In the Fall of 2010, I studied abroad in Swansea, Wales, United Kingdom at Swansea University. Campus was small but full of life with some new buildings and other old castle-like buildings. Classes are accompanied with seminars, which are small groups of students from class that got together to help understand the material. Across the street from campus is the beach, so there are often gigantic seagulls roaming campus. Apart from school, most of my time in Swansea was spent in the student village or in city centre which was always an adventure. There are many stores, shops, food and nightlife. Everything is in walking distance around city centre, and everywhere else nearby can be reached by bus which runs through campus and the student village.
I had many opportunities to travel and explore the UK while abroad. Only an hour bus ride away was Rhossili Bay in the Gower which was a beautiful beach with a huge rock that looked like a worm coming out of the water. Swansea study abroad office planned day trips including touring castles and a trip to Stonehenge. I also went on two trips to Paris and Amsterdam, planned by the travel shop on campus. Along with the planned trips, I was able to plan my own travelling to Ireland and London (an easy 3 hour train ride away!). With Swansea’s train station in the middle of city centre it made Swansea an accessible area to travel from while feeling like I was living in a different culture, not a tourist town.
Swansea did a great job at allowing us to get a feel for our new home. In the first two weeks there was a pre-sessional course which included taking a class on British Culture and Politics for the Americans. It was comforting to meet other Americans and learn a new area with people who were experiencing the same thing. While it was nice to have the comfort of other Americans, studying abroad to me meant experiencing a new culture so I was eager to meet British students. I lived in the student village--two miles from campus was an easy walk or a short bus ride. I lived with with nine students from the U.S., Wales and England in a house with one large kitchen, and two bathrooms. I loved the people, the language and the introduction to another culture's food. I like how to say microwave in Welsh, “pop-it-te-ping” and that the staple food was beans on toast—but you cannot forget the butter on the toast or the cheese on top! The people were all amazing and welcoming to Americans, curious about all our differences and similarities in culture. Studying abroad was by far the best experience I have ever had and while it may be hard to leave your life behind and may be hard to adjust to a new life, in the beginning, when you return home and reflect on your time abroad it is the best decision you will ever make!