Semester abroad in Manchester


Life as an exchange student

Settling in

My journey in the UK started with a two week vacation with my dad before the beginning of classes.

We visited London, Edinburgh and Glasgow before heading to Manchester.

In MCR we were welcomed by Edward (the son of an acquaintance of my mom’s). He cooked amazing chinese cuisine for us and we had an awesome first few days in Manchester.

It was then time to move into my student accomodation in Whitworth Park (see picture below) to prepare for the beginning of the semester.

The following were my finalized classes after an excruating approval process:

Societies and events

In Manchester, I had the opportunity to participate in a lot of social events and activities.

Notably, I joined the MMA society who had sessions every weekend. I learned a lot of striking techniques and even got to be team captain for a grappling team deathmatch.

I also participated in the Imperial–Cambridge Mathematics Competition (ICMC) along with a few teammates from Warwick and Manchester University. We literally finished last place… but the problems were quite fun and the experience was awesome.

There is also a concert venue in Manchester, the Bridgewater Hall. I had the absolute honor to get front row tickets to see Eric Lu play Schubert. (Not to mention, the tickets were discounted for students.. only 5.5£)

Finally, I got to play the piano a few times myself. I sneaked in into the RNCM practice rooms and played on an amazing Steinway D class concert grand piano. I definitely need to get back into the habit of practicing music this summer.

Alan Gilbert Learning Commons

Surprisingly enough, the learning commons (aka “Ali G”) was the place where I spent most of my time and developed my best friendships.

At the beginning, for the sake of a change in atmosphere, I would switch between the main library and the Learning Commons every few days. But slowly and surely, I met some studious people from all kinds of backgrounds and decided to stick to the modern 24/7 Learning Commons as my permanent residence (I mean literally! for a whole month, I only went back to my dorm to get some sleep).

Ali G is a place that continuously fascinates me. A lot of people are there every single day, they sit at the same spot with the same amount of energy drinks and just get a whole lot of work done. I, on the other hand, wander around, take substantially long breaks, have discussions with the aforementioned people, and even play chess and poker as a means of procrastination.

Although I am not being productive during those countless hours spent in Ali G, I slowly became a mould of my surroundings and made consistent progress on the various tasks I needed to complete.

Through the many all nighters with my friends and the awesome interactions with peculiar specimens, I felt a sense of belonging and comfort. I knew that there was a reason I didn’t go out on weekends and instead, without a fault, walked straight towards this mystical building.

I have experienced many things in this building that could be its own story for another time (wrestling in the study rooms, throwing bottles across floors, playing poker till 7am, etc.) and I will forever be grateful for the relationships I have nourished in Ali G.

However, now that final exams are coming up, Ali G became too much of a distraction and I veered back towards the main library or even my room to get some quality work done.


This year I also decided to participate in Ramadan with my Turkish friend Gürsel.

We decided to adapt our sleep schedule to help alleviate some difficulties from the fasting. We would stay up until 4am to do some studying, then wake up around 1pm which meant that we only had a few hours left before we were allowed to break the fast.

Some days were very challenging, especially when we had to focus on getting work done with an empty stomach. But I think with the amount of planning we did, it wasn’t too bad afterall. I think fasting has a lot of benefits for the human body, and I personally noticed that I have a deeper appreciation for food and water.

I even went to the Mosque twice to pray with my friends. It was quite an eye-opening experience; from the sheer dedication of some muslims to the “brotherhood” aspect of the religion, I really felt welcomed amongst the community and inspired to become a better man.

Here you can find some pictures of us preparing for the first Iftar of the holy month.

Travelling in Europe

During Easter break, I went to Europe with Gaurav, my flatmate in Whitworth.

Gaurav is a first year law student from Toronto, and he is a big fan of hockey, football and MMA. We bonded over these common interests and he was also my first study partner.

During our trip we visited multiple cities in Belgium, Amsterdam and Germany. We resided in hostels and fueled on kebabs and salads in order to save up a bit.

In Brussels we visited the European Parliament and the Grand Place at night.

In Antwerp we visited the local zoo (left picture below) along with the diamond district.

In Amsterdam we visited the famous red light district and walked around the Royal Palace and the many canals longing the city center.

In Cologne we visited a Gestapo Museum and walked around the many bridges near the Cathedral.

Finally, in Berlin we watched Herta Belin versus Leipzig in the Nazi Olympic Stadium (right picture below). We also travelled north to the Sachsenhausen Concentration Camp and saw first hand the living conditions of war prisoners.

Overall, we had an awesome week of memorable moments and educational nourishment from historical places and their stories…

but at the same time, I had spent way too much money and it was time to go back to Manchester.

Closing remarks

My exchange so far has been nothing short of amazing.

From travelling to new places around the UK and Europe to the many new friends I have made at the University, I learned a lot about myself and also had a lot of fun experiences.

Throughout my time in Manchester, I also made a lot of progress in Mathematics and gathered some basic cooking skills.

I believe I also improved on my interpersonal skills, especially at the beginning, when I was mostly alone trying to figure things out.

I am happy to have cleared my doubts about pursuing a Master’s degree… countless interactions with fellow students and staff members have officially swayed me in that direction.

If you ever are considering an exchange, I would tell you the cliché line: “just do it”. I don’t know how, but it ended up being so true for me.

I am in the midst of completing a form detailing my experiences for the CSEP program. Here is a link to the document (completed on June 7th 2023).