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Sandwich placement year at Faurecia Clean Mobility by George Seach (BSc Human Geography)

Deciding to choose a year in industry was one of the best decisions of my life. It enabled me to experience career pathways that I would never have experienced otherwise.

Furthermore, placement allowed for a year away from academia, a vital way for me to apply academic theory in the practical world of work. I was fortunate enough to apply my passion of sustainability in the context of the automotive manufacturing industry.

My 12-month journey started with Faurecia clean mobility on the 31st August 2017. I was located in a beautiful village called Lichfield which was only a 5-minute drive to my work on Fradley Park. My role was the Health, Safety and Environment (HSE) coordinator of the plant. The key aspects of the job were two-fold: the first was to reduce injuries within the plant; and secondly, but equally important, was to reduce the plant’s negative environmental impacts. At the beginning this was very daunting, however like everything, you learn and develop skills the more experience you are exposed to.

Faurecia is a global automotive organisation that supplies companies such as Jaguar Land Rover (JLR) and Toyota where environmental performance, particularly the improvement of this concept is engrained into their corporate culture. Thus, environmental targets were to be my focus for the year. Therefore, the placement allowed me to coordinate and attain environmental compliance audit certifications such as Tennaxia, ISO14001 and IATF16949 which have proved to be an invaluable experience in the environmental field. Whilst this was challenging, as accountability for the company’s performance was held on my shoulders, the end reward gave me confidence to pursue gradually more challenging tasks. It is this confidence and time management that I have taken into my final year with a fresh mind, and I can thank Faurecia for that, as they will never let an employee fail.

There were 8 other students in different departments, however the relaxed workplace environment made it a good place to be when banter was flying around the office. Furthermore, due to finishing at 2:30pm on Fridays it made for a great social life allowing for us to go out into the town or to Birmingham with the purchase of cheap train tickets.

The development of the aforementioned attributes such as time management, confidence and environmental knowledge resulted in my employability skills increasing significantly.

It is for this reason I urge all students to consider undergoing a placement year to not only enhance your career prospects but most importantly to experience different work environments, which allows you to identify and develop your passions first hand.

November 14th, 2018 - 10:08am

Sandwich Placement Year with Bosch Thermotechnology by Lauren Casey (BSC Environmental Management and Sustainability)

I completed my year in industry for Bosch Thermotechnology which is a boiler manufacturing plant in Clay Cross, Derbyshire. My role within the company was a 12-month internship for the Health, Safety & Environment team and I worked closely with the Facilities department throughout.

My responsibilities included internal combined audits of the ISO 14001, OHSAS18001 and 1SO 50001 management system, risk assessments, accident reports and monthly statistics, managing the COSHH database, liaising with occupational health, FIT tests, being an active member and taking minutes for the Health & Safety committee meetings and the quarterly Energy review, managing and enforcing personal protective equipment (PPE), legionella sampling and working on various projects throughout the year which made a real life impact on processes throughout the factory and business.

At the beginning of my placement I was provided with a two-week in-depth handover. In this two-week handover, I was welcomed into the company and shown all my responsibilities by shadowing the previous HSE intern and it wasn’t long until I developed the skills I needed and found my feet! All members of staff were very welcoming and willing to answer any questions I had.

There was a brilliant social aspect with working at Bosch as they hire 10 interns a year throughout various departments in the Clay Cross site, we would work on projects together and all became quite close friends. We finished at 12pm on Fridays so we organised activity days out go-karting, bowling, laser-tag and bubble football followed by a night out in Sheffield. At our ‘big sister’ site in Worcester, there are approximately 70 interns and they host an intern welcome day at the beginning of the year in which we got to travel to Worcester and meet other interns in different departments that we would be working with throughout the year. I also got to go to the NEC in Birmingham to attend the Facilities Event and Fire Safety conference.

I was also able to base my dissertation on Bosch and collect my data whist on placement giving me an upper hand when returning to uni for my final year. My placement year provided me with invaluable skills in a professional environment as it gave me the confidence to communicate and present to senior members of staff which I am very grateful for.

