“Wait, is Edinburgh further north than York?”
I believe this was the moment when I realised that I wasn’t so tragically out of my depth on my News Associates journalism course.
The other trainees have come to Manchester from across the UK, though mainly from the north of England.
There is also a mix of experience and knowledge, from those who have worked on student or regional papers to those who have come into journalism from a previous career in sales or teaching.
Five weeks in, I can safely say that I have no regrets in choosing to train here.
It has been hard, as expected, as we have had shorthand outlines drilled into us, attempted to come to terms with structures of local government and had our news writing torn to shreds by critical eyes.
That we have been able to learn all of the shorthand theory in five weeks is impressive enough, but now the challenge is to get from 50 words per minute to 100.
That means weeks of listening MP3 files of a faceless woman reading sentences about vandalised school fences, while muttering curses in her general direction, before puzzling out the panicked squiggles which are supposed to represent words.
In between the classes, we have had the opportunity to report on Manchester news stories and events. In the first month I have been to watch roller derby, review a film about backing vocalists and begin an eight-week placement with the Rochdale Observer.
There is a very real chance that I am beginning to fall for Manchester.
It has not rained as much as I expected, and when it does it is warmer rain that the variety which tends to fall in Scotland.
And there is a huge amount going on in the city, without it being as overwhelming as London.
There is of course the sport, be it Premier League, non-league and women’s football, rugby union, rugby league, ice hockey, handball or the BMX World Cup (later this month).
But the thriving arts scene Manchester is famous for also provides ample opportunity for us to go out and write and even enjoy ourselves.
Put it this way, there’s more to report on than a statue of a cat that doesn’t even look like said feline.
The next couple of months will see the pressure ramped up several notches, with exams in public affairs, media law and reporting to be sat and portfolios to be prepared with careers in mind.
However, this is the kind of intensity one can expect from journalism.
One of our tutors, also an associate editor with the in-house news and features website Mancunian Matters, travels from Burnley to Manchester every day. He will leave home between 6 and 7am and not return there until 9, 10, even 11pm.
So much for work-life balance. But he loves the job, and that’s as crucial as having the energy and motivation to never stop looking for stories and get out to cover events, whether they’re exciting or deeply thought-provoking, or are more likely to put you into a stupor.
Nonetheless, one of the key points we have learned so far is that the stories, or people, which sound the least interesting often turn out to be the most newsworthy.
There are many more valuable lessons, both in the classroom and out on the beat, still to come.