City Views: “I feel more a part of Sheffield than I ever have before”

Words: Eloise Feilden

Moving up to Sheffield from London for uni, I can remember sitting in the back seat of my parents’ gold Ford Focus and seeing the words ‘THE NORTH’ printed on a road sign as we drove up the M1. Tears immediately welled up in my eyes, remaining there until we arrived and my mum sternly demanded that I was not allowed to cry before turning around and getting in the car to make her journey back.

As it turned out, I ended up spending nearly all my time hanging round with other students, and most of them were southerners like me. Moving somewhere as a student pretty heavily skews your view of a place. You look at it through beer goggled eyes, stumbling down West Street after your friends because one more shot of tequila is definitely always a good idea. My time at uni here consisted of going to a lot of pubs, combined with a permanently surprised look on my face at how gorgeously cheap each pint was, and a very minor amount of actual work being done.

Only in the last year, having graduated and chosen to stay in Sheffield to join the real world, have I begun to realise just how much it has to offer. Putting my English Literature degree to best use by working in a pub for six months post-graduation, all of the eyups and reyt goods became part of my daily life. Despite sticking out like a sore thumb, I was welcomed by the community of locals with open arms (Sheffield really holds up to the title of friendliest city in the UK), and my pronunciation of words like ‘room’ and ‘ask’ was mocked only with only the warmest of sentiments. And so, living here outside of the university bubble, and getting to know another side to the city’s culture, really has opened my eyes to so much more of what Sheffield is about.

This is to say that I no longer view the city as one monolithic thing, the host to my university experience which could, in another life, have been exchanged for any other decent-sized city in the UK. I don’t see it as my second home anymore; the place that I return from during reading weeks and Christmas holidays and the summertime. I may still live in a house of six people with a contract running out in a couple of months and the prospect of soon lugging all of my stuff two roads away (somehow always uphill) to the place I’ll live in for only the next year of my life, but I feel more a part of Sheffield than I ever have before.

And one thing that I’ve learned most from living here, and through getting to know people from here, is a sense of pride. Pride of where you’re from, and what that makes you. There is a deep and enduring love that people from Yorkshire have for their hometowns, and their county, that is often far less passionate – and certainly less prevalent – when you head back down to London.

That isn’t to say that I and all of the people I grew up with weren’t proud of being from where we were from, but it’s a different kind of pride, and one much less grounded in a sense of community, or embedded in the place itself. If nothing else, living in Sheffield has taught me how to appreciate where I’ve come from through learning how to love where I’ve ended up.

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