Life@Manchester (Farisa Wan)

Hi! I’m Farisa, a second year student currently reading PPE (no, not THAT COVID-19 PPE) at the University of Manchester. PPE is an abbreviation for Politics, Philosophy and Economics.

During the UCAS application process, the main factor I considered for each university was their location. Of course, the content of the programme they were offering and their reputation were both important, but I had to be certain that this was the place I was going to be living full-time for the next 3 years! Growing up in the city since I was child, I was certain that I would choose a university situated in a bustling city. Although others may prefer a quiet or serene environment, I usually find comfort in the noise because it assures me that there are always people around and about. In addition, it was always extremely convenient to travel where I needed to go (university buildings, grocers, my accommodation).

In addition, with a course as flexible as PPE, PPE programmes at different universities ranged quite drastically. Although core modules were more or less the same, the optional modules were vastly different. I was very pleased with the modules provided at University of Manchester, particularly that I knew I wanted to focus on Economics in my last year, so I had the option to choose BSc Economics modules during my three years!

In my first year, I ran for the Welfare Officer position under the Malaysian Students’ Society of Manchester (MSSM). My role consisted of being the go-to person for any members’ issues, whether personal (should they want to share it with me) or administrative-related issues i.e. visa problems. Furthermore, I was in charge of handling the member database and issuing the MSSM Membership Cards. Unbeknownst to me at the beginning of the year, there was one more role to be added onto Welfare Officer. During the COVID-19 pandemic, I had to adapt to provide continuous COVID-19 related support and guidance for the Malaysian students in Manchester. This has been my greatest challenge, yet an experience that I am extremely grateful for and am trying to improve on everyday!

This year, I have been elected as the Vice President. My primary roles include overseeing the operations of the society, assisting the President and being the Producer of this year’s Malaysian Night alongside the General Secretary. I am looking extremely forward to this year’s production, as we are hosting our very first MNight Short Film! (do stay tuned on our social media to find out more).

Unique to Manchester is definitely the community and the social life here. As the area is very cosmopolitan, the university community is extremely diverse. Generally, people are very welcoming and non-judgemental. Meeting friends from all over the world, with a variety of interests, has enabled me to try new things and explore different cultures. Plus the architecture in Manchester is extraordinary. Along Oxford Road are traditional, historical buildings intertwined with elevated, modern architecture. Although I’ve already been here for a year, I feel as if everyday I explore something new from the artsy Northern Quarter district to the canals that run under the city. 

Students can apply to the University of Manchester through UCAS, which those students applying to universities in the UK will be familiar with. The process is pretty straightforward, and for my course in particular there was no need for an interview. Therefore, the most crucial element of your application is your personal statement! The personal statement could be the most exciting thing you’ve ever written or be the most stressful essay to write. How do you present yourself on a measly A4 piece of paper?

I, thankfully, was given a lot of guidance from my Head of Higher Education which hopefully helps you too! Write down a list of all your achievements, your skills and why you wanted to study that course. It might be a lot of mumbo-jumbo that you’re scribbling down, but trust me it works! After you scrawl this down, think to yourself how they can intertwine with each other. How did your experiences in the past help you develop skills that led to your achievements? Think about why you were motivated to achieve what you did; most probably because these were steps on your journey leading to your ultimate ‘goal’ in life. Then elaborate on how studying the course is the next step of your journey and will contribute to your goal!

Throughout this process, I cannot emphasise enough how important it is to stay true to yourself! If you are trying to find ‘the perfect answer’ from the perspective of the admissions office, you will hate writing your statement and be extremely unmotivated to do so. The admissions office wants to know about YOU and what YOU will get out of completing this course. It is impossible to find a general ‘perfect answer’.  These were guidance that made me proud of my personal statement.

Ultimately, wherever you end up, make the most of your experience. Get involved in extracurriculars, be open to meeting different kinds of people and engage in social life! Yes, university is primarily about completing your degree, but this period also transitions you from adolescence to adulthood. The challenges you will face will enable you to develop the skills you need to be truly independent as an adult.


Farisa Wan is a second year Politics, Philosophy and Economics student at the University of Manchester. Farisa runs a self-care dedicated instagram page called @wanmoreday. In her free time, she obsesses over Marvel movies particularly Captain America!

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