Monday, 28 July 2014

Tour de Sheffield

There is just under a month left until my next adventure (or, as is perhaps more accurate, the beginning of my next scheme to evade responsibility and Student Finance England for another year). I knew nothing about Tashkent before accepting this job. Now I know almost nothing, except for the fact that it has a market that sells melons, which is something to be excited about. I am as ignorant as I am scared, although I can say that the prospect of living in Central Asia for a year frightens me a lot less than spending another year in Central Derbyshire. Of course, I am also enjoying the opportunity to be able to use the excuse, “sorry, I’m moving to Uzbekistan,” to get out of obligations.

It is not the first time I have lived abroad, and it is not the first time I have kept a blog about living abroad. If you are interested in reading an incomplete and sporadic account of life in Russia (and a bit of Canada), please have a look here. One of my first posts in that blog was about Matlock Bath, the village in which I grew up, so obviously I have decided to do a ‘tour’ of my university city, Sheffield, to show the place I’ll be leaving after four years of studying hard, drinking responsibly and generally retaining all dignity.

It all started in Endcliffe Student Village. My Dad drove up an 18-year-old who was determined to stand out by wearing a summer dress with Converse, but desperate to fit in so covered it up with a 2010 sixth form leavers’ hoody. Sometimes I am surprised that I managed to keep myself alive for an entire year, especially during the war that raged in Froggatt block between flat A5 and flat A6, culminating in voodoo dolls and squirting ketchup onto each other’s front doors.

It's pretty studenty that someone left the washing up on top of the fort rather than actually washing it up.

The ten of us from that flat (with a slight lineup alteration) then moved down the road to The House of Drama, in which everyone always got on and no voices were ever raised. Next door once put on some rather repetitive bumpy music at 5am, so I grabbed a sheet of A4, wrote “Shut the f___ up, you c___s!” I folded it into a paper aeroplane, leaned out of my skylight and lobbed it in through their open window. The music stopped rather suddenly. That story is always better if you remember to censor both swear words when recounting it to your parents’ friends.

Not pictured: the girls' top floor landing where we solved all of life's problems

My latest home in Sheffield was shared with four lovely girls, whom I have to describe as such because I still have them all on Facebook. I jest: they were all super fun and kept me going through a very stressful year. There was only one really poor moment in that house, which occurred when someone invited a sambuca-filled male guest over after a night out. When I arrived home, I went into the bathroom to clean my teeth, but as I turned on the tap, chunks of semi-digested tomato floated up towards me from the plug hole. I screamed and ran away from the bathroom, crying loudly like the adult that I am. My housemate poked her head around her bedroom door, grunting, “have you seen it?” and then related the tale of her disastrous evening in which said young man had expelled his stomach contents onto our stairs, sinks and floors. And somehow avoided the toilet as though he had a severe phobia. Needless to say, he was not invited back.

A nice view from my then bedroom window to take your mind off that anecdote

After describing a few of the less dignified events of my time in Sheffield, I feel I should perhaps mention the actual degree and some of the places where I learned some new facts. Jessop West is the English, History and Languages building and looks like it is made of recently bought Lego. Each floor is for a different language, which is rather cute, until you accidentally go up an extra flight of stairs and have to come back down, cursing the unintentional extra exercise you’ve just given yourself.

Jessop West

There are several libraries, but the main ones are the Information Commons (IC) and Western Bank. The less said about the IC, the better, really, as it is the place on campus where everyone has cried at one point or another. The air tastes of sad coffee and stale students who may have been in there for several days, as it is open 24/7, including Christmas. Western Bank is pretty 60s and special and used to have a Facebook page run by a staff member where they advertised free sandwiches and tea, but it got closed down a few days ago because the guy running it got told off for insulting someone who had been talking in the silent area.

The building that looks like a church is actually a drama studio, as you can tell from the huge sign outside that advertises it as such. I spent a little while in here over the past few years, as I inadvertently became the languages sound technician, a job that involved a lot of waiting, taping wires to people and making sure that the ‘Vive le maĆ®tre’ and ‘bomb’ sound effects were the right way around. The best part of the job, aside from learning about how everything in a theatre works, has to be the fact that you get to sit in a box at the back of the theatre and complain about everyone else to the person in charge of lighting.

My home for a week or two each year. Top tip: take any radio mics off before going to the loo.

Now for some establishments from which we always departed elegantly after consuming no more than our recommended daily allowance of alcohol. The Nottingham House is a great pub in which one of our Russian colleagues worked, meaning we spent a lot of time there, and usually did rather well at the pub quiz; after spending four years in close proximity with someone, you tend to absorb the same trivia. They do rather nice pies. Another languages haunt is the Red Deer, a wonderful little pub that does a lot of real ales and whose staff are very patient with us. After an open day, or any event in the languages department, someone will invariably suggest a visit. This will sometimes mean a few pints and home to annoy your housemates. Other times, it means several pints and then on a tour of Sheffield’s gay clubs.

I feel that this blog post is rather lengthy, so I shall leave you with some photos of various things from Sheffield.