Mike graduated in 2013 - view his graduate profile
Why did you choose this course, and why the University of Sheffield?
My undergraduate degree was in business relations and then I spent a few years working in the defence industry but realised it just wasn't for me. I wanted to get back to my original idea of teaching high school history, for which I obviously needed a degree in the subject. American graduate programmes wouldn't consider me because my first degree was in a different discipline.
The University of Sheffield is well known for its history programme and staff there saw my passion for the subject – the lack of 'documented' experience was no problem for them.
Also, my historical interest is the Tudor period and I couldn't pass up the opportunity to study in the country where it all happened – spending a year abroad gave me plenty of time to tour all the sites. In fact, Sheffield itself has a hidden gem in the form of a ruined 16th-century Tudor manor house that my department has a partnership with – so I immediately knew where I would serve my work placement.
How has the university supported you since you started your course?
The support has been tremendous. I was actually on holiday in England the year before I applied and found I had the chance to go to Sheffield. At a moment's notice, the history department's administrative staff arranged a visit for me, where I was able to talk to professors about the programme and even got a private tour of the central campus. I knew there and then that this was the place for me.
Once my course was underway, I found that my professors were always readily available. The class sizes are quite small so you get a lot of personal attention. Odds are there will be at least one professor who shares your interests.
What do you like about studying in the UK?
Having an interest in English history made studying in the UK particularly fun and convenient – I was able to research a site or artefact one day then actually see it the next. Similarly, the UK's proximity to continental Europe meant that I could use weekends to visit other countries to explore more museums and archives.
What do you like about living in Sheffield?
Sheffield is one of the largest cities in England but it feels like a town – everything is within walking distance. It also has a rich history and lots of events. Also, the mainline train station means that you can be anywhere in the country in virtually no time.
What advice would you give international students considering postgrad study at the University of Sheffield?
The phrase from the old war poster springs to mind: Keep Calm and Carry On! I was very nervous about coming over, worrying about my course being properly registered, wondering whether my room was going to be OK and if I had everything I needed for the year (in fact, you can get pretty much anything in central Sheffield or at the university's student shop).
My biggest recommendation is to sign up for the international orientation week, which takes place before the native students arrive for registration week. This gives international students the whole university to themselves. Tours of campus, getting your student ID card and registering for classes are all part of the programme, but there are plenty of fun events, too.