Monday, 29 February 2016

Sekinat's day at La Campagne Tropicana.

Hiiii! This is Sekinat, International Office Ambassador for Nigeria. You can find out more about me on my profile

I will be sharing a tiny part of my holiday with you guys today. Over the Christmas break, I travelled back to Lagos, Nigeria to spend time with my family. Anyone who knows Lagos, would agree with me when I say its not for the meek. I could easily describe Lagos as MAD HOUSE. My husband and I decided to go to a beach resort at the outskirts of Lagos for a change of scenery.

After a three-hour drive on a Sunday, 27th of December, we arrived at La Campagne Tropicana. Yay! Although I was already so exhausted, it was still very exciting for me as I had always wanted to visit there since my undergraduate years. The resort has an African theme to it; we were welcomed in my local Yoruba dialect at the reception. Fast forward some minutes later, we were taken to our lodge which happened to be hut.

This was our intercom for the duration of our trip. Three taps of the drum and we were promised an attendant would show up. I did not believe that, but Alas it worked!LOL. 

A newly wedded couple being serenaded by the resort band. 

Who goes Kayaking with a long dress?? Me :D . Turns out it was totally random, I saw some kids doing it and we decided to. 

This activity reminded me of the power of teamwork. One wrong paddle and we were going in the wrong direction or moving in circles. 
N.B : free exercise tips- looking for toned arms??this is the sport for you.Hehe!

Enjoying nature. Even the sand was beautiful!

Jumping because I can :D :D

Reflecting on this trip, I just have to agree that sometimes as individuals, we need to just sit back, relax and spend time with loved ones.  I had a great time at La Campagne Tropicana and an awesome holiday. 

On a side note though, I needed to get back to Sheffield. I missed the beautiful green city, plus my assessments were calling for me!

By Sekinat Abbas.
International Office Ambassador for Nigeria

Video: Yu-Bin

Yu-Bin: International Office Ambassador from Taiwan

Sunday, 28 February 2016

My favourite things about Sheffield!

Two years ago, when I walked out of the train station in Sheffield, I would have never thought I could become so attached to this city that I would call it my home one day. I did not know anyone, name of any streets, any restaurants or any shops.

From the first moment I walked in, the great diversity of people from around the world in Sheffield became the reason for me to love this city. Walking up and down the Ecclesall road, have a great night out in the West Street or laying down on the grass in Botanical garden under the sun are some of my favorite habits in Sheffield.

For me what makes Sheffield so unique is the amazing student atmosphere that it embodies in itself, you feel like all around the city is your campus. Further, only by half an hour ride I can be hiking in one of the most beautiful places not just in the UK
but in the world, Peak district.

If that is not enough for my list on my favorite things about Sheffield, I shall talk about Yorkshire tea with some milk or the amazing city hall. However the number one in my list is Sheffield itself, all the things I have mentioned come together in this city, which now is my favorite place to live in.
Helia: International Office Ambassador from Iran

Saturday, 27 February 2016

Blog: We are Sheffield Students


Also, you might already know, I also write in another regular blog for We Are Sheffield Students.

We Are Sheffield Students features students from across the University of Sheffield sharing stories of their university experience. My latest post came out this week, and it is about starting my job as an International Office Ambassador: We Are Sheffield Students
Tareq: International Office Ambassador from Iraq

Friday, 26 February 2016

Regine's Christmas break in Sheffield

Hi! My name is Regine and I'm a Hong Kong student here at Sheffield working as an International Office Ambassador. You can find out more about me from my profile

The holidays couldn’t come soon enough, I couldn’t wait to get home to see my friends, family, eat so much good food, get away from the cold of Sheffield and hide in the warmth of Hong Kong.

The month long break passed in a blink of an eye, it just all happened too fast! Its strange to think that when I return to my home, I act like a tourist – visiting the popular destinations, spending hours in the districts that I never usually went to, looking at all the changes the city has gone through, there was just so much still to discover. I spent a lot of time with family; visiting family friends and relatives, doing seemingly mundane things that appeared interesting just because I was doing it with my loved ones.

Although I had dedicated time to going out and being with friends and family, exam season was looming over my shoulder constantly reminding me of the papers and assignments I faced when I returned to Sheffield, so just to give myself some slack when I got back, I ended up spending a day or two of my precious holiday blasting through some work and setting myself up for the revision ahead.

