Wednesday, 29 April 2015

Hanyan’s Easter Placement Experience at City of London Corporation

Hello everyone, this is Hanyan again, you can find out more about me and my time in Sheffield on my profile

Today I’m going to talk about my Easter placement experience.

I’m currently a 3rd year student studying Urban Studies and Planning (MPlan). In order to gain the accreditation of RTPI (Royal Town Planning Institute), each student of my course have to have their placement with either a local planning department or a private planning consultancy during their second year summer and easter in their third year for at least two weeks.  These relatively short placements will give students sufficient knowledge and experience in a professional working environment.

In this Easter, I had an opportunity to work at the City of London Corporation for two weeks. 

The Guildhall

In my first week, I was able to work with Sustainable Development Department. The first day at the department was quite busy, I was able to participate and help on the day with my supervisor Fran, for the annual Sustainable City Awards at Mansion House, which was so exciting and inspiring! The Sustainable City Awards are a national ‘green business’ awards scheme administered by the City of London Corporation. The awards are given to organisations which have demonstrated excellence in sustainable development across twelve categories which between them represent the three pillars of sustainable development: the economy, society and the environment. It was so inspiring to see businesses and organisation to do their best to contribute to the environment, it was also makes me rethink profoundly as a Chinese for the sustainable development future in China. I was also able participate in some meetings like Flood Risk Asset Register (Which I had totally no idea what was talking about when I had no background knowledge in this field) and schedule for the Green Roof Enhancement Workshop, which gave me a general idea of what its like in working in the public sector in the UK ( or its kind of mix of public and private in this case of City of London Corp). The later week my duties include investigated and researched about other local authorities (county councils in England) regards to sustainability actions to give CoL an idea of where to improve; writing blog entries for the website of CoL about climate change on Heatwave and Drought advice for local residence within the City and designing the leaflet for the City about the Sustainable City Awards and Transport and Sustainability Forum.

with Sustainable development department colleagues  

some of my leaflet design work

The first two days of my second week I was able to work in the planning policy team with Built Environment Department. My supervisor Janet firstly introduced about the Local Plans, Sustainability Appraisal and SPDs to me and also about the preparation process for the Local Plan, and then I started to work on the summary of the ‘regional’ and ‘local’ plans for London about their key objectives and strategies, which also deeper my knowledge in this field. The second day I had whole day training about ‘planning for daylight and sunlight’, which I was a bit confuse because its all pretty technical stuff and I don’t have any background knowledge in this field. However, it was great to learn this since currently in China they have no such regulation about daylight and sunlight, it might be useful for me in the future :).

Plans for City of London

The last three days I was working with environmental enhancement team which I was the most looking forward to work with. Generally, this team its more about urban design and landscapes for the detailed environmental development within the City, rather than the policy and planning control team working in a great scale about plans and regulations. I had lots of site visits with each team members about the schemes and projects they working on or worked in the past, walking around the City and they introduced me about the history of it makes me appreciate of the environment I’m currently working with. It was also interesting and inspiring how these schemes changed people’s life as well as the past and present difference for the place.  Personally I enjoyed working with environment enhancement team the most because its more creative and lots of exciting things happened everyday.
My site visit at St. Pauls Cathedral 

In general, it was a great experience to work in the City of London Corporation! Have tried 3 different teams within the department of built environment, it's so interesting to see how the planning application has been processed and delivered, how the urban design project has made the impact to the City, how the City deliver it's sustainability actions. As my supervisor Simon said, 'a small change can make big difference.' This is the first time for me proud to be a planner.

International Office Ambassador for China

Monday, 27 April 2015

Yunpeng talks about the libraries at the University of Sheffield

Hi everyone this is Yunpeng Zhu again, one of the Chinese International Office Ambassadors In this blog I will be talking about the libraries here at the University of Sheffield. 

