Once you are in Sheffield you’ll be sure to feel at home pretty quickly. That’s what I feel, really

PhD student Zulkifli Tanipu.
Zulkifli Tanipu
PhD Student
Researching Recurrent Multi-Word Sequences RMS in English as Foreign Language Context
Zulkifli is from Indonesia and is a PhD student in the School of Languages and Cultures researching Recurrent Multi-Word Sequences RMS in English as Foreign Language Context.
PhD student Zulkifli Tanipu

 He holds a BA in English Education from the Universitas Negeri Gorontalo (Indonesia) and an M.A in Linguistics from Gadjah Mada University (Indonesia).

Why did you choose to study at the University of Sheffield?

When I got a scholarship to study in the UK, I tried to find the information about the best city that suited me. It showed me that there is a student-friendly city called Sheffield. Everything is perfect for students as well as affordable, so it’s a great place to live in.

My friends from Indonesia said that Sheffield is the city for students, so I decided to study in Sheffield. “Once you are in Sheffield you’ll be sure to feel at home pretty quickly,” they said. That’s what I feel, really.

What made the University of Sheffield stand out for you?

As a doctoral student, sometimes you can choose to be part of an on-going project lead by the supervisor, but every so often you also want to carry out your own project that will be more suitable for your future career (or in my case, my country when I return to Indonesia after finishing my study).

This is where the University of Sheffield has its winning point for me; they didn’t turn my application down just because I didn’t plan to join their big project and to hand my own research idea, instead the professor that I contact first referred me to her colleagues who seems to be more suitable to supervise me based on my proposal.

This freedom of choosing the best project based on the needs and interest of the student, instead of only fulfilling the personal project of the PI or institution has been so rare these days especially in my area of research, and I really appreciate

What do you particularly enjoy about linguistics? 

Studying linguistics has been my passion especially psycholinguistics and the study of how people learn and produce languages. Working on the project of linguistics brings me to the fact that I’m not only doing research on how words fit together into sentences or how we can understand what people say or write but most importantly I’m also learning how powerful and magical language is.

Language is something that can be used to discover the past and predict future events. It can also have a decisive role in building a nation.

I’ve really enjoyed discovering how our brain works when we learn, produce, and perceive a language and how language works to make us feel and think. Every time I read papers or books in my area of study, I say “wow fantastic.” Bit by bit, linguistics teaches me everything about the mechanics behind the power and magic of language.

What are you currently researching as part of your PhD?

Currently, I am doing research on how English as Foreign Language (EFL) learners learn recurrent multi-word sequences RMS and produce them in academic registers. Since current studies on RMS have focused on the use and patterns, in my research, I’m also discovering possible pedagogical and sociological aspects that can affect the process of EFL learners learn and how they produce RMS.

That’s why my research is not only a laboratory and computer-based project but also involves a comprehensive analysis of the policy-making process of EFL in Indonesia. Considering that RMS has been linked to the fluent and natural production of a foreign language, my research will also contribute to the cooperation between the study of RMS and foreign language teaching and learning by focusing on the area of the use of RMS in academic writing at university level.

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

Everyone in the school is just superb. The administrative staffs, SLC Director of Postgraduate Research, and my supervisors have been really helpful since the day I contacted them for my application. I remember I got a problem with my online application when the school contacted me and explained that I had submitted my application to the other department, not the department that I should have submitted.

Once they know my problem, they helped me to restart the process of my application and make sure everything was correct. They also gave me the real-time update of the application process by sending me emails until I got the letter of offer from the University of Sheffield.

The administrative staff also kept asking me about my preparation and offered their help on the visa process, my departure from Indonesia, and arrival in Sheffield. Once I met them in the Postgraduate Welcoming Day, they introduced me to my supervisors and helped me to settle in campus life.

My supervisors Dr Nicole Baumgarten and Dr Lena Hamaidia have been really supportive. They helped me preparing everything I need, answering my emails quickly reviewing the research proposal, and processing my application.

They’ve been actively engaged with my project, really supportive of my ideas, and guiding me on the right path in working on my project. What makes me feel more comfortable is that I can talk to them about anything comfortably in our regular meetings and they always actually listen to what I say even though it’s only a small thing like how to prepare my holiday after tiring weeks of research.

What are your tips for any students thinking about researching in Sheffield?

Talk to your supervisors, lecturers, and other academic staff. They will help you with everything you need to make it easier for you to study. I did that, and it really helped me to settle in. For the PhD project, I still remember my first day at the UoS when the PGR student representative explained about the university life in the Postgraduate Welcoming Day.

They explained how to deal with the schedule, research, modules, supervision, and everything else. One thing that has been really useful for me was when they told us to start working from Monday to Friday, 9 to 5. I started doing that in my first year, and it worked.

It’s been beneficial for me to deal with everything and I’m still using the “Monday to Friday, 9 to 5” as the key on my PhD life then I enjoy my weekend as never before.

Tell us about being a postgraduate in the School.

Being a PGR student is really exciting. I work from 9 to 5 every Monday to Friday. I work together with other PGR students at PGR students’ station. Even though we are from different departments, we work and share everything together.

We talk about our project, campus life, hobbies, and even personal experiences. We always support each other because we feel like a family. As a PGR student, I’m doing my project, writing my thesis, having some modules, also doing other activities like attending seminars and talks organised by SLC or UoS, and doing sport and art activities organised by the students’ union.

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

Living and studying in Sheffield is excellent. I’ve never felt homesick since the first day I arrived. Everything works perfectly for me because the campus, with its great research in my field, combined with excellent academic services from lecturers and staff provides everything I need as a PhD student.

I also have a fantastic feeling of living in Sheffield. With a friendly location and warm attitudes from its people, this city gives me wonderful experiences and welcoming feeling as an overseas student.

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

There are two things that I’ve just known about Sheffield once I arrived. The first is that Sheffield is the city of steel. Sheffield has a great history in the mining and steel industry as well as the history of the working class and women empowerment. It’s really inspiring.

The second one might be surprising to you as it is very popular among Indonesian and maybe not so significant for locals. The case is we happen to have this famous writer, Andrea Hirata, who publish a book called Edensor.

The idea is that the main character of the novel, Ikal, was studying in Sheffield when he stumbles upon a beautiful village in Yorkshire during his travel to meet his supervisor that reminds him of a scene in the book given by his first love If Only They Could Talk by James Herriot.

That village happens to be Edensor, and if that sounds unfamiliar to you, that is one small village just close to Chatsworth House, 40 minutes by bus from the city centre. The book is very popular in Indonesia that all my friends went crazy when I posted a picture when I was there, and this is quite funny because you might see a lot of Indonesian people go there not to see the famous Chatsworth House (that is more popular for tourists as the shooting site of Pride and Prejudice) but to take a picture from the hill faced towards Edensor instead, just like when Ikal contemplating there. So yeah, it might be interesting for Indonesian only.

What are your plans after your PhD?

After completing my PhD, I’m going back to my home country, Indonesia to teach at the university where I’m one of the lecturers so that I can apply my knowledge and experiences to encourage my students to study linguistics.

I will also continue my activities in the centre for research and consultants such as doing research on linguistics, local languages and cultures preservation, and EFL studies and working for local communities in my region.

Anything you’d like to add?

Sheffield is relatively in the middle of the UK, so it’s really easy for you to go up north for your holiday in Scotland or down south just to spend your weekends in London. Even though this city is hilly, everything is in walking distance, and the city centre is only on the campus’ next door. When you are in Sheffield, you are not in UK. You are at home. So just come and study in Sheffield.

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