I had so much fun making my ESC-diaries in retrospect about my volunteering experience in Austria, that I thought it would be cool to take a trip down memory lane and do the same for my Erasmus exchange semester in Sheffield, UK. I won’t make a whole post explaining the process, as I’m afraid some things might have changed in the past years, but I will give you a little bit of context before going into the diary itself.
I was doing a bachelor in Communication and Information Sciences at the University of Groningen. I went on my Erasmus exchange during the first semester of my third year, which for us was a semester that you could fill with something of your choice (subjects from other faculties/internships/study abroad) as long as you had 30 ECTS at the end of the semester. During my second year, I could apply for three universities and I got my first choice: the University of Sheffield in the UK!
– 14th of september, monday –
I remember getting up really early, how weird of an idea it was that I’d be living in a different country by the end of the day. I also remember sitting next to this girl from my university that I barely knew, wondering if we’d get along or if we would be forced to spend time together just because we were from the same university. (Spoiler: we got along very well and we’re still friends today!) We were picked up at the airport of Manchester with many other exchange students and got the keys to our temporary rooms once we arrived to Sheffield. We walked to the Student’s Union, where we received our orientation week card. In the night we went to a barbecue for the new students, but honestly I was so tired that I couldn’t properly enjoy it. It had been such a long day and at first speaking English and meeting so many new people just took a lot of energy.
– 15th of september, tuesday –
I started my day with a walk, on which I found a lost American girl and I helped her find her flat. We had another orientation activity, where we did a treasure hunt and afterwards we explored the city centre. In the evening I participated in an interactive quiz, where I met some nice people. Back at my temporary flat, I met one of my temporary roommates and we talked a bit.
– 16th of september, wednesday –
Time for a campus tour! We got to know all the buildings on the campus and we learned that the Information Commons is open 24/7 – crazy! After that, there was a typically British afternoon tea, where we again met some new people. In the evening, it was time for the first party of the semester: a Global Intro Party. My temporary roommate (of whom it took me all day to figure out the gender) got so drunk that she believed one of her friends had flown away and I learned a drinking game called ‘big fish, small fish’.
– 17th of september, thursday –
After less sleep than desirable, some of my new friends and I were at the free shop in the morning to acquire some free kitchen supplies. We made a game plan about who was going to take what, but unfortunately all the good stuff (pans!) was gone by the time it was our turn. But hey, I got a very cool plate and mug so I wasn’t complaining. In the evening we participated in a quiz night with pizza in The Edge, the common building in the student village where all the activities were. We didn’t win anything, but I did meet some nice new people.
– 18th of september, friday –
After only five days in Sheffield it was already time to move, this time into my permanent residence for the semester. It was a big and cool house (compared to most of the flats that seemed more like a hotel) with ten rooms in total, showers and toilets and common kitchen/living room. I met some of my roommates and they seemed nice, so at that point the only downside were the beautiful (ahum) purple walls of my bedroom. I spent my day unpacking and in the evening there was a welcome reception at the university.
– 19th of september, saturday –
My friend and I went to the city centre to buy some things we needed for our rooms and house. Afterwards we met the other roommates, I think everyone had arrived at that point. We went out for drinks in the evening and I ended up at a house party of a fellow Dutch girl that I hadn’t met before and I doubt I met her at the party. I talked to an Irish guy who told me “you can buy two beers or fly to Ireland, it’s up to you, what would you choose?”. I think that’s a good point to end the day with.
– 20th of september, sunday –
We had our first family dinner in the evening, a little tradition of my roommates and me. Afterwards we had some drinks with other new friends we made and then we went to a lame beach party, which was how the orientation week ended.
– 22nd of september, tuesday –
As if an orientation week wasn’t enough, we had another week of fun: introduction week. On Tuesday I took a placement test for my English class, dropped a jar of jam in Aldi and went to a random house party we found on Facebook. On our way home, we found a guy asleep in the park. He was heavily drugged and it took us one and a half hours to walk home with him (normally it’s half an hour) and we were so happy he remembered where he lived once we reached the student village.
– 23rd of september, wednesday –
Time to register for the courses I wanted to take. I signed up for different classes than originally planned and because my roommate broke his phone, I had an entire Danish conversation in my inbox.
– 24th of september, thursday –
During the day, I went to the activities fair with some friends to see which societies there are, but I didn’t sign up for any. In the evening some of my roommates plus friends and I had some drinks and ended up going to a Game of Thrones party. One of the actors was there, which had some people very excited.
– 25th of september, friday –
On Friday there was a sports fair, to introduce the different sports clubs of the university. We went for a walk, spotted some squirrels and after a family dinner we met our neighbours. Weirdly enough their house was connected to ours on the top floor and even more weird, they had a bathtub in the kitchen. Unfortunately, we didn’t get along that well, so I think that’s the only time we ever used that door.
– 26th of september, saturday –
With quite a big group, we went hiking in the peak district, a beautiful national park right next to Sheffield. One of my roommates wanted to take a very unfortunate off-road route, which led to another roommate having one white and one dirty brown all star. At night we had another family dinner, this time my two Dutch roommates and I prepared typical pancakes for everyone.
– 27th of september, sunday –
Some of my roommates and I went to a flea market in the afternoon and in the evening we tried to do a pub quiz. Unfortunately we weren’t all that smart and we couldn’t understand the host at all, so we had to give up after the first round. We drank our sadness away at home with lots of tea.
– 28th to 30th of september, monday to wednesday –
I finally had my first classes. Both on Monday and Tuesday I had journalism classes I didn’t enjoy so much, so on Wednesday I tried a class I hadn’t signed up for and it was so much more interesting. I switched right away. My other journalism class luckily was interesting and also my English as a foreign language class was cool. I also tried out the cheer leading society, but those definitely weren’t my type of girls. A bit sad, because it would’ve been cool to do a completely different sport. Wednesday evening I went out with some friends to a roller skate disco and it was amazing – I hadn’t roller skated in so long!
My first two and a half weeks in England were amazing – I already met so many people through all the introduction activities and by living in a house with nine cool roommates (actually two more people moved in, so eleven) there was always something to do and someone to talk to.