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How to Deal With the Manchester Weather as an International Student

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“Put your big coat on!”

is what my mother would have advised me when I was growing up in Manchester. It was only when I moved to London to go university that I noticed how different Manchester weather was from that in the south of the UK.

So, reality check! There can be a 5 or even 10 degree Celsius difference in temperature between Manchester and London. And in Manchester it rains more often.

“OK, so I just need to take an umbrella?”

You might ask. Well, that is always a useful thing to carry with you. However, you must remember that conversations about the weather are very common in the UK and for a very good reason. The weather is so unpredictable…

“There’s nothing unusual about British weather, they have all 4 seasons. It’s just that you can get them all in just one day.” Is a famous quote.

We do have four seasons, each of around 3 months long. But, our seasonal differences might not be as extreme as in some countries. However, there’s still a significant difference between winter and summer. They do overlap, though, and often don’t follow the expected pattern. So yes, that means we sometimes get a warm, bright, sunny day in February or cold temperatures and freezing rain in the middle of summer! British weather is anything but predictable!

So, that is why it is good to practise your English with your classmates or host family by asking what they think the weather will be like tomorrow. British people love talking about the weather. But, Manchester is not a city full of meteorologists, it’s just that we enjoy trying to make sense of our unpredictable weather. We like to think that we can “read” the weather and that we are prepared!

And now a word about the wind. Whilst cold and damp weather is common in many countries at certain times of the year, it is the stronger wind, found in the UK,that makes it feel much colder. You may not wear a hat in your country, unless you are going skiing or walking in the mountains. But in the UK I urge you to consider to do so. Ideally something like a beanie that covers your ears. It is often the extreme edges of your body that are the most uncomfortable in cold, damp and windy weather, so having some woolly socks, a pair of waterproof warm gloves and a scarf are all essential items to help you enjoy the British Autumn and Winter. Oh, and don’t pack them away in Spring or summer, because you might also need them then!

We can’t talk about Manchester without talking about football. Going to see a football match is absolutely recommended when you are visiting our city. It will be an incredibly exciting event and it will allow you to understand the level of the passion that exists in our city for football and your chosen team. City or United? Blue or red? Well, that’s your choice. But, whether you choose to go to the Etihad Stadium or Old Trafford, that is entirely up to you. However, you need to dress for the match in the same way, whoever you support.

Remember, you will feel the cold much more whilst sitting inside a football stadium. When you are not moving, your body can soon cool down. There is another useful expression, with its origins in Scandinavia:

“There is no such thing as the wrong weather, just the wrong clothing.”

So, when preparing to watch a football match on a cold day or evening, consider investing in thermal underwear. You can buy a thermal base layer for very little cost in most large British supermarkets. Believe me, it will be the best investment you ever make if you are spending the cold season in the UK!

But it’s not always cold or raining in Manchester! We do enjoy Spring and summer, too. And who doesn’t love summer? And so for us Brits, who battle cold temperatures and rain for most of the year, summer’s got to be our favourite season. Temperatures can soar up to 32℃ in the summer (Yes, for us, that’s hot!), though the average summer high in Manchester is around 24℃.

On average in the UK, July is the warmest month of the year but June is the sunniest. The total rainfall varies from year to year – sometimes we’ll have little, but sometimes we’ll have a week of showers. It’s truly hard to predict. See above “unpredictable”…

We sometimes experience anticyclones which give us long, warm, spells of weather and create heatwave-like conditions. You will need light shorts and sleeveless clothes for these conditions. And we will all be talking about the weather just as much then. We are never happy, but always surprised. The weather isn’t the only thing that we talk about, it’s just a great way to start a conversation! See you in Manchester. Don’t forget your brolly!

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