Working at Bosch for my year in industry has been one of the best experiences and I would encourage anyone thinking of doing a placement year to do so!

October 29th, 2018 - 11:03am

Year abroad in Stockholm, Sweden by Leia Kieswetter (BSc Human Geography)

When a once in a lifetime opportunity comes around, why would you let it pass you by? I was extremely fortunate that MMU offer the chance to study abroad both in Europe and further afield in places such as the U.S and Australia.

Due to my financial situation I didn’t originally see moving abroad as a viable option. However, with further research I realised that the Erasmus grant would allow me to turn my dream into reality. So, I took the plunge and applied to study at Stockholm University in Sweden.

The Swedish capital is a truly extraordinary and beautiful place. Built on 14 islands, you’re surrounded by water, this means your morning commute can be taken by boat which will get you from A – B. There is so much to see in Stockholm, every week there was another museum or art exhibition to explore, another archipelago trip to take. One of my favourite spots was the stunning 14th century old town; Gamla Stan. Admiring the colourful buildings and narrow, winding cobblestone streets over a big bowl of hot chocolate almost made you forget about the freezing cold.

 

The Frescati campus at Stockholm University was equally as beautiful, especially in the wintertime. The interesting architecture of the ‘geovetenskapens hus’ definitely made those 9ams more bearable.

The classes themselves were very interesting, during my first week we went on a fieldtrip around the outskirts of city this was a great way to learn about the history and culture of my new surroundings. Moreover, the huge international community at the university meant you were never short on new people to meet.

I learnt so much about different cultures and made many lifelong friends from all over world, it is great to think if I book flight now I have bed and a friendly face somewhere waiting for me.

Nevertheless, the experience was not without its challenges and finding accommodation was the biggest one. If you’re lucky you will win the housing the lottery with SU, this accommodation is cheaper and in the best location possible. However, most people will not be that lucky.

I ended up paying a very expensive monthly price to someone I found on Facebook. This worked out for me, but there are also scams, so my advice is be aware, if your gut tells you something is not right, it probably isn’t. If you’re persistent things will work out eventually.

Living in Sweden also offered a massive financial challenge, the cost of living is much higher. I was roughly spending £60/70 on my weekly shop and I had to make sacrifices to accommodate for this. I would choose to save my money in order to travel rather than go out drinking every weekend. This meant I was able to go to Uppsala, Gothenburg, Oslo, Helsinki, Riga, Latvia, St Petersburg’s, Warsaw and more. The Erasmus grant was a major help, but I cannot stress enough that you will need additional savings if you’re considering anywhere in Scandinavia as a destination.

Despite the dark days, cold climate and my empty piggybank, the entire experience has really changed my outlook on the world and of my own self. I have had best experiences and the memories made on these trips will stay with me forever.

October 25th, 2018 - 13:37pm

A Rough Guide to… a year abroad in Bergen, Norway by Jessica Peach (BSc Ecology and Conservation)

My first semester started in August in this beautiful Norwegian city. I am living in student halls 10 minutes from university and 15 minutes from the mountains Ulriken and Blåmanen.

Although Bergen is famously very rainy, you quickly adapt – as they say here, “Det finnes ikke dårlig vær, bare dårlige klær” (“No such thing as bad weather, only bad clothing”).

Hiking

The University of Bergen is amazing and there is flexibility to study subjects that wouldn’t normally be available to me at MMU. For example, I have taken a Norwegian language module and a psychology module, as well as extremely interesting biology and ecology modules, taught by friendly, fun, experts in their field. At the beginning of the autumn semester we went on a small fieldtrip to a beautiful island to study coastal heathlands, and it was a great place to get to know my new classmates and lecturer, as well as an excuse to explore more of this country!

When I have a day off uni and the sun is shining, I often go on a hike up a mountain or walk to a fjord. I have also travelled further afield in Norway, hiking and camping to get to places such as Trolltunga and Preikstolen.

