Benoit - University of Sheffield

B Science/ B Arts
Semester 1, 2015

Academic Experiences

The Uni of Sheffield is a great university. I studied Mathematical Physics, Computational Physics, the Philosophy of Science, and Advanced Logic. The courses were well organised and the lecturers were great! 

The academic system wasn't that much different to here. The assessment was more focused on final exams and you were required to attend a fair proportion of your contact hours to pass (they start to get annoyed at around 2/3 attendance rate from memory). What was most different is that only 40% was required to pass and 70% to attain the best grade (though it was harder to achieve a good grade). If you only care about passing like I did then this is really ideal!

What's more, I found the courses to be generally easier than those here at UQ, though not quite a breeze. All in all, I found the courses and the system to be very appealing and ideal.

Personal Experiences

Exchange was an incredible experience mainly because of the friends that you make from all over the world, the countries that you travel to, and living in a different culture for 4-5 months. I stayed at the university accommodation where they had placed all the exchanged students in the same surrounding building of apartments. This meant the exchange students were closer and more of a family, bonding stronger friendships then if they had been more separated. The only downside is leaving these great friends when you return home :(. Also, I did not meeting as many English people, though you can easily do so in your courses.

Sheffield was also a great home-base for travel. It's really central in the UK and England meaning really cheap travel (I flew to Dublin for $15, I love you Ryanair!). It is also quite easy to access the rest of Europe, though Eastern Europe is a bit far. The only downside is that Sheffield doesn't actually have its own airport, though the Manchester and Leeds airports are relatively close. 

It's also worth noting that the Peaks District is right next to Sheffield. It's a really beautiful place and a hikers/climbers dream, or anyone who loves the English countryside really.

Living in a different culture was also a highlight of mine. What was great about the English culture is that it's quite similar to that of the Aussie one, given the shared history. The similarities are comforting while the differences are laughable at times, and a great insight and experience. All in all, a lot of fun and a great choice!

Accommodation 

I stayed at the university accommodation on campus where they had placed all the exchanged students in the same surrounding building of apartments (Endcliffe). This was great because everyone was essentially in the same mindset of meeting people (as they didn't already have friends in Sheffield either), barely studying, and having a great time. It was so easy to go to see your mates in the adjacent flat and having parties without people getting annoyed. It also meant I spent a lot more time with the same people such that you become great friends! 

That said, the exchange students were all connected by the university so we still met up with those in private housing. I definitely recommend the Endcliffe accommodation. That said private housing is cheaper and you can meet more English students (otherwise there were also private houses with only exchange students too!).

Budget

I think I spent approximately $20,000 during my entire 7 month trip. This however included 1.5 months travel before and also after exchange as well as a month of travel during exchange. Rent at the on-campus accommodation was $4,000 and was a 20 minute walk to university which meant I didn't spend much money on transport. 

Sheffield has one of the lowest living costs in the major UK cities and is comparable/slightly more expensive than that in Brisbane. Certain things are cheaper while others are more expensive.

Academic Development and Employability 

Exchange was a great way to change your environment and develop skills which was not readily possible in your stagnant home life. It put me way out of my comfort zone in a completely new setting with no familiar faces. This demanded a lot more responsibility and maturity then that in my day-to-day life here. 

I became a lot more independent. Making a lot more new friends also increased my confidence.

Highlight

The highlight of my exchange was definitely the campus accommodation with all the exchangers. It was so convenient to always have your mates around and being able to pop around to whichever flat you wanted to hang out. There was always so much happening; I never got bored or lonely. 

The campus accommodation bar at Endcliffe was also really close and cheap. They often had events and if not you could go for a cheap game of pool and a drink. Also corp club nights definitely deserve a mention.

Top Tips 

  • Do it, the money is worth it!!
  • I would also recommend to go by yourself, it makes it such a better experience.
  • Make sure you go to orientation if you can, it's a great place to meet all the exchangers, especially those not at the same accommodation.
  • If you also get to Sheffield before you can move into accommodation I definitely recommend staying at the Russell Scott Hostel, it's not the best hostel but it's cheap and it's also where I met most of my best friends from exchange!