Have you ever wondered how studying abroad could change your life? In my case, I never imagined the turns that life would take with this decision, but it is a fact that I have reflected on over the years.
The first important step I took was to attend an Europosgrados fair and there I met my advisor from Across the Pond. This was the turning point: when this dream began to materialize.
In total, the preparation process to study abroad took me a year, during which I:
In my experience, having an advisor was very helpful because she encouraged me and was an excellent guide, she definitely helped make the process much easier.
As an architect, I always knew that I wanted to study something that would allow me to develop projects in a broader context, so initially I was looking for courses related to Urbanism or Landscaping, as usual, life tends to surprise us and adjusts on its own; in the year I was preparing to leave, I had the opportunity to participate in a very important Landscaping project and it helped me be completely sure this is what I wanted to study.
There are many reasons why I chose this course, but among the main ones I can mention:
And I can definitely say that it by far exceeded my expectations!
Now, it is true that there are several universities that offer studies in Landscape, but the University of Sheffield was the one for me because:
I have to admit that when I started my classes my notes were in Spanglish and with many diagrams, but little by little they evolved to be more in English. When I had to write essays or research, the same thing happened to me: after doing a lot of research, sometimes the ideas came in Spanish, other times in English, and my first draft used to contain two languages.
Eventually, in some moments of daily life, I missed speaking Spanish. Just like now, I miss speaking English.
In the day to day at school, I had a fairly defined routine. Get up early, get ready to go to class and walk to school. My house was a 10–15-minute walk to school and it gave me the chance to enjoy at least 3 parks before arriving, this gave me the opportunity of finding surprises along the way, from a blossoming cherry tree to a friend to chat with on the way. Taking public transport is an excellent idea on a snowy or rainy day, since it is super punctual and clean.
I would take classes from 9 am to 5 pm approximately and when we finished, many times my friends and I would meet at the pub. Afterwards, I would return home to do chores, homework or rest.
Also, I had many sleepless nights in the Arts Tower (after approving the necessary trainings) in which we worked on our projects after school. This helped us to socialize a little more, share knowledge and help each other. Also, we used to take a break and go to the Student's Union to relax for an hour or so and have dinner, before continuing with work.
Among the things that I loved about the English education system, is that we all had a tutor assigned from the beginning of the course. All tutors get to know their advisees. This tutor is very helpful in case of setbacks, if you have problems at home or something goes in an unexpected way. If you need support, you can always discuss with your tutor the possibilities to follow.
For me, the classes were always very exciting, and I felt that I was learning actively, with a repertoire of real cases and on sites. We would go outside of the classroom to draw, study and experiment. We made scale models with creative techniques and learned different methods of representation. We studied the sites thoroughly and with different perspectives. My master's degree left me with great analytical and representation skills.
In addition, guest speakers were often invited to classes and conferences were held with experts in the field. Even during lunch breaks, small workshops were organized by students about tools that we used every day, these were optional, but extremely useful.
The atmosphere, the facilities, the equipment, everything is top quality. I never thought that I would like to go to work so much or study in a library or simply get together in the workshop with my colleagues to spend an all-nighter.
But not everything is about studying, even in a very demanding course, there is free time and free days to enjoy.
England is a place where there is a lot of nightlife, you can find a variety of concerts, visiting djs and music festivals. In Sheffield you can annually enjoy the 'Tramlines' and 'Peace in the Parks', to mention a few.
I loved walking around the city and enjoy its places and architecture. Also, getting together with my friends for picnics or barbecues (especially during summer). As well, we often went to the pub or organized excursions to York, London, Bath, and many other places. We would rent a car, took a bus or train. You can also go to weekend getaways to nearby places or plan a vacation to another part of Europe: my favorite method was to look for cheap plane tickets, oh the surprises I got!
Sheffield is a student city, so you will find many people who are in a similar situation to you. Whether you're pursuing your bachelor's, master's, or Ph.D., it's easy to meet acquaintances and friends, starting in your classroom or research department.
Among the unique attractions, they have the Paternoster (a kind of elevator that circulates slowly and does not stop) of the Arts Tower which is 1 of the 2 that exist in the world, believe it or not, it is a great attraction and really meets its functions in daily use.
It is a super green city, with many parks in addition to the Peak District. The City Center is very dynamic and beautiful, especially in the winter season when you can enjoy the Christmas Market. They also have a tram, which is used to get to a super large mall with cinemas, bowling, etc.
Another excellent point is that Sheffield has a beautiful train station, it's a great welcome on arrival. It's also near to airports with international destinations: it is only 1 hour by train from Manchester and around 3 hours to London.
In my stay of almost 2.5 years, I always stayed in private accommodation, which I shared with other students. My first flat was shared with 8 people (Wow!) and conveniently located near the university, very close to the best Indian food and an excellent Fish and Chips. I shared the flat with Mexicans, Spanish, South-Koreans and British students, both undergraduates and postgraduates. I won't deny that sharing a home with so many people was a bit challenging, but it was definitely fascinating.