The major libraries of the university are the Information Commons, St George's and Western Bank. Opened in 2007, the Information Commons is located near the University roundabout and is most frequently used by taught and research students. The library opens 24:7 throughout the year and you can see lots of hard-working students studying there. St George's Library is near West Street and has lots of engineering books. The Western Bank library is probably the most beautiful library in Sheffield. It is adjacent to the Western Park which is a public park, with lots of trees and animals. 

Take a nap, then get a coffee and do some work in a sunny Spring afternoon in the library. This is the beautiful scene that you can see outside the Western Bank Library (Picture taken by Yunpeng)

In each library we can use computers and printing facilities. The computers are installed with managed desktop. Once we finish our work we can save it on one computer and the next time we can continue with our work on another computer. The printers are also easy to use and have different options, for example, black and white and colour. We can also use the scanners in the libarary.

When we want to borrow the book we can use the machine which allows us to self-issue books and manage our own borrowing and return of books and other resources. Before we go the library we can search for the book that we want on our university's online library, which will tell us which shelf the book will be on. Then we can head to the library to collect the book by ourselves. Even sometimes we can request the book, and the library staff will reserve the book for us then we can go to the ground floor of the library to collect the book.

I think that the University has a very good book borrowing system. If the book is unavailable at that moment, we will know it before heading to the library so this avoids disappointment. We will be automatically put in a queue to borrow the book. If too many people are requesting one book the University will be notified and may buy more copies.  The University's online library also provides accesses to many external online libraries where electronic versions of the books are downloadable.

By Yunpeng Zhu
International Office Ambassador for China

Friday, 24 April 2015

Erika experiences something different and finds new things in common in Sheffield


It’s Erika, the Japanese ambassador for the University of Sheffield's International Office.  You can find out more about me on my web page.

Five-minute-walk from Student Union
I went and watched a French play this Tuesday.  The play actually ran for three nights. I was really looking forward to this play because I did not have a chance to go into this Drama Studio before and I thought that it looks traditional and nice. I learned French in my undergraduate studies, so I could understand their conversations a little. But for me, the purpose of watching this play was not follow their conversation but to know their non-verbal communication such as gestures and facial expressions. This is relevant to my interests and in my course.

Also, there was not a lot of  distance between the cast and the audience; we were up-close. Sometimes the protagonist came and sat next to one of the audience as part of his performance. It was much more fun than watching their performance only on the stage. All the cast are University students. I really like that they synchronised the protagonist's act and other casts' voices.

After the play, I wanted to learn French more.  Watching plays and films let me feel  as if I am getting involved in French culture, and this is much easier than learning the language to me. I believe the arts, including paintings, literature, plays and music, can go beyond languages.

Next time, I would like to watch a musical in this drama studio.

Edge ballroom in Endcliffe village
 Also, St Patrick's Day was on that same day. There were lots of people in green here and there on West Street celebrating. In the supermarket, shopworkers were wearing green headbands for it, others were putting on big green hat. They were really lovely.

On Saturday, one of my friends took me to a party to celebrate St Patrick's Day. It was held in one of the student villages of Sheffield accommodation, Endcliffe. At the stage, some people play Irish instruments. I joined this party because I love Irish folk music.

I had no idea about Irish dance at first and didn't know what to expect being a beginner, so I could not believe that I could dance with my friends for two hours! It was so exciting and really new for me. People there were always smiling and enjoyed the atmosphere. It was comfortable, even though I went there for the first time. I also met a lot of other international students here who study different courses from mine. It was an awesome night.

By Erika Uchiyama
 International Office Ambassador for Japan

Yoon talks on being a committee member for Sheffield Volunteering

Hiya! My name is Yoon Young Cho, one of the ambassadors in International Office representing South Korea and you can find more about me here.

I would like to share my second edition of how I got involved in Sheffield Volunteering. In my last blog, I talked more about being an ambassador but this blog will be more focused on being a committee member for Sheffield Volunteering.

