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York vs Manchester

We spoke with Josephine Mackenbach and Marlene Cammeraat about studying abroad. Josephine is studying in York and Marlene is studying in Manchester. What are their universities like, and which city has the best night life? Read it here.


by Josephine Mackenbach

York is a cosy city with a beautiful city wall, tower, minster and streets that make you lose your way even after months of trying to figure out how the city map works. They’ve got their Yorkshire accent, two paradoxically ‘one and only’ uni busses, but most of all, it’s got a wondrous character. This historical nature gives an extra touch to exploring alleys such as The Shambles, which served as inspiration for the magical Diagon Alley!

frequently than is comfortable, York offers numerous cafés, bars and clubs for us students to keep ourselves busy if the library life doesn’t suit us well enough. We have our own space ship which we call ‘Central Hall’ on more formal occasions, an east and west campus all situated between York and its smaller neighbouring town Heslington, and an army of geese who guard our lake as if their life depends on it. Our very own YUSU (York University Students’ Union) oversees every student related organisation, varying from sports clubs to the fetish society, and everything in between.

Though we don’t enjoy the large diversity of our Grote Vijf and all other associations, the diversity is expressed in the different societies the University of York has to offer – they’re just all under the same roof. A large difference between York and Leiden is that from year one, students – in at least English and Related Literature – are given an amount of words and can write about anything they want for their formative essay, as long as it relates to the specific module. Although frightening at first, it opens up a more broad-minded approach to writing and ends up to be very challengingly fun.

Aside from the modules our enthusiastic lecturesand seminar leaders provide, we are encouraged to ‘become a well-rounded person’ by doing extracurricular activities, such as taking part in committees, boards or just joining societies for fun! We’ve got nine colleges which all provide housing for students (and mine – Halifax – also provides housing for families with enrolled mature students), varying from 6 to 20 person houses, with possibilities for catering (breakfast and dinner served in the dining hall) and ensuite bathrooms! We all share a kitchen and all colleges have one or more ‘common rooms’, large rooms which function as living rooms with couches and pool tables.


by Marlene Cammeraat

The key words for Manchester city life is 'variety' and 'fun'. For shopping, there is great variety ranging from the large, luxurious shops around Deansgate to thrift shops, second-hand book stores, and other more quirky, small shops around the Northern Quarter. There are also many different kinds of eating facilities, ranging from posh restaurants in Didsbury to smoothie bars and cosy small restaurants in Old Trafford. And, of course, there is the Curry Mile in Rusholme: a long stretch of road packed with Asian and Middle-Eastern restaurants, take-aways, and kebab houses. Northern Quarter, where you can find lots of small music pubs which hold open mic nights where local musicians and poets can showcase their talent. There are also special student nights in clubs, and there are many popular student pubs in the neighbourhood Fallowfield.

The University has great facilities which leave nothing to be desired. The Alan Gilbert Learning Commons, for example, has three floors with an abundance of computers and areas for “comfortable seating”. There are even “nap pods”, where you can take a 20 minute nap when the stress from University life gets to you (a very real threat). During term time the Learning Commons are open 24/7. The University also has its own language centre, which has a film library and separate media rooms. There are cafes all around, there is a church right in the middle of campus, and there are computer clusters in almost every building.

There are over a hundred societies associated with the University. Because there are so many societies, there is bound to be something for everybody to enjoy. Each society is centred around something, whether it has to do with ethnicity, a hobby, a life view, sports, or something else altogether. There is for example a Bangladeshi society, an Aikido society, and there is even a Cheese and Wine society. I myself am a member of the Creative Writing, Photography, and Music society. If there really is no society you enjoy, or you have a great idea that isn’t there yet, there is also the option to start your own. The Students’ Union also organises its own events such as a gala, and a beer tasting event. (A complete list of societies can be found on the website of the Students’ Union []). The University has various options for extracurricular activities, the most interesting of which is volunteering. Most of the extracurricular activities are organised or coordinated by the Students’ Union, where you can go to get information on open positions and apply.

The University halls are decent. Most of them are close to campus, the rooms are mostly decent size (of course, a bigger room means a larger bill), and when applying you can express your preference for serviced or un-serviced halls. However, this does not mean you will always get exactly the room you want. At the start of the year there is a lot of room-swapping going on. Some halls are more popular than others, and everybody tries their best to get the best. I myself live off-campus in Fallowfield, which is a neighbourhood full of student houses. This means there are mostly young people living there, which makes it a really fun place to be.

The University offers multiple BA Honours degrees in the field of English, all of which, with some overlap, offer courses which have to do with English and American linguistics, literature, and culture. Provided that you have the required background knowledge, all of these courses are open to Harting students. For Erasmus students there is a set list of open courses, but even these offer great variety. What struck me most when selecting my courses for this year is the number of specialised courses. I am taking a third-year literature module that is only about comedy, there is a course about conspiracy theories in American culture, one completely about the Great War, and an entire course about language contact. And this is only a small number of examples – there are many more.