Why I Chose To Study Journalism Abroad at Sheffield Hallam University

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You’ve dreamt about studying journalism abroad for years, and now the time has come to choose the university you want to study at in the UK. There’s just one catch: you need to sort through all of QUTs compatible UK universities with a journalism degree to find the one that’s right for you. It sounds like a lot, but don’t stress! Whatever you want from an overseas university – whether it be an ease-of-travel location or accredited journalism experience – Sheffield Hallam University will be a definite contender for one of your top three preferences.

IT’S SITUATED IN A CHARMING, STUDENT-FRIENDLY CITY

Sheffield Hallam University is based in Sheffield; a city in which one in every ten residents is a student. With such a large amount of students in its populous, Sheffield has developed with its students in mind – it’s safe, green, cheap, independent and lively!

…WHICH BOASTS A VIBRANT STUDENT-FRIENDLY NIGHTLIFE

To cater to such a large student population, Sheffield has established a diverse, student-safe nightlife. Pubs, clubs, restaurants and cinemas offer discounts to anyone wielding a student card and student nights are held during the week, to avoid the weekend rush. Talk about convenience!

IT’S IN A STRATEGIC SWEET SPOT

Sheffield is at the midway point between London (England’s capital city) and Edinburgh (Scotland’s capital city), making it the perfect place to study at if you want to explore the UK.

IT FEATURES MOST FORMS OF NATIONAL AND INTERANTIONAL TRAVEL

Sheffield links into national motorways, national and local bus lines, inland waterway services and local cycling routes. It also boasts several major railway routes via the Sheffield railway station – perfect for those fleeting weekend getaways. To top it off, Sheffield also neighbours Leeds Bradford International airport, which flies to over 75 European destinations. Talk about it being too easy to travel abroad!

IT’S NOT TOO COLD

Temperatures average at about 15°C during Sheffield’s hottest month of the year, August, and dip down to an average of 3°C in its coldest month, January. Don’t get me wrong, those are some cold temperatures – but it’s not the wear-ten-pairs-of-socks kind of cold. Plus, the small variance in temperatures between the seasons ensures the transition from summer to winter (and back again) isn’t too much of an unsettling experience.

ITS PRIVATE ACCOMADATION IS CHEAP

The average rent for a one-bedroom apartment or complex in Sheffield is around £130 per week. This is a lot cheaper than the average rent for a one-bedroom apartment in the UK, which sits at around £185 per week. However, it’s still a fair amount, especially considering the conversion rate from dollars to pounds. The good news is Sheffield Hallam University has a solution for this – student accommodation!

…AND ITS STUDENT ACCOMADATION IS EVEN CHEAPER

Sheffield Hallam University’s student accommodation is grouped into three price ranges to ensure there’s housing suitable for every student’s budget. With prices starting at £81 per week, these properties are significantly cheaper than private accommodation. Plus, they often come with additional benefits, such as security, designated parking and a close proximity to campus.

IT’S A WORLD RENOWED UNIVERSITY

Sheffield Hallam University has a great reputation internationally, thanks to its success as one of Britain’s most progressive and innovative universities. Studying at a university with such a solid international reputation looks great on paper, and can even open the door to enriching connections, internships or jobs in the future!

IT FEATURES EXPERT EDUCATORS

All of the teaching staff at Sheffield Hallam University are experts in their academic subjects. This not only helps inspire student learning, but also allows you to make important real world connections.

IT HAS A DEDICATED INTERNATIONAL EXPERIENCE TEAM

Sheffield Hallam University’s international experience team rolls out the red carpet service before you even set foot in England. They offer a 24-hour turnover time for emails, advice on how to prepare for your semester abroad and – shocker – the team will even help you with your visa application. This great service doesn’t stop once you arrive, with the team operating an optional (and free!) airport pick-up service from Manchester Airport to Sheffield Hallam University. New international students are also welcome to join entertaining orientation events held by the international experience team to get to know their campus, settle in and meet other campus newbies.

IT’S GOT AN ACCREDITED JOURNALISM DEGREE

The BA (Honours) of Journalism is taught by award-winning journalists and academics – all of whom are members of the Association of Journalism Educators. And as if that’s wasn’t incentive enough, the course is also ranked in the top ten journalism degrees in the UK in the Guardian University Guide, 2016!

IT PREPARES ME FOR MY CAREER

All of Sheffield Hallam University’s courses are designed to maximise your job prospects – even during my semester as an international exchange student! Their BA (Honours) Journalism degree will help me get industry-ready with:

  • Practical experience, such as: creating a live online newspaper; writing articles for magazines; and producing TV and radio packages.
  • The option to undertake work experience at a media organisation for credit points – a great way to spice up my resume while overseas!
  • And, the option to specialise in areas such as sports journalism, feature writing and social media.

