As an ex-university student and ex-Mancunian. I can attest that Manchester is a wonderful, vibrant city in which to be a student or professional. At the same time, I must confess that the weather is terrible most of the year and that as an industrial city, it does not have the same beauty as Valencia or other European cities.
Although, Manchester does have a strong working ethic and a Northern spirit which takes time to appreciate. As with all parts of the world, you have to make an effort to integrate into a foreign city, especially if you are a foreign outsider in search of work or simply there to brush up on your English.
As I had mentioned in previous blogs, I was there both to study and work. I spent the first 3 years working at Manchester’s Children’s Hospital and the following 3 years at a Sports Centre as a lifeguard. Both of these jobs, provided me with enough overtime hours, so as to be able to cover my rent, food and university fees during my almost 6 years in Manchester.
One of the cultural elements that puts Manchester on the map, is its music scene as it has produced such rock & pop artists as The Stone Roses, Oasis and The Smiths as well as pop acts like Simply Red, to name but a few.
Manchester is also a real melting pot, as there is a very large Indian community, who are integrated on both a cultural and political level. In fact, one of the few main things, that has always made me proud of both Manchester and British cities on the whole, are the number of first and second generation Indian and African immigrants who have been offered jobs at the City Council, Hospitals and other Civil Servant positions in the government, as this reflects the kind of equal opportunities that all cities should aspire to.
The student night life in Manchester is also very good as without its students, it would be less lively. Similarly to Valencia, it too has a wide range of restaurants, although admittedly not to the same degree as Valencia as at the end of the day, Valencia has a much greater tourist industry and therefore, a much greater demand for restaurants. It must be said also that thanks to Valencia’s good weather, the possibility of sitting outdoors and enjoying a meal is much more likely, than anywhere else in Northern Europe. In the North you have to spend most of your downtime indoors.
If however, you are looking for somewhere to spend a year abroad either for work or simply to improve your English, then I would strongly recommend Manchester, especially during the academic year, when the students are there. Then again, if you prefer bigger cities with a lot more action, then London would be my first choice.