European Parliament Elections

If you have been in the UK recently, you might have noticed lots of people have weird posters in their gardens – that’s because today is the European Parliament Elections in the UK.

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Every British citizen (and some EU and Commonwealth citizens living in the UK) over the age of 18 is allowed to vote in the European Elections (and the local elections going on in some areas at the same time).

Although there are an abundance of political parties to choose between, including one of my favourites; The Monster Raving Loony Party, whose tagline is “A Vote for Insanity”, the five main parties battling it out for seats for their Members of the European Parliament are:

The Conservative Party

The Green Party

The Labour Party

The Liberal Democrats 

The UK Independence Party

The BBC has developed a handy guide explaining more about the elections.


Connect to Manchester School of Art

Last week we held some online events for students who have an offer from the School of Art. Prospective students had the opportunity to watch short presentations from the Heads of Art and Design, and the Director of Studies from Media and to ask the academics their questions.

Catch up by watching the recording of the webinar.

We also went on a tour of the School of Art’s amazing new Benzie Building, guided by one of our Third Year Interior Design students.

Watch the tour and marvel at the School of Art’s collaborative facilities, open to all Art students! 

Keep an eye on the blog, as we will be rounding up our Connect events from some of the other faculties!


A guide to meals in the UK

And Dish

Food is one of my favourite things! But since moving to Manchester I have noticed meal times are called different things by different people. If you’re an international student that must be quite confusing, so here is a definitive guide to mealtimes in the UK.

Breakfast is the most important meal of the day – how will you study successfully if you’re hungry? One of the most famous things about the British is the Full English Breakfast, which includes eggs, bacon, sausages, baked beans, fried tomatoes, mushrooms, black pudding, fried bread or hash browns and toast and butter! When it’s that ‘full’ its not surprising most people don’t eat a Full English every day. I usually have one at the weekend, for brunch – a meal that covers breakfast and lunch together!

During the week most people eat cereal with milk, toast, or porridge – hot oats cooked with milk with sugar, honey or salt.

If you get a bit peckish (hungry) in the middle of the day you might want to consider elevenses. This is an old fashioned name for a mid-morning snack. Lots of people like a cup of tea and a biscuit. Try a classic British variety such as Bourbon (for the chocoholics), shortbread (a buttery biscuit invented in Scotland), digestives (for those who like things simple) or a Garibaldi (thin wafers speckled with raisins, that are jokingly called ‘squashed fly biscuits’).

When you’re working or studying lunch is usually a quick meal that can be eaten on the go, such as a sandwich, soup or salad. Lunch is usually eaten between 12 and 2pm. Lots of cafés and restaurants do special lunch deals, and you might see ‘meal deals’ in supermarkets, where you can buy a drink, a sandwich and a bag of crisps (potato chips) at a discount.

Sunday lunch – also known as Sunday roast – is the classic, big meal at the weekend, and can be served as late as 5pm.

Dinner usually means the evening meal which can be eaten between 6pm and 9pm and is often a social meal shared with family or friends. Lots of people go out for dinner, and with the range of different cuisine available in Manchester, why wouldn’t you?

Some people call the evening meal supper, although this tends to be served a bit later on between 7.30pm and 9pm. This is a bit of an old-fashioned word now, and most young people will talk about having dinner.

Tea is one of the confusing terms. As well as being the classic British hot drink, it can also be an afternoon snack, or another word for dinner.

My favourite version of tea is Afternoon Tea. This is a pot of tea, with a selection of finger sandwiches, cakes and scones with jam and clotted cream, all served on a tiered cake stand.

After a British meal we typically have dessert or pudding, which is sometimes called a sweet. The classics are apple crumble, sticky toffee pudding and treacle tart, and they’re all amazing!

Easter in the UK

EasterEaster is traditionally a Christian festival that celebrates the resurrection of Christ after his crucifixion.

However, in the UK most people celebrate the holiday in a secular manner. There are a number of traditions associated with Easter that you might encounter over the coming weeks.

First, it is a Bank Holiday in the UK, meaning that schools and offices are shut on Good Friday and Easter Monday (18th and 21st April, this year). So, don’t come into University or call MMU International, because we won’t be here! We’ll be at home eating lots and lots of chocolate, because the second main tradition of Easter is Easter Eggs!

Easter Eggs are chocolate eggs that are delivered by the Easter Bunny on the morning of Easter Sunday. Some children receive their eggs in a basket on the front door step but others have all the eggs hidden around the house and garden, and have to hunt for them!

Another Easter tradition is eating hot cross buns on Good Friday. A hot cross bun is a spiced sweet bun with raisins in it. According to legend, sharing a hot cross bun with another person ensures friendship for the coming year. 

Have you got any plans for Easter?


Student accommodation at MMU

MMU OS D2_53At MMU we understand that one of the most important decisions you will make, after deciding to study overseas, is where you will live.