Once I spent my second year as a Sheffield Volunteering ambassador, I really wanted to be on the committee for  Sheffield Volunteering. I had chance to get involved in the campaign team which is a group of  three committee members, including myself. The aim of the campaign team is to promote Sheffield Volunteering widely through number of events and publicity. Moreover, we also worked hard together to encourage others to spread the volunteering message and in charge of the volunteering branding.

Throughout the year, we organised several events with Buzby, the mascot for Sheffield Volunteering. Among them, most recent one was in National Volunteering Week in February. We organised two main events which were the Buzby selfie competition and honey on toast give-a-ways. In order to spread awareness of Buzby as the mascot of Sheffield Volunteering and to celebrate National Volunteering Week, we came up with these fun events. Overall, we made this a great success with positive feedbacks. The campaign team and I also enjoyed during the event week as well.

Being a committee member of Sheffield Volunteering is a more responsible role to take within Sheffield Volunteering because there are weekly meetings when the entire committees meet up together to discuss about upcoming events and any other concerns. It also feels great to be a representative of Sheffield Volunteering. Furthermore, as a committee, I can be in charge of organising events and work on managing how we can effectively promote Sheffield Volunteering from start to finish.

By Yoon Young Cho
International Office Ambassador for South Korea
You can email me at:

Wednesday, 22 April 2015

Lacuo spends her Easter break in Europe

Hi, it’s Lacuo (Bingma Lacuo) and I am an International Office Ambassador for China. You can find our more about me here on the University web pages.

One of the benefits of studying abroad is being able to travel around the world during those vacations. The Easter break is one of these opportunities, with a three-week period of free-time.  So my friends and I set up for a trip to Europe. 

There's a lot of stuff that needs to be prepared for, the most important of which is the Visa.
We applied for a Schengen Visa, and it took only one week to receive my passport with the new visa. You can get help and advice from the International Student Support team if you need help with visa when you are a student here in Sheffield.

We firstly went to Switzerland; a wealthy country with almost the highest living expenses that I've ever experienced! The other thing shocked us, apart from the living expenses,  is the Titlis mountain, which is a part of the Alps and is also the only publicly accessible glacier in  central Switzerland.  

Taking three uniculars to reach the plateau will be the most popular way to enjoy the breath-taking scenery of the  giant snowy mountain. Bear in mind that you'll need to take a pair of sunglasses with you. I am serious!

Leaving the North of Europe, we went all the way down to a warmer place - Italy. 

Despite the fact that there can be safety issues in sightseeing spots in Italy, it is truly an incredibly beautiful place. We went to some museums and galleries like the Uffizi Gallery and the Accademia gallery which houses Michelangelo's David; the most famous sculpture in the world.
We also visited some unbelievable cathedrals like the Santa Maria Novella Church. Yet whatever  we have seen is just a corner of the iceberg and I didn't feel like leaving at all.

A small tip for travelling that I would pass on to other students is that the University bank holiday arrangements of the University will be posted in advance on-line so make sure you keep up-to-date so that you can make holiday plans. Happy Easter!

By Lacuo Bingma
International Office Ambassador for China
You can email me at

Monday, 20 April 2015

Yunpeng sees the Queen in Sheffield!

Hi everyone! It's Yunpeng Zhu again here, one of the Chinese International Office ambassadors studying here at Sheffield.

In this blog I am talking about Queen Elizabeth's recent visit to Sheffield over the Easter period!

On the 2nd April, her majesty the queen visited Sheffield and host the first Maundy service at Sheffield Cathedral.  I think this is definitely a big day and a historic moment for Sheffield and South Yorkshire. The weather had been terrible over the past 10 days, but when the Queen came, the weather became fabulous!

You can see more of this experience from my view in my video below:

I am a foreigner so it took me some time to learn the story of Maundy Thursday ; the reason behind the excitement of the Queen’s visit. Each year in Easter, the queen visits a different city in the UK to give ‘Maundy money’ to pensioners. Dating back to the fifteenth century, it is a long tradition in Britain which remarks the elder people’s contribution to the community work. This year, the 89-year old queen met 89 ladies and 89 gentlemen in Sheffield.  

