Read my First week in Sheffield
I am very sad and gloomy (yeah, just like the British weather) because I could not imagine how bad I will feel about having to leave this place 5 months later. I already start missing Sheffield. I love the city and I love living here. I like every person I have met and I am happy to have done everything I did here. I am sure it was not because this is an exchange experience that made me excited, but because this city has so much to offer and really, I am so lucky to be able to meet all the nice people.
It is already 4 months after my last week in Sheffield. And of course the blog title is misleading, I am not going to just write about my last 7 days. This blog is a summary – a summary of events, people and memories. I started by reading again the 2 exchange diaries I kept, scrolling down my Instagram posts, and I came up with a long list of 40 things I want to write about. My exchange bucket list only had 10 items. Haha. I organized the list a bit, and here we go :
1. The University of Sheffield Department of Politics
How could any exchange report not start with the host of the exchange – the university ??? Haha. I have to say the Politics Department in Sheffield University is very professional and of high quality. The teachers are amazing and the students are very active in class. My favourite module, Modern Political Thought, was taught in a very organized way. Lectures were straight-forward and thought-provoking (by “thought-provoking” of course I mean I really went to meet the young, handsome and humourous professor every week just to exchange “thoughts”), and I fell in love with Political Philosophy thanks to this course. Even though I only got a B (there is no B+ or B-, B is straight after A :D) from the course, this has become one of the most important class I have taken in my university life.
Students are hard working, staff are understanding, and the Department has a nice building. Couldn’t be more thankful to have studied there.
2. The Sheffield Community
I have enjoyed myself in the local community besides studying and hanging with friends. Volunteering for a political party and going to vote were big decisions, but very rewarding experiences. It was great insights to see how an election campaign and an election were organized and carried out. I started to question why Hong Kong politics is so miserably stupid, provided we have been a British colony for over 150 years.
Getting a job as a home tutor didn’t only give me extra money, but also a special bond with a family of 7 women : a mother, a nanny, and 5 lovely girls. Every week I was treated with good homemade Islam food and great hospitality, even I work as a teacher and I had my duties. At the end I was even invited to join their family holiday, it was just because I had already booked my trip to Andorra I unfortunately turned them down.
We discovered some good places to hang out too. The Nottingham House (it is not in Nottingham) has became “our place” to eat out. I have been there with my flatmates and my friends for many occasions and I will never forget about the pie … We have always wanted to try out another pub called The York (it is not in York either) but unfortunately it was too popular and we discovered it too late … Anyhow, another great food place is The Efes, which is a lovely breakfast place, serving lovely Turkish breakfast, made by lovely Turkish people. I loved it so much I asked the restaurant to let me take away their breakfast in my last week. I really really missed it.
Primark and Poundland ! They are insane. I have never ever seen something so cheap in my life. In Hong Kong the cheapest chain clothing store is H&M. Primark is even cheaper ! Of course I don’t expect too much on the quality, but I did have some good finds. I bought the dress everyone liked, and even when I am back in Hong Kong I saw at least 2 people wearing it on campus. It is insane. And Poundland is just another place that excites me. I have never really bought anything from Poundland but every time I went there I feel a little more alive seeing the low prices. HAHAHA.
Me and Julie at a bubble tea shop after shopping in Sheffield High Street.
Corporation and Pop Tarts. Who can resist clubbing in England ? I didn’t go to a lot of Corp nights, but the ones I went I really enjoyed. Yeah yeah yeah people vomit and it could go gross but dancing with your friends even you know the music is hopelessly pop, what else could be better ? And Pop Tarts is a Saturday dancing night organized by the Student Union. We celebrated Julie (my flatmate)’s 20th birthday there. And after every Pop Tarts, people just like to come to my flat and eat the fried noodles I make …
Corp – Because someone wasn’t satisfied with my selfie skills and I had to move this far away to make sure everyone is inside the photo.
Pop Tarts. (Photo Credit Marta Bianchini)
Finally, the Peak District ! It was a good hike, also an adventurous hike … We saw many sheeps and I think I should stop before my Italian girlfriend sends me an angry text … Hahaha
Peak District. (Photo Credit Davide Zampieri)
Me and Ashna chilling in Endcliffe Park. (Photo Credit Betül Aydın)
3. The Endcliffe Village !!! Where all the good things happen !!!
Undoubtedly, I spent most of my time in this place, either with my flatmates, Flatducks, or myself …
Millstone C3. My flat. Moka Pot, Henry the Hoover/ Blow dryer/ Scones, Red Jumper, Onion, Scissors/Roast Chicken, and Tea Bucket. We have operated the most successful communal grocery system; we have spent at least 2 hours together every night; and we are basically a family which only exist at that time, in that place, and with those people. I think this is a magical thing. Who would expect a group of exchange students being able to get along and live like a real family for 5 months ? Cleaning, cooking and shopping were all well taken care of. We care enough to chat the night, but we respect when each other were busy. I have had so much love, laughter, care and fun in C3. And I will never forget how I lived with this bunch of spontaneous people for 5 months in Sheffield at the highest point of my life (so far).
