My UK Host Experience

Written by Haleemah Alaydi

With a hug and kiss on the cheek I was welcomed by Usha Fitch, a British woman in her mid-sixties. Usha was my host over the weekend I spent in Sheffield from 23rd of Feb until 25th of Feb. What I love about Host UK is that it connects you with people of similar interests and hobbies. It did not take me long to realize that Usha and I share many similar interests from cinema and theater to music and travelling.

The minute I arrived at Sheffield railway station, my visit was for free. The transportation and food expenses were all paid by Usha. When we arrived at her house, Usha made me tea and took me on a tour around her house. A tour was very much needed since her house was brimming with staggering paintings, huge library collections, and art everywhere. It was very evident that the place belongs to an artist. Usha wasn’t an artist herself, but art was definitely an essential part of her life. The daughter of an Indian father and a French mother, Usha told me about her passion in storytelling and journey in discovering art in different continents. Our conversations were very exciting that we only stopped to have a cup of tea.

The second day of my trip was my favorite. Usha took me on a tour around the city of Sheffield. We saw Morris Dancers performing an old folk dance in the city center. It was very exciting to see how the dancers, both females and males, handle long sticks and swords. After lunch, we went to see a stage play called “Chicken Soup” at Crucible Lyceum Studio. Written by Ray Castleton and Kieran Knowles, the play is about the miners strike of 1984 beginning after Orgreave and ending on the day of the Brexit vote in 2016. Both the acting and writing were superb. During the interval, we were given chicken soups as part of the play. After the play, Usha and I discussed the performance over coffee. In the night, we saw a BBC documentary about Judi Dench- one of UK’s most celebrated actresses.

On the last day of my visit, Usha’s daughter ‘Louise’ and granddaughter ‘Kirsty’ came to meet me. It was very clear that the family members shared unique personal relationships. We all had a proper Sunday Yorkshire lunch prepared by Usha. My favorite part of the lunch was Yorkshire Puddings served with gravy. After lunch, we were all ready to do some outdoor activities. Louise, Kirsty and I went to a nearby park that was full of games and activities. Surprisingly, the weather was sunny for some ice-cream. After that, we all went paddling for some time.

This weekend has been my favorite since my arrival in the UK. It was such a unique opportunity to experience the real life of Britain and meet locals who are ready to show you their lives and traditions. During my short visit, I managed to learn things which I might not be able to discover elsewhere and made a friend who told me at the end of my visit: “Consider this to be your second home in the UK”.



Haleemah Alaydi
Hey My name is Haleemah Alaydi and I am doing an MA in Writing for Performance and Publication at the University of Leeds. Before coming to Leeds, I finished a...
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