Sophie Thomas, BA Modern Languages Translation and Interpreting
Year Abroad, Universidad de Granada Spain and Paris ISIT France
"I lived right in the centre of Granada in a residence with fourteen other Spanish students who spoke limited English, so right from the start I was thrown in at the deep end. After a couple of weeks my housemates soon became my good friends and I began to enjoy their company. I enjoyed conversing with them in Spanish and would not hesitate to ask them about anything. It was with them that I spent most of my time exploring Granada and everything the city had to offer. My biggest highlight was visiting the spectacular Alhambra Palace and the picturesque views that could be seen from it.
When in Granada, I attended the faculty of translation and interpreting. I have been thinking about a career in translation for some time, so I chose to study translation from Spanish to English. Initially the class was demanding as I had done little translation work before. It was made more difficult as I needed to translate it, not only into perfect English but into the right context too. Thi was not easy, especially if it was a complicated Spanish text but I enjoyed the challenges it provided.
As classes went on, we translated a variety of different topics ranging from mainstream news articles to property descriptions on estate agents’ websites. For several of these translations, we were put into groups consisting of at least one native English speaker and one native Spanish speaker. This was a challenging yet interesting experience as not only did it help me to see things from their perspective with regards to the Spanish language but it also allowed me to explain to them how certain sentences and phrases worked in English. Due to the complex nature of the two languages, there were occasions when we could not agree on the correct translation but as time went on, and our language skills improved, these disagreements became few and far between. The four of us enjoyed spending time with each other and as a result of working with them, I found that I had improved my translating and team working skills.
Living abroad in Granada for a semester was an unforgettable experience, a huge milestone in my life and something I will be able to look back on forever. I went from being someone who was shy and reserved to being someone who is more confident and self-assured. I have also grown as a person and made lifelong friends whom I hope to stay in contact with. Although difficult at first, I enjoyed being immersed in a different culture and being a part of their lifestyle. Finally, and perhaps most importantly, I have improved my language skills and I am much more comfortable listening, reading, writing and speaking in Spanish."
Rhiannon Wallace, BA English Language
Semester Abroad, The University of Oklahoma
"When I discovered I would have the opportunity to study abroad, I absolutely jumped at the chance. After careful consideration of all the American universities available, I decided that The University of Oklahoma was the perfect fit for me – and luckily I was offered a place to study there for the spring semester of 2016!
Landing at the Will Rodger Airport in Oklahoma City was an exciting experience. The airport was peacefully quiet and so it wasn’t long before I had collected my luggage and was being proudly taken to Norman by some welcoming OU students. The big open highways, with just a few monster trucks buzzing up and down them were quickly contrasted by the quieter roads of Norman.
Straight away it was more than clear to me how friendly and generous the people of OU and Oklahoma are. Keen to know more about the British culture and share their own culture with me my new classmates made going to lectures everyday an absolute joy and a pleasure. I have had a greater work load than at home but the new style of learning has been a fantastic experience, and one that has given me a even greater appreciation of the fabulous learning environment Swansea University offers me.
Time out from classes was spent exploring Norman and the surrounding area. One particular trip to Turner Falls, just outside Norman, was something I was glad I did not miss. The jaw-dropping seventy-two foot waterfall was offset by the beautiful nature reserve in which it is located. Spring Break was a truly American experience, spent on South Padre Island off the coast of Texas, with five friends from OU.
My time at OU has been one of the most amazing experiences of my life and one that has helped to shape me into a better and more rounded person. I have learnt a great deal from my American lecturers and classmates alike. I feel that without this experience I would have missed out on a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity that I wish I could do all over again. I would strongly recommend OU to anyone that wants to explore America and have the time of their life."
Mimi Gilliam, BA French and German
Year Abroad, Universitat Regensburg Germany
"Living abroad was something that initially attracted me to the course. Although I study a French and German joint honours, I went to Regensburg, Germany for the entire year to do a university placement there- to improve my German skills, while still being able to study French alongside.
There have been challenges, but coming to Germany has allowed me to develop my language skills - both French and German. I have been able to incorporate German into my everyday life, from the signs on the shop windows and buying groceries in the supermarkets to having conversations with strangers on the streets. Living in a new country has allowed me to be taken out of my comfort zone and given me the opportunity to become immersed into a new culture and way of life. I have been able to enjoy typical German festivals, such as Oktoberfest (the world’s largest Volksfest), and also try an array of new foods and drinks, including of course the famous German beer and sausages.
Regensburg has a very large international student network and I have been able to discover not only all about Germany, but also about many other cultures and countries through all of the international friends that I have made during my time in Regensburg already. In addition to all of the new people I have met, my favourite aspect of the year abroad experience would be the vast range of travel opportunities that have become available to me. I have been able to explore parts of Germany that I may have never seen otherwise and furthermore discover other parts of Europe.
