Experiencing the world with a study abroad scholarship

Sheffield is proud to be a truly international university. Ranked in the top 100 most international universities by The Times Higher Education, we value international students who come to study at Sheffield, and we also value the positive impact that spending part of a degree in another country can have on a student and on society.

The University's Study Abroad programme allows students to experience a different culture, broaden their horizons and can also improve their career prospects. Thanks to your donations, there are currently six scholarships of £1000 available to Study Abroad students.

We spoke to one such scholar; 29-year-old, Sheffield-born Mark Boyd, who is spending part of his MPlan Urban Studies and Planning course in Hong Kong:

Why did you decide to study at Sheffield?

As a post-industrial city, Sheffield is an ideal location to study the interdisciplinary subject of urban studies and planning. Being my hometown, I have seen the city’s transformation over the last 30 years, and have developed a keen interest in how cities and the societies within them are shaped. With one of the best Urban Studies departments in the UK at the University of Sheffield, I am very lucky that I can pursue these interests in a familiar, friendly environment.

Why did you decide to study abroad?

For all the obvious benefits that home comforts can bring, it is equally important to broaden your horizons and discover different cultures for yourself. As the world becomes a smaller place through globalisation, and our societies more enriched through multiculturalism, the opportunity to study abroad is a perfect way to embrace these changes and integrate yourself with your global peers.

Why did you apply for a scholarship?

I am reliant on part-time work to supplement my student loan. Due to restrictions on my student visa I am unable to work during my time in Hong Kong. Therefore, the scholarship has been an invaluable source of income where I would otherwise have struggled to afford my day-to-day cost of living.

How have you found your course at Sheffield so far?

Throughout my foundation year at the Department for Lifelong Learning and Level 1 studies in the Department for Urban Studies and Planning, the teaching staff have been extremely supportive of the students and any concerns that they have, both academically and personally. The course itself has opened my eyes to the diverse array of career possibilities related to the study of Urban Studies and Planning, which has given me plenty of food for thought in terms of specialist areas that I might like to consider after the completion of my degree.

And how about your year abroad?

Having expected something of a culture shock on arrival in Hong Kong, I have come to appreciate these differences as fundamental to a diverse and vibrant community. Hong Kong is a city that never sleeps, with so much to do around the clock, seven days a week. I have been lucky to meet plenty of open-minded fellow exchange students from around the world, as well as being welcomed by the local students. Together, we provide a crucial support network for each other when so far away from friends and family back home. My host university, City University of Hong Kong, prides itself on being an institution that nurtures innovative talent and being a valuable contributor to the society which it serves, acting as a good example for its inbound exchange students during their time in Hong Kong.

What would you like to do when you’ve finished your course?

My decision to go to university at the age of 29 was to fulfil a growing desire to go into public service, urban planning in particular, and that very much remains my goal. I am confident that, academically, professionally and culturally, my time in Hong Kong can serve to enrich and enhance my studies in Sheffield as well as my future career prospects.

How has your scholarship helped you to get the most out of your course?

As well as covering the cost of flights between the UK and Hong Kong for my year of study abroad, my scholarship has helped towards essential cost of living expenses while away. The additional scholarship award that I received will also enable me to explore the important issue of sustainable development and its impact on local populations in the many rapidly developing regions of East Asia. These first-hand experiences will help both my studies in Sheffield and my career aims after university.

The generosity of the many alumni who contribute to the scholarship funds at the University opens up opportunities to students whose academic pursuits may otherwise be limited, as well as rewarding students’ dedication to their studies. It is this spirit of helping others that epitomises the Sheffield graduate, and the city of Sheffield as a whole, and for that I am truly grateful.

The streets of Hong Kong

Islands around Hong Kong

Mark and his friends

Click here to donate

Click here to read the next story