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

Sunday, 2 March 2014

No more a fresher…


Written By:  Birju N Galaiya

After an eventful summer back in Kenya, I returned to Sheffield to commence my second year of studying. I moved into a privately rented flat with three other Kenyan colleagues. As a reminder of home we have a Kenyan flag in our sitting room!

After settling down once again (much more easier than the first year), we all resumed our courses. There is a jump in the content we learn in year two compared to the first. Firstly we were required to put in more hours of private study as the content we had to cover required a lot more understanding.

 If you think you are only going to study engineering related modules- well sorry, you are wrong!
One of the modules in the first semester was on based on law and finance. Though we did not go in-depth in law, we got familiar with what a contract meant, why patents exist and environmental law. With examples, I found it very interesting and it was a much needed change instead of doing maths all the time. For finance, as groups, we were required to re-engineer a project to make it more feasible. We learnt about project management; from the design to the costs involved. Writing the report was time consuming because it had to be presented as a professional report. Yes, I felt like a real engineer! But the fun part of my first semester was making a model hydraulic cylinder on a software package called Solidworks. Drawing the design by taking into account all the parameters indeed took quite a bit of understanding as I had to get familiar with the software.  This coursework gave me a good feel on working on design aspects of engineering which is very important skill to have.


While the workload was overwhelming, I was and still am part of the National Hindu Students Forum Sheffield committee. I am in charge of sport activities in the society which include weekly football and badminton sessions. Organising these sessions have been challenging especially convincing students to attend. In my future blogs I shall talk about this further.

 If all this wasn't enough to keep me on the move, I had to begin applying for summer internships in engineering. My plan is from the onset of university was to go back home after the first year, get a summer internship after my second year, get a year out in industry after my third year and finally complete my masters. Wow- just realising that there is a long way to go! So with the assistance of the universitys Careers Service I started applying for summer schemes in top companies like Rolls Royce, Jaguar Landrover and Eon. Job applications are really time consuming as you need to perfect for your application to impress companies. Although I have not had much positive feedback from companies, I am still applying for summer internships. I do not give up that easily! But for those who start lagging behind in studies I would suggest that completing courseworks and attending lectures take priority over anything else.

Nearing the end to November, I unfortunately fell ill. Not knowing the cause of my stomach aches, I visited the University Health Service where I was seen by a doctor at no extra charge. Booking for appointments was not a hassle and you do not have to wait for a long period of time for you to get an appointment. I was pleased by the service provided which helped me get better. I had missed quite a few lectures and tutorials and lagged behind in my studies. My personal tutor gave me good advice whilst being supportive. The university does consider situations like mine; I filled in a form explaining by absenteeism from lectures and tutorials. The exam board would take this into consideration when analysing my performance in exams and courseworks. This relived me to some extent as I did not panic.

In January I had 5 exams. Yes, 5! But I believe they make up for not having any exams in my first year January exam period. I prepared for them to my best of abilities making sure I knew most of the examinable content. The library helped as a resource for academic books as well as a place where one could study in silence or even study as a group in specially allocated rooms to students. According to me there is enough time to study for the exams- its just how you make use of it! The relief after exams: amazing. Having a few days off, I visited my friends in Nottingham for the weekend which was a good change in environment. We then had another week long workshop known as Engineer Youre Hired where once again we worked in teams to solve a problem. More on this in future blogs.

Thats it for now. Hope you get a feel of how studying engineering is like and what it entails. As always, I am open for questions! 

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