The holidays were a wonderful time to take a break, get away from school work and just have fun and enjoy the festivities, meet with family and old friends, share the times we had while we were apart in our respective universities. Even though I knew I was home I was still missing my Sheffield home, my friends, the frantic-ness of university life, having to take care of myself. It was wonderful to go home for the holidays, but also be able to come home for university. 

By Regine Cheung
International Office Ambassador for Hong Kong

Tareq - Exploring the life in our sky!

I consider myself quite fortunate to pass what I love as work; As part of my PhD project study in the department of Molecular Biology and Biotechnology, I am trying to understand the biology of the stratosphere. To do so, our team, comprised of researchers from various disciplines, is launching small, special balloons into the sky, at a height that is sometimes three times more than what a commercial air-plane would go!

A view of our planet from about 30 km, taken by our team’s balloon!

Those balloons, carry with them a camera which can capture a gorgeous view of the Earth from the stratosphere, also, under the balloon there is a sampler by which we capture bacteria and other types of lifeforms living up there, later we recover the collected samples and study them in our lab at the Firth Court building. We work on analysing our findings using various techniques, such as scanning electron microscopy, and molecular techniques. This enables us to interpret what we have found in the stratosphere, and be able to tell the types and origin of the microbes that are living the high life!

In the lab, working on analysing what we recovered from the balloon’s sampler

The reason why I love my research, and what made me want to be part of the team working on it, is due to the unique and novel approach in tackling one of the most important mysteries in Science; Until very recently, most researchers though that life was not able to exist on such high altitudes, but our work is continuing to prove that this is not true, and that life is resilient and continue to surprise us. Hopefully, by the time I finish, our work will help to answer some of the questions about stratospheric life, and advance our understanding of the biology of our atmosphere.
Tariq: International Office Ambassador from Iraq

Sekinat tells us it's raining feedback!


My name is Sekinat and I am an International Office Ambassador for Nigeria. You can find out more about me on my profile.

I will be talking about how to handle and make the most of assessment feedback today in this blog.

So exams ended in the first week of February, and feedback is already pouring in. As the University of Sheffield upholds very high standards, this period is very unnerving for most students, regardless of  how confident you are in your abilities. I am just going to talk about a few tips that help me make the best of my feedback, whether good or bad.   

For me, I would say finding a quiet and calm area before checking feedback would enable proper assimilation of feedback scores and comments. Regardless of whatever grades one gets, reading of feedback comments and properly reflecting on them would do a great deal in preparing you for the next assessments, particularly for essays. Reflecting on the feedback would highlight strength and weaknesses; especially if you notice similar comments about certain aspects of your work. If in doubt, one of the perks of being a University of Sheffield student includes the fact that you can request for one-on-one more in-depth feedback from your tutors.

Another way to maximize the chances of improving in subsequent assessments is to find a few colleagues who had excellent grades and if possible go through their work. I bet one would find a few tips here and there that would help improve future assignments. Although it would have been ideal to do this prior to submission of assignments, you can also tell them to go through your work, give their honest opinions and show you ways you could have done it better.

Lastly, I would advice that regardless of your grades, always keep your zeal and stay motivated. Push yourself as much as you can and work harder for subsequent assignments. Do not feel depressed or continue worrying over your past grades. Don't be jealous about those who had better grades than you and if you had excellent grades, don't relax.Keep an open mind, be grateful for your current achievements; and remember it is not over until it is over!

By Sekinat Abbas
International Office Ambassador for Nigeria.

Diane: Visiting Ghent at Christmas

Hi all! It’s Diane Lee, International Office Ambassador for South Korea and a student here at Sheffield. Find out more about me from my on-line student profile page.

Walking along the waterways
Wrap up warm: it's freezing but beautiful
Time flies as a student in Sheffield. The first term has passed like an arrow and I had such a wonderful Christmas holiday spending two weeks in neighbouring countries; Belgium and The Netherlands. It was just an hour flight from Manchester airport to Brussels, Belgium. I spent a few days there and moved to Ghent, where it only takes thirty minutes by train from central Brussels.  
Today, I will primarily talk about Ghent because it was the most impressive and memorable city I visited during the holidays. It is small enough to stroll around and very peaceful.