From left to right, top to bottom : Cheers to Nat, Julie, (Me), Ruan, Eugene and Stephen.
(Photo Credit Eugene Cullity)
Millstone D2. My another flat, if I am allowed to say so. It all started off with an exchange student event in the first week of September. Then I basically allowed myself to be comfortable in this flat, and charmed everyone with my sense of humour and extraordinary massaging skills. Hahaha so self flattering. Later more and more people were brought in, and we eventually moved to Millstone C1, where despite the short time was really a fun hub.
My girlfriend is my biggest supporter.
Flatducks, we named ourselves probably after 3 months of realizing we are a group, are really important people. They fed me food – Microwaved water, Carbonara, Pizza, Tiramisu, Turk Kahvesi, Pink Salad, BBQ (and the grass) … and I will never forget the first Chinese dinner party I hosted in my life. They witnessed the change in my appearance – from Asianly yellow to slightly tanned from sunbathing in the Endcliffe Village lawn, from all black good-girl hair to self-ombred, failed hair dye, and basically from fat to even fatter. We have done too many things together, it will be stupid to list them alllllll out. This one though, I have to mention, is a funny Italian lady’s birthday party. I was lucky I could be in the party before I left for Andorra (I now think that was a bad decision, but it was over anyways. So.), and we had a lot of warm, lovely moments.
BBQ on the GRASS. (Photo Credit Marina Bovo)
From the biggest head to the smallest : Marina, Lucy, Betül, Marta, Ashna, Sena, Risa, (Me).
Chinese Dinner Party ! From left to right, top to bottom :
Esztor, Lucy, Marta, Marina, Betül, (Me), Amy, Sena, Risa, Ashna
From left to right, top to bottom : (Me), Betül, Lucy, Gilles, Hip, Ashna, Marta, Marina, Alex, Sena, and Tom
(Photo Credit Marina Bovo and Asian Selfie Stick)
4. THE Last Week
The last week in Sheffield basically starts from when I was back from Andorra to when I left for Oslo. It was a miserable week because everyday there were people leaving, and it’s just like a disease gradually taking away everybody’s lives. The disease is called reality. It can be interpreted in two ways: we were living in a dream for 5 months in Sheffield, and the end of the exchange semester brings us back to reality in our home countries; or, we were living another life in Sheffield, and after 5 months we were dead in this exchange student life.
My readers, before you choose which one better describes your exchange, I choose to decline both interpretations. For neither of them is accurate or complete. I wouldn’t say the exchange is a dream, because it is indeed real and it indeed happened. Dreams are always inside your head, and what’s realized is no longer a dream. And for the second one, I did start living “another” life, which is a new life. The difference between a new life and a new stage in your life is that in a new life, you think differently, you act differently, and you think about how you act, also differently; whereas in a new stage of your life, you overcome difficulties that could’ve killed you, you survived, then you move on. People can disagree, but this is how I live. As if I do think I started living a new life, so far it hasn’t ended yet. It couldn’t end just after 5 months. The way the Sheffield exchange experience has affected my thoughts and actions, they still do even I am back in Hong Kong as a Y3 student at my home uni.
Leaving, then, could not be more usual as if we were waving our parents goodbye every morning we go to school. My very popular flatmate, Eugene, had a farewell meeting on the lawn outside our blocks of flats, and it was basically 30 minutes of tear-shedding and group hugging. Other than the fact that he is a person so rich of emotions, it was also because we knew it would be difficult to see everybody again. To me it was easier, as I started visiting Flatducks one month after our farewell in Sheffield.
Anyhow, looking back at our last week, it was actually quite awkward. Eugene, who always insisted to roast his chicken his way when it’s his turn to make his dinner, asked me to butter the chicken under its skin, which is typically “my way” of roasting chicken. We took “proper” flat photos for the first and last time. I went for Turkish breakfast spontaneously with Ashna and Lucy even the Turkish girls weren’t there. The other day I even went again and asked them to kindly let me take away the breakfast so I could surprise Julie who likes it very much. While we were cleaning up the house we reminded ourselves the stories of the pair of scissors, blow dryer, and my tea bucket … Despite all these were “last time”s, they were still good o’ memories that will make me smile every time I think of them.
I am a sucker at digital photo storage, and my phone SD card decided to steal all my Sheffield snaps about 3 months ago. Nevertheless I am glad I used Instagram. The photos above are either from my Instagram, or from Facebook photos which I was tagged in. I hope my readers already cried. :’) 😉