Deciding to study abroad in England wasn’t a hard decision for me. Coming from Chicago, I knew that whatever type of culture shock that I may experience wouldn’t be incredibly lasting or hard to get through. I thought I simply knew this from what I’ve read or have seen on TV; The humor may be different, and I may have to invest money in an umbrella, but at least they spoke the same language, right? Except, as I increasingly came to realize the moment I first stepped into this country, they only relatively spoke the same language.
In reality, Sheffield and the USA aren’t that different from each other. The brands may be different but the products are essentially the same, it’s not hard to walk to West Street (Sheffield’s main street, one you’ll surely become well acquainted with) and find familiar fast food restaurants like KFC, Dominos, and McDonalds (to only name a few). The hardest part, however, is adjusting to the new terminology. For instance, carry-out becomes takeaway and wanting lettuce on your burger becomes wanting salad on your burger. These are only minor differences in speech but can cause an awful lot of confusion at first. Putting those fast food comparisons aside, you’ll run into similar problems during your academic career here at Sheffield.
The initial differences may not throw you off at first, but as these differences become more frequent, you may find yourself becoming a tad frustrated. Here’s a list of just some of the zany terminology the folk at the University of Sheffield use. Use it well:
Class(es) = Module(s)
Clubs = Societies
Dorms = Accommodation
School of…/College of… = Faculty of…
Student Center = Student Union
Besides all of those straight and simple comparisons, there’s also the new wonders of how they schedule their classes. In some cases, when you sign up for a module there’s more than just a class lecture. There’s also the possibility for a seminar or tutorial component to the module that you’ll sign up for after registering. Seminars are the same as to what they are in the USA: you do some reading then show up to class to discuss a topic pertaining to it. Tutorials, on the other hand, were a completely new experience. A tutorial session is essentially a space that can sometimes work like seminar, but it also turns into a space that wants to make sure you understand the material and would know how to write a paper on it. I have two tutorial classes here at Sheffield, one focuses more on discussion while the other focuses more on paper writing, so your experience, if you have one, may end up being different than mine!
Whether it’s the terminology, the class scheduling or something else, you’ll acclimate eventually even if the first couple of weeks feel a bit overwhelming. Sometimes even their differences do make things better, like a bar in the Student Union!! I can’t completely prepare you for the University of Sheffield, but I can at least help you out a little bit and reassure you that any tiny frustrations that you do initially have will go away once you embrace them for what they are. Except, of course, the unforgiving hills of Sheffield. Get ready to climb ‘em because there’s nothing I can say to make those go away. Even if I could make those pesky hills go away I wouldn’t, they’re part of the charm of Sheffield. The people and the atmosphere; there’s just something new and exciting around every corner. I have been amazed by the amount of green life I’ve seen even when it’s winter, or when I’ve found, more often than expected, those wonderfully sunny days. Sheffield is just teeming in energy that wants you to get involved, and it gives you ample number of opportunities to do so.