The waterways across the medieval city of Ghent  make it look incredibly beautiful, regardless of whether it is day or night. I couldn’t say a word when I saw the night view at first: I believe no word can describe how beautiful it is. I was literally stopped by the view every day in Ghent! I’m sure you wouldn’t be tired of it at all.

People queue at famous local waffle shops
Chocolate waffles
Walking alongside the waterway, many shops, restaurants and traditional waffle places are located. This place might look somewhat touristy, but it will be fun to try and find hidden places that local people love to hang out in. 

Christmas market and wheel in Ghent

There was a charming Christmas market as well. It wasn’t that big but it is definitely worth visiting because of a giant wheel like the London Eye; nice food; and a warm atmosphere. I am a real foodie so I did my best to try a variety of famous foods in Ghent, like pancakes with locally sourced jams; waffles;  local beer and ribs. Plus, there was an ice skating rink in the middle of the market. I could fully enjoy the Christmas vibe, even though the market was very crowded all day and night long.

Crepes being made outdoors at the market

Jams for sale

A great place to go for ribs! 

Ribs: They look delicious, right?!

Speaking of food, you must try the ribs in Ghent! Honestly, I have no idea why there are so many places for ribs, but most of them offer “UNLIMITED RIBS” at a certain price, and so, I paid just sixteen euros for unlimited ribs and baked potatoes at Amadeus, which was just adjacent with the Christmas market (although there are several branches in Ghent). I waited for about thirty minutes, so if you are in a rush I advise you reserve a table for dinner in advance.

I won’t forget the warm vibe from this attractive city and I am definitely willing to visit again.  

Me enjoying the local beer: Tongerlo

By Diane (Da Eun) Lee

International Office Ambassador for South Korea

Thursday, 25 February 2016

Meet the Indian Society!

A couple of days ago, I met with Rohan N Singh, the President of the University of Sheffield’s Indian Society. We spoke about IndianSoc’s beginnings and the kind of events they organize for Indian students in Sheffield. The following is an excerpt from our conversation.

When was the Indian Society formed at the University of Sheffield?

It was formed back in the academic year 2003/04. So it’s been a successful 13 years now!          

What is the main aim of the Indian Society at the University of Sheffield?

The Indian Society at the University of Sheffield represents all things Indian, and close to our heart. Our aim is to showcase Indian hospitality, culture, beauty and capability through means of cultural events, sports and recreational activities, to the rest at University.

Our ultimate aim is to bridge India with the rest of the International Community here at Sheffield.

What kind of events do the Indian Society organise?

Our society offers an array of events to our members, be it a Meet-and-Greet, a chance for our members to get to know each other and us better, a number of parties to reach out to their crazy side or appeal to their cultural side through organising Diwali and Holi amongst the main festivals. We’ve hosted games and movie nights along with other outdoor activities like ice-skating for instance.

For the sporty people out there, we regularly have football, basketball and cricket sessions. We even offer day trips for those who want to travel around UK. So it’s safe to say there is something for everyone, whatever activity you want to do!
Ice Skating Social with other national societies!

What has been the best part of being President of the Indian Society?

The best party of being President is of course the family I have as my committee. I am privileged to have such an amazing and talented team who always come up with fantastic ideas!

Meeting new people daily and the feeling I get when members thank me for the fun they have in our events. That’s the best. After all, it’s all about the little things that give you happiness in life isn’t it?

What message would you pass on to prospective Indian students?

When I first came to Sheffield, I was a nervous fresher looking forward to life in Sheffield. But I couldn’t have asked for a better city to complete my education. The University, the students, the locals and the neighbouring Peaks! It’s all fantastic! It is indeed my second home!

Mix with all kinds of people and you will be surprised where you fit in! Coming to Sheffield will be one decision you won’t regret throughout your life.


Meet the Team!

Keep up with the Indian Society on Facebook:

A tour of the Student's Union

Hi Everyone. I hope You are doing well. Ishita, International Student Ambassador for Sri Lanka here. Today I will be taking you on a mini tour of the University of Sheffield Students union.

The Students Union has been voted as the best students union in the UK for the last seven years and is home to over 300 societies.

The students union building

There are over 300 societies and if any of them need any help or support they can come to the activities desk where a member of staff can help them with their queries. There is also plenty of space and meeting rooms for students to study, hold meetings, or just chat with their friends in-between lectures.

