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.

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!

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:

Greetings

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

Money

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

Objects

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

An insider’s guide to Manchester

Eating out

The Curry Mile, Rusholme, Manchester

The Curry Mile, Rusholme, Manchester

There are great cafes on campus at MMU serving a selection of sandwiches, snacks and hot meals at rock-bottom prices. The coffee is good too and cheap at £1.45 for a latte. To avoid crowds, go to Couch Potato food-truck outside All Saints Park; the usual greasy stuff but grab a hot dog with onions for £1! Oxford Road has many popular spots to eat – too many to mention – so it’s best just to go exploring! Walk down Oxford Road (or jump on a bus) and you reach the famed Curry Mile, so called because of number of Asian and Middle eastern restaurants, takeaways and kebab shops found on it. The largest concentration of South Asian restaurants outside the Indian subcontinent, with over 70 establishments in a one half mile stretch, there is tonnes of choice.

Dogs'n'dough restaurant, Manchester

Dogs’n’dough restaurant, Manchester

If you want something different, Dogs n Dough is a basement restaurant offering gourmet hot dogs, or pizza served in a takeaway box. On Sundays, you get free sides with any main! Hunters BBQ is a late-night café specialising in game curries. Grubby chic at its best, enjoy mismatched crockery, cheap cutlery and a slightly tatty interior as you tuck into pheasant, rabbit, venison or even quail! If you’re having one of those days deciding what you fancy, head to The Printworks, home to countless restaurants to choose from.

The Printworks, Manchester

The Printworks, Manchester

Nightlife

With 85,000 students, the social scene in Manchester is vast, but there are a few hubs to head towards. Oxford Road (known as the Student Quarter) is stretches 2 miles down to the Curry Mile, and littered with superb places, many offering deals on food & drink. The Northern Quarter is another lively area well worth a visit with a bewildering choice of bars. Whether you’re gay or straight, the Village – scattered around the famous Canal St – has over 25 friendly, tolerant venues offering great music and atmosphere.

Music

For a city which gave us the likes of Oasis, The Chemical Brothers, The Smiths, Happy Mondays and Simply Red, music is a big deal here. You will find live music played regularly in the hundreds of bars and pubs across the city. For big names in the music industry, a must-stop is the Phones4U Arena (or the Manchester Arena) – one of the busiest music venues in the world.

The National Football Museum and Old Trafford Football Stadium, home of MUFC

Top: The National Football Museum
Bottom: Old Trafford, home of MUFC

Sport

Sport is an important part of Mancunian life, with the bitter rivalry between two of England’s great clubs; Manchester United and Manchester City. A tour of the Trafford and Etihad stadiums are well worth it for footy fans. The National Football Museum is open 7 days a week and home to the world’s greatest football collection with over 140,000 items to see. The 2002 Commonwealth Games left a lasting sporting legacy in the city including fantastic venues like the City of Manchester Stadium, the Manchester Velodrome, the National Squash Centre and the Manchester Aquatics Centre. Rugby League is popular in the North West so why not check out a game, or watch a cricket match at the 155 year-old Old Trafford ground, one of the most famous in the world!

The Arndale and Trafford Shopping Centres

Top: The Arndale Shopping Centre
Bottom: The Trafford Centre

Shopping

Shopping is a huge draw for anybody coming to Manchester. There are two massive shopping malls, the Arndale (2nd biggest shopping centre in the UK boasting Europe’s biggest food court and UK’s busiest cinema ) and Trafford Centre (6th biggest but the most visited, with 41 million visitors.) Both contain hundreds of shops including all the big names. Afflecks Palace is must-see gem full of vintage and quirky stores. If you aren’t shopping, it’s still a great place to look around. The area surroudning it boasts more vintage stores, haberdasheries and vinyl exchanges. Spinningfields is home to some of the more upmarket shops like All Saints, Armani and Ted Baker – the destination to go if you are looking to treat yourself.

John Rylands Library

John Rylands Library

Hidden gems

A must-see is the stunning John Ryland’s Library. Regarded as one of the most beautiful libraries in the world, it doesn’t disappoint. It’s Gothic style architecture – inside and out – transforms you to a different world. It may not be an obvious destination, but it is one of the most impressive with great exhibitions alongside medieval illuminated manuscripts dating to the 1400’s, making it an amazing space to learn, visit and study in!

Ski or snowboard on the UK’s longest indoor slope at Chill Factore or indoor-skydive next door at Airkix. For something more relaxing, check out Heaton Park with an historic hall, farm and animal centre, boating lake and tram museum to visit. On rare sunny days, head to St. Johns gardens – just off Lower Byrom St – a little known green oasis is in the heart of the city, perfect for a picnic! Wherever you are in the city, you will see the rolling hills of the Pennines on the horizon. Never forget that the Peak District is literally on your door step – a short car or train journey – will take you to some of the most beautiful, idyllic countryside the UK has to offer!

Manchester horizon and Peak District

Top: Manchester horizon
Bottom: Peak District

Tell us about your favourite places in Manchester in the comment’s section below!

 

A guest blog by David Heffer.

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.

 

Halloween in the UK

Halloween picture

Halloween is celebrated across the UK on 31st October. It used to be called All Hallows Eve; the day before All Saints Day, which is observed on 1st November. Halloween’s origins lie in the pagan festivals traditionally held at the end of October across the British Isles. The Samhain festival, observed on this day, was the most significant of the Celtic year, marking the beginning of winter. It was believed the people who had died in the previous year made their journey into the Otherworld; animals, fruits and vegetables were sacrificed and bonfires lit to aid the spirits on their way. People believed the veil between this world and the Otherworld was at its thinnest on Samhain and so the spirits of dead people could return to walk among the living for one night a year. To ward off any spirits, people only ventured outside in spooky or ghostly costumes.

Today, as a result of this pagan tradition, many people in the UK host Halloween parties where guests are invited to dress up – usually as skeletons, ghosts, vampires or other scary figures. Many people also play apple bobbing, where a bucket filled with water and some apples. Players take it in turns to catch an apple between their teeth, with their hands held behind their back at all times. It’s great fun and you should give it a try if you have the chance. Traditionally the first person to catch an apple will be the next person to get married!

Other popular symbols of the festival include bats, spiders and pumpkins. People carve pumpkins which are lit by a candle inside and called Jack O’ Lanterns. The tradition stems from Irish folklore. The tale goes that a clever but lazy man called Jack was due to die on Halloween. When the devil came to collect his soul, Jack tricked him into turning himself into a shilling. Jack instantly grabbed the coin with his hand, which bore a cross-shaped scar, and trapped the devil inside. He only agreed to let the devil out if he granted him one more year of life. After returning one year later, the next Halloween, Jack tricked the devil again. This time it was into climbing into a tree which Jack then carved a cross on, trapping the devil inside. He only set the devil free after he agreed to give Jack ten more years of life. When Jack eventually died, St. Peter refused to grant him entry into heaven, as he had never performed a selfless act in his life and a seething Satan refused to claim his soul. The devil tossed a burning coal into a hollowed out pumpkin and he banished Jack to wander the world forever. You may spot his pumpkin on Halloween night!

Whatever you are doing, I hope you have a spectacularly spooky Halloween!

A guest post by David Heffer – a student ambassador helping in the International Office.