Before catching the cheapest Ryanair flight I was able to find from Madrid, there were many things that I had in mind when thinking about what Manchester as an Erasmus destination could be like. I had already visited the south of England a couple of times at 14 and I knew — I promise I knew — the South and the North of the country were meant to be quite different.
My impatient self had already been looking for all sorts of information about the city, and I found some interesting as well as not that positive remarks, such as Manchester being as ugly as the back of a fridge — something that I’ve found not to be true, thankfully.
However, no matter what other people may have said about the city, as an English music lover I knew I had made the right choice. It wasn’t only about all the well-known bands that were born in Manchester, such as Oasis and The Stone Roses, but about the passion for music that this city seemed to have — something that I have been able to witness later on.
I also felt quite interested in the whole ‘Madchester’ music and cultural scene and sat in front of my TV a couple of months before arriving here to watch the film ’24 Hour Party People’.
Once in the rainy city, I tried to search for what The Haçienda had been a few decades ago — I felt disappointed to see it had been converted into apartments, but also fairly excited to discover the name of the legendary nightclub had been preserved on the walls.
When my fifteen-year-old self found out about the TV series ‘Skins’, she thought that’s what the English teenage life was all about: raves, drugs, and more raves — which in some of the cases didn’t seem to be too far from the truth.
I did find myself in a Skins-lookalike house party in the middle of Fallowfield and danced until my feet couldn’t feel the ground in a rave-like venue — that’s right, Antwerp Mansion. But hey! Felt like listening to some cheesy indie music you never got tired of? The Venue and 42s were there for you. Wanted to feel like a posh cocktail-drinking grown up and leave aside your usual cheap ASDA cider or beer for a day? The Font was there for you. Manchester has it all.
That’s what Manchester represents for me: variety. Not only in terms of all the options that one can find across the city but also in terms of the people. Manchester is a synonym for multiculturalism. Manchester has made me feel at home. Manchester has called me ‘love’ and has let me love it back.
And so, once my year abroad is over, if someone ever says that Manchester is as ugly as the back of a fridge, I know what the reason behind it is. They haven’t been lucky enough to appreciate the love that lies behind the city’s red bricks.
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