Last year I did my year abroad in Slovenia. I had a blast, travelled and found I have a huge interest in International Law (the first time I’d found an area of law I want to practice in). Coming back to Sheffield was challenging but here are the things I learnt coming back from the experience.
I’m grown up
Year abroad was easy for me and coming back to Sheffield was not fun. Not only was the work harder but I felt a lack of support and all of my friends had graduated. I had to find my way back into student life and I found that actually I’d finally left the party stage of my life and was ready to enter the hard work stage.
The library facilities here are second to none!
I was literally gobsmacked when the librarian told us we can’t access online books and journals from home. There was a way to take them home, which they were very proud of, you could download 6 pages of the journal at a time and put it on your USB stick. I was unaware I’d transported back to the 2008. I actually used StarPlus rather than the university library on the odd occasion I needed to research. They also only have library opening hours of 9am-5pm Monday to Friday. I’m still undecided if this is a good thing because it creates a work-life balance or a bad thing because you can’t study when you want to.
Uni in Sheffield is DIFFICULT
So it will be the case for most of you that like me, you are not on track for a first- and if you are I applaud you. I found it difficult knowing that actually, I’m not top of the class anymore when I have been my entire life. However, when studying abroad you actually realise how tough it is studying in Sheffield. On my year abroad I got between 80-100% in every exam I took yet in Sheffield my highest grade had been 66.
Other Universities are more SPLD (Specific Learning Difficulty) friendly
I have dyslexia and always thought Sheffield were good with SPLDs as I have a dyslexia tutor at the university. However, I have had a few issues at Sheffield and haven’t always felt fully supported. All of my modules are 100% exam and although I did have the option to do some coursework modules, I didn’t actually think they were interesting modules. Abroad, they were very accommodating. No dyslexia assessment was needed they just allowed me the adjustments I needed. Many of my exams were oral which was much better for me and some were more coursework based. The majority of my exams didn’t feel like memory tests like they do in Sheffield which is ideal as people with dyslexia struggle with memory.
Our degree is more valuable
Okay so it’s harder, and that sounds like we are getting a bad deal. After all we are paying £9000 a year for a harder course. But it is actually a good thing. Other universities teach their students everything they need to know for the exam in lectures but we do independent research. This is beneficial for two reasons. Firstly, we know how to find information. One of my friends was shocked when I suggested she looking in a book to understand a particularly challenging topic. In Sheffield that is standard practice. Secondly, we can go into a good job without a masters. In France for example, they do their undergraduate law degree followed by 2 masters degrees to get to the same level I’m at now.