Lydia Martin


 MA Inter-cultural Communication & International Development

Winner of the USA Merit Postgraduate Scholarship 2014

Originally a Pennsylvania girl, I graduated in 2010 from Illinois College with a Bachelor’s Degree in English and French; I had also spent Autumn 2008 studying language and culture abroad in Grenoble, France, as part of my degree. I have since worked as an English Language Teaching Assistant in Normandy, France; a buyer/planner for the international pharmaceutical company Pfizer; and a French Interpretive Ranger at Acadia National Park in the state of Maine, where I led guided tours and gave informational programmes in both English and French the summer before coming to Sheffield. Moving to England to study at the University of Sheffield was a natural next step and a wonderful way to unify so many of my past experiences related to language, culture and communication.

I knew I wanted to study in the UK because of its proximity to the European continent, its educational reputation, and my personal connections here; but I was drawn to Sheffield in particular by the Masters in Intercultural Communication & International Development (MAICID), which at the time of my application was a brand new interdisciplinary degree. I can now proudly say I am a member of the university’s first-ever MAICID class, but hopefully I also helped the collaborating departments work out the first-year kinks and enhance the programme for future students. What excited me about this course in the first place was the built-in opportunity to do supervised field work in a developing country and to do a professional placement that provides hands-on development experience and supplements dissertation research. Plus, if you love hiking as much as I do, you can’t say no to a university located five miles from England’s Peak District!

The University of Sheffield was my #1 choice for postgrad, yet without this scholarship, I probably could not have attended. I am thus indescribably grateful to the University for awarding me the scholarship and giving me this magnificent chance. Merci mille fois !

The opportunity to travel alongside my fellow students is so invigorating. To be able to go anywhere in the world, perform first-hand research that really matters, meet and live among people from all walks of life, embrace cultures entirely opposite to my own, and share all these intense experiences with the passionate, gifted, caring students I have become friends with—there’s no greater lesson inside the classroom or out.

I found the first semester was a little rocky as I got used to the workload, especially the independent readings outside of the classroom, and to the British styles of teaching and writing. But by the start of the second semester I felt comfortable with these approaches and managed my time much better. The professors trust you to research your own interests and explore what you don’t understand; they are here to guide you in your self-discovery, but the self-discovery itself is left up to you.

Studying at Sheffield gives international students in particular confidence in their abilities to speak, negotiate and even thrive in a foreign culture and/or language. Sheffield might be smaller than a city like London, but it affords all the same work, volunteer, educational, entertainment and networking experiences, only for less cost and within a more close-knit environment.Meeting fascinating, intelligent, funny and friendly people from the whole world over has been the best part of student life at Sheffield, plain and simple.

I would love to work as a project manager for an international non-profit organisation, whether in development, education, or travel, or even for a local community charity. I love sharing and exchanging the power of culture, language and knowledge with others, and I want to support people in the work that I do.

From the moment you first consider applying to Sheffield until the moment you graduate from here, don’t be afraid to ask questions. Ask anyone and everyone anything and everything, until you get the information you need and find what you are looking for. The city and university of Sheffield both have so much to offer in the way of things to do, learn, see and experience; there is so much to find out! Step out of your shell at Sheffield; keep asking questions—it’s the best way to keep moving onward and upward.