Navigating University Life as a Geography Student

by | Nov 28, 2023 | Geography and Global Development, Undergraduate | 0 comments

How is it possible that these first few weeks have gone by so quickly, yet at the same time have felt like an eternity? To me, that sounds like a good sign that university will be absolutely brilliant.

I’m Lilia, a first-year BA Geography at UoM. University is an incredibly energetic and diverse experience that I would recommend to anyone looking to meet friends for life and strengthen their academia, but figuring out how to navigate these new waters can be stressful. Luckily, I found settling into university was a fairly quick and enjoyable process and I think most of my course mates have had the same experience. I think it’s due to our course’s annual trip to Keswick, Lake District that the Geography Department hosts every year for freshers. Legendary trip, legendary memories.

This trip was a huge jump into the deep end, especially since it was the day after move-in date into our accommodations – but that’s what made it such a great bonding opportunity. Looking back, I know we’re all grateful for that trip as it gave us all a common experience to talk about and the chance to become great friends. I would recommend to any first year to prioritise making friends with your course mates. It’s an incredibly comforting feeling knowing you always have people to discuss your work with as well as go to socials together! Go MUGS.

For most courses, you also have the option to choose an optional module (extra credits) outside of your course to complete alongside your chosen degree modules in your first year. A few of my friends have chosen language modules that cover both Semester 1 and 2 such as Spanish, French and Russian and they really enjoy the dynamic it brings to their schedule. But there’s plenty of other options you can choose from, and the module you take doesn’t have to relate to your degree at all – I’ll be taking a Real Estate module next term! So, if you’re someone that’s quite stuck for choice on what to study right now, or you just have a lot of interests, there’s no limits on how you choose to customise your degree.

Outside of my course, societies have been such useful mediums to make new friends and try out things together. If you’re a sporty person like me, you won’t be short of choice of what to get involved with here at Manchester. I’ve joined gymnastics, ski society, the student gym as well as a couple of other non-sport societies.

What has been quite an interesting experience for me, however, is that I’m a Manchester local. So, myself and a couple of my other home friends studying here always get asked “Why did you choose to stay?”.

Manchester just seemed like the right fit for me. I knew how exciting the city could be, and how catered it is towards students. For example, almost everything you’ll need is on Oxford Road so it’s so simple to manoeuvre your way around the city – which is great if you’re someone that isn’t too good at navigating just yet! The social and food scene in Manchester is also incredibly vibrant with plenty of places to go out to with your mates, and I highly recommend the Northern Quarter for food as your first stop in the city centre. But, most importantly the Geography course here at Manchester is living up to everything I hoped it would be so far, which has made settling into the workload quite manageable and enjoyable.

If you’re also a Manchester local and are wondering if it would feel strange or silly to stay and study in your hometown, don’t worry – it’s the right choice, there’s plenty of us here. My daily rhythms today are so different in comparison to life before university. Manchester has a completely new identity to me because I’m experiencing the city in such a different way.

Finally, my last piece of advice for freshers is to treat everyone like you’ve already been friends for years. Be friendly, ask questions, have a laugh and always get their socials so you can hang out with them again. Remember, you’re all in the same boat. Everyone wants to make friends, so a smile and friendly conversation go a long way!

Written by Lilia, current BA Geography student at The University of Manchester