A fresher look at our splendid city

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AH, hello, greetings and welcome to Sheffield my fresh-faced young friends.


If you overlook the chronic lack of decent shops, the fact that it’s prone to flooding and the concrete monstrosity above the train station, you just happen to have landed in the best city in England.

Who says so? Well, I do.

But, eventually, the chances are, so will you too.

For sure, you’re a fresher now – too busy exploring the delights of casual sex and supernoodles to think about the future – but soon you’ll be a proper adult and then it’s more likely than not you’ll be so enamoured with this little corner of South Yorkshire you’ll decide to stay.

That’s statistics, that is.

More post-graduates remain in Sheffield than any other university town in the UK.

People tend to fall in love with the place. They say there’s something in the water and, often, there is – but if you leave your tap running a few seconds it soon disappears.

In any case, my little scholar, I was in your trendy Converse shoes once.

Just two years ago I arrived here, not knowing my elbow from my Parson Cross, wondering what the brown sauce on every dinner table was, questioning why I never seemed to be more than three feet from a picture of two industrial cooling towers.

And now, look at me. Like a native, so I am.

By which I mean I’ve started calling people ‘duck’, complaining about the state of the roads and saying ‘now then’ when, of course, I mean ‘hello’.

And I reckon that makes me as good a person as any to offer you, duck, the benefit of some Steel City advice.

Not on the pubs, of course, because you’ve been here four days now and you’ll probably already know half of them anyway. Suffice to say it’s worth remembering not everyone on an evening out thinks dressing up as a 118 character is the height of satire so try to keep the noise down if you go in the grown-up places.

And there’s no point me offering tips on restaurants because, let’s be honest, all you’re going to eat over the next three years is supernoodles and Greggs pasties as an occasional treat.

And I’ll leave shopping out, partially because you’ll already have had a thousand guides to West Street’s vintage outlets and Meadowhall’s boutiques, but mainly because I’m now at an age where nothing appeals more than a nice Next sweater. It’s comfortable and it keeps you warm, you know?

And I have no education advice either because, let’s get this straight, if you’re studying at Sheffield University you’re way more intelligent than me anyway, and if you’re studying at Hallam we both know you’re only here for the doss.

So, what tips can I offer, young Padawan? On reflection, perhaps not many at all.

Try the brown sauce but be aware you’ll never want a pie untarnished again. Understand, grown men will call you ‘sweetheart’ even if you yourself are a grown man. Learn ‘the’ is almost always superfluous in the spoken word. Never wear good shoes to Corporation nightclub. Visit Castle Market. And walk up to that monstrosity above the station because, from there, your new home city looks kind of stunning.

Welcome to Sheffield.

Perhaps, above all else, have the most fun you can.