Fall, or autumn as it is known in the UK, is my favorite time of the year! Mainly because coming from the Middle East, I never really got to experience the leaves changing colors, fall winds blowing in my face and just how beautiful every single tree looked! Despite the rain bringing me down occasionally, I really just always looked forward to waking up in the morning and walking to class…walking around the city eventually became my new favorite thing!
As the first few weeks began to unfold, the life of a Masters student seemed exciting- I realised trying to maintain a balance between work and leisure was actually not that hard. Weeks 1-4 seemed interesting as I personally learnt some new concepts which were challenging but fun. Week 5 saw all of us at our peak of studying because we had the FIRST presentation of our postgraduate career – and the presentation was for our Math Modelling class – seems weird? We thought so too, how could anyone prepare a presentation for Maths?! BUT, that was the whole point, to learn to embrace a new challenge. Yes, we complained and ranted like high-school kids, but at the end of it, we had a rewarding experience because not only had we learnt something new and different, but we also understood the importance of the golden word Teamwork.
I am sure most of you reading this might have had so many different experiences working in teams – so did I before I moved here – but this experience was different; I was working with people from different countries in a totally different environment, which for the most part was new to us, and on a concept that was so new to us. Teamwork is something that is key to this course – help yourself and also help each other. Sounds clichéd, but trust me, it really works.
Most of my experiences during this time also taught me another important thing – step out of your comfort zone. Often, you might find yourself struggling to do things, struggling with language barriers or just struggling to live and study in a different place, but at the end of the day, making an effort to step out of your comfort zone and learn new things makes a world of a difference. I was never that person who would walk for hours because back in Qatar, I would just get into my car, drive around, get what I wanted and drive back. I’d like to think I see a huge change in myself – I love to walk around and the reasons do not have to be specific – I walk to class, to do my groceries, to spend quality time with my friend, just about anything! I experienced what I’d like to call it ‘a lifestyle change.’
Other than engaging ourselves in learning new things through coursework, we also took this time to explore Manchester, strengthen our friendships and learning about each other. For me personally, it was the first time to experience vibes of Halloween and Christmas around me. I loved every bit of it, genuinely made me happy to see people celebrating and enjoying the festive season. I also visited the Fletcher Moss Botanical Gardens here in Manchester and I could not believe that nature could actually be that beautiful on its own – it was like walking through a spectrum of seasonal colors. I would definitely revisit in the spring to experience the colors of spring.
We also took the time to learn about each other’s cultures – for instance we celebrated the Indian festival of Diwali, visited a Greek tavern to try Greek Cuisine and had a classmate’s mom make Cypriot food for us! I also took to volunteering as a cook at the Holy Name Church on Oxford Road on some Sundays. All in all, these experiences have been really rewarding! With 2017 ending perfectly, I am hoping that the coming months will bring many more such experiences.
Currently, we’re all busy revising for our exams coming up soon, but that being said I would definitely recommend taking advantage of as many new things as you can as they come your way!