When I left my home country, I knew that I was going to get certain things like an excellent education and a little bit of traveling, but definitely among the things that I never imagined I would get from this experience are the great friendships that developed in those years. Today I have created unbreakable bonds with some people who crossed my path.
To keep up to date, I am part of the school's alumni group and there is even a chat for former Mexican students managed by Sheffield University.
Regarding what I did expect, the knowledge I received was wonderful. The tools that my master's degree gave me still help me a lot in my professional life and were perfectly translated to my environment, thanks to the teachings of my professors. Likewise, the experience that living abroad gave me helped me expand the way in which I see and appreciate the world and those who are part of it.
Did any of what I mentioned sound familiar to you? Did something catch your attention? Do you want to study in UK? If you answered yes to any of these questions, don't hesitate any longer and take the first step in this life-changing experience.
My process to study in England started more than two years ago, but everything took a long time, and my motivation was getting lost with time. I had the opportunity to come and study English in England and I was amazed by the quality of education here, and how important it is for universities to look after the well-being of the student. Therefore, because of the quality of the education, the support I received in the application and my previous knowledge of the language, I decided to study at the University of Sheffield.
At the moment I am in the city of Sheffield doing my Masters in Public Health and I am very happy to have made it this far. I did my medical degree in Colombia, the classes in the UK differ from Colombia, but it has only taken me a few days to adapt. In the beginning, it was a bit hard to communicate because of the accent from the north of England, but everything passes with the days when your ear learns to adapt to the new language and accent. It's all a matter of a little effort and keeping the goal in mind. As for the university, I have been pleasantly surprised with the friendliness of all the teachers and fellow students, the amount of sporting and social activities we have (there are almost 200 societies you can get involved in), and most importantly, the academic and personal support you receive from the university. All this has made my adaptation to my new country and city easier.
In my spare time, I've done archery with the university team, travelled to cities such as Cambridge, Liverpool, Manchester, York and the Peak District (a mountain range very close to Sheffield, where there are lots of walks to do), and been involved in various social activities such as yoga, Zumba and contemporary dance. There is always an activity available to do. I also joined the Latin American Society, where I was able to make my first friends and they continue to be an important part of my life as they feel so close to home.
As for accommodation, I decided on private accommodation very close to the university, it is a studio with a private kitchen and bathroom, which is perfect for someone who prefers privacy. It is student accommodation, so there are also social activities, study areas, games and TV areas where you can meet your neighbours or hang out with your friends.
I am very passionate about Archaeology, and in order to continue pursuing my research interests I decided to get a postgraduate degree.
I love how hands-on the coursework is and the fact that we don’t just read and talk about methods. We actually learn how to execute them properly.
The diverse research interests of the professors, especially those of my advisor, and the city itself.
The culture of graduate/postgraduate study outside of the US is very different, and I’ve found the change to be very positive.
The International Merit Postgraduate Scholarship
It’s fantastic! My professors are all very engaged and excited to teach; plus being a postgraduate student makes everything more personal, and you really get to know everyone. I’ve also made a lot of great friends!
I plan to pursue work in the field for a year or two while I decide what specific subject I would like to study for my PhD.
I’ve been given so much advice and encouragement, and the faculty here has shown a great interest in my future success.
I love the city itself, especially because it’s so pedestrian-friendly. I also love how dedicated Sheffield is to the arts. The accessibility to local history is very exciting.
Missing friends and family back home.
Don’t be afraid! While things may take time to become accustomed to, there will always be people to help, and you’ll make amazing friends here. Additionally, this is a world-renowned department with friendly and engaged faculty. Studying here will be very advantageous to your future career.
Describing my university experience in the United Kingdom is a difficult task, as it has honestly been one of the most fun and exciting times of my life. I heartily recommend this experience to anyone who is thinking about a Master's, as living and studying in a new country allows you to not only explore new cultures, but also appreciate home more. At the beginning of my experience, settling into the university was a lot easier than expected. I live in university accommodation so everyone I met was in a similar situation of being in a new city (or country) and of knowing no one, we all became fast friends. The university offered services and a welcome package to help me every step of the way; it was an exciting time and while it was a little scary coming to a university in a new country I was able to settle in and become comfortable here in no time.
As a student of medieval archaeology, I chose University of Sheffield because of its amazing archaeology department and the comprehensive courses offered. The quality and direction of the education I was going to be receiving was the most important factor in my decision to choose Sheffield University, and it has since proven to be a good choice.
Sheffield is an interesting city. It was originally very industrial and has since transitioned into a very hip and welcoming place to live. There is always something to do, either in the city centre or in the peak district, and it is small enough that I feel very comfortable moving about and yet large enough to host any number of events and festivals. That being said, the cost of living is much greater in the United Kingdom simply because the pound is stronger than the Canadian dollar. This has impacted my lifestyle in certain ways; I eat out much less and I don’t spend as much on things I want. I tend to put any extra I have into travelling the county, something I do quite often! At the beginning of the year, when I had less coursework, I would visit one city in the surrounding area every weekend, exploring the country and having small adventures. The British transit system is amazingly easy to navigate and there are few places you cannot get to. Cities like Manchester and York have become regular destinations, and from Sheffield I have been able to travel to London, Edinburgh, and even Paris at very little expense. I would definitely recommend a rail pass!