Becoming adjusted to a different culture has made me a lot more self-reliant and independent than before. Looking further into the future, my study abroad placement has definitely benefited me by helping me feel more at ease with the thought of working or starting a career in a foreign country once I graduate."
Leah Newman, BA American Studies and History
Year Abroad, Ohio University USA
Since I arrived in the states in August 2015 there hasn’t been a moment that I have regretted being here. I expected the first couple of weeks that I was here to be the hardest, but what instead I found was a welcome so great that I was immediately felt relaxed and at home.
One of the biggest issues I thought I would have while here was adjusting to living in such close proximity with 3 other people in the dorm. What I found is that I was blessed to have such accepting, funny and great roommates that have proved to be the best friends I have made here at OU.
As the term progressed, I found myself in a strange situation for a student, I really enjoyed going to class. The classes on offer were unlike anything I had been given the option of and one class in particular, Famous trials in the US, was taught by Dr R. Marc Kantrowitz, who was a former judge on the Massachusetts court of appeals, and an OU alumni who had come to teach the course, only available once. It was by far the most interesting class I have ever taken.
The second semester has seen me face more difficult challenges in the classroom, it has improved my understanding and challenged me intellectually and has been every bit as rewarding as my first semester. The highlight of this semester for me has been the week I spent in Cleveland, Ohio during spring break. It was a fantastic experience to explore such a historic city with such great attractions, including a personal highlight, visiting the Rock and Roll Hall Of Fame while there. I also got to experience a Cavaliers basketball game which was astonishing.
I cannot express enough gratitude to everyone who had even a small role to play in me getting to come here and have a truly unbelievable chance at doing something completely out of my comfort zone. I know that it is a unique opportunity to get to come here, and there aren’t enough words for me to express how amazing of a time I have had. There have of course been moments when I have missed home comforts, but the good far outweighs the bad in this situation and has left me with remarkable and treasured memories of such a unique period that I will never forget.
Dearbhla Mohan, BSc International Business Management
Year Abroad, Universida Pontificia Comillas Madrid, Spain
I walked out of Madrid Barajas airport assuming I would be able to work the metro on my first attempt. 30 minutes later, trailing two massive suitcases that contained my life- I was in the back of a taxi- defeated.
Those are fond and fleeting memories now and definitely unparalleled to the girl who knows the metro off by heart now.
Before I arrived I assumed that in a huge popular city like Madrid I would be able to speak English when needed, not so, shockingly- the Spanish love their native language and they really appreciate it when you give it a go. Buying a Spanish SIM card was another of the hundred challenges I faced at the beginning, something so simple at home had turned into a monstrous task here. Although with time a routine soon started and I settled in well making friends from around the world and enjoying every aspect of my new life.
Looking back over my year abroad it is difficult to sum it up in just a couple of words. Instead I decided to list some of the things I’ve learnt.
- You’ll meet Americans who travel every weekend while enjoying their semester in Europe. They come back each week with tales of their Moroccan adventures or trips to the Budapest Baths. Realise that living in Europe is a gift,one that some people would love to have.
- If you’ve been blessed with a complicated Irish name with more syllables than letters choose a nickname, its easier!
- Enjoy the weather- coming from a place where it rains on average 151 days in a year, the sun was a welcome change!
- Wear Sun screen- don’t be the burnt foreigner, it's never a good look.
- You don’t need to leave Spain to see amazing things, Madrid is right in the centre with amazing transport links- buses, cars, trains and planes. Go discover.
- Make time to study- Even though you are abroad and it feels more like a holiday you still have assignments, presentations and exams. Mine were all in Spanish so Google translate + Me = Best Friend’s Forever.
- Don’t be afraid to ask for help. Its normal to struggle a bit but your home university is only a phone call away or your Erasmus coordinator has all the answers.
- And finally, enjoy yourself! It’s a brand new experience, something you may never get to do again- so eat the local food, embrace the local culture and ‘Viva la Vida Espanola’.
Carmen Mitchell, BA Modern Languages and Translation
Year Abroad, Paris ISIT France and Instituit Libre Marie Haps Belgium
"The first term of my year abroad was spent studying in Paris, and I am spending my second term studying at Insititut Libre Marie Haps, in Brussels. Institut Libre Marie Haps is a translation school, meaning I take translation classes between English, French and Spanish. After being here for three months, I see major improvements in my translation skills and am regularly complimented on my French. As an Erasmus student I can take classes from other departments after studying only languages for five years it has been refreshing to briefly study something new. Studying Civil Law has allowed me to better understand Belgian society.
Studying in Belgium has opened up a world of new culture to me. Brussels is an exceptionally international city, enabling me to meet people from all over the world, who teach me all about their countries. I have had the opportunity to learn about many traditions, from visiting the carnival at Binche to indulging in beer festivals.
