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Manchester city centre skyline

Things every new student should try in Manchester

August 28, 2014

You probably know that in Manchester we’re generally famous for football (Manchester United), music (Oasis) and Coronation Street. You may not know that we’re also pretty good with food, culture and world-famous museums.\r\n\r\nFrom a student perspective, we also have three internationally recognised universities and great transport connections both throughout the UK and globally. Phew! Of course, you already know that Manchester is great place to study, but we thought it was well worth suggesting some of our city’s gems for when you actually arrive.\r\n\r\n\r\n\r\nIf you’d like to visit any of the following, we’ve included links to official sites and given a brief description of how you can get to attractions outside of the city centre. Of course, staff and students at IEC Abroad will also be happy to help too – chances are they’ll have their own favourite places to share.\r\n\r\nIf you’re concerned about living in a new city, we also have a very helpful student safety guide over on the New College Manchester blog. Check this out before you arrive – most students generally feel very safe in Manchester, however it’s wise to be aware when you’re out and about in the city.\r\n

Culture:

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MOSI – Museum of Science and Industry

\r\nThe Manchester Museum of Science and Industry makes for a fascinating day out and is completely FREE! Visitors can explore the air and space hall, visit the oldest surviving passenger railway station in the world and learn all about Manchester’s part in cotton manufacturing. There’s also a number of interactive displays for visitors of all ages.\r\n

The Lowry

\r\nLocated in Salford Quays, The Lowry is an impressive arts and entertainment venue on the old dockside. Visit early in the evening to watch the sun setting over the Quays before heading in to watch live theatre, stand-up comedy, ballet and a range of unusual performances. Some of the most popular shows can be a little expensive, however if you want to see a show which rivals those of the West End (e.g. War Horse), then the Lowry is the perfect choice for an evening out. Remember to book in advance though – the most popular shows can sell out months before the showing.\r\n

The Natural History Museum

\r\nLocated on Oxford Road, The Natural History Museum has a real collegiate feel to it – unsurprising as it doubles up as a fascinating museum and a leading science research centre. Entry is free (with a small charge for some temporary exhibitions) and photography is generally allowed. Keep checking the New College Manchester and IEC Abroad Facebook pages – we regularly arrange trips for our students.\r\n

Food:

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The burger movement: Almost Famous, Solita, Byron Burger

\r\nOver the past couple of years Manchester has become home to what can be only be described as the ‘super’ burger. When we say the ‘super’ burger we don’t just mean mammoth burgers of the traditional kind, we’re talking about some seriously unique creations offered by the likes of Solita and Almost Famous. All of the popular burger bars are easy to find and have menus stacked with the most indulgent treats you can imagine. From brioche buns to generous helpings of pulled pork and crab meat, both places are equally delicious (although most people have a favourite!)\r\n\r\nSolita: Northern Quarter\r\n\r\nAlmost Famous: Great Northern (just off Deansgate)\r\n\r\nByron Burger: Deansgate\r\n\r\nIf you are a vegetarian, Solita is the best choice, however these places are very ‘meaty’ by nature, so if you’re following a strict diet, the following culinary areas are much more varied:\r\n

China Town

\r\nChina Town is only a five minute walk from IEC Abroad and New College Manchester and is a wonderful collection of restaurants, Chinese grocery stores, bakeries and office-based businesses. Tourists generally enjoy meandering through China Town and experiencing the sights, sounds and smells of traditional East Asian cooking. Chances are one restaurant will entice you in with a wonderful menu, but if you’re unsure, ask around at IEC Abroad or find out who has the best reviews on Trip Advisor.\r\n

Rusholme’s ‘Curry Mile’

\r\nRusholme’s ‘Curry Mile’ is a long stretch of road with an abundance of Indian, Pakistani and Bangladeshi restaurants and stores. It’s the perfect place to purchase Halal meat and the eateries are generally reasonably priced and offer highly varied, traditional menus.\r\n\r\nA little further out from the city centre, Rusholme is a popular student area and you can hop on the 42, 41, 43, 142, 143 buses from Piccadilly Gardens to reach the main foodie stretch. If you’re unsure of where to get off just ask the driver to let you know when you’ve reached the ‘Curry Mile’ (Wilmslow road).\r\n\r\nWith a number of restaurants to choose from, check Trip Advisor before setting off – it’s teaming with recommendations from regular customers.\r\n

Countryside:

\r\nWe’re lucky enough to have Derbyshire and the Peak District fairly close by, and if you’re new to Manchester it’s well worth taking a short train journey to see some of our beautiful local countryside. If you like walking, Edale is ideal and can be reached on the train – just ensure you take waterproof clothing and make sure you’re with a friend or group, it can be easy to get lost amongst the rambling hills and trails! Castleton is also lovely to explore and has a number of caverns which are always an extra-special day out – look for the rare Blue John mineral streaking the rocks! You can also reach Castleton easily by train – alight at Hope on the Manchester to Sheffield Hope Valley line.\r\n\r\nWhen you’re out exploring it’s always good to take a map (make sure any train or bus stations are marked) or ensure you have GPS signal. Tell someone where you’re going too, when you’re in a new city it’s easy for family and friends to worry.\r\n

Comedy:

\r\nThe Comedy Store pulses with life from Thursday night through to Sunday night and while it’s more expensive on a Friday and Saturday, Sunday’s ‘new stuff’ will only cost you only £3 for the full stand-up experience. On Thursday, Friday and Saturday 3-5 comedians will usually take to the stage with practiced and perfected material and you can even grab a meal at the Comedy Store too! Located on Deansgate, it’s easy to find and students go half price (with a student card) even during the most popular weekend shows.\r\n

Shopping:

\r\nLondon, Paris, New York and… Manchester? While we might not be considered a fashion capital, our city is a shopper’s paradise. From Harvey Nichols to Selfridges and a whole host of designer and high street stores, we’ve probably got the widest range of shops outside of London. If the city centre wasn’t tempting enough, we’ve also got the vast Trafford Centre shopping mall which you can get to by bus. In the lead up to Christmas the Trafford Centre is incredibly busy, but weekdays are generally fairly quiet – perfect for serious shoppers!\r\n\r\nWe’re sure that while you’re in Manchester you’ll find your own favourite spots, but as an introductory guide we think our suggestions will certainly keep you busy! If you’ve got a great idea for a group trip out or would like to share your favourite parts of the city, get in touch on Facebook or Twitter.