Elizabeth Gass on why she chose Sheffield for her MA

Elizabeth studied in the USA before coming to Sheffield for her MA. The programme content, as well all the extracurricular opportunities for students, meant Sheffield was her first and only choice for postgraduate study.

Profile picture of MA student Elizabeth Gass.

Why did you choose to study in Sheffield?

While searching for a graduate program, I researched the literature programs at universities in America and in England, with a goal of combining my love of literature with my love of travel. In addition to academics, I wanted to live in an affordable, safe, and accessible city.

After reviewing their admission and degree requirements, literature programs, location (in relation to transportation), accommodations, and most importantly, professors, the University of Sheffield was my first choice and the only program that I applied to.

What made the University of Sheffield stand out for you?

The University of Sheffield stood out for me because of its wonderful English program and facilities for students. With Sheffield being a top international university, I knew that would provide me with the tools I required for a successful postgraduate career.

From the student activities, the many helpful departments in the Students’ Union, and the fantastic School of English, it was no question that this university was the one for me.

What do you particularly enjoy about studying 19th Century literature?

Novels can be applied across all disciplines, from history to psychology. When I read and study a novel written in the past, I feel I learn about the culture of specific places and peoples and often learn more about myself.

In addition, my passion is the literature of the 19th Century, which I feel evokes emotions that make for lively and entertaining discourse.

What are you currently researching for your MA dissertation?

I am currently researching mental illness in the nineteenth century, specifically, how hysteria and multiple personality disorders were viewed by doctors and society along with the difference in treatment based on gender.

Charlotte Brontë's Jane Eyre and The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde by Robert Louis Stevenson are the two novels I have chosen for my examination of how literature responded to the social discourse surrounding mental illness.

Being a postgraduate in the department has been a challenging and fantastic learning experience! The faculty are extremely knowledgeable and professional and always there to help.

Elizabeth Gass

How did the School of English help support you through the whole process from application to settling in?

During the application process, I was very impressed with the fast responses from the admissions office and the professors to questions and concerns. Everyone I interacted with was exceptionally professional and supportive. While I was settling in, the professors were available if I needed anything at all. I felt a warm welcome and at ease about being in another country by myself.

What are your top tips for any international students thinking about studying English in Sheffield?

I have a few top tips for international students thinking about studying English in Sheffield. Firstly, potential international students should research and become knowledgeable of the grading system – it is especially different from the American system. Secondly, be flexible; while the teaching style is different if you are open to new things it is easy to adapt.

Next, plan to make use of the wonderful libraries! Western Bank is one of my all-time favourite libraries because not only is the view outstanding, the book selection is perfect for an English major! I also love the Information Commons because it is open 24/7 and it was my main residence during essay writing times.

Thanks to the 24-hour café and the possibility of a shower if I needed it, I knew I was in the right place to finish my essays! And, lastly, take advantage of the University sponsored “Give-It-A-Go” tour trips. It is a great way to learn more about England’s countryside, history, and culture.

What is your highlight of studying and/or living in Sheffield so far?

My highlight of studying in Sheffield has been learning from wonderful professors who possess a level of knowledge I aspire to achieve. I have learned more than I expected from these fantastic educators and I believe that is the best highlight anyone could ask for.

As for the highlight for living in Sheffield, well, that one’s obvious - Living in Sheffield! This whole experience has been full of exciting adventures, it is hard to pick one!

Tell us about being a postgraduate in the department.

Being a postgraduate in the department has been a challenging and fantastic learning experience! The faculty are extremely knowledgeable and professional and always there to help. I know that if I have any questions or even personal matters, I can turn to one of the professors and they will do what they can to help me.

I've enjoyed my courses from the beginning, from the Gothic to the Fin de Siècle. I was fascinated by the interdisciplinary side of literature and how certain historic events interacted with the literature of the time.

I also enjoyed the Work Placement I took part in; it gave me an opportunity to learn more about Sheffield as a city. I have thoroughly enjoyed my time as a 19th Century Literature postgraduate at the University of Sheffield.

What did you do for your work placement?

For my work placement module at Ignite Imaginations, a local arts charity, I assisted artists during their workshops. Whilst thoroughly enjoying these workshops, working with FIMO clay with the Sheffield Sea Cadets is my favourite.

Each week the artist approached the kids with novel ideas for crafting the FIMO, and while assisting with their projects, I even participated. The kids were enthusiastic about learning and receptive to different concepts which I admired. This experience shows that even if you feel like an outsider, you can still discover a sense of community.

During the placement, I encountered and engaged with wonderful people of all ages and listened to folklore that, otherwise, I would not have had the opportunity to hear. Consequently, helping with these wonderful and enriching projects gave me a sense of accomplishment.

What do you know now about Sheffield that you didn’t know before you came here?

You can read every article in the world and still never truly understand a place until you visit. That has been my experience with Sheffield. I felt from my research that it was a wonderful city with caring people and a top-notch university.

However, the reality exceeded my expectations, from the friendly people to the quality of the university’s programs, I truly believe I made a good choice in Sheffield as the city and university for my postgraduate degree program.

What are your plans after your MA?

After I complete my postgraduate study, I plan to go into the education field, where I feel that I can make a difference in teaching and interacting with students.

What do you like about living in Sheffield?

Sheffield is a wonderful and quiet city. It possesses both city and country qualities, which makes finding relaxation during stressful times easy. I like that I can hike through the woods and still end up at a Starbucks.

The residents of Sheffield have been incredibly kind towards me and that has made the city feel more like a second home. Over the past nine months, Sheffield has grown on me quite a bit. It has become a piece of me and I will forever cherish the memories I have made here.

Is there anything else that you'd like to add?

My time as a student at the School of English is enriching my life. Sheffield has become a second home and I will be sad to leave in September – future visits are anticipated.

I think that going abroad for my postgraduate degree gives me a broader perspective of the world, benefits my learning more about who I am as a person, and enhances my life skills.


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