I was regrettably in both Brussels and Paris during the terror attacks. Although this caused me distress especially being far from home, I consider myself extremely lucky to have been safe. I have built a strong network of friends and a sense of ‘home’ that has encouraged my determination to successfully finish my year abroad and to pursue my goals. These events emphasised to me a touching sense of community in the aftermath of tragedies. I feel privileged and proud to have witnessed and been a part of these countries uniting and standing strong against hate.
My experience bears out the aims of the European Commission when it discusses the advantages of studying abroad. My time abroad has been the most exciting, challenging and life-changing experience of my student life so far and I feel blessed to have had this incredible experience."
Beatrice Young, LLB Law and Criminology
Year Abroad, Universidad Pontificia Comillas Madrid, Spain
"This was my first time in Spain and also the first time living so far away from home for a long period of time. The university was extremely accommodating and helpful when I was settling in, and a number of induction days and tours of the city allowed me to meet many of my course mates and get to grips with the city.
The course I study here is open, and allows law students to further their horizons by taking modules in business, security markets, refugee policies, and politics. This has meant that I have evolved new interests and provided a wider understanding of my course. The law modules here had a wider perspective and I learnt more about the legal systems in different countries. Teaching methods were completely different and I was often working closely with other international students and interacting with Spanish students in group projects.
I came to Spain knowing no Spanish, and since that have improved to A2 standard. The progress I’ve made has made it easier for me to communicate in Spanish, which is essential when living here. I immersed myself in the culture of Spain, living with Spanish housemates, and working teaching English. During my free time, I’ve explored much of Madrid, including many of the galleries, parks and museums, and went to watch a flamenco show! One of the highlights of living in Spain was the food, I particularly enjoyed eating tapas and drinking cervezas! I have also managed to travel around Spain, a university trip took us to Cordoba and Sevilla for a long weekend of sight-seeing. I also travelled with friends, visiting towns such as Toledo, Avila, Salamanca, Cuenca. We also went to events such as Zaragoza’s pilar festival, and Valencia’s Las Fallas celebration.
I think that spending even one semester away prepares you for adulthood in a way that might not be available to you in Swansea. The experience matures you, making you self-sufficient, as you are forced to adapt quickly to your surroundings. I have expanded my knowledge and understanding of foreign culture as well as being able to represent my own culture whilst being here."
Abbie Cottrell, BA International Business Managment
Year Abroad, University of Mannheim Germany
"I started this year excited, it had always been my dream to travel and live abroad. Mannheim didn’t disappoint. I have loved every second of being here, every day is a new experience, a new culture and a new memory. I didn’t know any German when I came here and initially that worried me. I’ve taken German lessons to improve while being here and can now hold up a decent conversation.
German culture is something I have never experienced before, I had travelled around Europe before but never fully submerged myself. I participated in every opportunity I got, I’ve been hiking in the Schwarzwald, dancing and drinking at Oktoberfest in a Dirndl, visiting every German City and eaten Bratwurst and drunk Glühwein at the Christmas Markets. The Germans definitely celebrate like nobody else.
Mannheim is an international city, hundreds of international students come every year to study in the university. This opens opportunities to learn about different cultures. Also as Germany is located central to most of Europe this made it easy to travel in my spare time making the experience all the better.
Mannheim University is known to be one of the best business schools in Europe and so as a business student I was very excited to get this opportunity. The lectures are accompanied by exercises to put the lectures into use, and a seminar to ask any questions. It has definitely helped me in expanding my knowledge of business. The university is based in a castle and its surrounding buildings. This was a really nice part of studying abroad, I still haven’t explored the whole building but it’s nice to get to go to somewhere so beautiful every day.
There are definite downsides to studying abroad. The thing I have struggled with most while living and studying abroad is that I missed my family, friends and boyfriend. It’s hard being thrown into a completely different lifestyle and coping without the people you usually lean on, however it allowed me to become more independent and improved my ability to adapt. I have also learned to appreciate the people I have in my life and I am going home with a new appreciation for what I have. Although some parts of being abroad in Germany have been hard, I am so glad I took this opportunity to experience it. I have loved every second of it and has only made my passion to travel and live in different countries even stronger. I plan after my degree to go and see the friends I’ve made during my time here and to experience even more. I can honestly say I can’t wait."
Danielle Kinsman, Adult Nursing
College of Human and Health Science Summer Programme in China
I was excited to experience healthcare in such a diverse and largely closed country.
