Travels to NYC by Myles Turner

In September 2022 during the labour day long weekend me and one other friend took a trip down to visit New York City. We travelled down on the train from Durham, NH to Boston on the Friday evening and then got the late-night coach to New York City, due to the coach times not being ideal we arrived in New York at 4:15 am. We quickly got in a uber as NYC is not a very safe place at 4 in the morning. We went to a 24-hour diner called ‘Katz Deli’; it is world famous for its pastrami sandwiches, so we enjoyed one of these for breakfast. Lots of famous celebrities and politicians have eaten at Katz Deli, including former President Bill Clinton.

At around 7:30 am after a couple strong coffees we decided to start looking around Manhattan. I was very surprised with the size of Manhattan island and the scale of all the buildings and bridges throughout the city. We crossed the Williamsburg Bridge into Brooklyn, the bridge was so big that it took around 25 minutes to walk cross, we quickly realised that there was a lot less to see in Brooklyn and that we wanted to be back in Manhattan to see some tourist sites. Luckily there are ferries that run across the harbour. Tickets are very cheap, around $3 for a one-way journey. This allowed us to get these stunning views of the city for a very cheap price. The ferry dropped us off at the tip of Manhattan by Wall Street. We enjoyed walking around looking at the skyscrapers.

We then headed for the 9/11 memorial, this site was massive and gave me a very sobering realisation of how large the twin tours were. We then spent the rest of the day walking around Manhattan and seeing more tourist sites including:

  • Broadway
  • Central Park
  • The Plaza Hotel
  • Billionaire Row
  • Time Square

We had booked an Air BnB to stay in located near the top of Manhattan Island, we did this mainly to save cost, it was located right next to a subway station so we were able to easily get in and out of the city.
In the evening we headed back into the city to see the sites in the night, Times Square was stunning at this time of day.

On our second day we visited 5th Avenue to go shopping and we also stopped to get a famous New York Bagel from Liberty Bagels. They had these colourful bagels that tasted great and are definitely worth a visit.

We also visited the Rockefeller Centre and St Patricks Cathedral. I found the Cathedral stunning however I found the Rockefeller Centre overrated.

On the final day we had to leave around 9am to get the coach back to Boston and returned to university. Overall, I found New York a very interesting city to visit. There are nice parts and some very grand old buildings. On the other hand, there are very large 4/5 lane roads running everywhere throughout the city, there is rubbish everywhere! And some parts of the city are pretty run down. However, I would recommend visiting New York as it was an experience, I just wouldn’t say that it was my favourite city that I have been to in the US.

P.S Have a plan of what to do when you arrive in the city as everything moves very fast and it can be a little overwhelming.

Surprises from Canada – by Harriet Robotham

As I’m writing this, I’ll soon be starting my sixth month of studying abroad in Canada at the University of Waterloo. I’ve been having a great time so far, and I want to share useful information for anyone coming to study in Canada too.

Be prepared to spend more on groceries. Although food prices are rising everywhere, it’s definitely more expensive here. Also, the size of food products is huge- I end up using one jar of pasta sauce for about 4/5 meals!

Buy any winter clothes in Canada. Winter in Canada can get bitter cold with snow sticking around for weeks at a time, so it’s essential to be able to keep warm. I packed lots of layers but bought a thicker winter coat here- so I could pack less. It was from a cruelty-free brand called ‘Noize’ and is suitable for down to -30 degrees (not an ad). Alternatively, you could get a second-hand one in value village (a thrift store).

The time difference is noticeable. It’s 5 hours between here and the UK, which doesn’t sound huge but is difficult sometimes, especially if you have a questionable sleep schedule. I do prioritise making time for those from home because sometimes a phone call can be a good reminder of all the support back home.

Classroom culture is different. The teachings style here and in the UK are very similar but the assessments are quite different. For example, here, there are midterms which come around pretty quickly. As well as these extra exams, I have far more quizzes and assignments than back in Sheffield, often multiple a week. The positive side is that I like the productivity this enforces on me, there is always something I can be doing.

More things I found surprising…

  • The University shuts if there’s a lot of snow.
  • From Waterloo to Toronto, the norm is to buy a train ticket that’s valid for a week with no specific time or day to travel.
  • 13% tax is added on top of the shelf price for most items which I usually forget.
  • There’s a tipping culture here where 15% is the expected, which I try to do but am still not used to.
  • Meal deals aren’t a thing which has been difficult.
  • There’s been less snow than I expected so far
  • There are gaps at the hinges of toilet doors, so anyone could peer at you peeing!
  • There’s quality air conditioning and heating on public transport making travelling very comfortable…

…And the rest you can discover for yourself! Overall, living in Canada has been great so far and despite its differences from the UK, I love it.

