I've spent two out of my three years at university living in Manchester, and despite the infamous year-round rain, I've loved it here.  Talk to any native Mancunian and they'll tell you how fantastic the city is (or at least how much better than London it is).  There are many reasons for this, but mostly it seems to be because it has all the benefits of a major cosmopolitan city but on a smaller, more personal scale than the capital.  The city centre boasts a small Chinatown and thriving Gay Village, both of which host annual parades for Chinese New Year and Pride in August respectively; the trendy Northern Quarter, home to a diverse mix of bars, cafes and vintage stores; luxury shops and restaurants in the King Street area; and Deansgate, which runs through the west city and is always alive.  South of the centre are the universities; the famous Curry Mile in Rusholme, featuring dozens of neon-lit Indian restaurants and hookah bars; Fallowfield, the so-called "student ghetto", where the future proud graduates of UoM and Man Met create memories they may rather forget; and Didsbury, which by all accounts is very nice and I've been intending to visit since first year but just never got round to it.  All in all, Manchester is a great, buzzy city and there's something for everyone.

The Manchester Parade, the biggest of several different parades that occur throughout the year

I've lived on the edge of the Gay Village my entire time in Manchester and it's just the best location.  Not only are all the fabulous bars of Canal Street a hop skip and a jump away, but so is Chinatown, the high street and shopping centre, and the Northern Quarter just beyond.  The universities are also a short walk, not that I need to be there any more now I've graduated...But there is a lot to be said for the city centre location, especially the transport links.  Students living in Fallowfield will usually buy a bus pass for the year which allows unlimited travel on selected bus companies, but living in town meant I rarely need a bus.  Manchester Piccadilly and Oxford Road train stations connect the city to the rest of the country, and the adorable trams Metrolink system make it easy to get to Bury, Altrincham, or the new fancy Media City in Salford.

The new fancy Media City in Salford
Media City may be a relatively recent development, but Manchester has excellent arts, media and creative industries because, as one film-maker told me, it is so much easier to network here than in London.  There is a greater sense of collaboration in Manchester, possibly due to the fact that it is smaller and less of a magnet for idealists.  I also suspect the fact that Northerners aren't afraid of hard work might be a factor.

There's no getting around it, though - Manchester does have awful weather.  It's to do with the winds coming over the Atlantic to the west or something I think, to be honest I don't care enough to fact-check that.  Either way, the rain is unremitting throughout autumn, winter and most of spring, and isn't guaranteed to go away over the summer.  Snow is not uncommon either.  My first winter involved several tumbles on the way to uni, and this year it was still bloody snowing in March (which might have had something to do with my impulsive holiday to California over Easter).  This month has been something of a heatwave, but Brits will know that this is a complete anomaly and the entire country has been suffering the temperature spike.  Although it is great to see the streets fill with people, scantily-clad and jubilant that the sun is showing its face.  But that isn't to say that Mancunians wallow in their bad weather, on the contrary, it doesn't stop the women bravely heading to clubs on a November night without tights or jacket.  There is too much going on in this town for people to be put off by a little (or a lot of) rain.

Granted, Manchester might be a disappointing environment for some, especially if you're from some kind of tropical paradise like some of my study abroad friends.  But you have to be realistic, it's a major city and it's inland, it pretty much is just redbrick buildings that could do with more green spaces.  Personally I love the neo-Gothic Victorian architecture that stands as a remnant of the city's Industrial-era boom, I find it has so much more character than the chrome-and-glass skyscrapers that seems to be this generation's legacy.  Although Spinningfields, the business district, and Media City both have several of those.  But I suppose what you see there is the wonderful mix of old and new you get in this town.

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