I visited hospitals, museums and heritage sites. I also attended classes in Chinese language, calligraphy, traditional Chinese medicine and had the opportunity to spend the day with a Chinese family. The whole trip was a unique opportunity that shall remain with me for life. My highlights included building relationships with the Chinese ambassadors and students from around the world, learning about Chinese healthcare technology and visiting the heritage sites
I would definitely recommend this trip to future nursing cohorts...we were the first Swansea ambassadors. You need to be flexible and committed to a packed agenda with a willingness to join in to get the most from this trip.
Sarah Hoskins, Osteopathy
College of Human and Health Sciences Summer Programme in Thailand Vietnam and Cambodia
The main aim of the trip was to develop international relations as well as to gain cultural experiences and also to help our understanding of healthcare in different countries. I haven’t travelled much in my life, so I decided that this was a perfect opportunity to travel, but also to have someone with me for security. I have always been interested in the Thai culture and the fact we got to visit 3 countries was a strong selling point.
I travelled with, Aled (an Adult Nursing Student) and Beth (a Social Policy Student). We had a Thai guide, Lily, with us all the time. We also had university students from the country we were in travelling with us at points.
We went sight seeing, travelling around big cities such as Bangkok, Ho Chi Min and Da Nang. We visited many markets, which are perfect for gifts as they are very cheap! We went to the beach, learnt how to cook Thai food, went on a bike ride and a boat ride and looked around hospitals. I also managed to sneak in a Thai massage - I'd highly recommend it. We did so much and it was the best two weeks of my life!
In Thai culture they regularly use what we would call alternative medicine, which is what Osteopathy is classed as. Seeing an alternative medicine, which is very similar to my career, being used regularly was very interesting.
Aled Thomas, Adult Nursing
College of Human and Health Sciences, Summer Programme in Thailand, Cambodia and Vietnam
The main purpose was to experience and educate myself in different cultures and religions and to see different health care experiences in other countries.
I have always had an interest in Asian culture. I wanted to further my knowledge in different cultures, languages and religions to strengthen my communication skills. With services users becoming more diverse I feel this is necessary.
Myself, Sarah (an Osteopathy student) and Beth (a Social Policy student) went on the programme. We also met and spent a lot of time with local students from a Thai university in Rangsit and a Vietnamese university in Danang. It was a good experience to have local students accompany us on our travels.
We did a variety of activities from formal activities such as visits to different health centres and hospitals to more informal activities such as elephant rides and learning to cook Thai food. The cooking experience along with visits to many temples and religious grounds gave an in depth experience of Asian culture and the different religions.
For me, the highlight of Thailand was learning to cook Thai food and also seeing the reclining Buddha statue at the Wat Pho Temple. It was magnificent seeing such a huge statue. My highlight of Vietnam was visiting both the Dangang Museum and the Cham Sculpture Museum. It was very interesting and an eye opening experience to see the history of the Vietnam war from the Vietnamese perspective.
I would advise other students to have an open mind about the food and the difference in climate, it was very humid and the food was quite different to ours at times.
Zeanne Thomas, Osteopathy
College of Human and Health Science Summer Programma in China
"I always jump at any opportunity to visit countries and experience new cultures, to meet new people and have a change of perspective. I am a fan of languages and was keen to pick up some Chinese as well as seeing how medicine is practiced in China.
As part of the programme's busy timetable we went on a number of visits and attended a series of lectures. We visited mental health departments, remote diagnosis and nursing wards at affiliated hospitals as well as visiting a dentistry hospital. Equally interesting was a taster course on Chinese massage with the techniques baring a close resemblance to what I had learnt in my first year as an Osteopathy student.
We visited the new CQMU Campus, its medical museum and Chinese medicinal lab of plants. We also had the task of preparing a presentation on our country's medical education systems, which we then had to present in front of students from a range of other countries. My presentation skills had not been put to the test in a while, but it all ran smoothly and it was good to compare all of the differences.
For the culture side of the tour we, had two crash lessons on Chinese language, completed a fun city tour competition (with challenges to complete), visited the zoo, spent an afternoon relaxing at hot springs, took a tea making class, and spent the day with a Chinese family where we experienced family life in modern China...and made dumplings.
I will definitely miss the friends I made there...although we still keep in touch. My best moments were spent with the Chinese students as I organised a couple of evenings playing ping pong, basketball, hair braiding and painting. My favourite part of the trip was the visit to the beautiful and serene lotus garden house followed by the rock carvings, which I was in awe of. Here I was able to get a feel for traditional Chinese history and culture.
I would certainly recommend taking part in this culture tour if you want to experience a whole new culture and if you want to make some great friends. Just be prepared for some hot spicy food and hot weather! Also, the language barrier was evident, although it was alleviated by Chinese student volunteers, who spoke very good English. I would probably recommend learning some basic Chinese before you go.
The trip has given me a different perspective and a greater appreciation of global health, culture, education and medicine. I came back from the trip as a more focused and relaxed person. It has given me a lot of food for thought and it has been a strong motivation to continue to pursue my desire to help people in health care. I also did many things that I would usually shy away from, so I've come back a more confident person.