That’s all from me, until next time, Harriet.

Advice for travelling on your year abroad (Europe Edition) – by Emily Bush

So far this year I have been lucky enough to be able to go on several weekend trips to various places in Europe. After spending September getting settled in The Netherlands, in October and November I went to Brussels, Copenhagen, Malmö and Prague! Having done this, I have some tips for other people hoping to travel while on their year abroad.

Keep costs down

Keeping your costs down means you will have more money left over to potentially go on another trip, so always look for ways you can do this. Go for hostels instead of hotels, try and get a Flixbus instead of flying (although sometimes travel times are too long to fit in a weekend – for example, we got the Bus to Brussels but flew to Copenhagen as the bus would have taken 16 hours). Also, consider buying breakfast and lunch in the supermarket instead of at a hostel or restaurant or, if a buffet breakfast is included in the price of accommodation, take some extra food with you for the day!

Pack light

Especially if you are only staying for one night, most hostels only let you check in your bag after 3pm and require you to check out before 10 or 11. When we went to Brussels, we arrived at 10 am and had to carry our bags with us while we explored the city. While you can often leave a suitcase behind the front desk, if your hostel is far away from the train station or airport, or far away from the city centre, this might be a bit awkward. Try and fit everything into a backpack, and make sure it isn’t too full or heavy so that you’ll have room to fit souvenirs if you buy any.


Before you go anywhere, it is important to work out what you want to travel for. Some people want to try new food when they go travelling, some go just for nights out, and some go for tourist activities. When you’re deciding what you want to do, its important to prioritise because you won’t be able to see everything in one weekend, so pick a few things you definitely plan to do, and leave the rest for if you happen to have extra time. Saving places you want to go on google maps is also a good way to know how far apart each place is – I’ve found this really useful for deciding what I can fit in in a day and choosing which things I could do at the same time.

Don’t be afraid to split up from your friends

Travelling in a group is always fun (and I would recommend this over travelling alone, as your year abroad is a great chance to have a big group of people who are all up for an adventure). However, (and this is the most important one if you’re travelling in a group) don’t be scared to go off and do something on your own if no one else wants to do it! Me and my flatmates often made plans to meet for lunch or dinner but split into smaller groups or went off on our own for other activities, especially since we usually wanted to wake up at very different times. As I said before, everyone has different things they want to travel for and not everyone will be looking to do the same things so its important that you don’t miss out just because you don’t want to be on your own.

Ask friends for recommendations

Especially on your year abroad, lots of other exchange students will be travelling at the same time(or you might know people who are from where you are travelling to) so if you know someone who has been to a certain city, message them and ask if they have any recommendations, especially for things like food and drinks. In my experience, everyone has been happy to share their recommendations and it’s a good way to avoid spending hours googling where the best places are.

Travel/life balance

Apart from the cost of travel, weekend trips can also be very tiring. Don’t plan to be travelling every weekend because you will might find you have to spend the whole week recovering before you on your next trip instead of catching up on any work you’ve missed. As well as just balancing travel with Uni work, also make sure you balance trips with the time you spend in your new city. If you’re travelling every weekend you will have less time to get to know the place you’re living in, and won’t get to experience as much of the local life as you might do otherwise!

Day trips!

Depending on where you’re living, day trips are a good way to save money while still being able to see new places, because you don’t have to pay for accommodation! On top of this, if you’re staying in a different city for a few days, see if there is anywhere you can get to on the train or bus for a day. When we went to Copenhagen, we got the train to Malmo, Sweden for the day which was quite cheap and an easy way to visit a new country!

Your Guide to Travelling in the USA – by Jude Spivey Green

One of the best things about your year abroad will be the chance to travel around the country you’re in. Just like England your new home will have a wide ranging and eclectic variety of cities and areas to see, which you will certainly want to make the most of. Travelling around America, however, represents a rather different challenge than Europe, due to its huge size. This hasn’t stopped me and my friends, and I’ve been able to visit Dallas, Arkansas, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Oakland, Denver and Chicago. Here are some of the main tips I’d recommend so you too can see all this incredible country has to offer.

