The study abroad journey opened up numerous opportunities in the UK for a student. This enabled him to work in Rolls Royce’s University Technology Centre in Sheffield. He also earned a placement opportunity with Mercedes.
It is not easy to decide to study in a foreign country. Also, it is not easy to finalise the university and the course you wish to pursue. I was in a dilemma between pursuing robotics engineering at the University of Sheffield, UK and electrical engineering at the University of Alberta, Canada.
I finally chose to study Mechatronics and Robotic Engineering. The main reason behind my decision was that the program of Sheffield allowed students to undertake a year-long industrial placement. Also, the course was much shorter when compared to others.
Also, my decision to study at Sheffield was made simpler. The course was taught by the Department of Automatic Control and Systems Engineering. This is the only department that is dedicated to automation and systems engineering in the UK. Robotics has grown currently to a great extent. However, this is a unique discipline that stands at the crossroads of software, electronics and mechanical engineering.
Pub Culture of the UK
I initially found the pub culture of the United Kingdom confining being a teetotaler. This is especially difficult when you socialize with meeting new people and peers. However, I realised eventually that Sheffield and the United Kingdom have a lot more to offer.
There is always something to balance everyone’s interests across different cities from Premier League matches to Christmas markets. I made my first trip to the UK with my parents. During that time, I stayed in London before moving to Sheffield for a couple of weeks.
I observed a few cultural and lifestyle differences be it the prevalent pub culture, politeness or the unpredictable weather upon our arrival. Living in London helped me get used to these changes. I had a tough week at Sheffield at first.
I managed to break a bone while cycling. This left my shoulder in for a few weeks in a velcroed sling. This experience was gruelling. However, I discovered a network of students who were strong and supportive. I have access to such a community and its welcoming nature in the UK.
The Good and Bad around the time of Covid
Due to the Covid pandemic, my first year in the UK was cut short promptly. I had to head back home after a few days of commencing the classes due to the pandemic. However, our university ensured that we didn\’t miss out on our study schedule.
Thus, the university supported the students during the challenging times of the pandemic in order to minimise academic disruptions wherever possible. For instance, a robotic arm kit was sent to me and it allowed me to engage with one of the modules.
Therefore, it offered a continued learning experience from home. Additional financial aid was launched by the university for students so that they can purchase IT equipment for remote learning. I used the pandemic period to enhance my skills.
Therefore, I secured a placement opportunity with Mercedes which is a part of our degree. This requires us to work in the industry for a year. The highlight of my degree so far was to engage in a software and control engineering placement at a powertrain development plant of Mercedes based in Brixworth.
Britain offers opportunities to develop leadership skills
The biggest aspect that I appreciate the most in the education system of the United States is the opportunity that the students get to develop their entrepreneurial and leadership skills. They get such qualities while tackling problems within the environmental and social realm.
I realised that such opportunities are in abundance after I started my program here. Therefore, we are simply required to work for them. Such opportunities at my university range from start-up pre-accelerators and workshops.
Sheffield Engineering Leadership Academy is another rewarding programme that is offered. I was able to work with local businesses around Sheffield. They were involved in various areas that ranged from road infrastructure management to digital health.
I work currently as a part-time research assistant for Rolls Royce’s University Technology Centre in Sheffield. I develop software for gas-turbine engine health maintenance and monitoring.
Therefore, I was able to connect with people from a range of backgrounds through on-campus roles and numerous other student-led projects. Such avenues help us foster a life-long connection. It also helps us in building a network of peers that we rely on for support.
Application Process at the University of Sheffield
I was supported by IDP education consultants during the application process. Counsellors, here, represent different foreign countries. They would guide students through various application stages. I undertook the IELTS English language test. This test is a prerequisite for United Kingdom university applications.
Then, we had to fill in an application for the Universities and Colleges Admissions Service. This is the central portal in the UK for applying to any UG course. I had to write a personal statement and hand in my predicted scores for final examinations in high school. This was a crucial part of my UCAS application.
International students are offered scholarships. These scholarships are abundant but at the same time, they are immensely competitive. Depending on the university, they may be limited. I received a partial scholarship based on a partial scholarship and a bursary. This helped me commence my degree program.
Out of the comfort zone
Starting a degree abroad away from home pushes you out of your comfort zone. You must have to have the willpower to lead a life away from home. This often offers a considerable financial commitment. Also, it helps you in being decisive about your career path.
It forms a very steep learning curve which offers cooking your own meal and managing your expenses and part-time commitments. It also helps in focusing on your academics and applying for jobs. Thus, a social network is built to form a lifetime of learning.
Once a student is used to the culture, the cultural shock slowly fades away. Also, one begins finding solace in the little things such as trying out a new sport, taking up a forgotten hobby and learning a new language.
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