It was a trip that I won't forget!
Jack Hailstone, MEng Chemical Engineering
Semester abroad (Work Placement), Sweden
“My time abroad was spent in Gothenburg, Sweden, interning at Volvo Car Corporation in their Computational Fluid Dynamics (CFD) Climate department. Climate CFD refers to the heating, ventilating and air conditioning units within each Volvo car - my emphasis was with air duct optimisation. My internship was a truly enriching experience both professionally and personally. With CFD analysis, I have gained a wealth of knowledge on a very modern and popular engineering technique, and have seen its application in corporate-scale cases today. I worked alongside many colleagues, from different departments, and of all ages and backgrounds, which furthered my professional development and ability to communicate with others.
My favourite moment about my time abroad was the amount of independence I had and the new experiences I faced; I was living in a major city centre, in a new country and climate, in my first job as an engineer, branching out with new friends and colleagues every day. I had the university-feel social life, with a salary to enjoy monthly in a unique and exciting city. Ultimately, I truly believe learning from other cultures has been an invaluable experience.
Putting work aside, I thoroughly enjoyed living and commuting within a main city centre, surrounded by other interns, as well as having the rare opportunity of travelling to work by ferry whilst living on an island with a host family. It was very humbling working closely with my supervisors and other members of the department who had years of experiences to share. The support within the department helped me understand the most relevant information to extract from the CFD analysis, which I would present to others. Engineering opens many windows for international work opportunities and the whole experience has been an influential eye-opener in terms of other overseas work opportunities, something I would like to pursue in my early career as a young engineer.”
Gemma Bull, LLB Law
Year Abroad, Radboud University The Netherlands
“Last August I moved to the Netherlands to complete my year abroad at Radboud University. Truthfully, I did not know what to expect from the experience, I merely wanted to benefit from the experience, achieve good grades and meet exciting people. In reality I accomplished so much more. The greatest challenge by far was actually obtaining good grades. I definitely struggled in the first term but overall I managed to exceed my expectations and was pleasantly surprised with the grades I achieved. The system differed greatly from the UK and taught me to be vigilant in my studies.
Before I left, I thought that moving countries would be difficult. However in reality, despite leaving everything I knew behind, I met people in the same position and through this experience, you form a certain bond. This bond with my new housemates, mentor group and peers made the transition easy, forming new friendships that I expect to endure.
Between travelling around Europe, meeting people from all around the world and my studies at Radboud, I have so many special memories. I learned about different cultures, met and lived with some of the kindest most amazing people I have ever had the privilege of meeting and realised that perhaps that a life outside the UK would be suited to me. Through doing this Erasmus program, I was able to travel with my new found friends. Travelling is something I am very passionate about, and to be able to do this bought me unimaginable happiness and again I was able to meet new people and experience even more cultures. I enjoyed my studies in Nijmegen greatly, the teachers were remarkable; they were extremely helpful, knowledgeable and made every lecture fascinating. When my lectures ended, I found myself missing cycling into the University to partake in the classes.
This Erasmus study has motivated me to continue my studies, or perhaps even work, abroad. I feel this experience has taught me so much about myself and what I want from life whilst enabling me to have the most gratifying, beneficial and enjoyable year to date. Despite having no clear aims I can safely say that I achieved more then I originally thought possible, and my future now seems to be something I look forward to instead of one filled with deliberation and debate. I would encourage anyone who is offered the chance to partake in an Erasmus program to seize the opportunity. I guarantee that it will be one of the most worthwhile experiences you could do; just like my year in Nijmegen”
Andrew Laban, BEng Electronic and Electrical Engineering
Year Abroad, University of Newcastle Australia
“I spent my third year of university at the University of Newcastle in NSW, Australia and I'm certain I couldn't have picked a better place to spend the best year of my life. The university itself was set on a large campus surrounded by a forest, with a dedicated train station that goes throughout Newcastle and also runs trains to Sydney every half hour.
Newcastle as a city has so many places to eat and drink, as well as five of the best beaches I've ever been to. Being able to wake up to 30+ degree temperatures most days and thinking to myself, "I fancy going to the beach" was one of the best feelings ever. I lived in on-campus accommodation which in hindsight, was the best decision I made. There were so many opportunities to meet new people and make friends as I was in such close proximity to over 200 other students. The student accommodation associations are run by the students themselves so social events, parties, dinners and study help are available every week. It also creates an almost family atmosphere amongst everyone. On the flip side, the hardest thing I've ever had to do is say goodbye to those friends, and that made for a few teary goodbyes.