  1. Get a Car

This tip is equally applicable for your day to day life as well as travelling. Cities in the US are typically well spread out and it’s possible that basic things such as the supermarket will be beyond walking distance. Getting a car (or having a friend who gets one) will be well worth it. With rail infrastructure somewhat lacking, for (comparably) short journeys, a car will usually be your best option. Petrol is remarkably cheap, and is often under £1 per litre, so this won’t be the burden it can be back home. While the drives were several hours long, my trips to Dallas and Arkansas were relatively cheap for the distance that they were, and was much less hassle than the process of going through an airport.

  1. Make the most of your breaks

As previously mentioned, America is enormous, this means most travel will take a fair amount of time. It’s not as simple as hopping on a train for a short weekend break, when many of the places you’re hoping to visit are thousands of miles away. Your breaks will be the best time to travel. For example, in November, you’ll get most of the week off for Thanksgiving. My flatmates and I saw this as an excellent opportunity to visit the dazzling city of Las Vegas, as well as perhaps the most famous of America’s many breathtaking national parks: The Grand Canyon. I would certainly recommend staying in America for your Christmas break, as it provides a month to explore everywhere you’d like to see, which I personally used for my California excursion as well as heading North to a much chillier Chicago. While a small part of me missed being home for Christmas, swimming in the Pacific Ocean at Santa Monica Beach in L.A., with the temperature at twenty two celsius in late December, was one of a number of unforgettable experiences I made during the break. You’ll also get Spring Break in March (I’m planning on heading to New Orleans), as well as a thirty day grace period upon the expiration of your visa at the conclusion of Spring semester. Use these chances to travel.

  1. Travel Light

As you might expect, the majority of the trips you’ll be taking across the country will be via plane. Naturally, you’ll be inclined to fly with the cheapest airlines, which I would recommend, but be careful regarding baggage. While you can get some incredibly cheap flights (I flew from L.A. to Oakland for £17!), these airlines will typically charge much more for both carry-on and checked bags, so I’d recommend packing less and aiming to travel using just the free ‘personal item’ you’ll generally be entitled to. While airlines use the example of a laptop bag as a ‘personal item’, this is a deliberate attempt to encourage you to spend the $50+ charge for a carry on, as I’ve found that a reasonably sized rucksack is acceptably sized, and it is possible to travel without paying for bags, if you’re willing to travel light.

  1. Don’t be afraid to travel alone

Travelling with your new friends, who like you will also be excited to jet across the country, is amazing. My Thanksgiving break in Vegas with my flatmates was possibly my favourite week of the entire year. Sharing such incredible experiences is priceless and will create memories to last a lifetime. However, there’s also value in solo travelling. I see this in two ways. First, this will greatly increase your ability to act independently. Where previously, for family holidays, school trips etc, you may have had much of the organisation done for you. In comparison, by solo travelling you’ll be forced to look after yourself, do your own planning, and organise your own itinerary. Overall this is a useful process as you’ll improve your confidence and ability to be in control of your own life, a skill which goes beyond just travelling on your year abroad. Alternatively, chances are there will be places you’re desperate to visit, and specific attractions you’ll want to see. Solo travelling gives you the chance to do exactly what you want to experience. For example, I’m a huge jazz fan, so my Spring Break will be spent in New Orleans, the birthplace of the genre. Of course I’d be delighted if any of my friends indicate they’d also like to come, however this is very much a trip planned for my own personal interests and I have detailed plans to see places I’ve been hoping to visit for over a decade.

I hope you find these tips useful, good luck out there!

Embracing and making the most of travel on your year abroad – by Nelson Walker

What I have loved most about my time studying and living abroad so far have been the incredible opportunities to travel, meet new people and have new exciting experiences.

I have always loved exploring new places and knew travel was something I absolutely wanted to make the most of during my time abroad. This year has been a phenomenal launchpad for this and making it a reality.

In just over three months, the extent to which I have been able to travel across Spain and beyond the Spanish border has even surprised myself.  

I have had magnificent opportunities to take part in trips to various places across Spain such as Valencia, Salamanca and Segovia. Beyond Spain, I have had the opportunity to explore the beautiful neighbouring country of Portugal and travelled to the south of Morocco just before Christmas – a new continent!

Exploring the bustling southern Moroccan city of Marrakech was a joy and spending time in the stunning Sahara Desert was a life dream come true for me!