China and Britain are two countries that have rich histories and cultures. The last time when the Queen visited China was 30 years ago. She visited 5 cities including Beijing, Shanghai, Xi'an, Kunming and Guangzhou. Although the Queen has not yet visited China again since, the Chinese premier and the Queen met in Windsor Castle in 2014. Meanwhile there have been more communications between the two countries. I would say that she is definitely more than welcome and we really want her to visit China again! What a great experience to have while being a student here in Sheffield!

By Yunpeng Zhu
International Office Ambassador for China


Tiffany speaks up about the Students' Union Officer Elections at Sheffield

Hi there it's Tiffany again! I'm a Student Ambassador for Hong Kong and you can find out more about me on my profile.

As you might know, the University of Sheffield's Students' Union is rated number one in the United Kingdom. With excellent service and support to students, we also get the chance to choose our student officers as the Students' Union is run and lead by students! So once again,  here comes the student officer elections.

Each year, students of the University of Sheffield can vote for all of the eight student officers representing them in running the Union, These roles include the President, Activities officer, Development officer, Education officer, International officer, Welfare officer, Women officer and Sports officer.

As one of my friends was  running for the Sports officer role, I had the chance to support her campaign. Although she did't win in the end, it was a really great and fun experience!

Apart from having to create a manifesto and do internet promotion for themselves, the candidates would have face-to-face campaigning to do, which includes promoting themselves in front of the Students' Union building or even going to student villages to speak with students. There's a lot of work that they have put in the election campaigns.

Voting is very important no matter who your choice is as you're choosing who will be representing you the next year. Congratulations to all the candidates and elected officers!

To everyone else, get the vote up and get yourself involved next year!

By Tiffany (Hiu Lam) Kwong
International Office Ambassador for Hong Kong

Friday, 17 April 2015

Yunpeng takes on the Engineering Challenge Week and Engineers: You are Hired!

Hi everyone this is Yunpeng, an international office ambassador for China. Find our more about me from my profile.

At the University of Sheffield, besides attending lectures and passing exams, all engineering students must attend two week-long programmes as part of their course: the Global Engineering Challenge Week and the Engineers: You Are Hired week -  before their Year 1 and Year 2 Spring Semester starts.

During these weeks, students in the Faculty of Engineering  work in a multidisciplinary team of 5-7, tasked with real engineering problems, and have to work out a reasonable solution within a limited time.

The topics of these challenges are more or less linked to sustainability, which has been highlighted in all aspects of our lives in the 21st century. Last year our projects were to design a sustainable house for a Vietnam family in terms of low environmental impacts, very limited natural resources, thermal comforts, and energy reuse and recycling. We attempted to break down our tasks into several components, initiated concepts, and then students used their own professional backgrounds to deal with specific areas of the design.

As a Civil Engineering student I designed an efficient structure that made passive cooling possible. The roof surfaces were covered with grasses and local plants which enhanced the urban biodiversity. On the other hand the green roof retained rainfall that could absorb a large amount of heat when evaporating. Combined with local weather conditions where Vietnam has long damp and hot seasons, the floor levels were heightened to enable wind and water could to pass underneath the floor, whilst absorbing heat, which also reduced the impact of terrestrial heat (another major heat source). The cool air is drawn in from the north side of the house where windows and door opened on this side.

Our second year project is scavenging energy from sewage, which aims to develop technology to harness energy from the sewers. A biogas generator is proposed which utilises the gas produces by combustion to feed into a gas turbine which in turn produces electricity and heat.

We have to consider the commercial purpose of this project too! This proposal benefits different stakeholders in multiple ways. For wastewater treatment companies, this can provide electricity to the sewage plant, reducing costs for the wastewater treatment. Excess electricity generated can be sold to power companies and being put into the national grid. For customers, the plant can potentially provide some district heating to benefit local schools, houses and industries. For local farmers, use of the leftover sludge as fertiliser will benefit them since it is rich in nutrients.

