The second exchange period in Manchester in the United Kingdom
After my four months of the doctoral exchange study period in Australia in spring 2018, I spent summer months at home in Finland. The second period as a doctoral exchange student from the Sibelius Academy, University of the Arts Helsinki started in September 2018 when I moved to Manchester, the United Kingdom. My exchange period included three and a half months of PhD research studies in the Royal Northern College of Music. Mentally everything was easier in the second period, especially when knowing that Manchester is only three hours flight distance from Finland.
A warm welcome in the Royal Northern College of Music
The second week in September was an induction week for the international students. The international coordinators had organized everything so well and made us new students feel warmly welcome. The building of RNCM (Royal Northern College of Music) is quite complicated although it is not too big. But all personnel at the RNCM were very helpful, so it was easy to ask to advise when getting lost. I was very lucky again to have such good supervision at RNCM and I had a nice desk to work at the PhD research office. And once again, my warmest thanks go also to Finland to the international coordinator and my supervisors; without their support, this experience could not have become possible.
Living in Manchester
In Manchester, I was sharing a flat with a student who was also studying in the RNCM. Our flat was in a walking distance from the RNCM and a couple of kilometres from the Manchester city centre. The rent was much cheaper than in Australia (or in Finland). Everything else was very cheap, too. Besides the flat, there was a big supermarket ASDA. I think everything was almost free there. When getting the receipt after paying the shopping items I was thinking that there must be a mistake. The same number of things would have cost three times more in Finland. I even found a 600 g box of Finnish candies “Aakkoset” with one pound. In Finland, I pay three times more for that same Aakkoset box. Weird. But I was not complaining (and could not understand why local people complained that everything was very expensive there…).
Hiking in moors
The nature in England surprised me. I found amazing hiking paths just half an hour train journey from the Manchester city centre. The colours in the moors were incredibly beautiful in autumn. I went hiking a couple of times alone and once with a guided hiking tour. The paths were not always easy to follow, so I got lost every now and then, but luckily found my way back home again. The pictures tell much more of the beauty of moors than words.
During my exchange period in Australia, I had quite many difficulties with the English language, but it was nice to notice during the second exchange period, that I had learnt very much in Australia because I understood British English easily and I had learnt to speak English more fluently. After the exchange period, I made the language test and results showed that the level of my English was close to the native speakers!
Life after one year abroad
It is springtime now in Finland and after spending one year abroad, I am really enjoying to be at home with my family. I have now time to take care of my garden and go hiking in the forests near our house. Especially I enjoy babysitting my granddaughter who is now six months old. Yes, I became a grandmother during my exchange study period! However, I miss back to Brisbane and Manchester and especially my new friends there. I remember the sunny weather and relaxed people in Brisbane. In Manchester, I remember how kind and polite all the people were.
I am sure I will go back one day! There are still 100 things to do in England!