And that is what studying abroad brings. It gives you a wealth of opportunities to meet new people and have unforgettable experiences.

cross my travels, I have been able to meet and get to know so many wonderful people from across the planet. This has been incredibly life-enriching. As a Journalism student too, it is amazing to have so many contacts from many different corners of the planet!

It has been one of the best ways for me to settle in and embrace my time abroad so far. Travelling means you are open to new experiences, new people and new places, and they all bring so many magnificent moments and memories. It gives you the chance to meet like-minded people who share similar interests.

By taking part in organised trips, this has also instilled me with the confidence to plan my own adventures.

In the last few months, myself and friends I have made have organised trips to many other Spanish cities such as Zaragoza, Valladolid and most recently Bilbao in the Basque Country.

Planning your own trips, enjoying new experiences and getting to know new people along the way are joys that enhance every part of the study abroad experience.

Challenge yourself by getting out of your comfort zone, meeting new people and making new memories. I have gone alone on many of these trips and every single time I have met some wonderful new people and created lovely new memories.

Travelling builds your confidence and enhances your self-belief. To travel you have to accept uncertainty and that things may not always go to plan. This way be nerve-inducing but it is part and parcel of the fun of travelling! Each trip is unique and how the days may pan out are completely different.

To make the most of travelling, what I love to do is be the educated and well-prepared traveller. I like to research and learn about the places I am going to before I visit them. The history, geography, languages and cuisine of a place are fascinating and can help create an even more fulfilling travel experiences when you get out there.

Having a good grasp of languages and being able to say at least a few phrases in the local language are also fantastic tools to have on your travels! I can speak French, Portuguese and Spanish and so being able to speak French in Morocco and Portuguese in Portugal made for even more authentic and enriching experiences! Yet just knowing how to say thank-you in Basque on my recent trip to Bilbao brought a lovely smile on someone’s face! Watch some videos, learn some phrases and you will reap the benefits!

Of course, travelling requires time and money. I have had to balance my desire to travel with the obvious demands of studying at my host university in Madrid.

If you are organised and efficient with your work, you should have plenty of time to take part in trips and plan your own adventures. I have always aimed to be well on top of what I need to do on my courses before going on new adventures. Getting lots of my work done in the week has given me the platform to embrace lots of my weekends for travelling.

If this is a challenge, then making the most of holidays and bank holidays can be the best way to integrate travel into your study abroad experience. Spain has lots of cultural holidays so that has been a big bonus for me in organising day trips!

Then, from a financial standpoint, budgeting and setting aside money for trips can be the best way to know you have sufficient money to travel. Ahead of flying out to Madrid for the first time, I had already put aside money specifically designated for travel.

While I have been out here, I also been careful to know my limits and what can be done. A trip every couple of weeks has generally been my blueprint. That has also given me enough time to recover and recharge my motivation ahead of another trip! Having trips to look forward to have also been a massive boost in motivating me to get through certain assignments and course requirements.

Ultimately, travel has been a fundamental step in building my self-confidence and growing as a human being. It is one of the best ways to challenge yourself and take you out of your comfort zone. Seeing how other people live in different places and connecting with them is incredibly valuable and builds cultural bridges and understanding.

If you make the time to travel and embrace every single moment of it, you will reap marvellous rewards and help to build a better version of yourself, I can assure you!

Semester One Highlights – by Joy Whyte

Hi, I’m Joy and studying History at Humboldt University in Berlin for a year. Berlin has different semester dates to Sheffield, so semester one runs from the end of October to the end of February. Although it’s not finished yet, I thought I thought I would write up some of my highlights as the semester draws to a close.

I absolutely loved being in Berlin in the run up to Christmas. Although I went back home for the Christmas break, I went to as many Christmas markets as I could. I got to try my first Glühwein, see the Christmas lights and try lots of different food. A definite highlight was going ice skating with a friend at the Alexanderplatz Christmas market. It was my first time at an outdoor rink and it was so much skating round listening to the Christmas music and looking at the markets (though I’m awful at skating so a lot of the time was focusing on trying not to fall over!) Another great Christmas market was at Charlottenburg Schloss – there was even a roof terrace with a great view over all the stalls.

