20 Feb Student Blogger Anna Goodman – A City of Welcome
Having lived in four cities across two continents, I was surprised when Sheffield immediately felt like home.
Its title as “Britain’s Friendliest City”, is by no means an exaggeration. I now assume that on every bus or train journey, my neighbour will strike up conversation. Monotony suddenly transforms into opportunity: the faceless strangers become individuals with many shared life experiences. These conversations teach me to relish the present; I can so easily while away time on social media. Sheffield’s “strangers” have helped me to feel like a valuable member of the community. One old lady enthused about the vibrancy that students bring to the city!
Even after a night out, I feel completely safe walking home: strangers are more likely to help than hassle. Friends of all ages who have previously lived in Sheffield tell me that this is the one city where they always feel completely safe.
After having moved from Leicester, one of the UK’s multiculturalist capitals, Sheffield still feels surprisingly diverse. Walking through town, I am submersed in a cocktail of languages. I can shop in five continents: my diet has become far more diverse since starting University. I have discovered plantain and rice noodles and I aim to explore Sheffield’s African Caribbean Supermarkets.
Eating out is equally varied. Maria from Madrid runs my favourite coffee shop: “El Toro”, where I can practice my Spanish whilst enjoying her delicious cooking.
My next food adventure will be at “Frehiwet Habesha” Eritrean Restaurant. After having grown up in Addis Ababa, I am always excited whenever I discover my favourite food in the UK.
This diversity makes Sheffield feel like a city of acceptance and inclusion: with a proud history of welcoming huge numbers of refugees. Vulnerable people across the globe have been able to forge a new life in this city.
The fusion of rural and urban is another attribute unique to Sheffield. Many of the parks melt into the peaks: in autumn Sheffield’s two million trees cast a blanket of bronze over the city. This is home to a huge array of wildlife, including tawny owls.
My latest discovery is the secretive Lynwood Community Orchard: a secluded oasis nestled between Sir Francis Newton pub and Glossop Road.
The horizon of green encompassing the city installs a great sense of pride in Sheffielders. This overflows into a series of actions championing environmental protection. “New Roots” and “Regather Veg Box Scheme” sell organic, locally grown produce: “New Root’s” profits fighting against asylum seeker destitution. “The Real Junk Food Project” dramatically confronts our food waste epidemic, with two cafes and a shop, exclusively stocked with “waste” food rejected from supermarkets.
This is a city that I could set down roots, and become a part of. Sheffield has the best of everything: a bustling city that feels like a leafy village, friendly neighbours, and always a new nook to discover. I have thrived during my first five months of living here, and relish the months ahead of me in this glorious city.