Advent – the countdown begins!

Advent is a season observed in many Western Christian churches as a time of expectant waiting and preparation for the celebration of the Nativity of Jesus at Christmas.

Although it is a Christian tradition, many people observe Advent outside of the church community. The most common symbol is a special calendar used to count or celebrate the days in anticipation of Christmas. Despite the name, most commercially available Advent calendars begin on 1st December, regardless of when Advent begins, which can be as early as 27th November and as late as 3rd December. Many take the form of a large rectangular card with “windows” of which there are usually 24: one for each day of December leading up to Christmas Day. One is opened every day leading up to Christmas. The calendar windows open to reveal an image, poem, a portion of a story (such as the story of the Nativity of Jesus) or a small gift, such as a toy or a chocolate item.

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Another symbol counting down to Christmas is an Advent candle, where the candle is lit daily to melt a small section for each day of December leading up to Christmas.

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Advent calendars are already available in the shops, so who will be joining me in eating my chocolate treat before breakfast every day?

A day in the life of….Exchanges and Study Abroad Administrator

photoMeet Andy, our Exchanges and Study Abroad Administrator. Andy graduated from MMU in June 2013 with a First Class degree in Computer and Network Technology. While an MMU student, Andy worked as a Student Ambassador, helping with Exchanges and the International Welcome.

A typical day for Andy starts with a hot dog on his way into the office. When he arrives, Andy checks in with the Student Hub staff to see if any students have submitted documents to the Exchanges team.

Andy’s first big job of the day is processing students’ applications that have arrived in the post.  First, he inputs all the details into the Exchanges database. He then passes a copy of the application to the Direct Admissions team, for inputting into the student records system. Andy sends the original copy to the departmental coordinator so that they can make a decision on whether to issue an offer. Once Andy receives a positive response, he sends the offer out to the student.

Andy then checks any urgent emails that have arrived overnight and responds to student and staff emails and over the phone.

Andy works closely with the Finance team to get students’ Erasmus grants paid to them. He receives the documents that students submit and then gets approval from departmental coordinators at both MMU and the students’ host institution.

If Andy does not have to deliver an Exchanges talk, he is planning talks for students about their exchange options for the academic year 2014/2015.

A large part of Andy’s job involves working closely with MMU’s partner institutions to provide accurate course information and ensure that the course is the right fit for the student’s exchange.

Guy Fawkes Night – a particularly British tradition

Remember, remember, the fifth of November, 
Gunpowder, treason and plot.
I see no reason why gunpowder treason
Should ever be forgot…

Guy Fawkes

At midnight on 4th November 1605 Guy Fawkes was arrested in the cellars beneath the Houses of Parliament in London next to 36 barrels of gunpowder. Fawkes was part of what would become known as the Gunpowder Plot; to blow up the House of Lords while King James I opened parliament the following day. Fawkes and his co-conspirators wanted to restore the monarchy to Catholicism, after years of upheaval since King Henry VIII founded the Church of England. To celebrate the foiling of the plot, and the saving of the king, bonfires were lit on 5th November every year. 

In Britain today, Guy Fawkes Night (also known as Bonfire or Firework Night) is a much-loved tradition. Typically celebrated in parks and school playing fields across the country it centres around a huge bonfire (sometimes with an effigy of Guy Fawkes on top) and an impressive fireworks display. Many people consider it the start of winter. It is great to wrap up warm, get some friends together and have some mulled wine or hot chocolate and roasted chestnuts while you watch the fireworks!

A large number of students in Manchester attend the Platt Fields Fireworks. There is a funfair from 5pm-9.30pm, and a huge bonfire at 7.30pm followed by an amazing fireworks display. It is a great community event, with all of the restaurants along the Curry Mile in Rusholme full of people having a fun time.

If you are celebrating Bonfire Night tomorrow, please do keep safe. Wear gloves when using sparklers and never go close to a lit firework.bonfire night