I travelled extensively whilst in Australia, going from very north Queensland, right down to Melbourne, along with a trip to New Zealand and up from Indonesia to South Korea. All in all I travelled 81,000km during the year and I have seen more than I ever thought I would in my life, let alone a year. My favourite trip was probably down the east coast of Australia with a friend I met whilst staying at the university. We dived the Great Barrier Reef, hiked a rainforest island, sailed the Whitsunday Islands, toured Frazer Island in 4x4s with a large group of other backpackers and lounged around on the best beaches in the world.
As a whole I would say spending a year abroad in Australia turned out to be the best year of my life. Living a different lifestyle on the other side of the world was amazing and I wouldn't trade one second of it for anything.”
Jonathan Bradfield, BA International Business Management
Year Abroad, University of York Canada
“I chose to take part in the study abroad scheme for many reasons. I wanted to have the opportunity to travel, something I certainly managed during my time in Canada. I was fortunate enough to visit Niagra Falls, Montreal, New York and also to go skiing. These were all great experiences, and I’ve formed memories I will never forget. My experience was made all the more enjoyable by the friends I made along the way from places such as Kuwait, Kenya, Trinidad and America, to name but a few. Together we went on trips to places such as Montreal. It was great to socialize in such a great city and environment, getting to share experiences with such a diverse group of friends that would have in no way been possible prior to my year abroad.
The biggest challenge I faced during my time in Canada was when the University lecturers at York went on strike. Everyone in the University was surprised by this and it was made slightly worse for the exchange students such as myself who had already booked flights home for the summer etc. However this eventually resolved itself and with the help and support we received from the Go Global team at Swansea University, resulted in limited disruption to our year abroad experience. The weather was also a challenge at times. During my time at York I lived on campus, which was very convenient as during some months temperatures could drop to -25 degrees Celsius, making getting about pretty difficult.
In the immediate future I plan to complete my degree, and hopefully find myself a place on a graduate scheme next summer. However now I have experienced travelling and living in a different country I aim to visit many more parts of the world before I settle down for good. As far as Canada is concerned, I wasn’t able to visit the West coast and experience places such as Vancouver and Banff National Park, something I certainly hope to put right in the future”
Jamie Margetson, BA Philosophy, Politics and Economics
Semester Abroad, City University Hong Kong
“Hong Kong is a city renowned for its’ cultural fusion of East and West, for the chaotic hustle and bustle of its’ narrow streets and for the soaring skyscrapers that reach out to the heavens above. For someone from a small town of just seventy-thousand (Lowestoft) whose longest journey up until this point was a five-hour trek to the Lake District, travelling thirteen hours by plane proved a daunting prospect. Yet with the neon-lights of Hong Kong in my head and adventure in my heart, I eagerly set off on my journey; filled with excitement for what was to come.
Dreams of adventure aside, it did not take too long for the serious business of studying to begin. Alongside studying hard and getting good grades, my ultimate desire was to experience the joys of life in an international city, meeting some of the vibrant characters that are attracted to such places and creating incredible moments along the way.
I have so many wonderful memories of my time abroad. Whether it was participating in an international Kyykkä (Finnish skittles) tournament, cruising through the emerald waters of Ha Long Bay in Vietnam or befriending a local Japanese bartender in Kyoto, studying abroad in Hong Kong gave me so many opportunities to see and do things which until now seemed only possible in my dreams.
Life in Hong Kong wasn’t without its’ challenges however, with the most difficult of these being to say goodbye. Goodbye to the fascinating cultures and inhabitants of Asia. Goodbye to the electrifying atmosphere of a global city. Hardest of all, saying goodbye to those I had formed the deepest relationships with. For me, life in Hong Kong felt ever-transient; never real. The soul of that city still resides deeply within me however, as do the sights, the smells, the people I met and the experiences we shared. My longing for ‘The Pearl of the Orient’ remains.”
Ina Pace - BA English Literature & History
Year Abroad at University of Victoria, Canada
I am now in my final year studying English Literature and History. As part of my course, I spent a year abroad studying at the University of Victoria (UVic) in British Columbia (BC) in Canada.
When I arrived in Victoria I felt very isolated as I had no friends or familiar faces around me. I didn’t even know my fellow Swansea exchange students, though I befriended some of them over-time. I felt like I had to take a lot of initiative in finding new friends. This involved talking to anyone who I deemed approachable in UVic’s cafeteria for the first couple of weeks! I am by no means an extravert but I have found myself to be more confident in approaching people and generating conversation as a result.
My time abroad overall has given me a feeling of invincibility and the sense that the world is a much smaller place. I feel, in a reassuring sense, I have been forced to grow up and become more independent. After my studies at UVic ended I had the confidence to travel to Los Angeles by myself. overcoming obstacles like getting lost Downtown, and being stranded when my bank card got blocked… I would recommend doing a year abroad not only for the sake of enhancing your CV but for your own personal development.
