After spending the last year living in rural north-eastern France being back at University here in Sheffield is really strange. I would go as far as to say that I am finding it more difficult than when I started in first year. Before the year abroad the french department put on lots of meetings to help prepare us for the difficult year ahead, but no one ever told me how equally hard it would be to come back. If anyone is experiencing culture shock upon moving to Sheffield from overseas, or for those very unfortunate ones among you that have also returned from a year abroad and are now faced with the awful reality that is your actual life… You are not alone!
Apart from the studying side of things; the fact that I haven’t attended a lecture or studied at all in over 16 months and I’m supposed to simply write a 2,000 word academic essay again with accurate referencing and a bibliography in alphabetical-order. The lifestyle here is also completely different. I really do mean completely different. For example, in France I had two hours to eat lunch… yes lunch! Everyone is much more laid back, people just go with the flow. “A glass of champagne after work?” “Ah, Oui!” Oh yes, I forgot to mention I was fortunate enough to live in the champagne region where champagne was actually cheaper to buy than coca-cola. I think you can all now appreciate why the prospect of a year in Sheffield isn’t as appealing.
Upon my arrival to the rural french town after a train, a plane, a metro, a wheel falling off my suitcase on an escalator in a paris metro station during rush hour, another train (where for two hours all that was visible from the window were thousands of cows and vast open countryside), it’s safe to say I was not looking forward to the upcoming year. However, a (light-)year later, as all my ‘memories’ are appearing on Facebook, all I want to do is hop on a flight and go back.
So, to any international students that are still finding it difficult a couple of weeks into the semester, just give it time. I’m sure you’ll grow to love it here – don’t think too much about what’s different and try to just embrace the way of life. And to everyone who is going on a year abroad next year I am unbelievably jealous. I know everyone says “Oh it’s one of the best things you can do; you won’t regret it.” But seriously, it is THE best thing I have ever done and I DO NOT regret it. I mean who would regret seeing sunsets like this everyday from their bedroom window?