I’ve wanted to live in the UK for as long as I can remember. Since I was a little girl, I dreamt of cold air and large green areas where I could run. I filled my room with posters of London and said that I was British because I insisted on the importance of punctuality. If someone asked me why this idea entered my mind in the first place, I wouldn’t be able to give a convincing response. There’s no particular reason – the UK, like any true love, got me caught up in its beauty. Therefore, when I was offered the opportunity of going abroad to this country for an academic year as an Erasmus student, I didn’t even hesitate for a second.
There are usually several places available to choose from and my case was not an exception: London, Nottingham, Leicester, Brighton, Cardiff… at first I was overwhelmed by the variety of options that I had. I was lucky enough to have a good mark, so I had many possibilities from the beginning – however, I felt pressure of choosing the right one, because I couldn’t change it once it was done. What should I take into account? Prestige, population? Obviously, each person gives more weight to some factors than others. What most people seem to forget is that London may be the capital city, but the most important places in the UK apart from it are in the north. Manchester, Liverpool, Leeds… all those cities are within two hours from Sheffield by train. Why Sheffield and not one of those then? Well, I come from a working-class family and prices were therefore quite relevant for me. Sheffield is slightly cheaper than any of the ones I’ve mentioned right before. Moreover, 60% of the city is green space – after price and location, this was the third decisive factor that I took into consideration. For me, having nature around is essential. Subsequently the decision was made: I was going to Sheffield.
I’m not going to lie, life is not a bed of roses. The first day I arrived, I was disappointed due to having unrealistic high hopes. I live in the industrial area and somehow my mind expected to see something like the Amazonian rainforest when I got there. Here’s some advice: explore. I’ve heard some people saying that you can see Sheffield in one day, and nothing could be further from the truth. The city centre is gorgeous, of course – you have everything you need to hang out with friends and feels like a cosmopolitan and modern space. Nevertheless, in my opinion the outskirts are even more enchanting: as soon as you leave the main area, the bus can take you to many boroughs where green is all you can see. What’s more, Sheffield is part of the Peak District – an upland area in England that shouldn’t be missed.
Personally, several things have made this experience unique: I’m from the east coast of Spain and I had never seen snow. When I woke up one morning and saw how the ground was covered in white, I started dancing around all alone. It was magical and I remember having my eyes wide open to really capture the moment. The people I met here made it even more special: I think diversity helps you to deconstruct your prejudices and if anything, Sheffield has students from uncountable different backgrounds. I went to some of the Varsity competitions with my flatmates as well, which I highly recommend: the atmosphere of the two universities competing is fierce yet healthy. Black and gold, the colours of the University of Sheffield (and Hufflepuff!) become part of your identity.
I’m currently trying to make the most of my time here because I’ll go back to Spain within two months. If I could, I would definitely stay here next year. I will never forget the leaves changing to brown, orange and yellow in autumn, the snow that I saw for the first time in winter and the pink flowers that are currently on the ground as spring has come. Sheffield will leave me haunted.