I rolled out of bed and headed down to indulge in the last London-based breakfast I’d be having in a while. I stuffed myself with a toasted ham-and-cheese sandwich, a glass of orange juice and a cup of hot chocolate. A few minutes after polishing off the meal, I was joined by some of my Topdeck friends, and we sat around the table and chatted until I had to leave. I hugged everyone goodbye – promising to see them again in Australia – before heading up to leave.
I checked out from the Wombat’s Hostel and trudged over to Aldgate East, before catching a train to London’s Kings Cross station. At Kings Cross I showed a staff member my train ticket and he directed me to St Pancreas’ International station, where (upon arrival), they directed me back to Kings Cross station. I boarded my train with one minute to spare and collapsed onto my designated seat after heaving my luggage into the overhead section (which I give myself credit for – the larger of my suitcases weighs around 25 kilos!). I then spent the duration of the trip editing photographs, before hopping of at Doncaster and catching a train to Sheffield.
Once I arrived in good ol’ Sheffield, I pulled up a map. I realized I had to haul my luggage all the way over to the building where my apartment was, which didn’t seem so far on the map. But once I started towards it, I released it was going to be quiet the trek. As it turned out, cobblestone footpaths and suitcase wheels are not a good combination. By the time I got to my apartment building, my arms felt like they were going to fall out of their sockets!
I entered the apartment building to find that no one from reception worked there on weekends – and that, despite being told I could move in on the Sunday, I wouldn’t be able to collect my key until the following day (aka Monday). Exhausted and sick, I decided to book a suite at the Premier Inn. I trekked over to it (another half-hour of suitcase hauling) and almost broke into dance when I released the suite I was assigned had a huge – and I do mean huge – bathtub. I ran myself a deep, soothing bath and sat there for an hour while I watched an episode of Antiques Roadshow.
The rest of the evening was spent uploading holiday photographs to Facebook while sipping cups of warm, free-of-charge English Breakfast tea.
I got up earlier than usual so that I could chat with the receptionist downstairs about the huge breakfast buffet the hotel hosted each morning for its guests. She answered all of the questions I had to ask, but after informing me it would cost around nine pounds, I decided I’d be fine with a small (and cheap!) sandwich from a local cafe.
Following that decision, I checked out of the hotel and found a Nero’s Cafe, where I then polished off a divine ham-and-cheese toastie. Afterwards, I walked over to Sheffield Hallam University’s city campus to attend my first induction class, but instead, I proceeded to get myself lost.
It wasn’t the layout of the campus which caused the confusion – rather, it was the fact that the building where I was supposed to go for my first induction lecture wasn’t accessible from the outside. I ended up circling the huge building complex twice, before realizing I had to navigate my way through another building to get to the one I was after. After that unexpected curveball, I then spent a further ten minutes tackling the fact that the “ground floor” of the building I was on was actually Level Five – and not Level Zero, like most English buildings – and that that was the reason I couldn’t locate my classroom.
Thankfully, however, I anticipated this initial campus confusion and allowed myself plenty of time to find the classroom. I arrived to my first induction seminar with five minutes to spare and sat down at a seat in the middle row of the lecture theatre. Five minutes came and passed, and the seats quickly began to fill up with first-year Arts, Computing, Engineering and Science (ACES) students. The lecture focused on welcoming the students to their new degrees and spoke about what they’d be learning in the upcoming years. I – as a third-year journalism student – had heard this all two years ago, so I half-listed as I scrolled through my social media feeds.
Once the induction class finished, I headed over to the Hallam Hall and enrolled in my course. I was then directed to the Medical Bay, where I filled out several forms, before I was free to return home to the apartment.
I didn’t go home. Instead, I spent an hour shopping for food. I then took the four-shopping-bags worth of food back to the apartment, unpacked it all, and then used my microwave to cook up a small feast. I spent the afternoon writing up a list of things I’d need for the apartment and flicking through the local antique shows.
On Tuesday morning I pulled down the blinds, blocked out the morning sunlight, and slept in for the first time in over a month. Eventually, I roused myself out of bed and at 11am had left the apartment to head down towards the local shops. I then spent the rest of the afternoon walking back and forth between the apartment and the local shops, carting along my purchases.