Bergen is a very cultural city and there are always free or cheap events happening. I volunteered at the two-day Ølfest (beer festival) in August, which introduced me to new friends and we got paid in leftover drinks and food! I also watched a dance performance at the Grieghallen, saw the World Cycling Championships, and entered a gingerbread house to the famous Pepperkakebyen.

Outdoor lectures at Lygra on our field trip

Catching mackerel for tea

Bergen airport has been the gateway for my friends and I to explore the rest of Scandinavia, and we took the opportunity to explore the Arctic on road trips in Norway and in Finland, enjoying saunas and ice-lake swimming, seeing moose and meeting the native Sami people and their reindeers. We also took a cruise to Denmark, and plan to visit Sweden before we leave in June.

Taking a year abroad has been the most rewarding part of my university experience so far.

I have learnt how important it is to balance leisure and time outdoors with studying, and in this expensive country I have seriously improved my budgeting game (and how to ration alcohol bought in Duty Free a month ago!). Norway has been an amazing country to live and study in, and I know when I leave this year abroad I won’t be saying goodbye to Bergen forever.

 

March 7th, 2018 - 17:08pm

A Rough Guide to… a year abroad at Bridgewater State University, USA by Isaac Jolly (BSc Human Geography)

Choosing to study abroad at Bridgewater State University was possibly one of the best decisions I have made so far in my academic career. 

The reward has been experiences and insights I never thought I would get. Although daunting at first, studying in such an alien environment has pushed me to learn more about myself as a person and a student.

Bridgewater State University, located in the state of Massachusetts on the East coast of the USA, is about a 1-hour train journey from the city of Boston. The campus has its own train station on the commuter line that runs straight into Boston.  While the town of Bridgewater itself is small it has all the amenities that you need. I lived on campus in accommodation with a roommate and shared bathrooms, which was a new experience. However, I feel that this really aided me in making strong and lifelong friendships.

One thing I love about Bridgewater State University is the social and events side. There were always events and societies happening around campus. I attended numerous events put on by the Programme Council including homecoming events, welcome week and I even took part in a flag football tournament.

The main thing I have really enjoyed about my year studying abroad is travelling, and as a human geography student, I feel this has really aided my learning and understanding of the vivid and complex environments around me.

I visited Boston many times including for sporting events involving the city’s hockey, baseball and basketball teams. In terms of location, I found it relatively easy to travel and visit other cities along the East coast including Washington D.C, New York and Philadelphia.

Overall, I have loved my time at Bridgewater State University, as I have been able to develop new ways to study and learn as a student, while also learning new things about myself. I feel that upon returning to MMU for my final year, I will bring a revitalized set of skills to enable me to take on the final parts of my studies. The friends I have made at Bridgewater State, and people I have met along the way, will stay with me and will hopefully remain friends for many years to come.

One tip I would give to anyone considering to study abroad at Bridgewater State University is to make sure you budget well and in advance as a lot of costs can build up.

 

February 27th, 2018 - 09:41am

Sandwich Year at Paignton Zoo by Alice Litchfield (BSc Geography with Sandwich Year)

Choosing a degree at the age of 18 can be a daunting process and it is safe to say I didn’t know the career path I was ready for at that point, just that I was interested in animals and the world around me. Therefore, my year in industry has been invaluable in terms of unlocking doors for me and setting me on my career path in animal conservation.

I was the advocacy research placement student for Whitley Wildlife Conservation Trust based at Paignton Zoo in Devon. I worked alongside eight other students and we all completed a research project. Mine was based around visitor learning in an onsite exhibit, crocodile swamp. This meant I asked questionnaires to members of the public to try and establish what messages the zoo was sending across to the visitor and how to improve the conservation message the zoo sent out. Our research projects were then analysed, I used statistics and graphs and created a poster. This was then presented at the BIAZA (British and Irish Association of Zoos and Aquariums) research conference, where I gained an award for the research I had conducted.

