Studying for a PhD, I’m a pretty busy guy. I have noticed recently that time just seems to be flying by, the months whizzing past (I mean, how is it April already? I swear it was only Christmas a couple of weeks ago!). Thinking about time moving quickly, I then remembered that I will be 24 years old at the end of the year. No big deal some may say. Yet it simultaneously feels like a lifetime and just a few months ago that I moved to Sheffield as an 18 year old, ready to start my Undergraduate degree. And yes, studying for a PhD is apparently so demanding that I am prone to forgetting my age sometimes…
All of this means that I am only 1 ½ years from being 25, which will then mean only 5 years to 30. Now while worrying about age is certainly no way to live your life, and I definitely do not think that being 30 will ruin my life, it made me think about what I am doing with my life. Sure, I feel confident I have got it covered on the career front, but what about having fun, trying new things?!
While some of my friends are off travelling the world, I am using what I have right here – a brilliant university, an amazing city and a glorious national park (right on our doorstep), to make sure I am having fun, and trying new things.
Following the advice of a recent Sheffield Students blog, “Get lost! (You’ll be amazed at what happens next…)“, it is well worth having a wander around the city to see what you find. Sheffield and the Peak District have some wonderful hidden treasures (and far too many to list here!). Having access to a car obviously makes things easier, however using public transport, or even walking, can be just as effective. Go to your local park (Sheffield is crammed full of green spaces) and have a look around. Get the bus up Ecclesall road, and get off whenever you like the scenery! The Sheffield to Manchester train line has stops in some beautiful villages in the heart of the peak district, all of which are starting points for breath-taking walks. The possibilities are truly endless – apart from tropical beaches (let’s be realistic)!
Seeing all of the beautiful scenery, why not take some photos? You don’t have to have a fancy camera to take good pictures – most smartphones have brilliant cameras. Photography is a hobby that is great for de-stressing, as it can really slow you down and appreciate your surroundings. I recently took a trip to Stanage Edge (only a 20 minute drive), and was really surprised by the wildlife there!:
If you prefer to stay in the city centre, Sheffield has some fascinating side-streets and areas to visit, just off the beaten track. Something that the city centre is brilliant for is trying new and exciting food. There are hundreds of exciting venues, and new flavours to explore. I went to Tamper Coffee a few weeks ago, and had a superb meal, including fresh seafood, a local beer, and a surprising desert of passion-fruit and coconut panna cotta, served in eggshells:
My point is – try new food. A new ingredient, a new combination, in a new place. Maybe even try cooking it yourself when you get home!
It goes without saying that being a student is stressful, so I have found many coping mechanisms to deal with this. Something that can be very relaxing to do, and is possible even in a tiny student flat, is growing plants. Many students who live in shared houses will have a back yard, a perfect space to brighten-up with a few potted plants! Only got a windowsill? Perfect for a small-scale windowsill garden! Pick something you enjoy, or something that looks nice. This could be a houseplant such as a fern (perfect for bathrooms), or some spring flowers for a back yard. Especially perfect for small spaces and windowsills are plants like herbs and chilies:
Completely new to growing? Not to worry, Sheffield on a Plate is a society based between UoS, Hallam and The Sheffield College, and they have herb and chili starter packs! Pick one up from the Green Space at the Student’s Union.
Planning to go outdoors is great, but let’s be frank, this is Sheffield and rain is inevitable. So what can you do indoors when the weather is bleak? Remember a time before university, when reading was for fun? Why not pick up a book (no, not a textbook), and give it a read?! I will take my own advice someday, and probably start with something that I read as a teenager – The Lord of the Rings. I’m interested to see if I missed anything last time, and also to see if I have a different perspective on the story now!
Don’t get me wrong, I love nothing more than to sit at home, eat a pizza and watch junk TV, and that is fine! But only sometimes. Leave the sofa, and you can find new sights, taste new flavours and meet new people.