Notes from an International Student

Greetings from Macclesfield, UK. I made it!

Where to start? I think I mentioned in my last post that actually attending The Tailoring Academy was dependent on the school being accredited by the British Accreditation Council. That finally happened on August 8th and the wheels were in motion. Maybe you heard the huge sigh of relief from the six international students who’d spent the Summer worrying that everything was going to fall apart.

Anyway, it was game on. I took as much food as possible to my local food bank, gave my neighbors a frozen turkey, put mothballs in my closets and fabric stash, closed and locked all the windows, unplugged everything, flipped most of the circuit breakers, put down some trays of mouse bait, left a key with my plumber and my wonderful neighbors, locked the door and drove away. Whew!

Manchester, UK Immigration

Welcome to the UK! Note to self: Next time use the E-Gates, even if an immigration staff member tells you that students have to see an agent.

The Academy had sent us a number of links to Gov.UK , Visas and Immigration. We were advised to research and understand the process, and which pathways were available for us as “non visa nationals”. We were also provided with a webinar designed for foreign students, explaining the process. It all sounded downright terrifying.

I armed myself with a folder full of documents for the anticipated interrogation. Bank statements, health insurance coverage, vaccination records, 401K statements, acceptance letter from the Academy, proof of accreditation from the BAC, housing deposit receipt. I was called to one of the many windows prepared to do battle.

The interrogation went as follows.

Agent – What brings you to the UK?

me – I’m here to take a course in Macclesfield

Agent – (laughing) Oh, I’m so terribly sorry.

Me – ( also laughing and thinking how delightfully funny this man behind the glass is)

Agent – (inquisitively) Really? Tell me more

Me – There is a tailoring school in Macclesfield, I’ll be here for 6 months.

Agent – I had no idea there was such a thing.

Me – Do I need a stamp in my passport?

Agent – No, just go through.

And just like that, I’m in! So much angst for nothing. Next stop, Manchester – Pickadilly Station

Where is Platform 9 3/4 ????

The bewilderment must have been written all over my face. A woman actually bolted out of her Information Booth and nabbed me. “I’m trying to get a train to Macclesfield”. Again, I was greeted with an abundance of cheerful help. “Oh, love, you’ll never catch the next train. Go down the ramp and exit the station. You can get a ticket for the next one at the ticket counter.” Within 30 minutes I was on the right train, headed to Macclesfield.


Welcome to your new home for the next 10 months. This is the view that greeted me from the train station. Um… I think I’m going to like it here.

An older man immediately offered his assistance in navigating the station, and hailed a cab for me. It was a repeat scenario from my experience at Picadilly. I must have looked so totally bewildered that he couldn’t help but take pity on me. Within a few minutes I was whisked through the town, completely stunned by being on the left side of the road. We blew through two terrifying roundabouts and I was deposited at the “International House”.


The house used to be a pub, The Butcher’s Arms. Now it’s home to 6 international students. My room is on the ground floor, the two windows to the left of the front door. It’s an easy 15 minute walk to the Academy.

First day of school group photo

The first International Programme –Class of 2022 – 2023

It’s a long climb up the worn stairs of a former silk mill to the Academy on the 3rd floor. But what a space!

The view from my rain splattered window. The best seat in the house! ( I’m in a corner, so I actually have two windows. One to my right and one behind me. Magical ! )

As much as I’d like to stare out my windows and daydream, (I still can’t quite believe I’m here), there’s work to be done. Here’s just a glimpse of what’s happened to date.

No rest for the weary. The first fitting is scheduled for next week, and a whole lot of work has to happen between now and then. I’m anticipating some extra time in the workroom to make that happen.

Next time I’ll show some of the extra curricular activities that have been going on. The pub down the street, hikes along the canal, the pub down the canal, hiking in the forest, the pub after the forest, the funeral of the Queen, the pub for the funeral. I think you’re getting the pattern!

Be well and happy sewing!

33 thoughts on “Notes from an International Student

  1. Thank you for taking us along on your journey! It sounds wonderful. Hope this continues for you and your fellow international colleagues.


  2. Hello from back home in Maine. Wow wow wow! I eagerly await future updates. You are living the dream. Drink a cuppa and enjoy!❤️


  3. What a journey so far! How did you even hear about the school? I may have missed that in a post. Looking forward to the next update!


  4. Looks like you are one of many who have trod those stairs. You do such beautiful work I’m wondering if you will find value in this course.


  5. You made it! I’ll bet your grandson is excited to see you in England! Good luck to you and your fellow students. Best, Deb Moyers


  6. Ok Duane, now I am just jealous! Really jealous. You are so fortunate and deserving of this experience of a life time and I look forward to your posts with details on all the things happening in new life and adventures with your posse.


  7. I have thoroughly enjoyed following your posts, and now we readers get to enjoy a vicariously stay across the pond. May your endeavors have many blessings.
    The extra natural light in your room would be a lifesaver for me. Being on the third floor (don’t they count floors differently there, with first floor being above ground floir) always makes me feel like a kid in a treehouse.


    1. Yes, we count the ground floor as starting at ground level, then the first floor above that, etc. Just another way of seeing things….makes everything a bi t more interesting. 😊


  8. Thankyou for sharing your wonderment & first impressions of arriving in England ! It’s not too dissimilar to my Husband & I deciding to come to the UK to live in 1988 from New Zealand .

    The Tailoring school looks truly fantastic , it would be a dream of mine to attend such an institution . The old mining towns are so intriguing with their architecture .

    Enjoy your pub outings & we look forward to reading about your progress !


  9. Thank you so very much for sharing your first impressions with us. We look forward to being on the journey with you.


  10. Lovely to hear about your adventures in the UK. What a wonderful time you will have.

    Such a great thing to do.

    Cheers from my sewing machine.

    Irene Kurnuszko


  11. Love, love, love your posts. This is the most amazing opportunity, I’m so happy for you. I hope you are being challenged in your tailoring work and are meeting new and interesting people. As for pub life – yassssss.


  12. Completely fascinated and quite jealous! Please post regular updates so we can all live vicariously through you. Looks like a very fulfilling adventure.


  13. Wonderful account, Duane! Thank you for taking the time & effort to share this journey! I am enjoying each word & photo!


  14. Welcome to the UK and Macclesfield. My daughter worked there for a while, the canal system is wonderful . I will enjoy this wonderful blog, and eager to know what the criteria is to join the course?


    1. Applications for The Tailoring Academy are open now. I think it’s fair to say that the members of the class come from a wide variety of backgrounds. The application is quite simple. Nothing ventured, nothing gained. Even if you’re just a little curious, Brita would be glad to answer any questions.


  15. Welcome to the UK and Greetings from Scotland! Manchester has some great and inspirational art galleries and museums, including Helsmore Textile Museum. Went to the Whitworth Gallery once for a fantastic 3D textiles exhibition. I KNOW you are going to enjoy yourself and have some interesting conversations with your fellow students.


  16. How’s the course going? Have you had any spare time to travel around? Apologies for the weather, November is usually ‘grey all over’ in the UK. All the Best!


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