Furthermore, working in a zoo was as good as it sounds, the first few weeks we met the different departments and spent time shadowing the keepers. I got to feed rhinos, giraffes, giant tortoise and our elephant, plus many more. Every day there were different activities we could get involved in including animal behaviour studies and ecology work.

Overall the placement experience was incredible, it showed me a path to many more conservation jobs that I never knew existed. Plus, I got to work with some of the top researchers in the field and got to see the everyday conservation work that happens on every continent. We got to attend talks from researchers from all over the world and attended two formal conferences. It was an amazing experience and I would encourage anyone to complete a placement.

February 26th, 2018 - 09:43am

Geography at Manchester Met – Meet Ifrah and Chloe

February 22nd, 2018 - 14:36pm

A Rough Guide to… a year abroad at Lund University, Sweden by Tom Hall (BSc Human Geography)

The city of Lund is located in the southernmost county of Sweden, Skåne. It is a 10 minute train ride from the large city of Malmö and a 40 minute train ride from Copenhagen, so the liveliness of a metropolitan area is always close by. Like much of Scandinavia, there is a shortage in housing making it quite difficult to find accommodation, however, with perseverance myself and other students in the same situation found somewhere permanent after a week or so.

Dalby Söderskog National Park

I studied at Lund University in its historic 350th year, this ancient university is within the top  0.4% of the world’s universities. It’s teaching and academic material are a testament to this, you will find transparent teachers, interesting course material and flexible learning.

The courses that I have taken have been related to my degree but are not things I have directly studied back at MMU, allowing for a certain sense of academic freedom, whilst still complementing your studies back home. Also, all lectures start at 15 minutes past the hour which is helpful for those chilly winter mornings.

My time at the university has been invaluable, I have created lifelong friendships and connections all over the world due to the university giving much attention to its international facilities. Lund also offers great integration programmes into Swedish student life. These range from language cafe’s and films about Swedish culture, to mixed nationality Swedish and international courses, allowing you to make friends from all around the world.

The university’s main social aspects lie within the 13 Student Nations, which are sort of like club houses where you can find work, accommodation and social events. Nations are an integral part of being a student in Lund and offer many opportunities to meet new friends and try different things. I have become involved in the Hallands and Sydskånska nations, where I have cooked food to be bought at lunchtime and DJ’d with friends at the Sydskånska club. You’ll also find some of the cheapest food and drink at here, so keep that in mind.

Unlike other areas of Sweden, Skåne, does not get excessively cold. It’s climate is much like the UK’s (rain included), but the spring and summer are much warmer which is a great benefit as Lund is filled with greenspace and parks and has national parks close by which are great for kayaking, hiking and any other outdoor activity.

Sweden is an expensive country, and it’s advisable to save some money before coming and budget well whilst here. But despite this, you will not have to make any sacrifices in your lifestyle and can live very comfortably. You will, however, need to dust off your old bike and have a practice before coming. Cycling is the best and most enjoyable way to get around the city.

Studying abroad has made me feel the need to continue my international experience, by applying to internships and experiences in China and Canada. I am also thinking about returning to Scandinavia for a Masters programme, after my I complete my undergraduate degree. 

Universitetshuset in Lundagård Park

 

February 14th, 2018 - 16:08pm

A Rough Guide to… a year abroad at the University of the Fraser Valley, Canada by Sophie Gittins (BSc Geography)

For my Worldwide Exchange I travelled to British Columbia, Canada. The little town of Abbotsford B.C. sits right in the heart of the Fraser Valley, an hour south of Vancouver, just 10 minutes from the U.S.A border. It is a rural, farming town but has all the local necessities to make life here easy. The only thing that is difficult and impractical is living without a car (this place is very difficult to navigate around just relying on public transport).

However, if you want to experience British Columbia in all its natural beauty, then this is the ideal location. Surrounded by farmland, mountains, forests and lakes, this place blew my mind from the outset.

