Thursday, 31 March 2016

Nkemdilim's Easter break in Sheffield

Hi there! Its Nkem again, International Office Ambassador for Nigeria. Take a look at my profile page to find out more about me. 

My friends and I at Ice Sheffield
Finally! The much waited-on and needed holiday is here. Feels good to finally have a break yea? As much as I would love to hope on a plane to some exotic country for the “spring break”, I’m spending yet another holiday in Sheffield city.

Anyway, last week a bunch of friends and I decided to go ice-skating at Ice Sheffield, but unfortunately, due to misinformation and our not so fat wallets, we weren’t able to get on the ice that day. You can check out their website for more information and student discounts! Ice Sheffield

So, we decided to spend our day at “Valley Centertainment”, which as the name implies, is the centre of entertainment in Sheffield city. You could plan a day trip to valley centertainment and I can promise you’d have a fun filled day. If you want hang out and have fun with your friends, there’s loads of games and activities there, from bowling to miniature golf. Hungry? You could literally taste the world there: Italian, Mexican, Chinese, American, English, etc. Anyone looking to go on a restaurant crawl, Valley Centertainment has it all. The cherry on top, there's also a cinema which shows            
movies in IMAX and 4DX Cineworld in Sheffield

Here's a partial 360 view of Valley Centertainment. Couldn't film the whole place in just one shot..yes, its that big!

Full platters at Nandos!
Anyway, so here’s how my day went:
First, we had lunch at Nandos, where we also happened to meet a British-Nigerian professional boxer, Anthony Joshua!  

Laser quest at Valley Centertainment

Then, we went laser tagging, which is sort of like paintballing but without the aches and pains the day after. It was really fun and extremely active, we even had to come up with superhero names...I was Amazon (lol).

Getting ready to laser tag!

Five Guys at Valley Centertainment
Seeing as we were all exhausted from running and, ducking we decided to go to Five Guys and try their famous smoothie, which BTW lived up to its hype.  

After taking a very creamy and delicious break, we went to the arcade and bowling alley at the Hollywood Bowl in Valley Entertainment. Check out their website for prices and student discounts! Hollywood Bowl

To end a very fun and lovely day, we decided to go out to dinner at a Thai restaurant in the city called" Thai Thai ka"
My friends and I at Thai Thai ka

There you have it, my day trip to Valley Centertainment, which so far has been the highlight of my Easter holiday. What have you been up to? Be sure to drop your comments below and...

Happy Easter holidays from all of us!!

Diane gives us her tips for surviving the exam period

HI all! It’s Diane Lee, International Office Ambassador for South Korea. You can find out more about me from my profile

After the wonderful Christmas holidays and exams are now over. I think you may find the exams in England different to what you’ve taken so far in your native country particularly in many Asian countries. But no need to worry about that! I am here to help and will give some tips for you.

First tip: Don’t skip the lectures.

Most lecturers usually upload lecture slides and notes beforehand, so some of students often think that reading the lecture slides is enough to understand the lecture instead of attending them. But I think this is ridiculous and not true. Attending lectures are one of the ways to learn more effectively. Lecturers help you understand the theories with the appropriate examples, giving hints on what’s more important.

Second tip: Read relevant articles.

Reading relevant journal articles helps you gain deeper and wider understanding of the lecture. Lecturers sometimes give you recommended reading lists for the module. Or, you can search on the university online library ’star plus’ which provides access to e-books and e-journals by yourself. 

Third tip: Practice to write.

This is the most important process for a successful exam. Most exam questions in England require essay style answers, unlike multiple choice or short answer questions in some Asian countries (where I studied!). So the answers, of course, should be well presented in English. I know it is really tough for those who are not using English as the first language. In my case, I came up with a few of possible questions by myself and took them thoroughly as if it is a mock exam, timing myself as to ensure I spend the right amount of time.

Practicing to write relevant topics can be surely helpful for your exams. By doing so, you can build up your skills to convey compelling ideas on the answer sheet and also can figure out what you have to study more. You can also practice taking past versions, which helps to familiarise yourself with the format of the questions.  

Fourth tip: Give yourself enough time to study.

During the exam season, the libraries get crazy busy. Thousands of students are there. I’m a library person so I also stayed in the library all day long. But it was quite difficult to concentrate as it was so crowded. So, I think the best option would be to give yourself enough time to study and no cramming and then you’ll hopefully have successful exams.

                                                       (Information Common during the busy exam seasons)

By Diane Lee
International Office Ambassador for South Korea

Which Library?

