…”Let’s do Secret Santa!”

The nights are getting longer, the office/house/shop radio is beginning to blast out festive songs and the lunch menu is now flashing cranberry, turkey and stuffing variations of well-known dishes at you (cranberry and stuffing in mac and cheese, really?!)…. That’s right Christmas is approaching. For many, this also means that someone gleefully suggests doing “Secret Santa” and before you know it you have to buy a present for a “Joe or Jane” who is *the* hardest person to buy for… so what do you do? In no particular order, here are my 2017 top tips for Secret Santa purchases. (*Disclaimer: The author assumes no responsibility or liability for any loss or damage suffered by any person as a result of following the tips in this blog).

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Young and homeless: taking part in the Roundabout Sleepout 2017

Last Friday night I slept on the cold and hard floor of an open warehouse as part of #roundaboutsleepout2017. “Slept” is a loose term as even in five layers of clothing and a sleeping bag I was shivering all night. There was also constant noise throughout the night and our 3am selves got put into action when the woman next to me began vomiting in her sleep… But it was my choice to do it (and I don’t regret doing it).

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Top 10 things to do during Orientation Week

As the summer draws to an end and the new academic year gets closer, one of my favourite events of the year is nearly here! This year, Orientation Week is going to take place from the 11th to the 15th September and is a great opportunity for new international and some home students to find their way around Sheffield, meet new people and settle into University life in a relaxed and supportive environment before the busier Intro Week.

Writing from the experience of being both a student participant and an Orientation Ambassador, here are just a few of my tips for things that you shouldn’t miss during this week!

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“No is not forever, it just means not now”

Rejections are never easy to accept. The reason we often apply to positions in the first place is that we feel suitable or sufficiently qualified for a role. When we have painstakingly spent hours on an application, a rejection even before an interview or assessment day can be brutal. However, Robin Huggins who is currently the Head of Business Development at MBN Solutions was a recent speaker at the Creative Data Academy in Edinburgh and he told us something that really struck a chord with me… “no is not forever, it just means not now”.

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The darker side of a Year Abroad

This January, I ended up in a Spanish hospital A&E, desperately trying to explain to the doctor what was wrong with me in broken Spanish when my Basilar Artery Migraines were jumbling my words and had made me barely able to control my arms or hands. Although I have become increasingly accustomed to “surviving” my migraine attacks, I experienced 8 attacks in the one week before my exams. I had spoken to my flatmates and friends from home but I had never felt so alone. After the nurses’ third attempt at drawing blood from my arm a combination of my fear of needles, stress and panic became too much. I sat in A&E and broke down in tears. Continue reading

BlaBlaCar – wa?

BlaBlaCar is an online platform where verified drivers offer spaces in their car for a particular journey in exchange for a small fee. Drivers are verified by the website using driving licenses or other ID and they also publish small profiles, including how chatty they are, which range from “bla”(quiet) to “blablabla”(very talkative), hence the name. Potential travellers search for the journey they wish to take and place reservations online, with payment to the driver only being processed once the traveller confirms they have travelled with them.

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Surviving homesickness

Whether you’ve taken the leap to go to uni from Rotherham or you’re doing a Year Abroad in Japan, leaving home is a big step. Whether home is your favourite place with your favourite people in the world, or it’s somewhere you can’t wait to escape, it’s likely that at some point you will miss home. Here are just some tips that I would recommend to help get you through and help you to fully enjoy your experience away from home.


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The beginning of my Year Abroad… in Salamanca, Spain

Around three years ago, the 18 year old me happily accepted a last minute clearing offer from the University of Sheffield for LLB Law with Spanish Law (and a compulsory third year adventure abroad). Third year felt so far away and the actual logistics of how it would all work were a task for future Stef and not then. All I knew was that I wanted the experience of living abroad, meeting new people from all around the world and making my Law degree more than just a degree in English law. Two years have flown past, and after an 8 hour journey from home to Spain feeling like Tomy Ali Baba’s bucking camel (childhood game where you hook as much as you can on the camel before it jumps up at you), I’m now happily settled in Salamanca, northern Spain.

So what’s it been like? Continue reading