Nilsson - University of Sheffield

B Journalism/Arts
Semester 2, 2019
Travelled the U.K and Europe, made lifelong mates across the continent, and probably had a little too much fun.

Academic experience

I decided to select modules that would cover my Arts majors of political science and public policy, as I found the process with both the Journalism school here at UQ and European schools too difficult to get transferable credit. The registration process with Sheffield was very simple. Once I got the approval from the global experiences team I was in contact with the school and they let me know my original module choices couldn’t be studied because they were 3rd-year courses, but then sent me a list of the modules that I could study. The experience of studying at Sheffield was great, although the politics of the U.K and Australia are, at a distance, very similar, it was good to be in a different learning environment, and different perspectives. Interestingly, the U.K General Election was held midway through my semester and it was always a very contentious tutorial discussion in the weeks leading up, and immediately after the result. The pass/fail system was extremely beneficial for my study abroad, as although I was still engaged in my modules and attended all the seminars, I did not stress in the usual way about deadlines and getting high marks - making the most of playing sport, meeting new people, and travelling.

Personal experience

Exchange was the best decision I’ve made during my time studying. It is such an invaluable experience and I have made life long friends, on the other side of the world no less. It is such a unique time to tick off some courses you would be doing at UQ, whilst meeting people from all around the world who made the same choice to study abroad. Further, I made some great friends who were domestic students who come from all around the U.K - a noticeable difference from the uni culture here in Australia. These friends were made by immersing myself in uni culture, and playing sport is easily one of the best ways of doing that. I played rugby and cricket for Sheffield and this was the perfect way to meet loads of people, stay fit, and travel a bit of the U.K on away days. I also made the most of my time overseas but flying to England early, and returning home a month after the semester finished. This extra time came me the opportunity to travel to Italy, Greece, and Spain, without interrupting my studies, and exploring various English cities/towns.

Accommodation

I chose to live in one of the student villages called Ranmoor. For the simple purpose of meeting the most amount of people, I can’t recommend living in a student village/ college enough. The facilities may be very basic and sometimes a little expensive; however, the money that you might save, or having a better kitchen in private accommodation, is not an adequate pay off for the memories, friendships, and stories that inevitably come out of the chaos of a shared kitchen, and a building with up to 80 people, both international and domestic. The university is very good at facilitating your accommodation options, giving prices and details of the different colleges, but as long as you get a private bathroom and desk, the single bed and average heating are easily forgotten.

Costs

Receiving the scholarship and the help loan took a lot of the financial stress off when preparing for my six months overseas. If there is any financial support out there- and often they are non-interest loans that you can pay off alongside your HECS, take it! Often, you pay your accommodation fees upfront so once that’s out of the way you don’t need to stress, but expenses like food, alcohol, and travel add up very quickly. I’d recommend setting up a budget for food and going out so that you can exercise some self-control each week and not let the expenses get out of hand. This way you can maximise travelling and not miss out on things you were excited for pre-departure. Sheffield is a very cheap city, certainly one of the cheapest in the UK, but still has a massive amount of events, delicious restaurants, cheap grocery shops, and cheap student public transport to areas like peak district and the city centre.

Challenge

I think the only challenge I faced during my time in Sheffield was money. Although I saved a lot of money and took out a student loan and received a small scholarship, budgeting is very hard when there is now a supplementary income for six months. It really is a miracle I didn’t run out of money. My advice is to save up as much as possible and the budget for all your travel and set a realistic target for weekly expenses on food and going out.

Professional Development

Certainly, my communication skills and meeting new people improved during my time abroad. My flatmates were all European and had varying degrees of English, it was really rewarding to help them all improve their English - which was often very good, and then help ‘translate’ the slang from Australian to English and then to their native tongue. I also gained more independence and problem-solving skills

Highlight

Travelling around the U.K and Europe, playing sport, being care free, as well as making life long friends from all across Europe.

Top tips

Immerse yourself in uni culture as much as you can - that means playing sport, living in student accommodation, signing up to hobby/interest clubs and societies, and help the other international students. Secondly, save as much money as you can before going and budget. Thirdly, get there early and leave late, you will never get a unique opportunity like this again, savour every second!