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Nick Maffei
Fulbright Exchange Teacher
City College Manchester, England

Nick enjoying
his spring break at
San Remo, Italy
on the Italian Riviera
City College Manchester
is one of the leading centers of Further Education in the North of England and offers courses on four main sites across the city with over 500 academic staff and more than 200 support personnel, catering for 25,000 students.

Whatís it like to be a Fulbright Exchange Teacher in Manchester, England? Itís an opportunity of a lifetime. Itís a paradigm shift.  Itís like being a first year instructor.  It's dealing with the complicated British National Curriculum, and the challenge and complexity of teaching several new college classes with students of differing age groups.  Each group and class is assessed and evaluated by a different educational governing body, and each requires different procedures and recording forms.

My teaching experience at City College Manchester was demanding, but never dull.  At the September student enrollment period, each student was personally interviewed and screened by faculty before being accepted into a class.  I was in awe as to how hard the faculty and management work together and still manage to be friendly and helpful.  I was also impressed with the weekly staff meetings where faculty members gather to have serious discussion about their students, the curriculum, and course planning

Manchester has been called ďThe Rainy City,Ē but it rains no more there than in the rest of the UK.  The city is renowned as the ďClub Capital of Europe,Ē because it has a large student population studying at the numerous colleges and universities.  Fielden Park Center where I taught is located near Didsbury Village and is surrounded by a vast selection of student/faculty housing, restaurants, shops and several pubs.  The Woodstock Tavern was literally only a few steps away from the campus and offered a pleasant environment of fine foods and outside tables where students and faculty could meet.

I found the students to be, for the most part, conscientious and hardworking.  Although I did have a hard time adjusting to the various English accents, and sometimes found it hard to understanding students when they talk fast or mumbled.  But one of the nicest surprises about being an Exchange Teacher is wandering around Didsbury Village and finding that you like its quiet, relaxed atmosphere - and meeting one of your students shopping or working in one of the pubs or restaurants.
So, thatís what itís like to be an Exchange Teacher in England?  Itís remembering to look right and stay left.  Itís learning to use the knife with your right hand, while shoveling the food onto your fork in the left hand.  Itís taking advantage of the fact that it is just a hop, skip and a jump to the major capitals and playgrounds of Europe.  But best of all, everything is new and wonderfully different.

Iím reminded of Bill Brysonís comments about Britain in his best selling book ďNotes From a Small Island

What an enigma Britain will seem to historians when they look back on the second half of the twentieth century.  Here is a country that fought and won a noble war, dismantled a mighty empire in a generally benign and enlightened way, created a far-seeing welfare state- in short, did nearly everything right - and then spent the rest of the century looking on itself as a chronic failure.  The fact is that this is still the best place in the world for most things - to post a letter, go for a walk, watch television, buy a book, venture out for a drink, go to a museum, use the bank, get lost, seek help, or stand on a hillside and take in the view.


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Updated 07/25/2007