city offers a variety of experiences, no matter what your interest. There’s the student village in Fallowfield, great theater at the Royal Exchange, shopping at the Trafford and Arndale Centres, and music venues all around – Manchester’s music scene is really pulsing.
The Northern Quarter has lots of trendy shops, cafes and bars, including Simple, which is my favorite American-style restaurant and bar.
Then there are the art galleries and museums. These are especially good for students, as entry to museums in the UK (unlike the US) is usually free. And at weekends, it’s fun just to go to the pub and watch how excited British people get about football and good beer!
One of my favorite places is the Spinningfields centre on Deansgate. In summer, they show movies on an outdoor screen, and in winter the same area has ice-skating and mulled wine. The city’s Christmas markets are also something I look forward to every year.
Student life in Manchester
Living on campus in student halls has been great. Whether you’re 5,000 miles from home like I am, or just five, everyone understands what it’s like to live and study away from home, and that brings really close friendships. Life in Manchester has given me some wonderful, lifelong friends from all over the UK and the world, and I cherish that.
It does rain a lot here, whereas in Colorado I was used to getting about three hundred days of sunshine per year. But if you try to be optimistic, you can even become (almost) fond of the rain. Now I just buy cheerful umbrellas.
Oxford Road, the main thoroughfare for students, is known as one of the busiest bus routes in Europe. There are also trains or trams, and I especially love travelling by train, as it’s not something we get to do in the US.
Usually though, I take a bus or walk. The city’s very accessible on foot, and there’s so much to see – old buildings, trains, people bustling about.
For those new to Manchester, I’d recommend taking time to walk around and explore. Manchester has many things to offer a variety of different people, and it’s a case of finding what works for you. I know for me, I found myself in Manchester. And for that I will always be grateful.
Are you studying in Manchester? Share your experience in our international student forum >
Manchester is 35th in the QS Best Student Cities.