Without Across the Pond, I don’t think I would have had the courage to apply for my Master's in the United Kingdom. It was such a daunting task, and having someone who understood the process and who was there to support me in my academic endeavours was an invaluable resource, making my experience applying for my Master's much less stressful and intimidating than it otherwise would have been.
One of the things that drew me to UK education was the opportunity to focus only on my chosen course. In the US, there are a lot of general courses required in various subjects, but I was interested in a more focused university structure. In addition, I was drawn in by the variety of courses and modules available. I ended up being able to study Philosophy and Politics in equal weight rather than having to choose just one. The deciding factor, however, ended up being the price and time.
University in the US is not only a year longer than university here in the UK, but it can also be much more expensive. I was able to get an international student scholarship here at Sheffield which made university much more affordable than anywhere I could've gone (besides my local state school) in the US.
I applied to thirteen universities in the US and I can say that the UK application process was SO MUCH easier than it is in the US. I ended up using UCAS to apply to five universities here and there were a few noteworthy (positive) differences:
I would say the biggest difference, besides it being a much simpler process, is that there's a bigger focus on academics and drive in the application process here. The universities don't care too much about your life story and/or activities; they'd rather hear about why you're choosing your course and what you want to do with it, which for me was a relief, but is something to keep in mind when writing your UCAS essay.
Most definitely my family and friends (but I think that's something everyone experiences when going to college, it's just amplified here because you're further away). The biggest challenge was meeting people and adjusting to cultural differences. Luckily, most universities have activities and clubs to join, which can help with making friends and feeling at home in a new country, and a lot of the cultural differences include fun things like going to chip shops + dancing at the clubs. It gets easier as you go on, and it's most definitely rewarding.
I would tell myself not to go in with crazy expectations, not because they can't/won't be fulfilled, but because it's just better to allow things to happen however they are going to happen. I've found I'm a lot happier when I just live without worrying about or comparing my experience to the experiences of others. I'd also tell myself to join more societies and go participate in group activities because I ended up doing more of that second semester and while it did still help me make friends, if I'd done it sooner I may have met more people at the beginning. Last but not least, enjoy every moment and don't be scared to put yourself out there. It will be a little hard at first but you'll be glad you did, it's a lot better than sitting around and wondering what you're missing out on back at home.
I've learned that I'm a lot stronger and more capable than I thought I was. I feel more self-assured and confident in my independence because if I can go to university 5,000 miles away from everything I know, I can do anything. I've also learned a lot about my academic interests. The wide variety of courses has allowed me to explore what I enjoy doing and may want to pursue in the future.
I've actually recently started thinking about going to law school after uni, which is definitely not what I had planned when I first got here, partially because I didn't really have a plan. Lots of people told me studying Humanities wasn't worth it or that it wouldn't lead directly to a job. However, my classes have really helped me explore all my interests and build on what I already knew I enjoyed, and the curriculum really focuses on how different areas of study and work intersect which is why I feel capable of going on to do law with my degree. What's most important, is that I chose to study something I was passionate about despite the uncertainty of what it could lead to, and I wouldn't have done it any other way.
Last year, I went to an Arctic Monkeys night at a local club with one of my flatmates who was also an international student. This was incredible because it was an entire night dedicated to dancing to Arctic Monkeys music. We stayed out all night and had an amazing time, and it was completely different from anything I'd ever experienced in the US. Afterward, we went and got chips at a chip shop nearby (we really immersed ourselves in the culture), and then we went home and crashed. It was definitely a stereotypical British night out, but I really felt like part of the community. It was a great way to make friends and unwind after a long week of uni.
Settling into Sheffield was a piece of cake. The university provides loads of activities to help you meet people, and the people living here are very friendly and helpful. It's also pretty easy to navigate around the city.
Sheffield is definitely a city, but it's also super green and very close to the gorgeous Peak District! It was a perfect balance of city/country life.
I decided to go to Sheffield because of the course they offer, but I ended up really settling into the city and I am more than happy with the choice.
It's definitely more expensive to live in England than it is to live in California, but I don't regret a pound that I've spent. This has been the best year of my life so far! I've learned so much from my course, my flatmates and friends, and from exploring this beautiful country.
University Accommodation - no complaints, but it is more expensive than private housing and a good half-hour walk from the uni.
When I wasn't studying or working, I traveled throughout the UK and also explored Sheffield and the Peak District.
Yes - England, Scotland, the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland.
You'll love Sheffield! There's a club/activity for everyone, and northerners are super friendly. The city center is neat and it has everything you'll need to buy throughout the year. The surrounding Peak District is a hiker's dream! Ecclesall Road also has fun pubs and shops worth checking out!
Across the Pond was so helpful! My advisor answered my many questions and eased any worries that I had. Across the Pond gave me the confidence to commit to a year abroad and I will always be grateful for that!
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