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!



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?


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:

Celebrating New Years in the UK

New Years Eve is celebrated on 31st December in many countries across the globe, including in the UK. For many, it is one of the biggest party nights of the year with events held in homes, pubs, bars and venues nationwide. Lots of people prefer to host parties at home, avoiding the crowds and costs of official parties, where canapés and champagne are served to toast in the New Year. Modern celebrations originate from Midwinter celebrations which were held across the British Isles since ancient times. These parties involved food and the lighting of big fires to tempt the sun to return.

Like many other cities, London hosts a spectacular New Year’s Eve fireworks display. Every year, 250,000 people gather along the banks of the River Thames to see the fireworks launched from the London Eye, Big Ben and rafts on the river, with the capital city’s skyline providing a stunning backdrop to the display. The image of Big Ben chiming at midnight has become synonymous with the New Year celebration and is televised across the world.

Wherever they are, people turn on a radio or television just before midnight to see the countdown of the last few minutes of the old year.  As the clock strikes midnight, people often hug and kiss each other (even strangers) and it is traditional to sing Auld Lang Syne. This is a Scottish poem written by Robert Burns sung along to the tune of a traditional folk song, which sees everyone cross their arms over each other before joining hands, and dancing.

Check out this YouTube video of Auld Lang Syne:

In Wales, Calennig is celebrated over New Year which includes a parade through Cardiff and the ancient custom of giving gifts and money on New Year’s morning, surviving to this day in the form of giving bread and cheese. In Scotland (where New Years is known as Hogmanay) and some parts of Northern England, people spend the last few hours of 31st December preparing to be or receive first-footers. A first-footer is the first person to cross the entrance of a home after the start of the New Year. They traditionally bring gifts to bring luck, such as whiskey, shortbread, coal and fruit cake which are shared amongst the guests. The focus of Hogmanay, one of the world’s most famous New Year celebrations, are in Edinburgh which hosts a huge street party along Princes Street, with  cannon fire  at Edinburgh Castle marking midnight, followed by a large fireworks display. Some smaller towns in Scotland like Stonehaven hold Fireball Festivals beginning at midnight, where giant balls of fire are swung by participants in a parade down the High Street, attracting visitors from all over the world.

Celebrations held across the UK often go on the early hours of New Year’s Day morning. The 1st January is a public holiday across the country (with a second public holiday on the 2nd January for Scotland) which allows people to recover from the late night. Many spend the day with family and friends, sometimes enjoying big roast dinner. Others visit the local high street to take advantage of the January sales (which now tend to start on Boxing Day, the day after Christmas Day) to grab a bargain. On New Year’s Day, a million spectators line the streets to watch the London parade, the biggest New Year’s Day event of its kind, honouring people from all the different boroughs in the city.

At this time of year, some people choose to make a New Year’s resolution, which is a promise that you make to yourself to stop doing something bad, or start doing something good, on the first day of the year. This might be joining a gym to get fit, or to quit smoking.

What New Year’s resolution will you be making this year?

Christmas in the UK

Christmas is the most widely celebrated holiday in the UK. Despite being a Christian holiday, it is also celebrated almost universally outside the religious community and by a growing number of non-Christians too.

This post will tell you all you need to know about Christmas in the UK.

The Christmas season is the annual celebration of the birth of Jesus Christ, believed to be the son of God in the Christian faith, making his birth an important date in the Christian calendar. According to popular tradition, the Virgin Mary and her husband Joseph travelled on a donkey from their home in Nazareth to Joseph’s hometown of Bethlehem, to pay their taxes and take part in a census. On their arrival in Bethlehem, they found that all of the rooms across the city were full. Wherever they tried to find lodging, they were told, “There is no room at the inn”. Eventually, one innkeeper allowed them to spend the night in his stable. That night Mary gave birth to Jesus in the stable, surrounded by farm animals, where she laid him in a manger. Shepherds in the fields surrounding Bethlehem were told of the birth by an angel and were the first to visit the baby. Three wise men also visited Jesus in the manger, guided by the Star of Bethlehem, which they believed signalled the birth of a King of the Jews. They brought gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh for the baby.

There are many services and traditions in churches associated with Christmas, however I will focus on the more secular traditions followed by most people in the UK.

