The Friendliest City to Practice English in: Sheffield, UK
Often when people think of places to visit within the United Kingdoms their first thought is London. However, the UK has so many different areas to visit and see. Sheffield is in the North of England in South Yorkshire and it is magnificent! London is great of course; you can visit the famous home of the royals, the British Museum, National Gallery, and the numerous buildings. The issue I have with London is that it tends to be busy, loud, and crowded (I'm a little biased). Also, let me add that London is a very expensive place to stay! So I say get in, get out, and see a little of the rest of the country. And it doesn't hurt that Sheffield is one of the more affordable places to stay in England!
The People of Sheffield:
Sheffield is the friendliest place I have ever been to in England. When you first arrive in Sheffield (one of the largest cities in the UK), this industrial city makes you feel rather small, but that only lasts until you talk to someone. Let me paint a picture for you: You step off the train (or bus) and you are looking around for any sort of sign so that you can just figure out where you are. In Sheffield, it's inevitable that someone will walk up and ask if they can help you, and within just a few short moments you'll find yourself on your way to your destination! In my case, the person who stopped to help decided it was easiest to just show me the way (which was amazing).
Here's another example of the kindness of the local people. I was traveling by myself and I stepped out to the street and up to a bus stop to find that an elderly gentleman felt inclined to chat with me about how uncommonly warm it had been. As soon as I responded he could tell I was an American, next thing I knew he was introducing me to friends walking by, they were all instantly enlisted to help me find the best places to visit, and they wrote directions on my map. This was amazing, I felt that I had arrived in some sort of Utopia. By the next bus stop I had made friends with several local students and we decided to travel together. My new friends included: 2 young Greek women, 1 fellow American woman, 1 young Croatian woman, and a young man from Finland. My Croatian friend did not know much English and none of us knew Croatian but it was amazing how helpful the locals were is communicating with her.
Overall, I found the locals to be patient with language barriers, helpful in showing us how to get places, and even offering to drive us places. They were a wonderfully accepting people. This leaves me believing that Sheffield is the best place to practice your English in the UK! Another bonus: they also have a diverse culture so it is likely that, in the event that you can't articulate what you are trying to say in English, you will likely find someone who will be able to translate for you.
The Sights and Sounds:
Sheffield is wonderful not just because of the people but also because of its location. If you want to hike, then take a bus or rent a car out to the Peak District. Hiking in the Peak District provides breathtaking views as well as quite a lot of Roman and Bronze Age history. The nearby town of Castleton has a quaint historic feel with lovely tea shops, places to eat, and a historic Cathedral.
Other fascinating places to visit within a short walk or bus ride from Sheffield City Centre include numerous interactive living history museums and events, parks, the Botanical Gardens, castle ruins, archaeological sites, and Chatsworth House. Sheffield also has great pubs (by the way, pubs also host quiz nights, which will test your English, knowledge, and craftiness), excellent shopping, and fun ghost tours. And if you fancy a day trip, just catch a short train to the medieval cities of York, Manchester, Leeds, or Nottingham.