5 dos and don’ts from an international exchange student

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Manchester is a vibrant city, buzzing with culture and heritage. Its illustrious nightlife and infinite academic opportunities make for a perfect student set-up. International exchange student Scott Lam shares some top tips to help you thrive in your new home, as well as some things to avoid along the way.


You’ve got no idea how important it is for you to put yourself out there and take charge in making new friends – the more the merrier.

I know settling down in a new city without your family and buddies may be daunting, but the key step to becoming independent is making as many friends as possible during the first two weeks. Why the first two weeks? Because this is the time where everyone finds people they’ll most likely stay with throughout their studies.


I started out with a great plan of finishing two huge business skill books throughout my exchange programme. Guess what? I didn’t even make it through the first chapter. 

You’ll have too much occupying you, both through work and personal experiences, to be able to spend large amounts of time diving into extra reading material. I did manage to write up a lot in my journal though. Additional books can end up being a waste of bag space, and potentially a waste of money.


The library at Manchester Met is great for being open 24/7, but that doesn’t mean you’ve got to spend your entire life there.

Take advantage of the time you’ve got and spend some late nights in the city, having a dance and a laugh with your new friends. Manchester’s got so many clubs and opportunities for nights out. It’s known as the second city after London, but I’d argue that it’s even better.

DON’T get caught up in an unhealthy lifestyle

I know I just mentioned taking advantage of the nightlife above, and while I’ve had my fair share of partying ‘til dawn and drinking bathtubs worth of booze – don’t let it take over.

There’s nothing wrong with going out and enjoying time with your new friends, but excessive drinking and junk food has got potential for you to neglect your actual needs. 

It’s just as okay to say no to a night out as much as it is to say yes. Sometimes a quiet night in watching Stranger Things is a better idea than partying until sunrise in a club. Just manage your time well and find some balance, and you’ll live your best life over the next few months.

DO try something new

As simple as this sounds, I truly discovered myself by constantly trying new things, and as cliché as this may sound too, it all started with a game of pool. I didn’t even know how to play pool, but because of my drive to try something new, it’s now one of my favourite hobbies. I even managed to beat the people who taught me how to play.

Don’t be afraid to get involved. As the saying goes – if you don’t try, you’ll never know. I had a crazy experience during my five months in Manchester, and it wouldn’t have happened if I hadn’t hopped on that plane and given it a go.

Put yourself out there, it’ll change your life.

Have you own advice to share? Get in touch and write for @aAh_mag

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aAh! Magazine is Manchester Metropolitan University's arts and culture magazine.

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