International Engineering Ambassadors
Insight into the life & course of international students.

Thursday, 13 February 2014

First year in a nutshell

First year in a nutshell. 
Written by: Birju Galaiya

Being a Mechanical Engineering Student at The University of Sheffield has been a thrilling journey so far; from meeting new people to learning fascinating engineering fundamentals and carrying out experiments.
Coming to the university for the first time after my A levels, I did not have much of a clue on what it was going to be like in terms of studying, living independently and starting a new chapter in my pursuit of success. Yes, this was overwhelming but adventurous at the same time. I hope this blog will assure prospective university students (not only engineering ones) that studying at The University of Sheffield will be worth it.

The Fresher year!
Wow, what can I say? It was an amazing year that involved lots of changes which I had to adapt to. Unfortunately having missed the intro week for international students, it meant I had to explore the city without much help apart from maps and helpful pedestrians. Getting lost was the norm during my first few weeks but eventually walking around the university campus and accommodation became second nature to me. I would recommend all international students to try making it for the intro week where you are given a tour of the city. Makes your life easier!

After a crazy week of fresher’s week (not telling you much- experience it yourself), the lectures got underway. Before university, I feared that I wouldn’t grasp the various accent of my lecturers; but I was surprised by how easy it was to understand what they were saying. We had 6 yearlong modules which you can see at I found the timetable quite spacious with several breaks although we had a 9a.m lecture almost every day! Yes, no late starts for engineering students. Unlike school, we had to write down our own notes from the lecture slides which I found difficult initially. I enjoyed the lectures- few of them had similar content as I had covered in secondary school while others had new concepts which were interesting. All students were allocated personal tutors that we met with twice a week in groups of 4 or 5. These sessions were very helpful as we discussed any challenges we faced- academic wise or in general.
We had weekly lab sessions supervised by PhD students where we undertook experiments to prove or apply the basic principles of engineering. They were enjoyable although the report writing was quite annoying. More on the labs in my future blogs…

Apart from the academic part of my fresher year, I was having a time of my life! There is so much to do and it’s up to you to see what’s suitable for you.  Being a sport enthusiast, I joined the University of Sheffield Athletics team. We had weekly recreational runs plus training sessions where I pushed myself to the limits while also making new friends. Running in the cold was certainly a new experience for me but I was the refreshing air in Sheffield persuaded me to continue. On the weekends, I watched the thrilling English Premier League with my fellow roommates and usually go for a night out in the city.

My first snow experience was incredible and if I can remember correctly I think it snowed in early January. Having come from Kenya where the snow was a phenomenon, I was animated to see snow falling and feeling the snow flakes. Yes, it was freezing, but who cared? I had snow fights in the bitter cold and on some occasions in the middle of the night. The negative side of the snow is that the university does not close and thus we had to walk in dreadful conditions to our lecture theatres (tip: be prepared by equipping yourself with waterproof clothing especially the shoes). Unexpectedly it snowed heavily in our Easter break and my friends had come over for the weekend to Sheffield. This weekend was one of my highlights of my first year.

For first year, we were lucky/unlucky (however you see it) not to have exams in January. We had our exams in June. Knowing that the first year does not count to your final degree and you only had to pass with a minimum average of 40% did not put me off studying for a 70%+. The content to revise for was quite a bit and during the final weeks before the exam period studying was the main agenda every day. Indeed, past papers were helpful in understanding what types of questions were asked. The text books in the libraries were a useful resource for extra reading or clearing our doubts. In the end I not only managed to pass but got an average of 77% and automatically getting the international engineering students scholarship of £2000 for the next academic year; something rewarding for my hard work.

All in all, my first year flew by. I didn’t ever imagine it going that quickly. Choosing the University of Sheffield was an excellent choice in terms of the standard of education, the activities you can undertake and the remarkable city it is situated in.

Please do comment and ask me any questions that you may have. I shall try my best to answer them. J

1 comment:

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