A Week in Manchester

Right now it is 12:28AM and I am partially covered in the incredibly snug and warm duvet I got from Primark for £12. My feet and shoulders ache from walking in the cold with a heavy backpack hanging from my shoulders, but my heart is warm with intense gratitude. My friends have just walked me back to my halls in the freezing cold at night for more than an hour, carrying bags of groceries, a glass bowl and a box of food stuff while I managed to once again, get lost on the way back despite the help of Google maps. An hour prior to that, I had my first homecooked meal in the UK and they were all simple dishes of rice, chicken, vegetables, omelette and mushroom soup, but it was the best meal I’ve had so far since coming here (as it should be, considering the fact that all I’ve eaten since coming here is a nonstop influx of fast food that doesn’t deviate from the likes of pizzas and burgers and fish and chips). It’s only been a week here and I’m already tired of English food.

A week. I tweeted this before; this week didn’t feel like a week at all, it felt like forever. I’ve been so busy since coming here that I hadn’t actually had a proper time to really rest and indulge in comfortable silence and not actually being obliged to do anything.

  1. This being ironic because it’s moments of alone time that really brings out the resurfacing of homesickness and missing people.
  2. Despite being so incredibly busy, I can’t actually recall anything in specific detail if you asked me what I’ve done. It just feels like a giant bulk of information that I need to sift through thoroughly to truly remember where I went and what I did.
  3. It’s quite baffling that Welcome Week would be busier than the actual starting of classes but eh, it’s a good way to keep busy and occupy the mind from wandering off to negative places as it is especially prone to when I’m placed in a new environment and with new people.

I’m too exhausted to write about all the lessons I’ve learned since coming here, the profound discoveries and milestones I’ve made like I’d experienced in Sem 1 in Sunway. I blame this on fatigue but if I were to really think about it, there aren’t actually any magical revelations I can weave long hyperbolic tales about here since the first week has really just been trying not to think about home too much and hoping to Skype with my friends and parents as much as I can after coming home from the day’s activities besides attempting to make my room seem as homely as possible (which, in my case, translates to pasting photographs and anime posters on my wall) . But all in good time; things are improving and I’m trying to keep an open mind. After all, I am in one of the largest cities in the world, attending university as a law student. This trope is already a fic/story/TV show/movie waiting to happen, and my tale is literally only just beginning to be written.

“I’m too tired to write melodramatic hyperboles,” she says as she does exactly just that

But aside from that, there are many challenges to face, and while I cowered in the face of several of them, I triumphed in more. Taking the bus alone, attending a meeting despite knowing no one, making small talk with foreign strangers (the mental checklist of Generic Questions to Ask Strangers For the First Time: 1) Their name 2) What course they are studying 3) Where they are from 4) Where they are currently staying at 4) When did they reach Manchester 5) Have they attended any of the orientation activities 6) Have they met their flatmates 7) Was Manchester their first choice; the list goes on if I’m not too nervous to remember them – sure it’s pretty generic but it helps by easing the tension of first impressions and paving the way for other potential conversational topics) and even signing up for the university’s volleyball team (pretty bold move when I don’t even have sports shoes yet). The weather has been nothing but cold (and rainy in between), as expected of Manchester and I’ve never missed the Malaysian heat more.

There’s definitely more to talk about, but in a later, more “official” post with a room tour perhaps when it’s not past midnight and I don’t feel like the lower part of my body is immobile. University life in Manchester is still more daunting than it is exciting, but I’m being as optimistic as I can, anticipating the greater things and reassuring myself in the face of the lesser ones.

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Michelle Teoh

26-year-old cynical Asian, book enthusiast and purveyor of fine sarcasm.

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