After five hours, I crashed on my sofa. I was more than thankful that my apartment was right in the heart of Sheffield’s city center, but at that moment I would’ve wed the man (or woman) who decided to roll out some shopping trolleys for the local Sheffield shops.
It took me half-an-hour before I could muster up the energy to shower and another ten to cook myself dinner. That night, I retired to bed early at 8pm.
I got up earlier than usual to attend an induction for exchange students. There, I sat with about 20-or-so other students from outside of England, and we each introduced ourselves to each other while we waited for our tutor to arrive. As it turned out, a majority of the group hailed from European countries. I was the only student from Australia in the classroom.
Our ACES exchange student coordinator then entered the room and introduced herself as Marie. She took up her station at the front of the room and spoke to us about the general facilities at SHU and where to get help if we encountered problems. I jotted down some notes, and when the seminar was over, headed downstairs to the main reception.
There were printers there, so I topped up my SHU student card and printed off my student bank certificate. I then headed to the bank and handed over the certificate, to find that it wasn’t valid. There was no post code printed on the certificate, and even though I knew and could supply my postcode for the woman at the counter, she said she couldn’t accept it.
All was not lost, however – she spotted my British passport and said that since I was a British citizen, I didn’t need a student bank certificate. She took some details, before sending me off. I made a quick stop over at the local market to purchase some fresh vegies, and then headed home for an afternoon of reading.
I dolled myself up and headed out to attend an introduction seminar for second-year journalism students. I got to the building where the seminar would be held almost 15-minutes early, but found myself confused about the whereabouts of the lecture theatre. I’d written down that the theatre was on the sixth floor, but the building I supposed to be in only boasted four.
I spent several minutes connecting to the local Wi-Fi (it was password protected, so I took a guess that it was my student login, which it – thankfully – was) and bought up my induction schedule. It turned out the number six I’d written down the night before was supposed to be a zero (rookie error!). Relieved that I’d uncovered the problem, I headed down to the ground floor and spotted the theatre room. I sat down at the back of the room and awaited the lecturer.
After a few minutes, she broke off her discussion with a fellow staff member to call everyone forward to the front rows. We moved and, now satisfied that she wouldn’t have to yell, she began the seminar. She talked about the individuals units we’d be taking and how these would begin to shape our careers as journalists – especially the elective subjects, which could help us uncover which aspect of journalism we wished to pursue.
Afterwards, she smiled and wished us well for the upcoming classes. Everyone left then, so I trailed home and made myself a warm cup of tea. I spent the rest of the evening reading.
I gave the apartment a onceover with the duster and after a quick check of the weather (18 degrees Celsius with sunshine!), realized that I could get away with wearing a singlet-and-shorts outfit. I then headed to local train station to reunite with one of my best friends from Australia, Melanie, who decided to stop over on at Sheffield on her trip back to London.
We trekked back to my apartment, put on a load of washing and then headed into town. After a half-hour of window shopping, we spotted a Starbucks and decided to stop for a drink-and-chat session. There, we sat and talked for two whole hours, before we headed back to the streets of Sheffield to continue shopping.
We looked like quiet the pair as we did so – me in my singlet and shorts (which I ended up regretting, as the weather turned cold during our Starbucks escapade) and Melanie in her thongs and sun glasses (which no one else was wearing). Melanie said later that everyone who passed us stared, although I didn’t notice that at all – a fact which I attribute to being too distracted with clothes.
Both Melanie and I bought some makeup. I didn’t need what I’d purchased (assuming the argument that a person needs makeup at all), but I’d been eyeing the goodies off for a while, so I decided on whim to just purchase the items.
At 5pm we then headed back to my apartment. We tossed up the idea of going out the a local pub and having a few drinks before Melanie’s train departure at 8pm. After sitting down on the couch, however, we both released we were too tired to move. Instead, I cooked up a hearty meal (sausages, wedges and vegetables) and we flicked through the local programs until Melanie had to leave.
I rolled out of bed around mid-morning and made myself a large breakfast. I then spent the rest of the day catching up on journal writing from the Topdeck tour and noshing on dark-chocolate digestive biscuits (yum!).