The university semester goes by in such a blur – before you know it, it’s week eight and you’ve barely got started on that bucket list that you made during Freshers’ Week. Students are constantly being pulled in different directions, and there’s hardly enough hours in the day for studying, socializing and relaxing, never mind exploring the city that’s become your adopted home.
In the summer, however, it’s a different story; it’s the perfect opportunity to discover a side of Sheffield that you’ve never seen. You might think it’ll be a ghost town with no students and none of the markers of student life that you’re so used to, but there are several reasons why you might be pleasantly surprised.
Firstly, life is very different when you’re not in university-mode. Even if you’re staying in Sheffield for a work placement or a job over summer, you’re still removed from the whirlwind of stress about essays, job prospects or personal drama that consumes so much of our thoughts during term time. Your free time is your own, and you don’t have to spend it feeling guilty about the work you’re avoiding or that awkward text you need to send. You can have fun without being distracted by a nagging feeling that there’s really something else you should be doing. The pace of life is much calmer and more relaxing – or maybe that’s just the absence of deadlines. Either way, you can take it at your own speed and spend time getting to know the city.
But don’t just limit yourself to visiting new places – move out of your social circle as well.
The summer is also the perfect time to try somewhere different in the city. During term time it’s easy to stick to all the popular student haunts and do a constant cycle around the Harley, Steam Yard and Lucky Fox, but now you’ve got no excuse not to branch out. Why not move out of your comfort zone and try one of the other locations? Go somewhere a little further away from the student area rather than sticking to what you know – you might be surprised by what you find, and when your friends return in September you’ll be able to show off all your new discoveries.
Pay a visit to Sharrow Vale, near Endcliffe Park, to find an alternative to Division Street with lots of independent shops and restaurants, which are really popular with the locals – and for good reason! There are also regular markets, which are worth visiting and you might pick up some real bargains. If you’re looking for a new food place, try Forge Bakehouse on Abbeydale Road for an upgrade on Greggs (if you can believe that) and a great new breakfast spot. And if you’ve got a rainy afternoon with nothing to do, try the Bank Street Arts gallery to see some cool new art, support your local artistic community and feel like you’re cultured and sophisticated.
But don’t just limit yourself to visiting new places – move out of your social circle as well. During term time it’s natural to stick to socialising with other students and meeting new people through mutual friends. It’s easier to befriend someone when you automatically have ‘university’ in common – introductory conversations can consist of Uni of or Hallam, which course, which year, and by that point you have a good idea of them already and have got into the flow of the conversation. But (shockingly!) life does extend beyond the Sheffield student bubble. Although you might have to work a bit harder to find things in common, summer is a great time to make new friends among the locals – be open and friendly, chat to people in the pub or at the gym and you’ll be surprised by the reception you’ll get. After all, Sheffield isn’t famously friendly for nothing!
Don’t dismiss the city as dull during the summer – you’re out of the hectic university social scene, but that’s more reason than ever to explore and get out of your comfort zone. Give it a chance and you’ll see a different side of the city!