‘New Beginning’: My first week at Edge Hill

What does it feel like to actually be in another country? If you’ve ever been abroad I guess you have some ideas for the answer. But for me, I only knew what it feels like on 11 September 2019, when I officially arrived at Manchester Airport, to begin my first year at Edge Hill University.

Edge Hill entrance! (pardon my first attempt at panorama mode :))

Hello there, I’m Vy from Vietnam and I’m here at Edge Hill to study for a master’s degree in TESOL (that’s a cool acronym for um.. teaching English as a foreign language, essentially).

To answer my own question in the beginning, well, strangely, it feels… familiar? I remember thinking at the airport and on the way to Edge Hill: this peace, these roads, even the airport remind significantly of my hometown in Vietnam. Except it’s colder, a lot colder. (like, 15 degrees here versus 32 degrees home, yeah?)

Now let me get back to the topic and give a breakdown of my first 7 days at Edge Hill thanks to which I can confidently tell people: it’s possible to not miss home and have the best first week imaginable in England.

Day 1. Welcome to (North West) England

Edge Hill welcome sign at airport
Edge Hill’s welcome sign at the airport

The best thing on arrival is you get free pick-up from the airport by Edge Hill’s International Office. To receive this lovely service you need to inform the office of your arrival details. Your destination should be Manchester or Liverpool airports, and ideally the date and time should fall on the window time on the office’s plans. However you can always arrange pickup service with the office regardless of when you land. Read more about it here.

Edge Hill International Office provides free transit from Manchester/Liverpool airports. This is such a lifesaver if you’re like me, new to England, or new to being abroad altogether. Here to your left is me waiting outside the arrival gate of Terminal 2 because at first I could not find the pickup staff. We could only find each other after I emailed Kay (from the office) a photo of where I was standing at the terminal. So a word of advice from my experience: save all the contacts from the International Office (mail, phone number) to get in touch when there’s a problem.

Lovely weather on our arrival
Lovely weather on our arrival

After a breezy 45-minute transit featuring a lovely driver and a cool English playlist, we arrived at Edge Hill (me and about 10 other international students). Now I got to see the so-rumored “Hogwarts entrance” for real instead of on the iPad screen. Weather was nice and they said we were lucky because it’d been raining days before. Also, on a side note, even if you’ve just gone through a 10 plus hour flight, make sure you look presentable because you will have your student ID photo taken and printed right on the spot in that little house on the left of the picture. It’s called the security hut. Or you don’t need to care because you’re like some people who look great all the time.

At the security hut, we would get keys to our halls room. Using the keys can be different from what you already know and therefore can be quite tricky. But I got help by a student guide from the International Office so no worries. Getting a sneak peek at our new home and unloading all the “physical burden” at our new room, we headed off to the International Office with our student guide. This was when we got a welcome meeting from the International Office, got a chance to say hi to other international friends and a pleasant surprise: a welcome bag from the International office. In the welcome bag we got chocolate, potato crisps, easy peeler, card game, information guides on Ormskirk (town where Edge Hill University is situated), the uni’s Arts Center (wonderful live performances coming!), Students Union activities (free trips and workshops coming!).

Day 2. Tour of campus and Ormskirk town

If you arrive at Edge Hill during the day, after the welcome talk the student guides will straight away take you on a walking tour around campus and to the town center. For me I felt too sleepy after the long flight so I decided to take the tours the next day.

Edge Hill is situated in Ormskirk, a small lovely convenient town, not to mention that it’s a historic market town, which means once upon a time princesses and royals came here to shop all the time, or I could be excused for imagining that. Jokes aside, there is an amazing traditional market in town center featuring dozens of stalls selling everything from fresh fruits, meat and fish, to clothes, kitchen appliances, perfume, etc. and of course, convenient food to eat along the way – pies, cakes, wraps, burgers, vegan rolls, ice cream, you name it. It’s not everyday that you get to see such a lively historical cultural wonder. And I mean it literally – the market only runs on Thursday and Saturday, from 8:00am to 4:00pm. Lucky for me Ormskirk town tour I took was on Thursday!

Excuse me for taking photos of strawberries only and not the whole market. The heart wants what it wants, hehe

You can find out more about Ormskirk market here.

If you’re wondering why I haven’t talked about the campus well first thank you for actually reading πŸ˜„and second, I think I’ll have another post talking about my favorite spots on campus. In the meantime, you can see a professional video of campus by the uni itself and here’s my favorite photo of campus (from the Internet and I added the text). ⬇

Day 3. Friday. Welcome presentation and other important talks

We gathered at the Technology Building to meet Kay from the International Office for a guide to life in England presentation. I loved the presentation and found it extremely helpful. Do not miss out on this even when you’re feeling lazy!

Then came talks by the Student Services team on physical health, mental health, chaplaincy (faith, religion and also non-religion), and the Students Union on their activities, societies and a fun, informative presentation on “consent“, definitely essential knowledge for everyone.

Attending to these talks really make me appreciate the way Edge Hill University (or maybe UK universities in general I guess) approach welcome talks to freshmen/new students. They don’t talk about rules or some other rigid things but instead direct all the attention to students’ health, mental well-being, faith, etc.

Day 4. Saturday. Trip to Conwy Wales

Organising weekend trips is the best proof of how much the University and the International Office cares about you πŸ’›πŸ’›πŸ˜‚

Since it’s been quite a long post, I’ll save the details for another blog. In brief, I feel thankful for this free trip. I got to see the majestic Conwy Castles, Suspension Bridge, the pier and many more. Best part, on this trip I got to talk more with my new friend from Korea! She was so sweet!

Day 5. Welcome Sunday (15 Sep 2019)

This was rather a coincidence, because we already had so many welcomes as international students🀣. I think I was lucky to be around at such an eventful period of the Uni. On this day, free cakes, tea and other refreshments are offered inside the main building where the Uni welcome new students and their parents. My friends and I even got free ice cream from the ice cream trucks outside the main building.

If you arrive in other months (other than September) you may get to experience this as well because the Uni has open days around the year.

Special thing I’d always remember about this morning is I got to talk to a chaplain, Harry. He was incredibly nice and lovely to talk to. I hope to see him again but haven’t got the chance to.

Day 6. Monday. Trip to Liverpool

One purpose of this trip is students on a Tier 4 visa got to post office in Liverpool to get their BRP (essentially it’s an identity card for international students on 1 year or longer course). And the other purpose is obvious: to see Liverpool 😍Again, I may write another post on my experience in Liverpool because it’s been a very long post, so sorry.

Day 7. Tuesday. Stay in.

Rest and process the last incredible 6 days :))

Summary

Now that I wrote it all out, it does feel like a travel itinerary by a professional agent, haha. But honestly I didn’t expect I would receive this much from the International Office and the Uni. All the thoughtful preparations and plans for us international students to get our feet on the ground, to feel at home here at Edge Hill.

The best thing on these trips and meetings is I got to make friends with other international students from across the world: Korea, Japan, the Netherlands, Mexico, Brazil, USA, China, etc.

Even though it’s been a very long post, I certainly missed a few important things. Please look forward to my next blogs where I’d talk about discovering Ormskirk town, especially comparing different shops in Ormskirk which I now consider my forte, haha, and also about trips to Conwy, Liverpool (as it happens we visited Liverpool twice in a week!) and other free trips to be revealed!

Until next time πŸ’›

Also, I’d like to introduce a very cool video blog by my friend Suji from Korea who’s studying here at Edge Hill as an exchange student until mid December (2019). This video gives you a look into what living in halls is like and shows you around the campus. ⬇

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