Manchester Metropolitan University has a wide range of student accommodation available to international students. In fact, international students are guaranteed a place in University accommodation in their first year of study (this may be Foundation Year, Undergraduate or Postgraduate) as long as they:

  • are coming to the University alone
  • are studying for the full academic year
  • have submitted an application for accommodation by 15th August
  • are holding a firm offer from the University

Learn more about your accommodation options and the application process by watching our accommodation webinar, hosted by Patricia from the Accommodation Office.

To apply for MMU Halls of Residence you will need to have an offer to study from the University, which you have accepted. Once you have accepted your conditional or unconditional offer from the University, you can apply for student accommodation from 1st April 2014. See here for more information about how to apply for MMU accommodation.

For a sneak peek inside one of MMU’s student Halls of Residence, don’t miss our live tour at 3pm (GMT) on Tuesday 1st April.

Mancunian slang dictionary

As you get used to living in the UK you might come to hear some of our slang and be a bit confused. In Manchester especially there is a lot of slang I didn’t understand when I first moved here. This post will give you a whistle-stop (adj. very fast) tour of common UK wide and Mancunian slang you might encounter.

UK slang:


Alright – Hello, how are you?

Ta – Thank you

Cheers – Usually a toast when you raise your drinks glass to celebrate but also means thank you.

Lad, bloke or guy – boy

Chick or bird – girl

Mate – friend

Mum, mummy, ma or mam – mother

Dad, Daddy or pa – father

Gran, nan, nanny, grandma or granny – grandmother

Grandad or grandpa – grandfather

Adjectives and feelings

Naff – uncool

Dodgy – suspicious

Chuffed – to be happy

Gutted – to be disappointed

Mardy – grumpy

It’s doing my head in – it’s annoying me

It’s all kicking off – an argument is happening

A tad – a little bit

Parties and entertainment

A do – a party

BYOB – Bring your own bottle (at parties in the UK – especially student parties – it is common for the host to ask guests to bring their own drinks)

It’s your round – It is common in the UK for small groups of friends to take it in turns to buy a round of drinks for everyone in the group. It is perfectly acceptable to say that you can’t afford or don’t want to take part, and then buy your own drinks.

Fancy – to find someone attractive

To ask out – to ask someone on a date

Chat up – to flirt with someone

Snog – to kiss passionately

Faff – to waste time or fuss

Nap or snooze – to take a short sleep in the middle of the day

Food and drink

Cuppa or brew – cup of tea

Butty – sandwich

Fry up or Full English – a Full English breakfast, usually including eggs, bacon, sausages, baked beans, grilled tomatoes, mushrooms, black pudding and toast (it’s not very healthy but it’s delicious!)

Sunday roast – a popular Sunday meal, usually eaten in the early afternoon including roast meat, roast potatoes, vegetables, a Yorkshire pudding and gravy.

Brekkie – breakfast

Tea – Can mean either a cup of tea, a small meal with sandwiches, scones and cakes, or in some parts of the UK it is the evening meal.

Chippy – fish and chip shop


Quid – a pound sterling

Skint or broke – lacking money

To cost a bomb or to be a rip-off – something is very expensive

Go dutch – to split the bill for a meal


Brolly – Umbrella

Telly or TV – television

Loo – toilet

Wellies – wellington boots (waterproof rubber boots – great for jumping in puddles or music festivals when it rains)

Mobile – mobile telephone

Mancunian slang:

Manc – Manchester

Mither – Worry

Gagging – thirsty

Dead – very

Mint – great

Strop – tantrum

Bessie – best friend

Sound – good

Minging – unpleasant

Our kid – sibling or family member

‘Ave it – Hooray

Barm or barmcake – bread roll

Vice-Chancellor’s Scholarship

Here at Manchester Metropolitan University, we like to support our international students, and one way we do that is by allocating over £200,000 of Vice-Chancellor’s Scholarships.

Each scholarship is of a different value, depending on the type of course the student is studying, for example, for an undergraduate degree, the scholarship is worth £2,500, while for a postgraduate degree it is £3,000.

Vice-Chancellor’s Scholarships are awarded on the basis of:

  • Academic merit;
  • What you hope to gain from the course you are taking; and
  • What you plan to do after completing your course.

We are very proud of our Vice-Chancellor’s Scholars, and we hold an award evening where the Scholar’s get to meet members of MMU International, and the Vice-Chancellor himself.

This year’s Scholar’s Evening was held on Monday 17th February, and was a great success. Scholars, members of MMU International and the Board of Governors mingled over Prosecco while being entertained by a string trio from the Northern College of Music, who played a mix of classical and contemporary music. They then sat down to a dinner in the impressive new home of the School of Art, the Benzie Building. Everyone looked very smart and were awarded their certificates by the Vice-Chancellor; John Brookes.

Here are some of the pictures from the evening:

Sian and Kimberley, the International Marketing Assistants, registering students as they arrive.

Sian and Kimberley, the International Marketing Assistants, registering students as they arrive.


Stephen Parkin, Director of MMU International speaks to one of the Scholars.


Some of the Scholars with a member of the Board of Governors.


The String Trio from the Northern College of Music entertained all the guests.

Find out more about the Vice-Chancellor’s Scholarship, as well as the other scholarships and bursaries available to international students at Manchester Metropolitan University.