Jackie’s Exchange in Osaka, Japan

Jackie: Kansai Gaidai University, Osaka, Japan – Semester 1, 2016

Nine months ago, just after Christmas, I was mentally preparing myself to go to Osaka, Japan to study at Kansai Gaidai University for 4 and half months. The whole thing terrified me. The thought of going to an unfamiliar country, where I knew two words of the native language, where I didn’t know a single soul and where I would be on my own for the very first time in my life, gave me so much anxiety.

Me and my New Friends

Me and my New Friends

However, I pushed through and on the 17th of January, with tears in my eyes and butterflies in my stomach, I said goodbye to my parents and went on my way. When I landed in Osaka I was a nervous wreck. I got through customs, pulled myself into the nearest bathroom and had a little cry. Little did I know I was about to embark on one of the greatest adventures of my life.

 

The first people I met at the airport were welcoming and lovely. They were exchange kids from all across the globe and all just as scared as me. There were some from America others from Argentina and myself from Australia (I guess we had an A thing going on?). We all stuck to each other as a survival method and became good friends. We hung out every day, had classes together and explored every inch of Japan that we could. We made friendships that I hope we keep for life.

The schooling was very different from back home. It wasn’t modeled on a Japanese system but rather an American. In a lot of ways it reminded me of high school. jackie_2I saw the same people every day, we all hung out during set lunch times and there were certain classes that were mandatory (Japanese). It was nostalgic but exciting. Sometimes I found the curriculum a little frustrating compared to back home as it wasn’t very academically challenging. I really enjoyed the Japanese classes I took and feel that they helped a lot. (If you are going to KGU, please, please, please take the Kanji class. I get it, it’s intimidating but if you’ve never studied Japanese before it will make your life so much better.)

Want to learn more about QUT’s Student Exchange Options? Click Here…

New Plays Festival at Bishop’s University

turner studioLast night marked the end of this year’s New Plays Festival at Bishop’s University! It’s been a busy few weeks from the auditions in Frosh Week to closing night, and all the daily rehearsals in-between, but boy has it been fun. I’m going to start out by saying, since drama class in school, I’ve had zero experience in theatre before my involvement with New Plays. However, as an Entertainment Industries student at QUT, theatre is an interest of mine, typically in the sense that I enjoy seeing productions whenever possible. I’ve seen productions in Brisbane, Melbourne and Sydney, as well as New York’s Broadway and London’s West End.

Needless to say, theatre is an entertainment form I enjoy. Because of this, when I heard Bishop’s was holding a student theatre festival, I was interested in getting involved. I was hoping to get a position working backstage. However, I didn’t know enough about the different positions and assumed that without experience, I would have no chance. So I decided to sleep in the morning of the auditions instead.

Eventually that day I headed down to lunch where I met my friend Alice who had just returned from auditions. After hearing that I had originally been interested in getting involved, she convinced me to just go and talk to the coordinators about potential positons backstage. So I thought ‘why not?’.

I showed up at Turner Studio asking if there were any positions backstage for a student with no experience but willing to learn. The first thing I was asked was ‘if I had considered auditioning for an onstage role because my accent could make for an interesting character addition’. After considering this for a few moments, I said I would be happy to, but I would prefer to gain experience backstage rather than onstage. And with that I was taken off to meet one of the directors, who soon became my director, as I landed a role as a stage manager.

cast photo 1It all happened so fast and I was excited but admittedly also a little freaked out once I heard there was practice every day (since this was only my first week and I had planned not to get too tied down to anything as an exchange student) and that the play (titled ‘Dealing With It’ and based on real-life experiences) dealt with some heavy issues involving anxiety and depression. I was worried that combining the daily rehearsals (10pm-12am Monday-Thursday and 3 hours during the day Friday-Sunday) with the themes of the play, would potentially take a toll and make me not enjoy the experience. However, as it turns out I had nothing to worry about. There were certainly emotional rehearsals involved, I mean you can’t be involved in a play like that without feeling something! But the people I got to work with were so happy and friendly and we made sure we ended each rehearsal on a high note.

For those of you who have no clue what the role of stage manager entails (this was me early on), I’ll give you a quick rundown. Basically, during rehearsals I was there with a script, prompting the cast with their lines, and during the shows, I was the one in the headset running the show through lighting and sound cues.

The cue-to-cue rehearsal which took place in the final week of rehearsals (during homecoming weekend!) where I first worked cueing the lighting and sound, was a little messy, leaving me worried for the show. But I found by the next rehearsal, I’d got the hang of it. So by the time the shows rolled round, while I was a little nervous about something going wrong (I had ‘jokingly’ been told that if I messed up, I messed up the whole show  which was actually a fair assessment of the situation), I felt confident and found myself enjoying the stage manager role immensely.

