"Sheffield just has this warm aura about it that hooks you in. Ask anyone who's studied here..."
Why did you choose to study the BA Digital Media and Society at The University of Sheffield?
I chose to study my degree at The University of Sheffield as it is one of the few courses in the country that would allow me to explore both my passion for media and sociology. It is a unique course that equips you with particular skills through the use of various apps such as R studio and Adobe Animate, whilst also exploring a wide range of sociological literature. Additionally, I was excited by the independence of the optional modules as it provided the opportunity for students to cater their degree to their interests. On top of all that, this amazing course happened to be based in Sheffield, which I fell in love with at the Open Day, making it the best of both worlds.
What are your thoughts on the course so far? Which modules have you enjoyed the most, and why?
I've thoroughly enjoyed the course so far, mainly due to how diverse each module is. It’s hard to choose just a few modules that I’ve enjoyed, however in the first year, one of the modules that stuck with me the most was ‘Data Visualisation’. I found this module interesting yet very challenging, as I had never done coding before and really had to engage and push myself. I think the module was structured very well and as I began to learn not only how to create these designs, but understand what makes a graphic good or the way in which data can be manipulated, I started to really enjoy it. I really appreciate now being able to make and understand data visualisations despite the challenges I faced.
In the second year, the modules I enjoyed the most were ‘Sociology of the Media’ and ‘Digital Media and Social Change’. There were so many interesting discussions had during the Sociology of the Media module, and it truly fed into my own personal perception of the relationship between media and society. With Digital Media and Social Change, I found it fascinating when analysing the evolution of activism and how digital media has changed the principles and ways of protesting/campaigning.
Who's your favourite lecturer, and why?
I’m not sure I’d say I have a favourite lecturer as they’re all incredible, but there are a few that perhaps have fed into my growth and development slightly more. There’s Mark Taylor, who led the Data Visualisation module and was able to convey tricky information in a clear and understandable way, turning something I initially hated into probably one of my favourite modules of my degree. Then there’s Ysabel Gerrard, who is not only very compassionate and understanding but has a vast range of knowledge from working at the forefront of digital media alongside various companies. Her lectures and seminars never failed to get you questioning things you perhaps never would’ve considered on your own. There’s also Harrison Smith, who is able to facilitate discussions that involve such critical analysis and reflection whilst still making each lecture enjoyable with his various anecdotes and stories. Last but not least is Suay Ozkula, who manages to share her years of experience with you whilst pushing you to properly explore the argument you’re trying to make and ensure it is done so in a coherent manner. Anyone in her lectures can tell she’s passionate about what she does, and this passion has a way of feeding into your own work.
Have you found it easy to settle into student life in Sheffield?
I found settling into student life really easy as from the start, I actively tried to get involved in a variety of things. I was able to meet like-minded people who enjoyed similar things, such as going to parks and the Peak District. This little community of friends continued to grow during my time Sheffield as I began to meet friends of friends and so on. Sheffield has something for everyone and I think by engaging in the things you enjoy and meeting others with similar interests, I was able to settle in quite quickly.
What's your favourite thing about Sheffield as a city?
I’d have to say my favourite thing about Sheffield is all the green spaces and the friendly people. Despite all the hills (which, I must admit, aren’t that fun), Sheffield is very accessible as you have a wide range of parks near the University and the Peak District just a few minutes away. Additionally, whenever you run into a local in a shop, I feel as though you can always guarantee a warm smile, possibly followed up by an “ey up duck”. Sheffield just has this warm aura about it that hooks you in. Ask anyone who's studied here and they won't shut up about how amazing it is.
Do you have any reflections to share on your study since the Coronavirus outbreak and the temporary move to online teaching?
All my lectures this year have all been theoretical, which has been a blessing in disguise in regards to the move to online teaching. I’ve always been quite an independent learner and have rather appreciated being able to go through lectures in my own time throughout the week and ask any questions I may have later on in the week during online seminars. It has definitely been a challenge working from home though, however I think it’s made me adapt and evaluate my personal study needs in order to work efficiently. I’ve learnt that I am definitely not productive when working in my room and have started getting into a routine where I go to the library, Students' Union, or a cafe in order to do some work. By setting aside allocated ‘working hours’ and going somewhere that I associate with productivity, I am no longer easily distracted by things such as my housemates or tempted by the desire to make just one more cup of tea as a means of procrastination.
What are your plans following graduation? Where do you see yourself in the future?
After graduation I was planning on doing some travelling, however given the current circumstances, I’m considering going straight into work. Ideally, I’d love to work within the charity sector, specifically within the campaigns department in order to use digital media as a means of mobilising people to engage and make change. I see myself working within this sector in some capacity in the future. I do still hope to have the opportunity to travel once it’s possible to do so, and perhaps even volunteer abroad. None of these plans however are set in stone, and I’m hoping to use my final year at university to feed into my future plans.
What piece of advice would you offer new students to the Department of Sociological Studies at Sheffield?
My advice for new students would be to get involved in as many things as you can at the start of the year and properly engage with your lectures. Deadlines tend to roll around much quicker than you’d expect, so I’d say do try to stay on top of them. I’d also say make sure to explore Sheffield and not just stay within the student areas, there’s so much more on offer such as Abbeydale Road and Kelham Island. There’s a variety of independent shops, restaurants, and pubs so do try to explore these and support them given the tough times they’ve experienced during Covid-19. Also, be sure to go to the Peak District; it’s so close by and definitely worth it!
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