Monday, 15 February 2016

Naomi: Settling into Life as a Sheffield Student

Hi, guys! My name is Naomi (Yitong) Guo, one of the Chinese International Office Ambassadors and a current Sheffield student. You can find out more about me from my profile on our web pages.

My first semester in Sheffield has been an amazing experience in both an academic and personal sense. As an international student we naturally face more troubles than home students, not only because English is not our first language, but because University life is very different compared to our high schools.

Bright things: my lecture theatre
I was nervous before I came here since studying biology requires a huge amount of knowledge in its own field. Soon after I came here, I realized that my worries were not necessary. Although there's a lot of work, there is lots of support as well. It starts with my tutor, who encouraged me to speak more in the tutorials. Her smiles and compliments washed away my shyness! I was also surprised at how much I can learn from my fellow students in my tutorial group as a new way of studying.

The other place where I appreciate is the 301: Student Skills and Development Centre. Their workshops offer a great range of study skills classes, from presentation tips to revision techniques.  I find it's hard to have the energy to go to the workshop at the end of the day, but the one hour sessions are a real time saver. The teachers provide exercises and tips which helps us to study more efficiently. We get to know new people, share our study skills and also make individual plans.

Before I came to this University, I hadn’t  thought much about future careers, but all the career meetings and online career-related services showed me the importance of being prepared for jobs. The University of Sheffield makes it so easy for us by inviting the employers to the campus alongside, many lab-work opportunities. Even for the first year students, the Careers Service office does its best to give us a “taste of work”. Many of my friends have now got jobs, or have done some volunteer work, which they love.

Personally, I have been very busy but happy at the same time here in Sheffield. I feel that I belong to the campus. The best thing about the leisure opportunities in this University are the societies. My favorite is Dance Sport. I danced for two years before coming here, but didn't have the chance to improve or make myself be proud of it. In the Sheffield dance society, we learn and get better in each lesson.

Me (far right) and  my Dance Sport friends
More importantly, even as beginners we are allowed to go to competitions. I got my very first ballroom shoes, which for me, are not only a pair of shoes but a new lifestyle. Although my partner and I are not the best dancers, being proud of what we do is the vital thing of joining in the team. It has become part of my life and part of me. I'm not a “party girl” so this society let me make more friends than anywhere else. We care about each other. The support we share as a team is not only in competitions, but everywhere, mostly in life. I'm glad that I've made good friends who share common interests with me, and who may keep our friendship for our lifetime.

Like many, I live in University accommodation, which is a “home away from home”. There are many activities for the residents and I started to play the ukulele, which is something new to me. Singing and laughing with my neighbours links us together and we love the feeling of having a "family".  We watch movies in the common room on a Monday; enjoy the open mic; and take part in the pub quiz. I'm lucky that I got the position as my block (building) representative  so our team can organize and support events. From being a participant in residential events to now being the organizer, I have learned lots and feel like I’m at home now in Sheffield.

By Naomi (yitong) Guo
International Office Ambassador for China

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