To make this a better option, it needs to be cleaner, more cost-efficient and effective than the competing technologies. As electricity is produced on-site for the sewage plant through burning the biogas, competing technologies will include biogas generators with the gas simply being sold on, natural gas providers, and conventional fossil fuel electricity providers. Heat is generated as well to provide district heating. Thus, there will be competition with the Sheffield incinerators that are already providing a large amount of district heating.

For most attendants these two weeks are tiring but unforgettable! Everyone has to work in the hub from 9 to 5, Monday to Friday. However, it’s invaluable because from these experiences we learn how to work with others in a multi-disciplinary team.

By Yunpeng Zhu
International Office Ambassador for China

Wednesday, 15 April 2015

Tiffany talks on Future Cheer at Sheffield

 Hi y'all it's Tiffany here! Hope you all are having a good time! You can find out more about me on-line.

It’s March and it’s the cheerleading season. This time, me and my friends went and support our very own Sheffield Sabrecats at the Future Cheer competition. Being hold at the EIS (English Institute of Sports) in Sheffield,  it’s only a few tram-stops away from the University tram stop. It was the first ever cheerleading competition that I’ve ever watched in my life and it was absolutely fabulous.

When I stepped in, the EIS was unlike anything in my memory. Last time I was there, it was Varsity time and this time, there was a stage and hundreds of cheerleaders. Cheerleading is definitely a sport! We don’t throw balls around, but we throw people in the air (of course we’d catch them, no worries).

Months of hard work shows off in a few minutes and everyone just shines like a star. There’s no less tear and sweat than any other sports. Yes most people would only think cheerleaders are pretty and sassy but many of you don't know is behind all of those stunning routines there's also a lot of hard work. I'd definitely recommend cheerleading or watching cheerleading competition to every single one of you!

I'm proud to say, the Sabrecats doing everyone proud with four first-place trophies and one second-place trophy. I will be looking forward to see more of their amazing performances!

By Tiffany (Hiu Lam) Kwong
International Office Ambassador for Hong Kong

Monday, 13 April 2015

Yoon's experience with Sheffield Volunteering: Being an Ambassador

Hiya! My name is Yoon Young Cho, one of the Ambassadors in the International Office, representing South Korea and you can find more about me here.

I would like to share my wonderful experience of being an ambassador for Sheffield Volunteering. This role was my very first step to get involved within the University community, especially with the student union. I also have amazing memories from when I worked as a Sheffield Volunteering ambassador.

There are number of roles within Sheffield Volunteering's ambassador scheme, first of all, there is a role to help on the information desk, handing out leaflets during events in the Students' Union. Next, this is the most exciting role, which is being an organiser for the Give-It-A-Go volunteering events for a day. It involves taking volunteers who signed up for the event to the organisation and working with them on whatever they will be doing that day. Also, there is work as an assistant planner, working with the Sheffield Volunteering committees to plan their work. I worked with their events team with brainstorming any interesting events for volunteers to do. Finally, you could be Buzby, the massive big bee which is the mascot for Sheffield Volunteering. However, you do need to be tall enough to be Buzby and wear the costume!

By the end of the spring semester, there is a yearly awards event called the Sheffield Volunteering Awards . It is an event to celebrate all of the hard-working volunteers and amazing volunteering projects they have run. I was awarded Ambassador of the Year in 2014. I highly recommend getting involved in being a Sheffield Volunteering ambassador. It was a great opportunity to get involved with University life and to be engaged with new volunteers. Moreover, you will feel very responsible to be representing the Sheffield Volunteering. Finally, I personally think that it was the best way to have fun and do all sorts of  good things by volunteering.

By Yoon Young Cho
International Office Ambassador for South Korea
You can email me at: 

Thursday, 9 April 2015

Yunpeng talks about Sheffield's Services for International Students

Hi all, this is Yunpeng Zhu, International Office Ambassador for China. I hope you have enjoyed my previous blogs and you can find out more about me on-line.

