3 Things I Learnt on My First Week at Sheffield

It’s been a month since I came to Sheffield as a Study Abroad student and I’ve pretty much adjusted into my new life here. As I come from a very different background – I am an Indonesian national whose home university is in Singapore, so many things came across as foreign to me at first. Here I’m going to share a few things which struck me on my first week at Sheffield.

People are generally helpful and friendly.

On my first day here, I took a train from Manchester Airport to Sheffield. I was travelling with a friend and each of us brought one huge luggage, two duffle bags and one backpack. We thought carrying all those items into the train was hard, but getting them off the train was even harder. We were really shocked when some people did not put their luggage bags in the racks provided (because the racks were quickly filled), but right in front of the train doors. The first thing that came to my mind was simply, “How are we going to get off – let alone drag our bags out of the train – before the train doors close?” My friend and I were kind of worried because in Singapore the train doors only open for a very short while at every stop and there is barely enough time to get out of the train. Thankfully, when we reached Sheffield Station, people were quite helpful as they helped us with our luggage bags and made sure that we were first to get off the train (probably because we had so many things with us and we looked really lost at that time). So if you are reading this prior to coming to Sheffield (especially if you are planning to take train like I did), don’t be too worried about carrying your luggage bags as people here are very keen on helping (especially if you look a little lost like I did)!

A 15- to 20-minute walk is reasonable.

Again, another difference with what I experience both in my home country and in Singapore. In my home country, walking for 15 to 20 minutes is unthinkable because getting from one place to another on foot is just not the culture there. I live in Jakarta where the traffic can be undeniably horrifying at times (or most of the time, I’d say), but to walk under the heat and amidst the polluted air is not an option to most people. In Singapore, public transportation is very affordable (especially if you are a student) and I would rather take a bus rather than walking even though my destination is just two bus stops away. What I learnt on my first week at Sheffield is that public transport is rather expensive (a bus ride costs £1 if you have a student card but there is no bus stop near where I live, and a one-way tram ride can cost about £1.70 to £2.40), so I got myself used to walking. It seemed like a bad idea at first, admittedly because I have been pampered with choices for affordable means of transport back home, but after some time I actually grew to like it. The idea of walking is great because it does not only allow me to enjoy the sights and sounds of Sheffield through the cheapest means, it also helps to save some money which I can use to travel somewhere further (i.e. to some other cities by coach) at the end of the week.

Prepping a meal isn’t that hard.

I have never cooked a meal on my own before I came to Sheffield (I know instant noodles is not counted) simply because buying one is never too expensive both back home and at my home university. Before coming to Sheffield, I was busy preparing other important things such as getting my visa done and packing that I did not put in enough effort in learning how to cook. On my first day here, I went to Tesco and I did not know what to buy because I had almost zero knowledge and experience in cooking. Moreover, I was only familiar with Asian food and the ingredients I would need to make Asian dishes were only available at one section in the Tesco outlet near my accommodation. If you are worried about cooking your meal for the very first time when you are coming here, you can cast off your worries because Tesco actually sells a lot of things which can make cooking a lot easier. Firstly, there are pre-cooked meals which only needs to be heated up in the microwave if you are lazy. Secondly, if you don’t mind cooking but can get a little lazy cutting and peeling vegetables or meat after some time (like me), there are packets of diced/sliced meat and peeled vegetables which may come in handy. If you are into Asian cooking (like me), there are quite a number of Asian supermarkets here at Sheffield and the items they sell are quite reasonably priced. For my very first meal, I cooked chicken and Chinese cabbage with oyster sauce and chopped garlic and ate them over rice. They tasted not bad for a first try at cooking – or maybe it tasted so to me because I knew how much effort I put in back then. Anyway, cooking may seem daunting at first, but after some time you’ll realise that it isn’t that bad and you’d somehow appreciate the meals you prepped more than you’d expected because of the effort you’d put into the prep!

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