Contradictory Sheffield

Sheffield is a city full of beautiful contrasts.

Many people see Sheffield sense of pessimism and melancholy, a fatalistic impression from the film the Full Monty: a rusted industrial town that no longer shines. So when I firstly arrived in the city I was truly surprised by its multiple shades of green and blue. Only the entangled tram rail occasionally reminds me of its metallic past.

The modern Sheffield is by and large dominated by two students communities, one from the University of Sheffield, one from the Sheffield Hallam University, both give the city a great vibe of youth, meanwhile the city centre is unexceptionally aged and quiet. Century old buildings fall into dormant in early evenings, before pubs and clubs near Universities start to rock.

It is a city with a great vibe of diversity, but the very core of it remains deeply English.  Wandering in one of the many Chinese shops I got the illusion that I was shopping near my old apartment in Jinan. Equally available were Spanishly grilled chicken and a restaurant of Pakistan food and ambiance called lahore. Thousands of international students try to penetrate into the local life, but bartenders, civil servants, workers, shop owners and clerks are predominantly Anglo-Saxon. Just last week I was lucky enough to see its annual food festival featured by a typical cuisines from a small selection of different countries–the main street was turned into a market place; beside each stall a flag tried to tell the national identity of what it has to offer, though all the food, despite of their origins, tasted inevitably English.

The weather is versatile: a sunny morning may be followed by a whole day’s gloominess, and the wind that blows away the dark cloud is at the same time freezing cold. Here I am waiting for the infamous winter in Northern England, hoping it would be another lovely contrast to the myth that has always been told about Sheffield.


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