The activities zone

There is always something going on in the union, from bake sales to performances, and you never know what you might come across. The image below is of Bellydance society performing on the concourse, just outside the students union. Anyone can stop and watch performances like these free of charge.

Bellydance society performing 

There are lots of outlets in the SU where students can eat and socialize. Outlets range from Coffee Revolution, a café with hot drinks and snacks, to the international food court where students can try dishes from all over the world, Interval which serves great hot meals, to New Leaf the salad bar where plenty of healthy options are available. If you have any dietary requirements, don't worry, there are lots of vegetarian, vegan and halal options.
Coffee Revolution, the cafe at the SU

The students union even has a mini-convenience store, 'Our shop' where students can find cold foods, snacks, and even stationary. A nice fact about the students union is they hire students to work at various outlets. So if you are thinking of working part time during your course, the SU may be a good option.

You can find everything from stationary to hot instant noodles at Our Shop

Since the Students Union is a base for student activities, various societies actually hold their events in the SU.  Thus the SU is a home to band events, fashion shows and dance rehearsals among various other activities. The image below is from a charity fashion show organized by International Students Committee which took place in Foundry, one of the larger spaces of the Students Union.

 ISC fashion show

The students union is also home to the student jobshop where you can find support getting a part time job and the international student support office and the student advice centre where students can go for advice. The union is also equipped with cash machines and there is even a Santander bank branch inside the union building. You can also print train tickets from the SU.

The students union is a great hub of student activities and a nice place for students to study, spend time with friends and even grab a meal. It's also a great place to find activities you may be interested in when you're new to Sheffield.

To find out more about the students union, the societies it's home to and ongoing activities you can visit the Students union website: Sheffield SU website

If you have any questions or would like to know more, do contact me.

Best Wishes,



Sheffield Students’ Union- the gateway to exploring oneself!

Sheffield Students’ Union is the gateway (after academia) to exploring oneself. It gives you the
opportunity to come out of your comfort zone in an entertaining manner. When I first joined
Sheffield I was a shy individual that would just not get one of my friend zone, but after joining
various societies and committees this changed me without even realising it myself. For example, prior to taking part in extracurricular activities I had never been on a trip on my own (which involved bookings trains, Hostels etc), but after signing up for the Give it a Go trip to Oxford it made me realise how fun it actually is to travel around. The next step was organising it all alone, so during my second year (I was 19 years old) I decided to plan a week long trip alone to London. Although it is very simple to do so at any time, it didn’t feel like that in my head at the time. But it just shows that signing up for different events at the Union early on changes the way we act in our environment. It was one of the best decision I’ve ever made.
Mohamed: International Office Ambassador from Bahrain

Huinan 's Uni Life Starts!

Hi! I am Huinan Zeng and I am the International Office Ambassador for China. You can find out more about me here .

This Christmas holiday, I went back to Beijing. It is always nice to go back to the sweet and warm home. Beijing is very different from Sheffield. It is much bigger, with more population and more place to have fun.

However, after enjoying my life back home for a week, I began missing Sheffield. I missed its amazing view and fresh air. I missed the IC (pictured below), Diamond and all the places that I could really focus and study without anything else disturbing me. Life in Sheffield is quite but unique. All of the memories in the past years flashed back and I came to realize how much I loved this place.

Then I began to think of how I started my uni life here. I was 19 when I first arrived in UK without much experience of what life in a university is like. I lived in Endcliffe, the biggest student village.  The place is so different with student accommodations in China and I was amazed by how beautiful and close to nature the village is (in Beijing you will never get this much green!). I met my flatmates for the first time. They are from different part of the world but they are all awesome people, and they turned out to be my BFFs now.

My life suddenly changed. I have much more time that I could plan myself and I had the feeling that I could make almost every decision in everyday life. At the same time, I need to take care of myself, cook for myself, do the laundries and all the cleaning. I was happy with my freedom but I know that at the same time I have more responsibility for myself because I am alone in a foreign country with a foreign language and culture, and I will have a totally different life here with much more challenges. I guess that feeling is called growing up.

The beginning of everything is always memorable, especially those life changing ones. I hope you could come and join us and after settling in, share us your stories of your first couple of days in this amazing city!

By Huinan Zeng
International Office Ambassador for China

Wednesday, 24 February 2016

Nkemdilim's Christmas in Sheffield

Hi! My name is Nkemdilim Abalu and I'm an International Office Ambassador for Nigeria. You can find out more about me on-line.