A major highlight so far was going to Prague with my friends. At the beginning of December, we got a coach to Prague to spend a few days there. The journey was only four hours long and cost 40 euros for a return ticket. It was wonderful – Prague is so gorgeous, we got to see the Christmas markets there, the famous Charles bridge, the national gallery, museums, go to some lovely cafes and restaurants, and even an Irish bar one night! It was amazing being able to go travelling so easily with my friends, with very little planning in advance required. One of the great things about being here is how easy it is to travel to places, with great public transport and pretty low prices too. I’m already thinking about where I want to go next!

Berlin has a great selection of museums and exhibitions which I’ve been making the most of. I study history, so obviously I was very keen to learn more about Berlin’s history – and there’s a lot of it around! Many of my classes are in ‘Museum Island’ – the area with many famous museums, so it has been easy to pop into the Pergamon Museum and others around there, as I have a yearly pass that enables me to visit a large number of museums. The Jewish Museum is a must see in Berlin, it was really thought provoking and interesting. Visiting historical places like the remaining part of the Berlin Wall at the East Side Gallery, the Stasi records, and memorials have also been a big highlight of my time so far.

All of these experiences are great, but some of my favourite memories are also the little moments too. For example, the first time I realised I didn’t need google maps to navigate around the city centre to my classes made me so happy. Another time I came out of a bar with some friends, straight into the first heavy snow in Berlin. Though the novelty quickly wore off when I realised I had to walk home in the snow with a hole in my shoe! Another thing I love is all the live music around. There are buskers on many of the main streets in Berlin and often on the tube or at the stations too. I love sitting in many of the cute cafes in Berlin and getting to try out new places whilst with friends, or by myself, reading or studying. All of these little things really are highlights for me – although they’re small they’re moments when I really began to feel at home in Berlin and how special that was. Semester one has definitely had its ups and downs, but overall it’s been an amazing experience and I’m so excited to see what semester two will hold.

Sheffield, UK vs Vienna, Austria – by Kiran Sahota


  • Sheffield has two universities; Vienna has 9 federal universities and many other private and vocational universities. Vienna’s universities are situated all over the city, which means that whilst there are areas which are stereotypically more ‘studenty’, you would struggle to find a student-free area. As a result, Vienna is a fantastic place for young people, and thousands of people move here to study. 
  • Although Vienna is a capital city, it is very accessible! The reasonably-priced public transport can take you anywhere within minutes; my 40 minute walk to the city centre is also a 7 minute metro trip.
  • The city itself has a very distinct history compared to Sheffield. As the former seat of an empire, Vienna contains even more palaces than universities, and grand buildings such as the Opera House, the Theatre and the Natural History Museum.
  • Although Sundays are pretty relaxed in the UK, Vienna takes it to a whole new level. All shops are closed on a Sunday; both grocery and commercial. The streets are almost empty, and everyone just relaxes. This isn’t purely cultural; shops have to obtain a special licence to be able to open on a Sunday.
  • Vienna is a lot flatter than Sheffield. I can’t remember the last time I had to climb a hill, or even a slope! This is partially due to the Danube (the river which flows through Vienna) changing course very regularly throughout history. Currently, Vienna is built a few metres above the water, with steps down to the riverbank.
  • The main botanical gardens in Vienna are owned by the University of Vienna. The gardens compliment the Faculty of Life Sciences and the Department of Botany and Biodiversity, which brings me on to my next difference…
  • The University of Vienna has a massive variety of courses! Sheffield has a large range of degrees, but within the degree, the modules do not tend to vary much. The University of Vienna not only has a multitude of departments, but has hundreds of modules that you can take, including humanitarian law, and a class about the regulation of materials in outer space!


  • The biggest shopping area is outside the city centre, with a handful of independent and chain stores scattered around the inner city. Similarly to Sheffield, the shopping district is a short tram ride away from the city centre! Instead of Meadowhall, Vienna has Mariahilferstrasse, a long road with every type of shop you could think of, as well as the occasional flea market! The city centre is reserved for upscale chocolate shops, jewellers and boutiques.  
  • The universities are both city-based. Both universities have a similarly proportioned spread over their cities, although the University of Vienna’s buildings are certainly larger than Sheffield’s! Both Universities additionally have an old, original building with a few modified classrooms and a picturesque courtyard.
  • Both have trams! Although Vienna’s network is a lot more extensive, the best (and most fun) way to get around both Sheffield and Vienna is to jump on a tram.
  • Sheffield and Vienna are both known for their green spaces. Both cities are surrounded by hills and waterways, but contain beautiful parks within their boundaries. The city centre in Vienna seemingly has a park or plaza for every landmark, not to mention the landscaped gardens dotted around!
  • Finally, the best similarity between Vienna and Sheffield is the friendliness! I would maintain that Sheffield is slightly more friendly, but the Viennese never fail to smile when you walk past, or offer help when you need it.

