As an NUS affiliated Students' Union, each year, we send delegates to a variety of student group specific conferences. From January 29-30th, the NUS held their annual International Students' Conference in Manchester. Charlie Sokolowski, SoSU's International Non-EU Students' Officer attended as a delegate for those studying at Solent University. Here is his account of the conference:
I took a 5-hour bus ride to the city of Birmingham and from there a 2-hour bus ride to Manchester. From there, it was a 20-minute walk in the snow and rain from the coach station to the first hotel, the travel lodge. At the Travel Lodge, I was greeted by a large 6-foot 5 person, who went to college in New Hampshire, USA. It was almost 11 pm by the time I got into my room. It was really nice.
My alarm woke me up for breakfast the next morning, it was a great buffet and I made sure to eat a lot. I then started walking to the SU. The SU in Manchester was massive. It had a bar, 3 theatres, a barber shop, 5 different stores, a costa, and numerous meeting rooms. I went up to the second floor and waited 10 minutes with students from Goldsmith college in London. We were finally let into the banquet hall and waiting for us was tea, fruit, and biscuits. We ate and talked and were finally sent upstairs at 11 am. 50 people were there with me, I met all of them, most of them were Indian, Chinese, and Pakistani, there were 3 Americans other than myself.
We all were standing in front of a panel 5 NUS employees, including the representative of trustees, a historian, 2 assistants, and the President of the NUS internationals, Yinbo Yu. Yinbo Yu was a Chinese international who has been President of the NUS internationals for the last 2 years. He then told us about what he has done and what he wants to do. Then somebody displayed a censure, meaning a formal complaint against the president, for describing Pakistan as being a poor country in an article interview and not keeping the students updated enough. I talked to him and he seems like he was doing great. (He will be sending me an updated email of everything he has done)
Next, the representatives told us they would be selling the NUS building and how they will be getting rid of the international president as a full-time position, as they are out of money. People did not like that- so the room immediately split into different pacts. Personally, I was indifferent because I did not understand the big deal. But we discussed that for the rest of the day, it was boring but helped me learn some things that I would like to implement at Solent.
That night, we went to the second hotel the Holiday Inn Express, in which I had a roommate named Omi from the University College of London. A great guy, so great that we decided that we would go catch the Manchester United vs Birmingham game. We went there and were told all the seats were sold out so I bought tickets from a scalper and he went looking for another scalper to buy tickets from. For 40 pounds I got to sit 2 rows above the pitch in the center field. I was told by the guy these seats are impossible to get for Manchester United has 48,000 season ticket holders and 30,000 tickets available for purchase. The end score was 2-2, Manchester United scored 2 goals in the last 20 minutes. It was snowing and raining the whole time and it took 2 hours to get home from the stadium due to traffic. It was a great experience and game.
I met up with Omi after and his 2 friends and ate at Archie’s burgers. An allegedly world-famous Manchester burger joint, the burger was pretty good. We were then invited to this girl’s room at the hotel to discuss ideas about the NUS at midnight, but it was pretty boring. There were 10 people in there and it seemed like trouble so, we left. We wanted to go clubbing but everything seemed pretty dead so at 2 am we went to bed.
The next morning, we went to the SU building and it was a voting day. Time to vote a new person in for the position of part-time NUS international non-EU and EU representative. 5 people gave speeches. 1 for EU and 4 for non-EU. 2 of the non-EU people were scratched because they just told everyone to vote for another person. Then it was 1 v 1 for the non-EU rep. It was pretty obvious who was going to win due to the fact that she was in charge of a super pact in the NUS group. She won easily by 35 votes. After that announcement, we went to lunch and we then went to the bus station to go home.
I got to meet many students and discuss many ideas. I have found ideas that I want to implement at this university and met people I will be sure to see again. New ideas include an international society, tuition layouts, and a carnival. I hope to go to the next NUS meeting to see these people again, to make more lasting memories, and gain more ideas to help the students of Solent University.