By Caroline Matthews
Moving to a different city can be one of the most exciting things about university, even if it does mean leaving partners, family, home. But more interesting than what Manchester Metropolitan University (MMU)’s international students leave behind, is what they bring with them. To get an understanding of this, MMU’s current project, Migrating Passions has been speaking to this year’s new students, and discovering what they are bringing with them to the UK.
For Rex Ny Shi Hun, it’s the plant he’s brought with him from Kuala Lumpur, that he first planted when he was five. This isn’t some massive shrub by now though, but a plant that he grows again and again. ‘Eventually it dies, so I get a new one’ he says, carrying his current sapling in a brown paper bag. For him, it represents life in his home country, a diverse place where most people ‘speak more than five languages’ and there’s a huge variety of food. If not his horticultural skills then, he does at least bring with him a recipe for delicious Nasi Lemak. A traditional and spicy Malaysian rice dish, it’s a meal that he now plans to share with his new friends. Beats Super Noodles from the Spar on Oxford Road any day.
Not everyone brings physical things though. For Lina Varon, migrating to Manchester is all about bringing the cultural traditions of her home country with her. Or, rather, her home countries. She spent her childhood in Brazil, before moving to Spain. That personal history has given her a love of dancing, meals with friends, celebrations, and a particular party style. It’s something she’s already planning to share. ‘For the birthdays of my friends from here, I’d like to decorate them like in my country’ she says. So, in between studying, Lina is planning parties, beers with new friends, dancing at the Cuban café and cooking Brazilian style. It’s going to be a busy year.
For fashion student Shreshta Ramkaloon, coming to Manchester this year meant moving 10,000km from the island of Mauritius. She did this with little else than the clothes on her back and those in her suitcase. Yet to her, that is everything. This is because the clothes she’s brought are individual creations she’s designed and made herself. She may have had to leave her beloved sewing machine behind, the one thing she ‘cant imagine life without,’ but her creative ideas and passion have come with her. She says that ‘fashion is timeless in my country.’ It certainly travels well. She’s already had someone stop her in Manchester and ask where her dress was from. For Shreshta, what makes Mauritius so special is that ‘You have people from Indian origin, from Arab origin, from Chinese origin, African and Indian origin all living in the same country.’ Her country is clearly a place that has been shaped and improved by a long history of migration. Sounds familiar?
You can read more about the origins and passions of those migrating to this island nation at the Migrating Passions Blog
Caroline Matthews is a Mancunian, wife, mother, student and writer. You can follow her on Twitter @CarolBMatthews