Student Stories

A place where everyone can belong

Graduate Chong Hao Ran shares her journey as a Sheffield student and explains how opportunities both within the University and around the city have allowed her to develop and pursue her interests.

Chong Hao Ran
Studied in The University of Sheffield LLB Law

Why I chose to study at the University of Sheffield

I chose to study at the University of Sheffield because of its reputable Students’ Union. The law degree is highly theoretical and I wanted to make sure that I would have co-curricular activities to participate in. I also took into account its lower cost of living compared to bigger cities, and the fact that Sheffield is a green city with a lot of access to parks and nature. Everything being within a walkable distance was a huge plus for me. In summary, I mainly chose the University of Sheffield because I was concerned with the quality of life as it was my first time living abroad alone.

My student life in Sheffield

I was a part of the iForge – UK’s first student-led makerspace that is located in the Diamond. The student body is in charge of running the facility and I joined as a publicity member. Through the experience, I was able to meet many brilliant students outside of my course who taught me a lot about project management and basic engineering skills. We established a very positive work environment and everyone was passionate about their roles. I had the opportunity to learn and instruct users on how to safely use equipment like laser cutters and 3D printers, and even organised my own beginner’s workshop too!

As a Malaysian, I joined some committees of events under MASSOC (Malaysian & Singaporean Association) – one of them being MNight 2023. MNight is an annual stage performance held by the society that promotes topics related to Malaysian and Singaporean culture. I was the Scriptwriter and Music Director for my year. I had the pleasure of working on on-stage and off-stage planning, creating music scores and directing the band and performing on the day itself. I got to bring some of my ideas to life which made it a very fulfilling experience.

My favourite things to do in Sheffield

One of my favourite things to do is going to parks on a sunny day. Each park has a distinct vibe and as a student, picnicking is a recreational activity I can do on a budget. When I used to live in Endcliffe I visited Endcliffe Park and Botanical Gardens frequently. Recently, I enjoy going to Crookes Valley Park and Weston Park more as they are located within campus vicinity and right across from Bartolome House, home to the School of Law. I sit on the grass or benches and enjoy the rare sunny weather while chatting with friends or doing sketches on my notepad.

Another thing I like to do in Sheffield is cafe hopping. I am an amateur food reviewer who does it for fun. I like to visit different cafes and eateries I find either online or through word of mouth. I’ve tried almost every all-you-can-eat buffet in Sheffield including Sushi, Hotpot, Korean Barbecue and more. Every University building has its own cafe and I’ve tried nearly all of them! My personal favourite is the Jessop West cafe.

Why Sheffield is great for international students

Our University has one of the highest percentages of international students in the world and it is a place where everyone can belong. There are lots of job opportunities within our University for students who may want to get a part time job, which allows one to network and gain new experiences while expanding their CV. The University also provides a lot of support in terms of academics – if English is not your first language, don’t worry as we have an English Language Teaching Centre that could provide assistance. Furthermore, the University’s Academic 301 Centre helps prepare students in tackling exams. There is a very diverse culture within the community here and the University protects it fairly well with its EDI (Equality & Diversity Inclusions) Department. The city itself has quite a few oriental stores and restaurants which eases home sickness.

My advice to new international students

My advice would be to explore all your opportunities and apply for things you may be interested in. For example, I would’ve liked to work for the University Cafes or the Foundry (Students Union Club) if I had known where to apply sooner. However, I have managed to work multiple Careers Fair, Open Days, participated in a few Research Projects and more – opportunities are everywhere! It is suggested to look at your options in line with your own priorities and not bite off more than you can chew – Which ties into my second piece of advice; understand your priorities. If you have a clear career path, good for you! Start building your CV and academics towards what you would like to achieve, seize networking opportunities that can help you get the job you desire. However, if you aren’t sure yet or have lost your initial goal, fret not as our University has a Careers Service, various volunteering opportunities and extracurricular societies that can help you find it. Employability events happen all year round and you will meet amazing students in the community who will inspire you and give new perspectives.

Lastly, if you need help, just ask for it! There is a department for almost anything and if not, your academic tutor can help refer you to where you can start looking. I was fortunate enough to have known about and utilised aid provided by the University, which helped me get through my struggles. Living abroad can be quite daunting. I was the only Malaysian transferee of my batch so for a long time I felt very isolated. It took me a while, but I realised that I was able to find help for most of my problems through the university. There is help, you just need to look for it.

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