City views: “Thank you, Sheffield. You’ve made a reyt good impression on me.”

Even before I first stepped foot in the Steel City, I had roots binding me to it. Sheffield is the birthplace of my great grandma, the city my parents’ love story blossomed in and the home of my indie infatuation: Alex Turner.

I moved to the city three years ago. As an energetic 18-year-old university fresher, I followed my mother’s footsteps to Hallam University and began to write my Sheffield story.

Moving into my Bramall Lane accommodation, I soon realised that Sheffield was very different to the village life I was used to. I learnt quickly about the rivalry between Blades and Owls, my legs tired from steep city hills and I discovered the existence of five quid rounds on West Street. After a month of introductory lectures, gigs at Leadmill and many, many club nights, I had christened Sheffield as my own.

Sophie Watson handing in her dissertation

Sophie handing in her dissertation

As I write this, I have finished my undergraduate degree and, come September, I’ll be starting a master’s in journalism at Uni of Sheffield. For now, though, I get to experience the city in summer with no responsibilities. My only commitment is to make up for lost Covid-19 time and to enjoy, once more, beer gardens and the local music scene.

I think back to what I have enjoyed most about Sheffield during my time here, and it would be rude not to mention the friendliness and proud northern patriotism of the place. Driving back into the city after visits to my Leicestershire hometown, I’m welcomed back with a tight Yorkshire hug; as I exit the M1 and see the green copper tops of Meadowhall, I feel a sense of security and instantly relax. Although I don’t plan to settle in Sheffield post-studies, the city will always have a piece of my heart – I know whenever I return, I’ll be greeted with open arms.

Sunset in the Peaks

Sunsets in the Peaks

Sheffield’s wonderful greenery also deserves a mention; being locked down here has certainly allowed me to appreciate the outdoor spaces a lot more. From the Botanical Gardens to the Peak District right on my doorstep, the pandemic has made me mature as a student and swap boozy nights for walks along Stanage Edge. I’ve swam in Crookes Valley Park, watched endless sunsets at Froggatt Edge and enjoyed a traditional Bakewell slice in, er, Bakewell, of course. And, even though beer gardens have now reopened, I look forward to socialising in a sunny Endcliffe Park with friends in the coming months, enjoying my last Sheffield summer days the ‘Outdoor City’ way.

In reflecting on my time here, I couldn’t but talk about my time at Hallam. It has been a huge part of my Sheffield experience and, alongside my degree, there is no doubt that I will graduate with a strong Hallam complex. When I talk about peaks and troughs of university life, Sheffield Varsity stands out as one of the highlights: the maroon and white face paint plastered across every student’s face, the creative, boisterous chants and the devotion shown to students’ respective establishments over this month. It’s an exhilarating experience to be part of; I will always bleed maroon.

Tom Walker at the Leadmill

Tom Walker performing at the Leadmill

Finally – Sheffield nights out. In my freshers year, I was a Leadmill girl. As the first taste of Hooch touched my lips and Arctic Monkeys played in the background, I milked the indie-pop venue for all it was worth, becoming a regular at the Club Tropicana nights. Since 2018, though, my nights out have moved onto West Street, where I’ve made some of my fondest memories. Crawling down from Players to Hallam Nation in fancy dress every Wednesday, and dancing into the early hours in West Street Live, making memories on what, to me, feels like Sheffield’s own holiday strip.

I could gush about Sheffield all day; my memory bank of the city is near to overflowing. But I will leave it here. Now, at 21 years of age, Sheffield has watched my confidence grow; it has observed my drunken nights out; picked me up when I’ve felt down; watched me finally master the big ring road roundabouts; and, above all, has provided me with an inimitable university experience.

Thank you, Sheffield. You’ve made a reyt good impression on me.

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