There are three main libraries that the University of Sheffield has to offer. Western Bank Library, the Information Commons, and finally the Diamond. Each has its own character, own sort of personality. Below is a summary of each library with an explanation of when I would visit it, and in what circumstances.
Western Bank
As a postgraduate corporate and commercial law student, I tend to see Western Bank library as a goldmine. Simply because it has all the books I would need to get through my postgraduate degree, and possibly even more.
Its also predominantly silent study, which minimizes any distractions you may have. In addition to this, I will most likely not see anyone I know there because a lot of students prefer a library with a more modern texture, as opposed to the traditional texture that Western Bank offers. That’s one of the main reasons I personally enjoy that library, it’s traditional, and it has all the books I would ever need. I can’t say it’s my favorite library on campus, but what I can say is that from personal experience I have realised that when times are tough, Western Bank library has got my back.

The Information Commons
By far my favourite library on campus. It’s more like home to me, considering the amount of time I’ve spent studying there. Its got all the facilities we need, a diverse book collection for various disciplines, a café with a great variety of food, couches when you need a break, and most important of all to me, four silent study areas. The IC is, and will always be my favourite library.

The Diamond

Breath-taking the first time anyone walks in. Some tend to call it the spaceship, and for good reason. It’s the most recent University building, equipped with labs, silent study areas, a cafe, and lecture theatres. Not to mention the vast number of media rooms and standard group rooms. It’s located very close to west street, which makes the location ideal particularly because I can have a quick meal at a restaurant and then walk back and continue working.  But I think the Diamond may be too big for my personal taste.
Mohamed Al Alawi- International Office Ambassador from Bahrain


Winter to Spring - Season change in Sheffield

Winter to Spring - Season change in Sheffield

Hi, it’s Ngoc Ha again. Summer time has started, and we are officially in Spring now!

I have had wonderful experience of UK weather, especially in Sheffield where it was so capricious and unpredictable during season change, from winter to spring this year.

I am well aware that I maybe too excited and obsessed with seasons and weather here. But for me, coming to Sheffield from Vietnam – a tropical country where you can say it’s summer all year round, this is my first ever winter and spring, as well as autumn. And I thought it might worth sharing this experience to those who would come here this September.

I really love ‘catching’ the sun. And during the end of winter toward spring, the sun was, from my experience, the most beautiful, as it was not so bright like in summer, or covered by cloud in winter. And I was lucky to be able to catch some wonderful sunsets and breathtaking sunrises.

Sunset over Sheffield
Sunrise over Sheffield

It was quite often for me that seeing it was sunny, I went out not bringing my umbrella, and it rained minutes after, and then got sunny again. I decided not to trust the weather forecast and bring my umbrella with me every time I go out.

A double rainbow after the heavy rain
And when everyone thought that spring was coming, it was snowing, in the middle of March! I still remembered how the previous day the sun was shining, and the flowers were about to bloom, and then suddenly it snowed the next day, and it might well be the heaviest snow of the season.

Spring flowers were about to bloom...
Spring was about to come...

…and suddenly it snowed again
Western Park covered in snow

But after all the weather chaos, spring is here at last! Flowers are blooming all around Sheffield and our University campus.

A Cherry blossom in Western Park
Daffodils in Western Park
Spring flowers blooming around Sheffield
Spring flowers blooming around Sheffield
Cherry blossom at Peace Garden

Cherry blossom at Peace Garden
Enjoy your spring everyone! And more spring blogs are expected to come from me J


Now that the long dark times are over, it is time for all of us to ‘spring’ out of our warm cozy blankets and kiss adventure. Spring is the season for rebirth, regrowth and renewal not just for the flora but also for the fauna like you and me.
Now that spring is here, I have compiled a list of my top 5 suggestions on how to kick start into a brighter lifestyle.

Weston Park - Photo Credits
1. Grab a book
As we all know Sheffield is home to some amazing scenic places. Just grab one of your favourite novels and read it in utter tranquility- be it reading a romance novel while sitting at the Endcliffe Village pond or be it reading an autobiography at the Weston Park. Be it imagining yourself at a crime scene in the Whiteley Woods or escaping imaginary horror at Agden Reservoir. Just grab a book… and read it good. 

2. Support team Wednesday
Again, something that being at Sheffield that excites many is being able to watch one of the matches and make ever lasting memories. Now, I have no opinion on football and I know as much about it as Einstein knew about art – if you know what I mean. Yet, whether you like it or not, I am sure it would be a fun experience. Just tagging a few friends along can give you a break from the struggle of studying and it will refresh your mind; of course, you will have vented out the frustration by commenting on how the game should have been played in the first place... like a true fan.

3. Get to the Peak!
Its spring and that means, warm sunny morning and longer days. Hooray! Take a day trip and please your mind and soul to the vibrant images of the Peak district. Hiking or even cycling at the peak will give you an escape from the tall buildings and busy lifestyle of the city centre. Not every city can boast to be modern and yet close to nature like Sheffield. So hold this opportunity by the hand and bring out the boots and cycles.