In this blog, I would like to talk about the support that the University provides to the International students, and the ones that I have benefited from myself since being in Sheffield. 

We may consider our future development whilst we pursue our undergraduate study. The University of Sheffield provides a wide range of supports to the international students that helps us to achieve our goals.

As an international student who spoke a different language, it was a bit hard to have a crack on with a job application. Fortunately I attended a workshop given by the Career Services and the English Language Teaching Centre or  ELTC, who helped me to proofread my CV and covering letter. The career services advisors are very patient and dedicated to students. The career services and each department also organize several careers fairs throughout the semesters including stands of many big companies. They also post lots of vacancies of internships and graduate positions online and we can directly apply to the companies. They also have an online course that opens to everyone, even those who are not from the University of Sheffield. They also have workshops that target at interview skills.

We can visit many services in the Student Union Building. The two that I visited most are:

1.  SSID is located on level 3 of the students' union, the one stop shop for information, help, support and guidance. 'If in doubt, come to SSID'

2. Student Jobshopa good place to go if we want to find a part-time job to earn some money while we are studying and to gain experience. They also advise us how to get necessary documents such as national insurance numbers.

As overseas students we can only work according to our visa requirements, and it is important that we work legally. The university has many dedicated visa advisors who provide essential information about visa and about the impact this can have on the work we can do while we are students. The University also helps to extend our visa if we change our course to a longer one. The team which helps with this is called the International Student Support team.

I really like the friendly services that the University provides us, and have benefited from the so far during my time in Sheffield.

By Yunpeng Zhu
International Office Ambassador for China


Tuesday, 7 April 2015

Lacuo sees the Solar Eclipse in Sheffield

Hi, it’s Lacuo (Bingma Lacuo) and I am an International Office Ambassador for China. You can find our more about me here on the University web pages.

Just before the Easter's break, most of students here in Sheffield witnessed this rare phenomenon - the solar eclipse. It feels like the the whole world was suddenly pulled into darkness when the Moon came in between the Earth and the Sun. The last time I saw such a phenomenon was in 2008 when I was in high school, and we observed the whole transformation through a X-ray film with our friend's chest on it! This time, as the solar eclipse is a full one, I had the chance to watch it through camera.

It is said that solar eclipses happens on average twice a year. In the UK, the last biggest solar eclipse fully visible happened in 1999. According to BBC News report, 94% of sun rays in UK are blocked, here's a picture I took this morning from the Arts tower.

Also, by the time we took pictures in arts tower, students in Hicks building, which is right in front of arts tower, standing on the roof and observing the solar eclipse as well. Finally there's the news posted by the physics and astronomy department of the University of Sheffield about this eclipse.

By Lacuo Bingma
International Office Ambassador for China

Wednesday, 1 April 2015

Enjoy Spring in Bakewell with Dawei!

Hi Guys, it's Dawei Li here, a Chinese ambassador at Sheffield. You can find out more about me here on-line.
Spring is coming and it is good time to explore the nature. We are lucky that we live near a national park - Peak District, which includes a rich diversity of natural and cultural heritage.
It is the first national park in the UK and there are many pastimes to do there, such as cycling, walking and wildlife watching. It contains a few nice villages and small towns. Let me tell you my favorite town there - Bakewell.
Bakewell is in the Derbyshire County council area (Postcode: DE45 1GA) which is located on the River Wye and close to the tourist attractions of Chatsworth House and Haddon Hall. There are a few interesting shops and wonderful food there. If you fancy local British food, then fish &chips there is a must-try. If you fancy traditional pub food, then The White Lion is a good place to go. Driving will be a best way to explore the Peak District and Bake well. But don’t worry, if you don’t have a car. There are a few buses can delivery you to there! No.215 and no. 218 can pick you up near the Moor and let you get off at Bake well. This is the website of Peak District if you want to find more information (  
Fancy going now? Have a nice spring there!

Vivian (Dawei) Li
International Office Ambasador for China