Tuesday, 11 June 2013

It’s now Tuesday here in Sheffield and I have to say so far the whole trip has been a great experience (even the long haul flights). Flying over the deserts surrounding Dubai and the UAE was an experience I won’t forget. I knew it was surrounded by desert but I think seeing the harshness from above was something else altogether. The city itself was everything I expected and more. I loved the newness of it all and the distinctive times of the developments were quite fascinating to note from a planners perspective. One thing I was taken by was the lack of culture. For a city full of vastly different people and religions the culture was somewhat westernised and lacking. I found myself having to constantly remind myself this was in fact a completely different country and not just some very rich imagined city in Australia.

I don’t think the reality of the trip set in until we were coming in to land at Manchester and I saw the stereotypical English housing out the window and the green fields as far as you could see. Once we hit Sheffield all I wanted was to sleep for about a week! I woke around 10am and headed straight into town where it sunk in even more that I was finally out of Australia. Being anonymous in a city on the other side of the world is one of the most freedom giving feelings you can ever experience I think. So far we haven’t seen a great deal of the city however I think as the week goes on more will emerge and I will feel a little more “at home” so to speak.

The multi-disciplinary nature of the tour has so far been a great advantage as opposed to only focusing on planning. Planning plays a key role in everyone’s life and to see firsthand and have lessons on class and in particular the social effect of a de-industrialising city has been great. Often in planning I find myself focusing on the immediate physical developments and less on the cumulative effects of planning and development decisions on the social fabric of a city like Sheffield. I think the next 2 weeks will certainly be opening my eyes to how many underlying issues a regenerating city can and does face. You only have to look at somewhere like Geelong where the car industry looks set to disappear along with a large portion of the petroleum industry to see a local example of regeneration that will need to happen. I'm also looking forward to working as a part of a multi-disciplinary team to produce some creative work about themes present within the city.

Hopefully I will have some top quality photos to include in my next post!
- Chris Rowlands (Bachelor of Urban, Rural and Environmental Planning