Five things to know before moving to southern Sweden – Imogen Glover

When preparing to move to Sweden last summer I was heavily relying on google searches about people’s experiences and reading about the traditions and cultures that are celebrated in Sweden. However, since living here there are many things I have realised I really wished I knew before moving out that would have made my life slightly easier! So here are my top 5 things to know before travelling to Sweden from unspoken laws and regulations, to things that would’ve just made my first week in Sweden go a bit more smoothly.

No more 10pm trips to Tesco for Alcohol

Now for all of you who forget to buy enough alcohol for your pres before Roar and Poptarts, prepare yourself for a lot of planning ahead as well as needing a bigger budget. Alcohol in Sweden is regulated by the Swedish government, from where it is sold to how much it costs. In the UK it can be expected that you can purchase alcohol in any licensed grocery store, however in Sweden there is only one place other than a bar or restaurant and that is Systembolaget. This is the state run alcohol shop selling everything from beer to spirits. The thing that caught me by surprise wasn’t that all alcohol above 3% is sold in one store, but it was the opening times. Monday – Friday opening hours are 10am-7pm, with Saturday open 10am-3pm and Sunday being closed. So if you’re buying alcohol for a house party or an event know to plan in advance! Also apologies to all those under 20 as that is the legal age in Sweden to purchase alcohol not in a bar or restaurant. Pints out  in Malmo can range from £4-8 a drink so be prepared for slightly higher prices also, however SU bars are usually discounted. Finally, I am sure many of us have enjoyed a drink at Bolehills of CVP, but in Sweden there are strict laws on drinking in certain areas of the public so my biggest advice is save it for inside your home or at a licenced venue as its an unwanted extra expense when you’re a student if you suddenly get fined.

Prepare to be stared at if you jaywalk

I am originally from the South of the UK and grew up navigating around London, so crossing the street when I see a gap and not always when the green man says go has been a habit of mine for many years. Although not illegal, you will be stared at by many Swedes if you jaywalk as it’s viewed as irresponsible and dangerous. This is the same in Copenhagen, Denmark which is just a 20 minute train journey for me from Malmo. When I first arrived I was very confused as it’s a common trait in the UK but just be aware road systems work differently and can be unexpected. For weeks I struggled to understand why when the pedestrian light was on green, cars were still moving and turning, but I quickly learnt that unless there is a pedestrian at a crossing, cars can continue to move even on a red light. I don’t suggest brushing up on the Swedish highway code anytime soon, but be aware of the fact that road systems work differently and expect people to give you a glare if you cross the road early.

Language barriers can be a challenge – but don’t worry!

Languages have never been my strong point, even at school, with me rarely getting above a C at GCSE French. So before coming to Sweden I was really terrified about the language barrier and how I would get by in the shops. However I would like to reassure you that no matter your language skills you will be fine, but I do recommend a little bit of learning before and during your stay. English is widely taught across Sweden with many being nearly fluent in the language, so trips to the shops can be fairly simple especially if you awkwardly explain you’re English. People are really friendly and happy to talk to you in English, but a few simple phrases in Swedish go a long way. I recommend downloading duolingo to teach you how to read some grocery items and then using the swedish government website to learn a few simple phrases to get you through greeting a bus driver or a shop assistant. Swedes are also really happy to translate and teach you pronunciations so dont be afraid to ask. I really recommend giving it a go, and if I can do it, anyone can!

A bike is your new best friend

When studying in Sheffield, the thought of cycling anywhere around the city, particularly Conduit lane, would have made me cry in laughter and fear, but cycling in Sweden is super common. It is in fact so common and normal that not owning a bike is actually really odd. This is because cycling is super safe and efficient, with designated cycle lanes on nearly every road as well as bike crossings in city centres. I would go as far as to say cyclists take top priority compared to cars and pedestrians. Getting a second hand bike is super easy and will cost anywhere from £40+ and lots of universities have bikes for sale from previous students that you can purchase. So to get a full Scandinavian experience I highly recommend a bike! However, if cycling isnt for you, bus and train travel is extremely efficient and very cheap by comparison to the UK. It should be noted though that in Southern Sweden in the Skane region you must have the travel app Skanetrafiken to buy all your tickets as on the bus, tickets cannot be purchased. It is a really easy app to download and use, and offers discounts for students at 25% off. Within the app it can plan all your journeys for you like google maps would but instead provides a combined ticket. So when I travel from Copenhagen airport to campus, it requires me to catch a train and a bus, but on the app I only have to purchase one ticket that provides me travel for both forms of transportation. Plus my hour journey from Denmark to Sweden only costs me £10 for one way! It is definitely an app you should download before you arrive.