Shrove Tuesday or Pancake Day!


There’s another British celebration tomorrow; Shrove Tuesday!

Again, this is a day that originates in the Christian Church, as the last day before Lent. Lent is a period of forty days before Easter, related to fasting and religious obligation, although for non-Christian people it often just means a time when people cut down on indulgent foods such as chocolate, crisps and biscuits.

Shrove Tuesday began as a way to eat all of the fatty foods in the house before Lent, but now is typically celebrated by cooking and eating pancakes.

Pancake Recipe (makes 12-14 pancakes)

  1. Sift the flour and salt into a large mixing bowl with a sieve held high above the bowl so the flour gets an airing. Now make a well in the centre of the flour and break the eggs into it. Then begin whisking the eggs – any sort of whisk or even a fork will do – incorporating any bits of flour from around the edge of the bowl as you do so.
  2. Next gradually add small quantities of the milk and water mixture, still whisking (don’t worry about any lumps as they will eventually disappear as you whisk). When all the liquid has been added, use a rubber spatula to scrape any elusive bits of flour from around the edge into the centre, then whisk once more until the batter is smooth, with the consistency of thin cream. Now melt the 50g/2oz of butter in a pan. Spoon 2 tbsp of it into the batter and whisk it in, then pour the rest into a bowl and use it to lubricate the pan, using a wodge of kitchen paper to smear it round before you make each pancake.
  3. Now get the pan really hot, then turn the heat down to medium and, to start with, do a test pancake to see if you’re using the correct amount of batter. I find 2 tbsp is about right for an 18cm/7in pan. It’s also helpful if you spoon the batter into a ladle so it can be poured into the hot pan in one go. As soon as the batter hits the hot pan, tip it around from side to side to get the base evenly coated with batter. It should take only half a minute or so to cook; you can lift the edge with a palette knife to see if it’s tinged gold as it should be. Flip the pancake over with a pan slice or palette knife – the other side will need a few seconds only – then simply slide it out of the pan onto a plate.
  4. Stack the pancakes as you make them between sheets of greaseproof paper on a plate fitted over simmering water, to keep them warm while you make the rest.

The traditional topping for pancakes is lemon and sugar, but any sweet topping will do. I love Nutella and chopped up bananas but I have friends who swear by maple syrup or ice cream. Let us know your favourite topping in the comments section!

Valentine’s Day in the UK


Photo credit: Okishima & Simmonds (

Valentine’s Day is celebrated in many countries on 14th February, although it is a normal working day.

It began as a celebration of the Christian Saint Valentine. The legend says that Saint Valentine of Rome was imprisoned for marrying soldiers, who were forbidden to marry, and for ministering to Christians who were persecuted under the Roman Empire. When he was in prison he healed the daughter of the jailer, and wrote her a letter signed “Your Valentine” as a farewell before his execution.

The day became associated with romantic love in 18th century England, when it became an occasion for lovers to send flowers, chocolates and Valentines cards.

Today, in the UK, just under half the population spend money on their Valentines, and around 1.3 billion pounds are spent annually on cards, flowers, chocolates and other gifts, with an estimated 25 million cards being sent.

Gifts typically include red roses and chocolates packed in a red satin, heart shaped box. New traditions are created every year with the rise of the internet, including e-cards, love coupons and printable greeting cards.

 We’re not very romantic here in MMU International, so this is our favourite Valentines card:

Photo credit:

The International Society

Manchester is an incredibly cosmopolitan and multicultural city and all of its universities welcome international students warmly. The International Society is an independent, not-for-profit organisation unique to Greater Manchester. The Society provides cultural and social support to international students, to ensure that their stay in the city is a wonderful experience.

The International Society is committed to promoting international friendship, and celebrating cultural diversity. From its small beginnings in the 1960s the International Society now has around 7,000 members from over 130 countries.

The International Society is a great way to meet people from your home country and connect with people from all over the world. It is jointly owned by MMU, The University of Manchester and The University of Salford, allowing you to meet students from different universities who have also chosen to study in Manchester.

One of the great things the International Society organises are its trips around the UK. The Society organises at least one trip every weekend during term time and most weekends during the holidays. Trips coming up in January and February include York, Liverpool, Stratford-Upon-Avon, Old Trafford and Oxford. They also organise some overnight trips, for example, to Edinburgh and Bath and Stonehenge.

The Society also holds a number of different language classes including English conversation classes. Some of the other languages on offer in the Spring Term include Arabic, French and Portuguese. As well as classes, the International Society holds regular global evenings, for example, a Singaporean Evening to celebrate Chinese New Year.

One of the main purposes of the International Society is to support international students and their families. For that reason partners and children are welcome to attend all of the trips and events. In addition, there is a dedicated families group which meets every week.

If you want to experience everyday British life the Hospitality Scheme arranges for students to visit a British home on a number of occasions during their time in Manchester. Once linked with a family students are invited to their home to share a meal, perhaps Sunday lunch or afternoon tea, or even on a day trip out with the family.

In short, make sure you sign up to the International Society when you arrive in Manchester, to make the most out of your experience!