How your social life can enrich your time at Manchester
Studying International Development here at The University of Manchester has been wonderful, but one of my favorite aspects of my time in Manchester has been the group of friends I’ve made. Whether it’s my flatmates, colleagues in my course, or people I’ve met elsewhere in the city, my social networks have balanced out the demands of coursework and have led me to do so many fun activities that I wouldn’t have done otherwise. Putting in the effort to have a flourishing social life is difficult with such an intense course load, but from my experience, certain things have helped:
Getting to know flatmates!
It can be hit-or-miss when it comes to connecting with flatmates, especially within a university accommodation where you’re living with (more or less) random people. That’s why some people prefer to find potential flatmates on sites like Manchester Student Homes (I met my fabulous flatmates through this site!). Whether or not you choose who you live with, it can be incredibly gratifying to get to know and bond with them, such as through making food together or going to see a movie. From my experience, it’s the small things of having a solid connection with your flatmates – having people you can debrief with at the end of a tiring day, providing mutual support through times of distress or homesickness, getting to know about the places of the world where they come from – that have added immensely to my university experience.
Seeking out social events with course colleagues!
I didn’t originally expect to make very close friends with people in my course, given the busy, different class schedules and my more introverted personality. But putting in the effort to meet up outside of class pays off – whether it’s grabbing a pint at the end of the day, going to a show at the Opera House or Palace Theatre, doing an escape room at Breakout Manchester, or grabbing dinner at the Curry Mile. Whether these meetups only happen once or turn into a regular thing, they’ll not only be a well-needed break from the pressures of school, but also build up the foundations for having life-long connections.
Don’t be afraid to say no
Yes, while a social life will be enriching, I’ve found that I’ve had to become comfortable with turning down invites to social events. Even though you will feel the Feeling Of Missing Out, amidst a busy schedule, the key is to take individual time away, check in with yourself, and do something you enjoy by yourself. Whether it’s going for a walk through one of Manchester’s parks or taking a solo day trip to a nearby city, individual time will complement your social life.
If you’re more introverted like me, it can be hard to seek out people to make connections with. Sometimes friendships don’t take off right away, and sometimes people simply aren’t interested in getting to know you further. But making the effort to build up your social network whilst in Manchester can lead you to experiences you wouldn’t have had otherwise, and can give you friendships that endure long after you leave Manchester.
Written by Lydia, MSc International Development student at The University of Manchester.