Faith Blake is studying on exchange at the University of Sheffield in the UK for Semester 1 of 2017. As a GLObewriter, Faith shares her experiences with us every month. This is her second entry. You can start at the very beginning by reading her introduction on the Global Learning GLObewriters page.
Time tends to escape your notice while you are discovering the art of balancing study, socialising and traveling in an enchanting, unfamiliar environment. Has it really been nearly two months? The Yorkshire-inspired calendar on my wall says yes and further cements the reality that my time abroad is speeding ahead.
During this time, I have spent virtually every weekend traveling and if you would like to pick a university that acts as a gateway to England, Sheffield is the one for you. With their Give It A Go program, I have been to Cambridge, Oxford, Chester and more! I’ve also been to Stonehenge and Salisbury with a company called Viva Trips. I adore walking on pebbled paths, seeing ancient buildings such as Tudor houses and Cathedrals, and listening to stories from history by tour guides with varying English accents.
With my weekends packed with early mornings and sensory overload, I find the downtime during the week a necessity. However, the most important piece of advice I can give is this: do not spend every day in your room. I found myself doing this because I was unsure whether to join in on the laughter and chatter coming from the common room. I talked myself into thinking it was too late to join clubs because members would have already formed friendships and I would be an outsider. I know I’m not the only one with these troubling thoughts. After a day or two of being miserable, homesick and lonely, I forced myself to leave my room every time I heard chatter coming from the common room. I would walk in with a smile on my face (despite how daunted I felt) and sit down. My flatmates were incredibly welcoming and I found myself easily joining their conversations. The next week, I attended an event for the university’s Baking Society and learnt how to make Delia Smith pancakes for World Pancake Day. I wasn’t an outsider at all, and a lovely girl even gave me a hug after discovering I was from Adelaide because she had completed an exchange at Adelaide Uni and loved it there. So, if you find yourself hiding away in your room, push yourself to step out from its comfort and jump into whatever conversation or club you are interested in – it’s never too late.
Studying is difficult when I am distracted by travel plans and making friends, but luckily, the courses are intriguing and taught in an attention-gripping way. My timetable is quite different with my creative writing class having only one seminar each week and my sociology classes having a weekly lecture with fortnightly tutorials. The workload required for my courses is vastly different to what I’m used and each course has two assessment pieces worth 50% each. In some cases, this is good as I don’t have to hand up as many essays but on the other hand, there is more pressure to write an excellent essay or lose half of your overall grade. There is an abundance of support available, including 301, which is like the Writing Centre back home, and a variety of studying places – from The Diamond (a modern glass building) to the Western Bank Library. It does take a while to find a place to sit down which reminds me of my futile seat seeking at Adelaide Uni (yes, students like to block chairs and computers here too).
Easter holidays are fast approaching and everyone, myself included, frantically search google for the best deals on flights and accommodation. I am eager to travel everywhere, from Iceland to France. It seems like a wasted opportunity not to, considering how long you must suffer on a plane to travel from Australia to Europe. The best thing is the price! Tickets from Manchester to another country in Europe can be as low as 20 pounds (roughly 30 dollars) and with three weeks of holidays, you’ll have plenty of time to explore. Now that I’ve realised how easy it is to book tickets, accommodation, etc., I can feel myself catching the travel bug!