Erika Uchiyama

MA Intercultural Communication (2015)

Watch my video to see me talk about my experiences as a student at the University of Sheffield.

Before coming to Sheffield, I studied English and American literature in Ritsumeikan University in Japan. During my undergraduate course, I studied abroad at the University of British Columbia to learn about intercultural Erika170communication and sociolinguistics. This experience encouraged me to study more about cultural diversity and heritage language acquisition for immigrants’ children. After graduation I worked at a middle school in Kanagawa for five years.

I chose the University of Sheffield because I wanted to do further research in intercultural communication and especially in applied linguistic study. Before coming to Sheffield, I felt like I did not have enough experience to communicate with people from all over the world. In my Department, the Modern Language Teaching Centre, we have a lot of opportunities to learn other European languages and culture. During class we can compare and discuss not only language matters, but also cultural issues through students’ practical examples from classmates from the UK and all over the world. I really like this atmosphere because I can learn about intercultural communication practically in class.

The preparation of the lecturers is one of the most valuable aspects of my course at the University of Sheffield. In Examples include political speeches, daily conversations in different languages, and looking at companies’ website designs across countries to analyse how people treat language and culture in their daily lives. The atmosphere in my course is really interactive between professors and students. They give us a lot of opportunities to speak out about our opinions and for discussion with classmates. The most important thing in our course is to exchange our thoughts frankly and deeply, given the types of issues we need to discuss in our class which can be difficult to talk about in daily conversations We experience how to build relationships of trust among people from different countries and we can learn how precious and valuable it is to be able to communicate with people beyond language and cultural boundaries.

The University of Sheffield has facilities which are both helpful and useful. For example, there are lots of common rooms we can use to discuss and prepare projects together in groups. At the English Language Teaching Centre there are language classes on offer for International students and their families. Though many people use the Internet for assistance and information, there are many people at Sheffield whom you can talk to in person within the Student Service teams if you need help.

After this course, I would like to work as someone helping international workers or immigrants to work and study. Today, every country has people from different countries and I would like to work as a mediator between people. I hope to help people accept their cultural differences and get along with each other in the future.

My advice for prospective students coming to the University of Sheffield would be to know your purpose of studying here before coming to Sheffield. When you come here, everyone will welcome you to this atmosphere. There are hundreds of societies to join, and activities to learn something new, in and outside of the campus via the Students’ Union. People in Sheffield are really friendly and tolerant towards international students. You do not need to worry about coming here to study as there are a lot of people who will be behind you to cheer you on along the way!

You can find out more about me and other East Asian students' experiences here in Sheffield on the East Asia blog.