City Views: Joanna
I dread being asked where I’m from. Not because I’m embarrassed of the fact, but because for me it’s a complex question that I can’t really be arsed to answer.
If I simply answer “Sheffield” it’s guaranteed I will get a reply of “Well, why is your accent like that?” And if I tell them the truth: being born in Sheffield, bred in Lincoln but coming back to Sheffield every other weekend to see my family for 12 years, and then eventually moving back four years ago, this is usually followed with… well, not a lot.
Even though I spent a mere four years (that I hardly remember because I was basically a foetus) in Sheffield before my mum decided to make the move to Lincoln, when I came back at the age of 16 I felt more at home than I ever had in Lincolnshire. I always wondered why. Was it because I never really fitted in Lincoln? Or because I’d always visited Sheffield to see my family? Is it just the South Yorkshire blood coursing through my veins? My conclusion was all of the above. Sheffield had always been a second home to me despite not seeing too much of it; my entire family tree is planted right here in the Steel City. Little did I know, moving to Sheffield would become the best thing that could have happened to me.
I remember moving to Sheffield like it was yesterday. I hadn’t seen the house my mum had bought yet and when I saw the beast of a hill it was on (Hunter House Road; if you know, you know) I was less than pleased. I got out the car, slammed the door shut, turned around and my heart skipped a beat; my eyes were welcomed with a breathtaking view of the city. I never grew bored of this view, and since moving from that goddamned hill, I have since faced the trek just to see it again.
I started High Storrs sixth form, and then never really went again. One thing I did gain from sixth form, however, was a bunch of friends. These people loved the same music as I did, and in true 16-year-old spirit, we got our paws on some fake IDs and I had an early introduction to Off Me Nut parties, Dubcentral, Yellow Arch and Hope Works – all of which blew my mind in comparison to quiet, cobbled Lincoln. I was full of vodka, soaking in the city and meeting new people of all walks of life. I would spend the days when I should have been in lesson walking from Endcliffe Park to Forge Dam, visiting the vintage shops on Division Street and taking in the beautiful Botanical Gardens.
It’s been four years since I moved here, and I still manage to find places that surprise me.
However, my first year wasn’t just spent getting up to no good: I got a part-time job in a vintage shop in town, Thrifty Store. After working as a shop assistant for six months, the owner asked me if I’d like to be in charge of their ASOS marketplace, and I jumped at the opportunity. Over the summer I was listing items online, photographing them, blogging and managing online customer liaison. What? The 16-year-old, bunking off school, staying up too late, brace-wearing me. Doing all of that? I’m not sure how I did it, but I did and it was the kick up the backside I needed. The owner had a certain faith in me that I had never really received before, and I was getting paid to do something I genuinely enjoyed, which inspired me to apply for a course at college.
I started at Hillsborough College doing photography, which was the answer to mine and my mother’s prayers. Whilst my attendance still wasn’t at 100%, it’s fair to say I gave the work my all. My tutors were so helpful and friendly, and I got to see a side of Sheffield I hadn’t yet experienced. Despite most of my time at Hillsborough being spent sat in front of a computer, lunchtimes and after college would be filled with picking up bargains from the many charity shops there, strolling through Hillsborough Park in the sunshine, and chatting away to friendly locals in pubs, sandwich shops and even bus stops. Whilst my friends from sixth form never really kept in touch once I left, I’d met some amazing people on nights out who were doing a lot for Sheffield’s independent creative scene, and these people soon became my best friends. They inspired and pushed me to work harder in my ventures and dream big. After two years, I left with a distinction and a new found confidence in myself.
The time came to decide what was next. The answer to which went from working full-time for a year and then travelling, freelancing in photography, mastering acrobatics and joining a circus, and finally, I settled on university. I looked around Bristol, Leeds and Newcastle but I felt my journey here wasn’t over just yet. I had made solid friendships I wasn’t ready to be away from just yet. So I applied for Sheffield Hallam, got in and started in September. I definitely haven’t looked back.
It’s been four years since I moved here, and I still manage to find places that surprise me. There’s often so much more to Sheffield than what first meets the eye, and I feel like you create your own narrative here. While I lived in little old Lincoln for 12 years, I feel as if I’ve been in Sheffield my entire life.
Want to share your Sheffield story? Drop a line to firstname.lastname@example.org // Illustration: Molly Jones