Photo Credits


      4.It is time to empty your pockets.
This is probably one of those necessary evil suggestions. Spring means time to pack up the coats and get some new shorts. With the warm weather approaching all a girl or even a guy needs is new outfits. Spend the day in the company of friends jumping from one store to another and bagging all the new spring collection – after all even Cinderella teaches us that any problem can be solved with a new pair of heels.

5.       Be a tourist in your own city.
Take a ride to the Kelham Island museum, ride on the Wheel of Sheffield, picnic at the Botanical Gardens, visit historic buildings like the Cathedral and Beauchief Abbey church or if you are too nifty on the pocket, just walk into the Weston Park Museum and enjoy the history of the city of Steel.
Inside the Weston Park Museum - Photo Credits

Bottom line, get up and get going… because spring is nature’s way of saying lets party!

Wednesday, 30 March 2016

6 things to know about the Department of Landscape Architecture

I have been a student in the department for five years (picture below shows me with my final exhibition work in my third year), I'm completing my last year this summer. I wanted to give you a quick guide about the department for anyone applying to study Landscape Architecture in Sheffield!

1. If you do a quick Google search of the department you will quickly find that it is ranked as the top landscape department in Europe (This was one of the reasons I chose to study here in the first place). Having studied both my undergraduate and masters here, I can assure you, that it lives up to that title.

2. Many of our tours and professors are leading the landscape research around the world! and it feels great to be taught by people that are shaping what landscape means and how its perceived. Our department is the only Landscape department in the UK that is very heavily involved in research, which gives us a very prestigious reputation.

3. Having said that, the department is still very connected with the industry and work in practice, some of our tutors own their own firms. Tutors have always made sure to involve practitioners in our tutorials, for us to get a good idea of what it would be like to work in practice.

4. Your degree is going to involve a lot of hard work, however the support network that you get makes it all very manageable. All the tutors are easy to get hold of, and a lot of students actually do their work in the studios and so you always have someone to talk to, and someone to ask for help.

5. Our department is based in the arts tower, a lovely building with great importance to the whole city. we have the paternoster lift, which is a constantly rotating lift that you need to jump on and off. Its quite an experience, that people from all over the university come to try. But best of all, is the fact that our work studios are on floors 10,11, and 12 which means we get breathtaking views that make those late, late nights just a little bit easier.

6. The arts tower is going to become your home away from home over the course of those 5 years. Your going to love it at times, and hate it at others, but I guarantee you will have an amazing experience and will make friends for life, all the while graduating with a great degree from a respectable university!

Looking forward to see you in Sheffield! :)

Jude Goussous- International Office Ambassador from Jordan  

Thursday, 24 March 2016

Winter Holidays - Hiking, Steelmaking and Potato farming

After several months of studying and working hard at the university, it was relaxing being home. 1 month of pure bliss without any worries. The holidays mostly consisted of meeting friends and relatives, having a gala time with everyone and having lots of new experiences. Here’s a list of the things that I did over the holidays:

Hiking: Warm winter afternoons paired with scenic surroundings make it the perfect combination for hiking. My city, Bokaro, is surrounded by a plethora of natural beauty including lakes, hills and rivers and there are loads of areas around it that make a beautiful getaway for a day.

Learnt to separate chaff from grain: Although newer machines have replaced such work, going back old school and experiencing how people used to spend hours just to make a proper living makes you respect all kinds of work.

Went potato farming: I went to visit my grandmother in the Indian countryside and found myself surrounded by a surprising number of potatoes. Being one of the staple food along with rice, potatoes are extensively cultivated throughout India.

Internship at a steel industry: I gained a first hand experience of the production of steel through a 2 week long internship at SAIL, the largest producer of steel in India. Starting from the coke oven and ending at the rolling mills, it is truly a marvellous process to see, at least once in your life. 

Presentation on engineering: Nearly at the end of my vacation, I met my old school principal and he invited me to address students between the age of 15-18 regarding the subject engineering, its prospects in the future and the right field of engineering for a student. It was quite an experience and nice to see many students who were a bit confused about engineering, grow comfortable with idea of multiple branches, huge scope and wide possibilities in it.

A field trip to the River Rivelin

Hi Everyone. Ishita, International Office Ambassador for Sri Lanka here.
 I hope you’re all doing well.

As I have mentioned in previous blogs, I study Civil Engineering and my course consists of a combination  lectures, tutorials, group projects, laboratory experiments and sometimes field trips. Most science and engineering courses will have a similar combination of activities. 

Today I will be talking about a field trip I took to the River Rivelin, which was part of one of my modules titled ‘Water Quality Processes’. In many courses fieldwork exercises are carried out in order to provide students with real world experience and skills we can use when working in industry. The purpose of this field trip was to learn about solute mixing potential, water quality sampling and interpreting data from tracer tests and water chemistry analysis in an urban river setting. 

