Visit: University of Sheffield Open Day

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Firth Court: definitely one of the nicest buildings on campus… nowhere near the Information School. “Firth Court – The University of Sheffield” by Jose M Vazquez is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0.

Before I applied to Sheffield back in November, I’d actually only visited the city once. That was back when I was in sixth form, and we didn’t go to look at either of the universities, or even at the city centre – instead, my best friend and I spent the day squirreled away in the English Institute of Sport watching the Wheelchair Rugby National Championships (which were amazing, by the way). Therefore, I felt I had to remedy this gap in my knowledge and off I went to the University’s open day.

The first thing I had to do was register in Firth Court, where I was handed a voucher for a free hot drink which I promptly redeemed (big thumbs up to Sheffield for this one). There was a big exhibition being held in the hall inside Firth Court, with stands manned by different faculties and support services. We stopped to chat at the Social Sciences and the library stands, and picked up leaflets and free pens from a few more, including the Careers Service.

Afterwards, we popped straight across to the city centre accommodation in Allen Court. It was basically a private tour, as only one other person showed up. We saw two rooms and the kitchen in one flat – one room was a deluxe, with a three-quarter bed and an en-suite, and one was a wheelchair-adaptable room with an en-suite. I did think that it was a touch cheeky that these were the rooms that were chosen for viewings; a wheelchair-adaptable room is necessarily a lot larger than a standard room, and the deluxe is way out of the average student’s price range. Still, we were promised that the entire postgraduate block is being refurbished over the summer, so hopefully whichever room I end up in will be fresh and clean.

The Sheffield Postgraduate Experience talk was held at 12:15 in the Foundry in the (very fancy – no wonder it keeps being voted best in the country) Students’ Union. Two current postgrads – one MA, one PhD – gave us their experience of the social side of Sheffield. The PhD student had been at Sheffield since her undergraduate degree, and was very enthusiastic about the university. She was especially careful to point out that there are many opportunities to socialise without needing to drink or party, such as the weekly ‘Linguistic Lunches’ organised by the English department. The MA student was new to Sheffield but was also very enthusiastic about the university, which was reassuring as I will be in the same position. A lot of the talk around postgraduate courses tends to be about the academic side only, so it was good to be reminded of the social opportunities that postgrads can get involved in.

Our next priority was food, so we stopped for lunch in the pub on campus (the University Arms). We weren’t sure if we would have enough time before we had to be at the Information School, but service was really quick and the food was good. They also had a very wide range of beers which my dad is already planning to go back and sample.

My favourite part was the afternoon session spent at the Information School. It didn’t get off to an auspicious start – we couldn’t find the entrance and ended up walking all the way around the building looking for it! Once we were inside, we made our way up to the department and were greeted on arrival by the very welcome sight of coffee and cake. Suitably caffeinated, we were organised into course groups and sat down for a bit of an introductory natter. We were joined by Dr Briony Birdi and a current student. Both were really lovely and answered all the many questions we threw at them. Later, Professor Stephen Pinfield joined us for a bit, and he recognised me, which was very flattering (or at least I hope it was – I pray he wasn’t remembering me as the girl who stood on his foot).

During the afternoon we were given a talk by Prof Peter Bath, the Head of the School, and we also took part in an interactive quiz given by a lecturer whose name I sadly cannot remember. The last major part of the afternoon was a tour of the department given by the current student. She was very determined to be honest about the course, so she gave us her warts’n’all version of life as a Sheffield student. Her big tip was to develop serious time management abilities before you get there, as the course load is quite intense: given how late I’m posting this, I think I clearly need some more practice in this area…

The last thing we did was pop into the Western Bank library, as we had been tipped off that that is the main library used by the postgraduates. However, I found the layout a touch confusing, and it doesn’t contain many Librarianship course books; they’re mostly kept in the Information Commons (IC), which we had made a flying visit to earlier in the day. For my personal studying style, I preferred the buzzier atmosphere of the IC.

Overall, I had a really good time at the Open Day. It definitely reaffirmed my decision to study at Sheffield, and it served as a really good introduction to the university and to the Information School. I would definitely recommend attending an Open Day at Sheffield to anyone considering a Masters in Librarianship or the Information Sciences.

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