The run up to Christmas is my favourite part of the year, and while many shops start preparing for Christmas in early autumn, I start celebrating at the beginning of December. In fact, while I am writing this, the International Office is decked out with tinsel and snowflakes! The most typical Christmas decoration is the Christmas tree, which became popular in England after Queen Victoria’s husband, Prince Albert, brought a Christmas tree over from his native Germany. The royal family were shown standing around the tree in a newspaper, and so the tradition began. This huge one is in the Business School here at MMU.


I also love Christmas songs, ranging from the religious carols sung by choirs and in church, to the secular favourites played on the radio throughout December. Here are some links to my favourites; the first two are traditional carols you might hear in a carol service.

O Come All Ye Faithful

Silent Night

The next two are popular Christmas songs that are heard everywhere all December. Feed the World is a charity Christmas song originally released in 1984 to raise money for anti-poverty efforts in Ethiopia.

Band Aid – Do They Know It’s Christmas

Wham – Last Christmas

Manchester is an amazing place to be at Christmas time with the beautiful decorations in the city centre, two temporary outdoor ice rinks and the world famous Christmas markets. If you only do one thing in Manchester for Christmas, wander through over 300 chalet style stalls selling intricate gifts, sample a hog roll, Bratwurst sausage or crepe, and soak in the festive atmosphere.

One of the main traditions of Christmas is gift giving. Typically people buy presents for their family and friends, wrap them in Christmas paper (decorated with religious or secular pictures or phrases) and place them under the tree to be opened on Christmas morning. Father Christmas, or Santa Claus, delivers presents to children during Christmas Eve night and places them either under the Christmas tree, or in Christmas stockings. He delivers presents to children across the world by flying his sleigh – pulled by nine reindeer, led by Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer – and going down the chimney. Many homes leave out a glass of whisky and a mince pie for Father Christmas and a carrot for his reindeer, to re-fuel before the continue on their journey.

Christmas in my house involves opening my presents from Father Christmas with my brother as soon as we wake up. We then go downstairs and open our presents from family and friends with our parents and Grandma. Afterwards, we eat a big cooked breakfast and put the Christmas dinner in the oven. While my Mum and Grandma cook, my Dad, brother and I go to the village pub to say hello to our friends over a quick drink. We return to the house to help with the last preparations for the Christmas dinner of turkey, roast potatoes, carrots, parsnips, pigs in blankets, stuffing, Brussels sprouts and cranberry or bread sauce. Before we eat the dinner, we pull Christmas crackers, telling the jokes, and wearing the paper crowns found inside them. After dinner, my family settle down to watch a classic Christmas film. My personal favourites are the very British Love Actually, Elf and The Snowman.

If you do not celebrate Christmas you might be wondering what to do on Christmas day while most people are with their families. A popular thing to do is to go for a Chinese meal followed by a trip to the cinema. Chinatown and Rusholme will be very busy with the sizeable proportion of Mancunians who do not celebrate Christmas, so why not gather some friends and go out for a big lunch or dinner? Alternatively, cook up a traditional Christmas dinner and see what all the fuss is about!

Tell us about the Christmas traditions in your own country or about what happens in your favourite holiday in the comments section below.

Merry Christmas, or Happy Holidays if you do not celebrate!

Behind the scenes of an MMU International live tour!

I’ve written about Connect to MMU before on this blog. Connect to MMU is a series of informative and interesting online events which give international students the chance to learn more about MMU and being a student here. As part of Connect to MMU we run live tours of our faculties to give prospective international students an insight into where and what they might study.

Yesterday we broadcast a live tour of the School of Art’s impressive new Benzie Building. You can see a recording of the tour here.

Although the Benzie Building is the new School of Art building, there are excellent facilities for art students in the Grosvenor and Chatham buildings too. For example, the Chatham building has a glass hot shop, ceramics and plaster, wood, metal and chemical workshops, laser cutting, a 3D printer, animation suites, photography resources including a darkroom, art studios and the amazing Holden Gallery.

Zee is our friendly student tour guide, and he loves to show prospective international students around MMU. Check out the pictures below for a sneak peek behind the scenes of our School of Art live tour!

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Our camera woman Lara frames the opening shot of the tour.

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Lara and tour guide Zee share a joke as they start the tour.

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Zee answers a student’s question on the stairs in the Benzie Building.


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.


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.


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

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