Week 3 as an exchange student!

Leaves are falling, the days are getting shorter and cooler and the semester is now in full swing! Although I didn’t get around to doing any travelling during my third week (technically, week 2 of the academic semester), I did fill in the time trying out as many activities and societies as I could and engaging in many meaningful and interesting new experiences.

While the weather hasn’t been great, I’ve learned now to take for granted whatever little glimpses and passing moments of shine there are and having fun doing predominantly indoor activities.

I’ve learnt pretty much how things run around here, how to feel confident of my stride and not to wind up lost or looking totally clueless and foreign in my new environment. The culture shock is starting to fade, and I’m becoming slowly accustomed to the rhythm of the new city I’m finding myself in. The distinctive, grey English houses are starting to look more natural, the layout of the streets are becoming second nature, and it doesn’t totally shock and paralyse me now every time I catch a glimpse of an adorable squirrel passing my way.

I’m becoming more confident of my ability to live independently and cook and fend for myself. As of writing this (yes, there’s a bit of a lag!), I’ve been living by myself for almost a month already and it’s the longest I’ve ever been away from home. I think I’m doing quite well actually.

That being said, there is still so much I don’t know yet, there’s still so much more to see and do and much much more to learn. I can’t wait to see what the next few weeks will bring in store for me.

I do miss home sometimes, and my family. I’d only Skype’d my family once since I’ve arrived because it’s been difficult due to the time differences and they have a hectic schedule, but I do keep in regular contact through Snapchat and other means. Sometimes  living overseas has allowed me to compare the differences with my own home city and realise the things I’ve taken for granted back home in Melbourne. For one, I miss the (somewhat) better weather and laid-back atmosphere.

Now, for some fond highlights from this week:

  • Trying out a self defence class for the first time! Vivian and I booked a session with Sheffield social sport and joined in a women’s only lesson with a seasoned black belt fighter. The instructor taught us some basic techniques and stances, notably on breaking free from an attacker that is grabbing our wrist. I was instantly amazed and hooked at how swiftly and deftly the instructor could evade attacks and bend the opponent’s own attacks against them. The primary aim of self-defence is for the defender to use the attacker’s moves against themselves using knowledge of weak points, natural body movement and flow and physics and escape unharmed. Of all the sports and events I’ve tried so far with Sheffield uni’s many societies and sports clubs, I think this is the one that interested me the most and would be the one I am going to keep coming back to each week to try out and learn more!
  • Bouldering on a Friday night! Bouldering is essentially rock climbing, but with no harness or safety equipment whatsoever. It’s the most minimalist form of climbing and actually takes a surprising lot of strength, courage, technique and problem solving. I was delighted to find out that we actually had a climbing wall within the Godwin Sports Centre on campus, hidden away towards the back behind many confusing corridors. The wall was high enough to make the climb thrilling but not lethal in the case that anything would go wrong. Of course, there are plenty of risks involved, and we had to sign a consent and liability form before accessing the wall and read through detailed terms and conditions. Some of the walls were extremely tricky and irregular and inclined, but we made sure to stick only to the simpler walls as Vivian and I were not seasoned climbers. Even so, I actually didn’t make it to the top on my first few climbs as I got scared midway and wanted to climb straight back down! It’s way more scary and difficult than it looks. I didn’t even realise my fear of heights until I was on the wall, scrambling and holding on awkwardly for dear life. Proud to say, I did eventually make it to the top though!
  • Creating our first short film with the crew at Sheffield Filmmaking Society! We were taken through the entire film process from brainstorming to storyboarding, choosing actors and locations and filming and editing. I couldn’t believe that it actually took over eight hours to make something that only lasted two minutes! Everything down from the individual scenes to the cinematography was well planned and thought out. I got a bit of a taste for what it would be like on a real movie set, as we got to use professional equipment and audio from the committee, but I don’t think filmmaking is really my thing because it was actually much more tiring and tedious than I expected!
  • Meeting some lovely international students at the Filmmaking event, Tao and Esther, and trying out some amazing dry pot at China Red. This was my first time trying dry pot and eating at an authentic Chinese restaurant in Sheffield, and it did not disappoint!

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