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A Guide to Postgraduate Open Days

It's that time of year when open days are starting to crop up, and if you're interested in postgraduate study, such as an MBA course, it's a good idea to get a couple of them in your diary. Manchester Business School's postgraduate open day, for example, takes place on the 27th November and provides visitors with an opening to speak to staff and current students, giving them more information about the postgraduate courses on offer. It also means that prospective students can get a feel for the area that they'd be living and studying in.

So, if you plan to attend, what should you expect on the day? And, is there anything you can do to prepare? Take a look at this short guide to postgraduate open days...

What you can expect

Register - During your registration or welcome session, you should be given a schedule, so that you can be aware of where you need to be and at what time. It's helpful to plan out your day when you get this schedule. There will be a number of different talks and presentations, so make a note of the ones you're interested in and find out where they will be held.

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Dealing with Money in Britain

Moving to Britain can mean that you'll be dealing with a lot of new things, and one of the most commonly encountered one is an entirely different currency. Wherever you're from in the world, the British pound will be new to you, and there are some useful things to know when using it.

Exchange Rates

The first and most immediately apparent difference you're likely to notice is that £1 is more valuable than just about any other single unit of currency in the world. This has the effect of making prices for things like groceries appear to be quite low in comparison, simply because the number will be lower, even if the value is actually the same.

In order to make sure that you know how much things actually cost, it's very important that you become familiar with the exchange rate between the pound and whichever currency you're most used to using. When you know this, you'll be able to shop smartly, and will be able to know when something is good value or not. It's a good idea to look at the actual exchange rate to get the best idea, not the prices that the bureau de change is offering.

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Just How Important is Sunlight to Students?!

I was surprised to see that one of the UCL student residences was nominated amongst the worst new buildings in Britain. Being used to the student life, I could imagine peeling walls, dirty lavatories, rusty pipes, hoards of unattended rubbish and so on. But my surprise grew when I realized that the main concern was the lack of sunshine due to the adjacent building. Moreover, it affected only 23 rooms.

In my experience, students usually go to their rooms only if they want to sleep. Often, they get to their bed early in the morning (after a night spent partying or studying) and in that case, the shadow would be an asset. It is hard to sleep when the morning sun knocks at your window.

Student residences in Slovakia, where I did my studies, have different problems - the ones I originally expected at the UK's. But the situation is not so bad, compared to the price. The monthly prices in the UK might run so high that in some residences in Slovakia you could live for the whole academic year.

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Two Student Residences Nominated for Worst New Building in UK

UCL and Oxford University student residences have been nominated as some of the worst new buildings in the UK. Both make a shortlist of just six nominees after facing huge opposition.

465 Caledonian Road

The UCL building is a 350-room block of flats (pictured above) on Caledonian Road near King's Cross in London and rooms cost up to £730 a month. Despite the cost, 23 of the rooms face directly onto the brick wall of the building next door, meaning they get less sunlight than the legal minimum.

Indeed, planning permission was originally denied by the local council in 2010, only for a successful appeal to give the green light. During the appeal process, it was argued that the "student lifestyle" meant that the rooms would only be used for sleeping in and therefore didn't need the legal quota of natural light.

The problem arose due to the fact that the adjacent building was listed and therefore could not be altered. The photo below is of the first scaffolding going up for the student flats, showing just how close the two buildings are.

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Tips for Moving into Your First Student Flat

Moving into your first student flat can seem both extremely exciting as well as slightly intimidating, whether you're moving straight out of your parents' place or from student halls.

The prospect of slumming it out with other people your age is something to look forward to, but you should ensure that you secure a flat in the most advantageous way possible, from choosing what kind of flatmates you want to live with, to which of the many broadband packages you should opt for to suit your needs the best.

Start looking early!

A critical error most students commit is failing to start their flat hunt early enough. You'll encounter these unfortunate individuals by the truckload at university. The last thing you want is to have to desperately choose from the last few remaining flats which, unsurprisingly, are not likely to be the best of the bunch.

The secret to snagging a good place quickly is to indulge in some high-intensity viewings. Instead of seeing one place every few days, try and fit in 5 to 6 viewings per day. This way, you'll be able to compare the flats you're seeing much better and come to a more informed decision, ultimately.

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