Apparently heading to England in September meant glorious spring-style sunshine!
My best way of describing Sheffield is as England’s own San Francisco, minus the coast. Every distance involves some variation of steepness, as the city is built on a ‘natural amphitheatre’ of hills (intro-week fun fact). I haven’t minded too much, as I’ve remained distracted and in awe of the Harry-Potter-style neighbourhoods, lovely green parks and trees infiltrating the roads and city, the friendliness and style of the people, English décor, pubs and tea rooms on nearly every corner, and the lovely sunshine and blue skies (have to appreciate this while it lasts)!
Every experience has been above and beyond my expectations; and although the farewells were awful (and I didn’t really feel prepared to come), I’m now feeling very fortunate and lucky to be where I am and with the choices I’ve made. Within a short week I’ve already become part of a beautiful international family – with vastly different European, British, American and Asian nationalities. With them, I’ve experienced a chaotic, stretched schedule with an exciting whirlwind of activities, which has greatly outweighed all the confusing and daunting aspects of being in a new city and starting fresh at a new university.
My student accommodation at Birchen Apartments (Endcliffe) is beyond lovely, and located within a beautiful, typically English street – basically on the edge of the Botanical Gardens. Getting keys and settling in has been quite easy, with free shops for kitchen equipment and extensive orientation support given. It’s a 20-minute walk to the Main campus buildings, but there is also easy use of public transport which I’ve taken note of for when proper Sheffield weather hits!
My orientation days began with campus tours, treasure hunts and social icebreaker sessions. This was followed by various Botanical Garden picnics (squirrels!), yoga sessions, stitching hearts and owls (and a sad bunting attempt), going to see live ice-hockey and “football” matches, quiz nights, volleyball and futsal, live bands daytime in Weston Park, themed nights out, multiple day ‘Fairs’ dedicated to activities, departments and social societies, volunteering/ work, freshers’ and sports (yay, free things!), and an almighty chocolate lock-in (with a lot of chocolate consumed!). These were all thanks to the Sheffield University Student Union (and all the societies they represent), who provide this unique, engaging social and community experience. Their box office has daily lines (opens 11am-1am), and has perceivably enough activities to develop and/ or participate in any skill, sport or hobby you can think of! Societies host ‘Give it a Go sessions’ so you can tick off so many things that you’ve never tried before, or perhaps want to try just the once! It creates an exciting, inclusive atmosphere that entices the students, with tickets selling out if you’re not in quickly!
Travel-wise, I’ve spent days in London, Hampshire, Nottingham, around Sheffield and Castleton in the Peaks District. I’m feeling fairly content with this so far! I ticked off my list the Portobello Markets and also completed a solo 9-mile hike around Castleton… which probably should have been 7 miles if I’d managed to stick to directions! It was a dream though, and absolutely surreal standing on Mam Tor (‘mother hill’) with a 360-degree view of the peaks – a completely unforgettable experience.
I have just two small tips for any future exchangers: (1) Don’t leave your laptop at home (by locking yourself out so you can’t get it!) as it may get held in customs for over 2 weeks, be fairly stressful and quite a useful item to have… (2) Expect Registration for modules to be confusing. It a different process (in Sheffield at least) with multiple new locations for each stage – it has written module forms, various identity checks, faculty face-to-face approval for modules, and days later faculty-allocated seminar times. Just don’t despair, it actually runs smoothly and mine was processed quickly!
So here’s to more of these adventures – bring it on Autumn!