MA Material Culture Studies 2011
I chose to study at the University of Sheffield during my third year of studying at the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill. Chapel Hill was only two hours away from my mother’s house in Charlotte. Suddenly I was 4000 miles away, in a very different place.
The English approach to life is a lot slower than in the states, and I like it that way. Most businesses open around nine and close around five. There was only one 24 hour store that was in walking distance. I did not have a car, which is required back home, and I had to figure out a bus schedule. In between classes, I was often sat in the union, drinking a coffee and watching people wander by.
Lectures were very similar to the states, but the marking was not. In the U.S. you get a lot of assignments, so any one grade only counts for a small part of your grade. In the UK, you may get only one or two assignments, so suddenly, one essay or exam was all I had to show my professors what I had learned. I was not used to having to rely so heavily on one grade. If you made a major mistake on a test in the US, you could just cover it by doing really well on the next one. Not so in Sheffield. Every piece of work I turned in had to be the best I could possibly make it. That was the hardest switch for me.
A lot more is expected from the student, in that you have to sort out your own time and study schedule. Most likely due of this, I felt more proud of the course work I did turn in.
In the department, Dr Willmott was my first point of contact, and even though I had nearly all my classes with him, I was constantly in his office. He not only helped me with university related information, essays and coursework, but also any other problems I had. I felt closer to him after three months than any of the professors I had studied with for four years during my undergraduate career. Having his support, and the ability to email him at all times with whatever was on my mind, has made my masters a wonderful experience.
Living in Sheffield
Sheffield is a very large city, and offers the amenities of one, but it never feels that large. I felt at home here, welcomed by the university and the people who have decided to make Sheffield their home.
Sheffield has a large international student population, from over 120 countries and I have made friends from all over the world.
Sheffield is a constant evolving city. I am constantly discovering new places, cafes, pubs, clubs and stores. Even if I wanted to get away from the city, the peaks are a mere bus ride away, with wonderful views, hikes, and climbs. Meadowhall, a U.S. style mall, is a thirty tram ride away.
I decided to come back to England for my post-graduate study because I missed my friends and the way I had felt on my year abroad. I cannot imagine having spent my year anywhere else. I do not know anywhere else you can get the unique blend of an English city and countryside, populated with all sorts of different people. It’s one of the best places in the world!