Manchester is great, so diverse and fun. I’m sure you’ll have an awesome time!
As a student in Manchester it’s pretty easy to find your way around. The uni campus is all located along Oxford Road which is apparently the busiest bus route in Europe (I’ve never waited more than 5 minutes for a bus), and this year there are new cycle paths all the way south from campus, so I’d definitely recommend finding a bike for your time there! The city of Manchester is really flat and you can get anywhere in about half the time if you cycle. This non-for profit (http://plattfieldsbikehub.org.uk/) do 2nd hand sales and help with repairs but you can find things on ebay, gumtree and freecycle too!
Going about 2 km north up Oxford Road and you’ll get to the city center. The Northern Quarter in town is really cool and full of cafes, bars and opshops. Spinningfields is where all the fanciest bars and restaurants are, but it’s worth a visit! If you like going out, Manchester has a really great and very diverse nightlife as well. I think too often students don’t venture much past Oxford Road, apart from for a night out, but it’s a really great city center to explore!
About 1km south from the uni campus is Fallowfield, where the biggest percentage of students live. The main accommodation campus is here and houses a big mix of students. Mostly 1st years live in uni accommodation here, but people tend to stay in the area/ move further south and flat with friends later. There are definitely pros and cons to living in Fallowfield student halls. The cheapest ones - Oak House and Owen’s Park are notorious ‘party halls’: great for making friends and going out, but not so great for getting work done. The other halls in Fallowfield are similarly social but depending on your flatmates, tend to be a calmer! I don’t think I can recommend Fallowfield halls highly enough as a living experience, but you do have to work hard to work hard!
There are also university halls in two other locations: Victoria Park, and on the main uni campus. There’s a big student population in Victoria Park. It’s only a walk from the Oxford Road campus, and is the most ‘suburban’ area that students stay. It’s also right next to Rusholme which houses the Curry Mile (I’d definitely recommend a curry from Mughli) and seems like a really vibrant place to live. It’s not famous for being overly social but I think most students really enjoy living here and people probably say it’s the best halls to strike a good study/ social balance. I think the halls on the main campus appeal to those who prioritise studying. They have the biggest international student population but also a reputation for being particularly antisocial.
I really loved flatting in Fallowfield. Most people live a little away from the student halls and into houses that are specifically set up as student properties. I liked becoming integrated into the community but also that there was such a strong student atmosphere. Other popular areas are Rusholme, and further south in Whithington. Rent is a lot cheaper for a house and you tend to get much more space for your money too. You definitely feel a lot more independent flatting than living in halls. There are facebook groups you can look on to find people posting their spare rooms, and can get advice from Manchester Student Homes as well http://www.manchesterstudenthomes.com/Accommodation.
A couple of study things
Manchester has so many students it can be hard to find a good seat on campus in the main areas without getting there quite early (especially during exam season). If you end up using the main library, the different sections are colour coded, and all of them are great apart from the main Blue area, but no one seems to realise until 2nd year. If you need a PC, I would recommend the computer lab in the George Kenyon building. You’ll almost always find a free computer and it’s on top of a great veggie cafe.
I wouldn’t buy your text books because they’ll be extortionately priced and too heavy to take home. Check your recommended reading lists before the course starts, or if they’re not listed then try emailing the unit coordinator, and then check the book out of the library for the whole semester. If it’s not there, no one seems to know this, but the library never uses its budget for ordering more books and you can request a copy to be ordered.
I would recommend joining a society/ club. There’s a big “freshers’ fair” at the start of each semester where you can get info and sign up for things. As it’s such a big uni, there are societies for pretty much every course and every social activity you can think of, and they’re a great way to meet more people http://manchesterstudentsunion.com/groups?group_type=club-society-782&group_cat=&search=
I hope that’s helpful but let me know if you have anything else I can help with! I’m going back to Manchester in September so feel free to drop me a message if you need any help with anything there!