The River Rivelin

Travelling to the site

We took the tram to Malin bridge. Trams are a great way of travelling to different parts of Sheffield and there are several tram stops in the university area. The trams are quite frequent (arriving every 10 minutes during peak times. Day long tram tickets are only £4 and are perfect for students who need to travel around Sheffield such as Meadowhall, the nearby shopping complex.

One of several tramstops in the university area

Inside the tram

Equipment and Safety

During the day long trip we carried out dye tracer tests, collected water samples for chemical analysis, and took measurement of water quality parameters.

We were provided with safety glasses and disposable gloves for handling the water samples. Since we were working next to, and even in the river at some points, we also wore boots. We also received safety vests which we kept on throughout the day. The image below is of our lecturer giving us instructions at the begining of the day.
Receiving instructions

The safety equipment you receive will vary depend on what you're doing. During other test and experiments, in addition to the aforementioned equipment I've used lab coats, hardhats, etc.

Collecting water samples

We collected water samples to analyse electrical conductivity, temperature, alkalinity, organic chemicals and other variables. We collected both unfiltered samples and filtered samples using a syringe.
 We also noted the locations of the river where we collected the samples and labelled the samples accordingly. We checked the temperature and conductivity of the samples at the site and the samples will be analysed at the university labs.

Dye injections 

To measure the mixing of the river we used a fluorescent dye which was injected at a point in the and a fluorometer which measured the concentration of the dye at three points downstream. Probes which were placed at the fluorormeter recorded the concentrations of the dye which enabled us to measure how long it had taken the dye to travel down to the sampling locations. 

One of our sampling locations

Throwing dye into a river

Surveying the site

As part of our field trip we had to carry out a survey of the river. This meant measuring the level of the base of the river using a levelling staff and a theodolite. 

A theodolite, which looks a bit like a camera and acts as a telescope is placed on top of a tripod. We look through the theodolite to read the height of the ground using a staff (which is basically). The image below shows a setup of surveying on a site.
A theodolite

Surveying on land

To do this I, along with my group of 5 other students, had to get into the river. Imagine using the equipment in the image- except INSIDE a river.

Luckily the river was only around a foot high at most parts and our boots protected us from getting wet. For safety reasons I was unable to take pictures while we were in the river (i.e I didn't want to risk dropping my phone into the river).


Of course this is not the end of my module. We will be analysing the results for the next few weeks and writing a detailed report and anallysis based on the information we received during this field trip. Overall, given that it did not rain, we managed to collect all the required data and I managed to not fall in the river at any point, I would consider this field trip a success.

Best Wishes,


My first blog post is here!

The world's best blog is about to begin its journey - you'll agree with me once you've finished reading today's post!
This essentially means you have no reason to say "oh! But that's too much to read!" or "I don't have time to read this", because I promise you there's no stopping once you start reading... You'll definitely crave for more!
To celebrate my first blog, I'd like to start by showing you the view on the other side of my window

We all know how waking up in the mornings is the least favourite task as a student. Personally, not only is opening my eyes a challenge but saying goodbye to blankie and beloved minions makes me want to just crawl back and continue dreaming. Now, add to that cooking breakfast and actually getting some work done and a student’s motivation to get out can drop from 1 to 0 in a split second. Yet, I manage to do it perfectly – each day every day.

So how do I get about it?
My secret mantra is simple. I just remind myself of how excited I was the previous night about the events that were planned ahead of me for today. Be it having to go to a SU cultural fest or a Engineering careers session. Be it having to attend a lecture or meet up with a friend outside the lecture hall – I just convince myself of how exciting the day ahead is. As a matter of fact, ever since I came to Sheffield I actually have the most exciting time I had imagined.
I mostly start my day with eating breakfast while watching a drama. Yes, they are the most awesome stories in this world ; especially if you are a die heart romatic like me. They will make you crave noodles or better Kimchi what that is? You'll have to ask his highness Google to tell you! Lecky for me though, being an hot spot for international students Sheffield gives me access to world cuisine right at my feet.

I have this special shelf dedicated to one of the world’s most favourite munchie – Chocolates! Now, this shelf is visited by a lot people... The hungry me, the sad me, the happy me, the bored me, the me who just remembered that I have chocolates, and lastly the me that's skyping with my sister who cannot go thorough any conversation without mentioning chocolate!

Just incase you're wondering, I'm not obese or fat! I'm healthy actually; How you may ask?
Well, because as a resident in the student accommodation, I have access to an endless array of activities that keep me healthy. I love my high intensity fitness workouts and the relaxing yoga sessions. I have access to the Goodwin Sports Club’s gym and to top it all off I get my daily walk from home to uni because I live at the heart of the student village.

All in all, I would like to say that I am still somewhere in the middle of ‘the journey called life’ and University of Sheffield is proving to be the most enthralling chapter so far… because I am settling in just fine thanks to all the endless opportunities lined up for me here.