Edwin Rose, BA History
Semester Abroad at Lingnan University, Hong Kong
Being a History student, the course at Lingnan University, Hong Kong, was fantastic. It provided me with an entirely new perspective of the subject, particularly with a regard to colonial history, with Hong Kong remaining a British colony until 1997. Studying in Hong Kong has provided me with a fantastic insight into the cultural differences within China, along with the differences between studying at home and abroad.
Hong Kong is a perfectly situated city for allowing you to explore the rest of Asia, particularly China; its surrounding islands and Southeast Asia.
I used this opportunity to explore the rest of China, starting off with the island of Taiwan, or Republic of China, during a Bank Holiday- a beautiful green tropical island on the edge of the pacific ring of fire with hot springs, the beautiful city of Taipei, waterfalls and a fantastic culture with cheap street food and great museums, along with the second tallest building in the world, Taipei 101. Although this was just a trip over the four days of a long weekend, I was able to fully explore Taipei and see some Taiwanese culture.
Ryan Govier, Graduate Entry Medicine
Short Programme, The Gambia
A group of students including myself spent two weeks in The Gambia where we undertook a range of medical placements. This spanned obstetrics and gynaecology, paediatrics, accident and emergency and the labour ward amongst others. Before going on this trip I was highly apprehensive about not only experiencing healthcare in less developed country and having to take on extra responsibility, but also in doing so a long way from home with only a limited support structure readily available.
I believe that the experiences I had will go a very long way toward making me a better and more understanding doctor in my future career. I was able to see doctors and nurses working with limited resources and financial backing but doing in so in such a way that would make any healthcare professional here proud. I was able to experience compassion and dedication to the role in a whole new way as well as seeing how people work without the technological safety net we have here. Similarly, it taught me the lengths that people will go to retain their health as people often had to travel for days to get to the one main hospital in the whole of The Gambia. Overall I found the placements highly rewarding and as well as learning more clinical skills I believe I also made some lifelong friends and future colleagues out in The Gambia.
Jack Jenkins, BA Philosophy, Politics and Economics
Summer Programme, Colorado State University
Colorado State University is located in Fort Collins, Colorado. Its status as one of Money magazine’s best places to live in the USA is well deserved. CSU is one of the best universities in the USA in which to learn about New Communication Technologies. The brilliant lectures, delivered by world leading experts on the subject, as well as the experience gained by writing for the college newspaper, producing footage for the college TV station, hosting a show for the college radio station, and going out into the city to produce a photo story on our own chosen topic, meant I did this and more.
Visits to various media outlets across Colorado’s Front Range, from Fort Collins to Denver, allowed us to see how the professionals do it. Not all of our time was spent on studying, as field trips to the Rocky Mountains, a trip to the famous “Greeley Stampede” rodeo, hikes at the stunning Horsetooth Mountain, and shopping trips to the bustling city of Denver also occupied our time. Fort Collins is a city of breweries, bicycles and brilliant food. I’d urge anybody with the chance to go, to jump at the opportunity!
Michael Evershed, BA German and French
Work Abroad, Germany
I worked for the Power Tool Division of Robert Bosch GmbH, near Stuttgart, in Southern Germany. My department was called ‘SIB3’ standing for ‘Sales Industrial Business’ – professional products for the worldwide automobile industry. As an International Sales Co-ordinator, my responsibility as an intern was very high. I looked after the UK, Chinese, Italian, Scandinavian and Russian markets, advising customers of prices, solving queries, and maintaining telephone/email communication in German and English. From the interview stage, to the final day of my placement, it was a thoroughly rewarding experience- not only for my German skills but also developing teamwork and self-confidence.
Susan Jones, BA American Studies
Year Abroad, University of Illinois
My year at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign has changed me as a person, and has made me so much more confident and independent. The school is fantastic; 40,000 students, so many classes to choose from and plenty of great facilities all in one big, beautiful campus. I even took a class in ice skating!
The larger workload, although stressful at times, has taught me how to handle my assignments more efficiently and has trained me to work harder for my third and final year at Swansea. The school spirit is magical and there is a host of extra-curricular activities to get involved in. I have been working as a research assistant with a notable professor, so have gained valuable research experience and skills.
Living in the dorms on campus has been great, as they are so multicultural and I was able to learn a lot from others. Being in the US has been a once in a lifetime experience that I will never forget, and definitely has been the best year of my life. I will go back to Swansea with a greater knowledge of myself and the culture and lifestyle of the US. I would definitely recommend doing a year abroad to anyone, it will be the best decision you ever make!
Ben Jennings, BA History
Summer Programme, Zambia
The weeks that we spent in Zambia were packed full of many diverse experiences from the many communities we became involved in; from running workshops, working with children, making cardboard furniture and cultural exchanges, to bungee jumping off Victoria Falls.