So, the norm for my little Christmas break is usually to go spend time with my extended family in London. This Christmas was a little different. To be honest it wasn’t exactly out of choice but because my family here in England were travelling to Nigeria for the holidays, and considering the amount of exams I had in January, travelling back home didn’t seem like the best idea. Anyway, so I spent my Christmas here in Sheffield with my friends and cousins.

The week leading to the Christmas weekend was really stressful for me. I had to go Christmas shopping and also do a whole lot of reading, just so I don’t feel guilty for taking a couple of days off to celebrate Christmas.  

Anyway, on Christmas Eve, I had a night-in with my cousins who came down to Sheffield to spend their Christmas break. The night was filled with so much laughter and banter, and we ended up going to bed at 5 am. It was really nice catching up tbh. So, Christmas day, I spent the day with my family and friends, sipping on champagne and just having small talk and playing games, and then we had a big dinner together. Oh! I also got a Michael Kors wallet for Christmas 

On Boxing Day, my friends and I went to “Little Hanoi”, a restaurant/karaoke bar somewhere in town to have a nice meal and go karaoke-ing. Besides it being a nice experience, it was also great way to sing our hearts out with our not-so-great voices.

To end my Christmas weekend, I went out to SMOKE BARBECUE in the city centre for an early dinner with a friend. Believe me, they have to best baby back ribs in Sheffield. The ribs came with large chips, which had a unique charcoal-y taste, an extra side and a cocktail. In total, we probably spent bout £20 each, which is actually a great price for such a lovely meal. We took a walk through the city back home, which I must say is absolutely gorgeous during Christmas with all the Christmas lights and huge Christmas tree.

That’s it! That was literally the only free time I had to myself the entire break. After the Christmas weekend, got back to studying all day everyday. I was particularly feeling very motivated last semester in preparations for exam. My friend and I tagged it *Chasingthatfirst*. Anyway, that’s was how I spent my Christmas break, how did you spend yours?

Hope you all had an amazing new year Celebration. Now, drop the champagne bottles and get ready for the new semester. Cheers!

By Nkemdilim Abalu
International Office Ambassador for Nigeria

Chengcheng: What I did over the Christmas Holidays

Hi, I’m Chengcheng Miao and I’m one of the International Office ambassadors for China. Take a look on-line at my profile to find out more about me.

Christmas decorations
Mulled wine with friends in Manchester

Unlike my other friends, this holiday I chose to stay in Sheffield instead of travelling within Europe or going back to China. At the beginning, I thought I would feel lonely without family for Christmas and New Year. However, my friends and I who stayed at Sheffield had a lot fun together.

As my tandem language learning partner suggested, the Manchester Christmas market is a place you definitely should go before Christmas. I tried Mulled Wine to drink, which was perfect for such cold weather. I also bought some stuff from the market and decorated my room. 

Manchester Christmas Markets by night
Considering some of us were far away from home, one of my course mates invited us for Christmas dinner at her house. This was my first time to have a real Christmas dinner, which was really great! We exchanged our Christmas gifts and guess what? I got Henderson’s Relish from Sheffield; a famous Sheffield sauce to put on food. Such a special and fun Christmas with friends, wine, delicious food, and games!

On New Year’s Eve we had a house party in my friend’s flat. Since we were all international students in Sheffield, we decided to gather together for the New Year’s countdown. And I learned how to make macaroons from a French friend that day.
New Year celebrations with friends in Sheffield

There are also many other things you can do during holiday in Sheffield. I had Chinese hot pot at the Genting Club; went for British afternoon tea at Patisserie Valerie; and watched the ballet show, the Nutcracker, at the theatre.
Silent study space in the Diamond
Home-made macaroons!

Sharing Chinese hot pot at the Genting Club

There is one thing you should not forget: After the holiday there will be exams, so studying is also very important during this time. The new library in the Diamond opened last semester and it is an amazing place to prepare for your exams and essays, with great facilities. After the New Year I spent most of my daytime in the Diamond. Everyone is very focused and you will feel motivated to study there.

Taking afternoon tea with friends at Patisserie Valerie
Also, the University of Sheffield has just recently been selected as one of the most international universities this month in rankings. As international students, I can say that spending the holidays here in Sheffield together is an amazing experience you will not forget.

By Chengcheng Miao

International Office Ambassador for China