I’m already cold and it’s only October!

My biggest advice is pack plenty of layers! It is only October and despite being in the South of Sweden, temperatures are already getting down to 5 degrees. When moving abroad space in a suitcase is small but I recommend ditching the extra t-shirts and buying thermals and jumpers, and plenty of them. A thick winter jacket is also necessary and I recommend it being waterproof and windproof. It may cost you a bit extra but it is a worthwhile investment and will likely be cheaper in the UK summer sales then over in Sweden. However if your suitcase cannot hold all these extra layers, be reassured that there are plenty of second hand stores across Sweden as sustainable living is a large part of life for many residents and prices there can be really reasonable.

Taking the First Steps – Jude Spivey Green

It’s hard to believe I’ve now been in Oklahoma for over two months, somehow its felt like both the longest and shortest ten weeks of my life. It certainly feels like an awfully long time since I was first getting prepared to embark on my adventure across the Atlantic, when there were so many things I didn’t know and so many wonderful people I had not yet had the fortune of meeting. 

When I first received the confirmation of my placement back in the spring, I was ecstatic. How could I not be? This is a country I’d wanted to visit since I was tiny. And Oklahoma? Visions of sprawling plains as far as the eye can see, the land of Cowboys, Native tribes, herds of buffalo, tornadoes. This certainly seemed an exciting alternative to my sleepy Suffolk village.

However, the reality of the situation soon hit once confronted with the extensive preparation necessary. I don’t have too much to say about the pre-flight preparations except to stay as organised as possible and to trust the process. 

After a few months, several emotional goodbyes to friends both in Sheffield and Suffolk, and one very long day in which I got a bus from Ipswich at 4am to arrive at the U.S. embassy in London for a Visa interview at 10am, I found myself at the departure gate at Heathrow Terminal 5. It was here where I once again was hit with the same wave of childish excitement I’d felt several months previously. I felt prepared for anything.

It goes without saying, however, that I was not prepared for everything. In fact, my first step out of Oklahoma City airport, at 11pm following a short flight from Atlanta, presented me with a hitherto unexpected experience. Of course, I’d done my research and was aware that the Oklahoma summer weather could be unforgiving. What I did not expect was for the temperature to remain at 40 degrees all night. Stepping out of the air conditioned airport felt like stepping into a sauna. You might think you know everything there is to know about a place, especially somewhere you perceive to be culturally similar to your home, I certainly made this mistake. No matter where you go you will find there to be differences you really did not expect, and you will be caught off guard. I personally think this is brilliant, as it’s an opportunity to really step out of your comfort zone and truly learn independence, while becoming more adaptable and spontaneous.

A short uber ride later and I was at my accommodation, and my first thought was ‘wow!’. Imagine Endcliffe (or Ranmoor if you were unlucky), but with a pool, jacuzzi, volleyball court, gym and basketball court that you were free to use whenever you felt like it. Oh yeah, and the rent is far cheaper. Sounds a pretty good deal if you ask me. ‘Ah though,’ I hear you ask, ‘don’t you have to share a bedroom in the States, surely you miss the privacy?’. I would probably agree with you, if this was actually the case. At OU, (and I’m aware this isn’t the case at all of the exchange universities) you’ll get your own bedroom, so you’ve always got a place to yourself if you need it.

Undoubtedly one of the coolest parts of my experience has been my flatmates. At OU, as an exchange student, the chances are you’ll be living with other exchange students from across the world. Apartment F305 has a truly eclectic blend of cultures, with the customs of Australia, Germany, Japan and of course England coming together under one roof, yet all sharing the experience of trying to adapt to life in America. Not only will this expose you to very different ways of living, but more importantly allows you to make friends from all across the globe, making unforgettable memories along the way. This truly is a priceless thing in my opinion, and I consider myself privileged to call these people my friends

The first few weeks will be tiring, but eventually once classes (and football season) set in and you find a routine, suddenly everything will become much more natural. Not everyday will be exciting, some days you just study. You will feel homesick occasionally (and I consider myself quite resilient and independent), and you will suffer a culture shock (still absolutely sickened by 50 teabags for $7), but these are completely normal feelings, and you definitely should not let this discourage you.

