Saturday, February 13, 2016

Fall 2015 : International Check-in

Guide for new students.

For international student of the University of Manchester, you need to do International Check-In upon your arrival in Manchester. You need to fill-in personal information and upload your passport photograph online via MyManchester. The details on how to log in, the user name and how to set up the password will be emailed by the University prior to your departure.

If you did not manage to complete the online information, no problem. They have a group of Welcome Week committee to help you to register before the check-in.

When you arrived, you have to go to the Whitworth Building on the Oxford Road (the beautiful old building) for your check-in. Bring along your passport, the BRP and the offer letter. You need to make a full payment during the check-in. In my case (HLP), the payment was made by JPA directly to the University. The Committee then key-in a few information, capture your photograph and print the student card. 

After that, you are good to go. You are officially the student of The University of Manchester (because you have the Card ;p).

With the card, you need to go to the SSC, get them to prepare a set of VERY IMPORTANT LETTERS:
- to open a bank account; and
- to get exemption from the Council Tax.

The first letter for the bank had a minor error (it missed 'binti' and was rejected by the bank) so I got them print the second one with the 'binti'.

The previous letter, was a bless in disguise. It was really useful when I was asked for a proof of house address for my sons' school registration and our registration with the General Practitioner (GP). 

Happy Birthday...


Friday, February 12, 2016

Fall 2015 : The first walk

The first thing we need to do on our first day in Manchester is to collect the Biometric Resident Permit or BRP card, at the Student Services Centre (SSC) at the university. It is a resident permit of the size of our Malaysian identification card, therefore we dont have to bring our passports around. The vignette in our passport is only valid for 30 days.
We decided to walk for about 3.4 km (2.1 miles) to the Piccadily Garden before we take another bus to the SSC on the Oxford Road. It was quite far, but we really enjoyed the weather. 
We took a lot of photographs along the way, observed the locals as well as the surrounding areas. We observed closely how they got on the bus (and how they pay), how they crossed the road, what they wore in such weather. We also enjoyed the views, the house designs, shops and matured trees along the road. EVERYTHING IS NEW TO US. Extremely overwhelming!

We made a few stops at the property agent offices to look for a house to rent. 

At Piccadilly, we went to the Travelshops, where we buy bus passes and picked up some maps, leaflets and timetables. For adults, you need to prepare passport size photo for the bus pass. You can buy an annual, monthly or weekly bus pass. I bought the weekly pass. 

Fall 2015 : The first

Their first night in Manchester.
His first breakfast in Manchester.

Fall 2015 : The arrival, London-Manchester

We arrive in London Heathrow Airport on 15 September 2015, after a 13 hours journey. Completely clueless. 

Everything is new for everybody, especially the thick accent. We had a bit trouble at first to retrieve Nazmi's stroller. Some people said go that way, while another 'guessed', the other way. In the end, we have to take a long walk back to the plane. That day, we learned a valuable lesson that in the UK, they called it buggy. If we mentioned 'buggy' from the start, we wont be wasting 10 valuable minutes there.
I have memorised the airport floor plan prior to the trip, a habit I picked up when working in the International Unit and Alhamdulillah, we manage to find our way to the bus waiting area. We need to take a bus to go to another terminal. Our first bus ride in the UK, we folded the buggy. No, you dont have to fold the buggy (unless the bus is full). There are aplenty of spaces designated for buggies and wheelchairs in the bus here. 
I usually recommended four hours of transit for any trip I arranged, but in this case, after a lengthy discussion with the travel agent, I have to agree for two hours transit to avoid arriving too late in Manchester. Two hours is a bit risky, but we determine to run between terminals, with three tired kids, a hand luggage, two backpacks, one Rainbow (lol) and a toddler in a buggy. The bus ride was around 15 minutes.
In Heathrow, before we depart to Manchester, we went through a thorough security check.  I keep all documents handy - the university offer letter, tuberculosis certificates and x-ray films. We queued for 45 minutes and we need to take a photograph before heading to the departure gate. As usual, as in any airport, men required to take off their belt and shoes. I took out all liquids, medications, baby formula, electronic gadgets and helped the kids with their belts and watches. The officers are really friendly and helpful.

After the process, we freshen up a bit and proceed to the plane. We need to take a another photograph (I guess it is for them to compare with the first one - to make sure whoever came in, goes out) before exiting the building. Then, we walked to the plane. The kids were excited. That was the first time they feel the chilly wind in the UK :)
When we arrived in Manchester, it is already 8.30pm. Another lesson learned - You need to have one quid (one pound coin) to retrieve an airport trolley. The smallest we got was a five pound. Fortunately, a beautiful young Muslim lady gave me a quid and helped me to get the trolley out. She hugged me before she left.
The whole journey afterward was smooth. I bought a breakfast cereal and milks, a huge bottle of mineral water and some Halal sandwiches in the convenience store at the airport. Shortly afterward, my aunt's friend, picked us up and brought us to his (future) Bed and Breakfast (B&B). It is still under construction but he kindly furnished one room for us :) While my family were settling down, I followed him to a Halal restaurant nearby to get us dinner. Our first meal in Manchester. Chunky Chicken's pizzas.

The Milan.
Our first accommodation in Manchester. Two King-size beds, a huge table, chairs, two wardrobes and a treadmill, wifi, huge kitchen, comfortable bathroom, all for 100 pounds for 5 days. Alhamdulillah. I couldnt ask for more. The best value for money.