By Sarah Chan, Master of Public Health (Health Services Research)

Being a university student may just be about studying and taking exams, but being a student at the University of Sheffield offers so much more!

The Give-it-a-Go programme allows you to fill those breaks between classes and during the weekends with a whole plethora of activities ranging from day trips to cities in the UK and self-defence courses, to learning how to cook, dance, meditate, or speak a new language. These are organised exclusively for students of the University by the Students’ Union - which by the way, has been voted best in the United Kingdom in 2017 for the 9th year running!

Go by the reception desk at the Students’ Union during term time and you can find little booklets marked ‘Give-it-a-Go’ which catalogue all the available activities and ticket prices for each semester. I share a flat with fellow University students and at the start of each school term, someone usually picks a copy up and leaves it at the kitchen table for us to browse. Vivid descriptions of the activity or place of interest, coupled with enticing photos and affordable ticket prices (there even is a discount on tickets if you live in University accommodation) makes for great breakfast reading!

Speaking of which, I have gone on numerous day trips with the Give-it-a-Go programme. To me, these are convenient options for an international student to explore the country in the company of fellow students. Tickets for day trips include transportation to and fro the University and a trip host who accompanies the group and is always available throughout the trip to ensure safety and of course, for travel tips and advice!

Two of my most memorable day trips were the ones to Alnwick Castle last October and Whitby in March this year. Alnwick Castle, for all you Harry Potter fans out there, is where some classic scenes of the famous movie franchise were filmed! The Castle starred as the Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry in the first two films and more recently, as location for the television series, Downtown Abbey!

And who could forget Harry’s first flying lesson with Madam Hooch!

With seemingly better weather (less grey skies and more sunshine hours) in the spring semester, heading to a beach or seaside town in the weekend is quite a needed respite from hours of reading for classes. Sheffield’s location in Yorkshire means it is never more than two hours away from superb nature parks like the Peak District or the North York Moors. Within the North York Moors lies the picturesque Robin Hood’s Bay which offered a beautiful beach to dig your feet in the sand and waddle in the icy cold waters of the North Sea.

Another half an hour drive would take you to the beautiful seaside town of Whitby which I can attest to, is the most stunning on a bright spring day with clear blue skies!

It also is home to Whitby Abbey, a historical ruined Benedictine abbey perched atop a cliff offering magnificent vistas of the North Sea. It also inspired Bram Stoker’s gothic tale of Dracula. Getting to the Abbey requires you to climb the famous 199 steps which may prove challenging for some (including me) especially after a good lunch!

And to top it off, who can resist a nice scoop of strawberry ice cream on a warm sunny day along the harbour of Whitby!

Now that I have shared with you some of the wonderful times I have had with Give-it-a-Go, when you join us in the University of Sheffield, you too can experience it for yourself!

All photos are from the author.