City Views: Chloe
From the born-and-bred to those who’ve arrived from another continent, we asked a number of people living here to reflect on and write about their relationship with Sheffield.
Have you ever wanted to pack a bag, flee to another country where nobody knows you and restart your life? Well, that’s essentially what I’ve done.
Moving here has been quite the culture shock. I know I might be subject to a few eye rolls there, it’s Sheffield, not Saudi Arabia. However, for a rural Irish girl that grew up in the back arse of nowhere, a small crossroad where you couldn’t sneeze without Paddy up the road hearing about it that’s surrounded by bog and more bog, it has been.
I mean it wasn’t as spontaneous as it sounds. I didn’t just have a temporary lapse in sanity and hop on the next plane, there was some planning involved, albeit not a lot and definitely not enough. What little reasoning behind the whole thing was that I was watching my friends apply for their Erasmus semesters, places like Spain, France, Belgium and the lot. All their excitement led to a craving for a change in scenery, and if they jump I jump, right?
I know what you’re thinking, why Sheffield? Surely if you were looking for adventure and a change in pace you’d pick somewhere more exotic than Sheffield. Which to an extent, is true. Sheffield wasn’t the initial plan, but through a string of curious events, random emails and perhaps a slight reluctance and fear to go further a field, Sheffield is what was settled on.
So I landed in September like a big headless chicken, not knowing anyone or anything about the place. Embarrassingly, I wasn’t even aware that it’s the home of the Arctic Monkeys. Not to worry though, you Sheffielders have proudly informed me of my ignorance. That’s something I admire about the residents here, they never lack enthusiasm when giving you a quick (or lengthy) history lesson. There’s no shortage of topics either, the industrial roots, music scene, home to the oldest football club, greenest city in Europe, real ale capital of the world… I didn’t realise I’d signed up to a module on the history of Sheffield when I arrived, but I’ll tell you this, the lecturers have never been anything less than captivating.
At first, finding my way around proved difficult. I spent the first few days glued to my phone, fixated on Google Maps helplessly wandering around Kelham Island. But once I got my head out of that phone, as my mother has pleaded of me many times before, and actually looked around and took in my surroundings, I realised Sheffield isn’t so big and daunting.
It’s actually quite a compact city. One that is full of easy to recognise landmarks all in close proximity, which has managed to considerably reduce the amount of times I’ve gotten lost, something that is impressive for a person that has had difficulty navigating themselves around a square. It’s also surprisingly easy to plough through on foot, which has been great since the whole public transport thing confuses me. I’ve even found myself walking out to Meadowhall, which when admitted, often results in some funny looks.
Although I’ve been known to enjoy the occasional pint (or twelve), be it in The Grapes with some of my own or in West Street Live when I should of went home, it wasn’t the impressive nightlife that sold me on Sheffield. What truly impressed me is that for a city of its size and stature, there is an overwhelming sense of community here.
Sheffield is home to an incredible variety of independent businesses, which you’d imagine would lead to a lot of competitiveness and hostility in the area. Instead, Sheffield is filled with persistent support and companionship that can be seen in the cities local business and endless amount of festivals and events: Tramlines, Peddler, Sheffield Beer Week, Doc/Fest, to name a few (honestly, I think if Sheffield was to go a week without a festival it might implode). Sheffield’s ethos of inclusion and growth is ingrained in every corner of the city and each venture it pursues, which will allow the city to continue to thrive and gain the recognition it deserves.
Although I moved to Sheffield alone, I’ve never been lonely. Realistically my rash decision of jumping ship to a place completely unknown to me should of resulted in disaster, but the unwavering kindness and acceptance of the Sheffield community has allowed my experience to be quite the opposite. My time in Sheffield may be temporary, but I know I’ll think of it fondly long after I escape it’s seven hills.
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to firstname.lastname@example.org // Illustration: Molly Jones