Dealing with the people we were helping on a first hand basis was far more rewarding, and it gave us an ownership of the project that otherwise we would not have. The training and support we received from the staff was excellent, and with their help we were able to work individually and flexibly within the framework of the programme. Working alongside the Zambian team of volunteers really made you a feel a part of the local community and was a great way of making friends, learning about Zambian culture and the African way of life. The skills and knowledge I gained from this project are applicable elsewhere, giving me a better perspective on my degree as well as the wider world. My experience in Zambia is one that I will never forget.
Timothy Hull, BSc Physics
Summer Programme, Kyushu University Japan
When I first filled out the application to study abroad at Kyushu University in Japan my mind was filled with a mixture of excitement and doubts. Doubts about the fact as to whether I could really cope abroad on my own, but excitement as to the fact that for the first time in my life, I was going to be able to live and study in another country.
The host University made me feel really welcome, they had in place a peer tutor system so even before I set off for Japan from Britain I was in touch with Japanese students studying there. During my time there my tutor even hired a car especially so he could drive me, along with some other local and exchange students, around the Fukuoka City area to see sights not accessible without a car.
The experience was by far one of my favourite periods of my life. I would recommend both this course, and other study abroad courses to anyone because I feel that I have gained so much, both long lasting friendships, and memories that will last a lifetime. So put any doubts you have away, as believe me when I say you won't regret it!
Sam Booth, BA English Literature
Summer Programme, Shandong University China
I had only ever spoken parts of German and rude words in French before I started learning Mandarin at Swansea University. So taking the option of a Summer programme studying the language was a challenge but I decided to do it because I wanted to get over that and explore something completely alien to me. Weihai was my first choice for the trip and I saw it as Swansea but on the other side of the world; a university sat on the coast of a peninsular with beautiful coastlines. I was right in many ways about the natural landscapes but it was different in ways I’d never even thought of. My favourite thing about Chinese culture is how welcoming everyone is with good luck gifts and food. Saying that, I don’t think my body will ever forgive me for the food out there but you’ve just got to try as much as possible and be open minded.
Meeting the Chinese students was the highlight of the programme for me. They are so down to earth and just like Swansea students, minus the binge drinking and Wind Street, and are so keen to get to know us. We are still in touch since returning. I’d highly recommend for any student of any level of language to join this trip as it’s a treasurable experience.
Jessica George, BA Hispanic Studies
Work Abroad, British Council Teaching Assistantship, Spain
For my year abroad I was placed in a little town in the province of Jaen, Andalusia. I was a teaching assistant in an evening school for adults. It was an amazing experience, it improved my skills and confidence greatly. I also made some amazing friends from all over the world who I still keep in touch with. We travelled around Spain and Portugal a lot which certainly improved our cultural awareness. My passion for the language and understanding of it has improved significantly. I would recommend anyone who is considering this type of placement just to go for it. You will love it, guaranteed!!
Shane Richards, BA German
Living in Germany as part of my degree scheme was an idea which always excited me because I knew I would gain international experience which is fast becoming valuable in the workplace. Having already fallen in love with Germany in the summer of 2011 while on a language course, as well as having a growing desire to get in to the teaching profession, I applied to become an English Language Assistant (ELA) with the British Council in a secondary school and before I knew it, I was jetting off to Cologne in North Germany. As soon as I arrived I made it my goal to teach the pupils about the British culture in a fun and interactive way which was well received. At the same time I found myself having to create a life for myself in a city I had never lived in before. I really was thrown in at the deep end but it was a challenge that I relished and when I look back on my experience, I realise I have developed not just on a personal level but also professionally. Next goal? To return to Germany and maybe work there again!
Rosie Fieldhouse, LLB Law and American Studies
Study Abroad, Ohio University
My experience at Ohio University in America has challenged me on a personal and intellectual level. I have broadened my understanding of American law, and as such I have had a different view on international political affairs; which is something that has been greatly beneficial to my Law and American Studies undergraduate degree at Swansea.
The key skills that I developed whilst in America include; cross-cultural communication skills, personal independence, teamwork, and the ability to adapt quickly to new circumstances. I now know that I would like to move and work abroad upon graduating from Swansea.
Milton Li, BSc Computer Science
Summer Programme, India
I decided to apply for the India summer programme because I wanted to learn both the ancient history of India and modern development. I particularly wanted to know more about topics such as the caste system, women’s rights and religious freedom.
The programme is far more exciting than I expected and I really enjoyed riding on an elephant and having a spiritual dance. Also, the buddies in India were really friendly and very welcoming.
Finally, I would recommend this summer programme to others for no other reason but to widen horizons and become submersed in Indian culture. You won't grab rice with your hands and eat curry everyday anywhere else outside India.