To me, the fact that ‘Dealing With It’ was part of a whole festival of shows was just the best. This meant that over the period of a week, I, along with crowds full of other audience members, got to watch 9 different student plays (including Alice’s, who ended up getting cast in a comedy that had me laughing from start to finish), leaving me astounded with the level of talent this university has to offer in its theatre department. From scriptwriters, directors and actors, to lighting, set and costume designers; the list goes on.

The highlights of the whole experience for me were:

  • Cast Bonding (a night where we all hung out, played games, ate lots of food and drank sangria and jungle juice)
  • Getting the chance to really do my thing as stage manager and seeing thecast bonding show truly come together in tech and dress rehearsal and during the festival
  • Pre-show gifts where
    I was presented with thank-you gifts and cards from the cast, director and coordinators. I was super surprised to say the least as I’d seen them as being the ones doing all the hard work, I was just there having fun! But that’s just Bishop’s students for you; always surprising you with acts of kindness!

It’s definitely been a great experience for me where I’ve not only learnt valuable skills but also made some super cool and talented friends. I’m glad I pushed through the initial hesitation because now I know this is something I enjoy and I hope to stage manage again in the future!

Oh and we got a standing ovation too, so I guess the hard work payed off!

cast photo 2

 

And shout out to this lovely bunch: Kate, Natalie, Janelle, Adam, Julia, Kelly, Olivia, Dom, Taylor, Rachel, Mouadh, Emilie and Barbara

 

My First Glimpse of London

Hannah: City University London, Semester 1, 2016

I had the pleasure of travelling and living in London, United Kingdom for the last six months. I was lucky enough to find accommodation with another student from QUT, Rosie Jones. We lived in a share house in Canary Wharf and studied at City University London. City Uni unfortunately did not offer on-campus living accommodation because it was not a partner school with QUT. The university was quite small compared to QUT, but the staff and students were very friendly and engaging community.

Buckingham Palace, London

Buckingham Palace, London

During the semester, students were campaigning for student election and it was very evident the students felt passionately and were dedicated to improving their university experiences. My initial orientation was very informative; I had the opportunity to meet other students involved in the exchange program in the sociology department. The staff provided extensive sessions to communicate all of the essential information from using online resources to social events and counseling services. Through email I was constantly kept up to date with important information, upcoming workshops and opportunities. I was able to easily access the counseling support services when I was having difficulty transitioning in the first few months, which allowed me to develop the confidence to go travelling.

Living in Iceland

Accommodation

When I was accepted into Reykjavik University I was told that accommodation is pretty hard to find, because Iceland has such a high tourist population in recent years. There is no housing at the university unfortunately but they did help out a bit. They booked some rooms at a  hostel for some students to claim, and told us about some websites like bland.is (similar to Gumtree). I ended up joining a bunch of Facebook groups and asking around. This led me to chatting with a few locals who helped me find a share apartment.

I was honestly so happy that I found somewhere to live, within walking distance of the university and with my own room; I didn’t realise how great it was until I got here. It’s close to the famous church Hallgrímskirkja, and about a ten minute walk from the city centre and the harbour. I think I have completely lucked out on my apartment! It’s adorable and really close to town and to the water. I can see the ocean, the mountains and even some snow on the top from my kitchen. Not to mention that it is cheaper than where I lived in Brisbane next to the city.

University

Reykjavik University held 2 days of orientation sessions for all the exchange students. This year there is a record number of about 100, which is double last year. These orientation days were very helpful.

The university is very different to QUT. For instance, the whole university is only one building! I mean it’s a good thing because no one will want to go outside to change classrooms once it starts snowing, but it still seems so small. The classes are also much smaller, with only about 30 students in each course. Now, coming from engineering, my first year had about 1000 students and now were down to about 140 in Electrical Engineering. So it’s a bit of a dramatic change, but it feels more personal.

In the second week of university they held an international day. About 2 – 5 students from each country cooked traditional food from their home country to share with the local students. I baked a giant batch of ANZAC biscuits but they were all gone by the end of the day, and we also served fairy bread (the essence of our childhood) and Vegemite on bread for those brave enough to try! Some of my favourite reactions to Vegemite were “It tastes like I’m eating broth”,”It tastes like seawater” and “It tastes like something I never want to try again”.

 

Getting Around

I’ve been quite lucky with my location so I have been just walking around downtown and through the city. Most tours often pick up from somewhere in the city too.

The bus is also available and is what I’m planning on taking it when it starts getting too cold to walk. There is a student card you can get but it’s only available for a year, so I am just going to get the 3 month card, which turns out cheaper than just getting a ticket every time. Having a card allows you to take any bus in the Reykjavik area whenever you like. I also like the bus’ here better; they have little screens saying the next stop at the front, which is very helpful.

Taxis are also available but I think are a bit expensive. I caught one from the airport and it was super expensive but I was desperate to be clean after flying for so long. So I am planning on catching the bus to the airport when I go home.