Hi there, I'm new to this place but it's been very interesting reading this thread. At the moment I just finished school and I had applied to Leeds do Japanese & International Relations. I got AAB so I got in fine. I choose not to apply to Sheffield primarily because the open-day talk for the Japanese was (in my humble opinion) abysmal. The room marked as having the talk was empty, a person (who I think must have just been an on-site builder) directed me to another room where it he claimed it was taking place although this was just another empty room. I met a girl who was equally confused and together we finally met someone who, very flustered and stressed out, knew what was going on and could tell us where the talk was actually taking place. Then when we arrived since the talk was so late in starting as many others had been arriving later due to the confusion of the rooms a lot of the talk felt very very rushed, and was over extremely quickly. I left with a strongly negative, critical opinion of the Sheffield Japanese department. On the other hand the Leeds open-day talk was fantastic. The people there were very nice and the Japanese talk lasted for an hour or so and was very relaxed, with the speaker often taking questions, as well as having students present who people could ask questions about the degree to.
As a result of my sour experience with Sheffield, I decided not to put it as my first choice, and instead apply to Leeds as my firm choice. However, upon getting my grades of AAB I am fully capable of getting there and (to not sound elitist or anything) to an extent I feel I should attend a university that accepts people of similar academic ability to myself. I suppose I feel I would be wasting my grades if I went to a university in which the requirement to study sole Japanese is "three passes at A-level" whereas with Sheffield it is a far higher level of ABB, a level that is far closer to what I achieved. This line of thinking triggered a small thought in my mind that perhaps I was too hasty in dismissing Sheffield out of hand, and that I should give it a second chance. So I did I bit of searching for Japanese at Sheffield and thus I arrived here.
Upon looking through this thread I am getting very good vibes about the department and the people at Sheffield and I feel that perhaps my judgement was misplaced in condemning Sheffield for simply having a disorganised open-day presentation. Indeed in terms of the other subject I intend to study (Politics) Sheffield was far more impressive in it's open-day offerings, although I felt this was of lesser importance as I am confident in my ability at Politics, where as I am not as certain about my capability to learn Japanese and I therefore feel a strong department for that part of my course is very very important and should be the priority.
As I am taking a gap year (going to Tokyo for 10 months in 6 days time!) I do have the option to reapply and change my choice from Leeds to Sheffield. Now, looking into things at Sheffield in greater depth instead of just rejecting from my mind because of that open-day I experienced, I am getting good feelings from the place. The Politics department is extremely strong, the university has a much higher overall ranking, and perhaps most importantly, it seems that Japanese department is indeed strong, and not the disorganised mess I perceived it to be. Indeed a further perk of Sheffield is that the year abroad is in the third year, unlike Leeds that for some reason goes in the second year. I have a brother who recently graduated from Exeter with a degree in Russian and I asked him about the year abroad and, in the context of his language ability, he was glad the third year of his course was in Russia rather than the second and felt it far more suitable that way.
So! Any comments or words of advice or lessons you have learnt from your experience that you can lend me? I would very much appreciate it as the university one goes to is an important decision to make. Thanks.