Trust me, going abroad will be one of the best decisions you’ll ever make.

Life in Canada so far – Harriet Robotham

As I’m writing this I have been in Canada for almost 2 months, which has flown by. I’m studying at the University of Waterloo in Canada and so far it has been one of the best decisions of my life. It has pushed me out of my comfort zone and is something I would highly recommend to anyone.

Me in front of the iconic University of Waterloo sign located at the centre of campus.

Territorial Acknowledgement

 I want to acknowledge that I am staying within the traditional territory of the Neutral, Anishinaabeg and Haudenosaunee peoples. The main Waterloo campus is on the Haldimand Tract which is the land granted to the six nations that includes six miles on each side of the Grand River. I am continuing to learn about the past and current treatment of indigenous peoples in Canada. If you are unaware of this, please take the time to learn about it, as I am every day.

The Journey to Canada

I flew from Manchester with 3 students from Sheffield, and it also happened to be my 21st birthday, so it was safe to say that emotions were running high when I said goodbye to my family. The flight went well and we made our way through immigration easily, it took about 20 minutes. I recommend having your passport handy so you don’t have to find it every 5 minutes. I then collected my bright orange suitcases and headed to the coach taking us to Waterloo. Fast forward a couple of hours, and I had keys to my apartment in WCRI. I had an enjoyable next few days, as I attended various events put on by the uni to meet others and get to know the university.

Left: Car packed up ready to head to Manchester airport. Right top: Me outside terminal 3, birthday hat on, ready to start my adventure. Right bottom: Me, other exchange students and Waterloo’s mascot, King Warrior, at the first football game of the season.

The New and Not So Good

Canada definitely feels foreign compared to the UK, I’m still shocked by: the size of the roads and buildings; the ‘turn right on a red’ rule and adding tax on top of the shelf value. Luckily, I have 2 lovely Canadian housemates that are happy to help me navigate my way around Canadian culture.

Left: 2 minutes from my apartment taken walking back from campus, overlooks the bus station and apartment complexes. Right: Myself and my two Canadian housemates at the fair, about to go on the spinning strawberries!

At the moment, I’m going through waves of missing home, however, I came into this experience knowing that I’ll have bad days, which is completely normal and doesn’t define my experience. It’s important to remember this is a massive change and that I should be proud of myself! I recommend bringing photographs or meaningful gifts that can be grounding when you need it and don’t underestimate the power of facetime and postcards!

Classes (modules)

Initially, I was enrolled in 5 classes, however, I was finding the workload overwhelming, so I got permission to drop to 3 which was what the majority of other exchange students were doing here. So, speak to your university about any concerns whilst abroad as it is crucial to prioritise our well-being! A stark difference regarding classes is that Canadian universities have midterms which are often worth the same % as a final exam, so are a big deal. You have to fit revision in on top of normal classes so make sure to research how you’re going to be examined to avoid an unexpected surprise!

Left: My view at Dana Porter library whilst revising for midterms. Right: Also Dana Porter library, shows a treadmill and desk at the end of the corridor.

Highlights so far

As yet, highlights have been visiting Niagara falls and staying in a cabin in the countryside over reading week. On top of that, canoeing and visiting a harvest hoedown were both great experiences. Currently, I’m enjoying watching the leaves change colour all over campus.

Left: Me and Jess in our red ponchos ready to board a boat to take us under Niagara falls! Right top: Getting into the hoedown spirit at St Jacobs’ farmers market after learning to line dance. Right bottom: One night over reading week in the cabin situated on the Grand River.

The Next Few Months

Before Christmas, I’m planning to visit Toronto and now as it’s getting colder I’m hesitantly anticipating the arrival of snowfall. I have already booked my flight home for Christmas but in the meantime, I’m getting through my midterms and continuing to show gratitude for this incredible opportunity every day! 

If you have any questions about going abroad, please get in touch by going to the university of Sheffield website > Global opportunities > Get in touch > Talk to our students about studying abroad.

That’s all from me, until next time, Harriet.