It is vastly different from the hustle of city life, and if you are looking for nightclubbing and bar hopping, this is not the town for you.

I studied at the University of the Fraser Valley (UFV) which is a very small, college style campus. The class sizes have a maximum of 30 people and the semester runs for 4 months with a mid-term and final exam. This means there is an intense relationship with the professors, which is lovely as they know you by name and can help assess any issues you may have.

During my time here, I studied several different modules covering both physical and human geography. UFV helped me regain a passion for my subject as Canada is so huge and there is so much to learn about.

The campus is very small in comparison to Manchester Met and the only available student residency is Baker House which sits on campus and has 200 international students. It is a great way to meet and interact with people from all over the world. Canadian students do not choose to live on campus as they have family who live in Abbotsford, however, you will be able to interact with Canadians during class time.

Over these past two semesters at UFV I have made lifelong friends and memories that will stay with me forever. I have experienced incredible things such as whale watching, skiing in Whistler Blackcomb, visiting Lake Louise in Banff National Park and taking a road trip to Calgary, Alberta. Being so close to the U.S.A, also allowed for easy access to travel to Seattle and Portland. The whole of North America is relatively easy and cheap to travel to.  I have been lucky enough to travel to Toronto to see Niagara Falls and south to New York along with Miami, Florida.

My only advice for anyone visiting the Fraser Valley is to immediately buy or rent a car as this will increase accessibility. This valley is not for those looking for nightlife, but it is certainly a chance to see the wonder and beauty that Canada has to offer.

This was certainly a big jump out of my comfort zone and a big step from two years living a city lifestyle. However, I recommend that everybody travels abroad!!! It is an experience you will never forget.

February 5th, 2018 - 15:42pm

A Rough Guide to… a year abroad at the University of Newcastle, Australia by Alex Jones (BSc Human Geography)

MMU’s study abroad program was one of the biggest incentives for me to apply to MMU.

I had always loved the idea of spending a year in another country and more specifically, Australia. Once the application phase was over and I was accepted to the University of Newcastle Australia (UoN) I was very excited to see what the year had in store for me.

Newcastle is a port city located on Australia’s east coast, around 2 hours’ drive North of Sydney with countless beautiful beaches and a post-industrial aesthetic. UoN is a campus university and I was based in one of the many new, open plan halls of residence. This is where I met heaps of people from around Aus and the world. One of my favourite things about living abroad is the strong sense of community, friendly rivalry and individual identity between each halls of residence (colleges). As soon as I moved in we had freshers’ week which included parties and events thrown by my college which helped everyone meet each other and quickly make friends. The friends and people you meet whilst on your year abroad is one of the best thing about going on a year abroad, you’ll meet mates that you’ll chat to even after you go back to MMU. For example I have a group of friends travelling to Europe this December who are spending Christmas with me and my family.

One of my biggest recommendations if choosing to go to Newcastle for study abroad would be to apply to live on campus in one of the colleges. As well as easily meeting friends, the uni runs weekly sports and arts events against the other colleges forming a strong sense of college pride and competition.

The Australian weather was a love hate relationship during my year abroad. Having amazing sunny weather all year round was a welcome change to Manchester’s infamous climate. It made it possible to have countless BBQ’s, go to the beach as often as you want and wear shorts 24/7 but with such warm weather comes the danger of gaining an embarrassing lobster-shade sun burn. The heat during the summer can exceed 40°C, which for some sounds like paradise but for others may be more problematic.

Another useful tip is making friends with cars or buying a car yourself. Due to the vast size of Australia, it is crucial to your mobility. I was lucky enough to buy a cheap car and it gave me access to the majority of the country through long road trips with friends.

Trips away will be the thing I remember most about my time in Aus. I’d urge anyone doing a year abroad to go on as many trips as possible and enjoy the different and exciting locations around them.

I am thankful for MMU for the opportunity and would recommend the University of Newcastle to everyone.

October 30th, 2017 - 09:16am

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