My semester in Swansea, Wales during Spring 2005 was undoubtedly the best time of my life. I went there in January expecting to meet a lot of people & make some great friends, learn about the Welsh culture, and travel a bit. However, I returned home in June with so much more. Not only did I make what I believe will be lifelong friendships with my English & American flatmates, but I made myself a home in Wales during that time and never once felt like an outsider. The British people are all so welcoming and are absolutely fascinated with Americans! I truly feel that, in some way, I made myself a part of the British culture.
During my time abroad, I took 5 classes for which I will earn 15 credit hours at SIUE. It was definitely an easy semester, which worked out well for me. I had some extra time on my hands, so two of my British flatmates invited us four Americans to join the lacrosse team, which they had played on the previous semester. I am so glad that we did, because not only did I learn a sport that was totally new to me, I made a whole new circle of friends in the team. At the end of the semester, we also got to go to the annual Swansea Athletic Union Dinner Ball, which was really neat to be able to get dressed up for.
While I was in Wales, I got to experience the sports culture by also supporting the local teams. I went to a few rugby matches (which you can imagine are huge events for the British), and I also went to a football (American soccer) match at the huge Millenium Stadium in Cardiff, Wales (about 1 hour from Swansea) with one of my English friends from the lacrosse team. I had lots of fun rooting on the teams! (This is me on the left in photo to the left.
Going out to pubs & clubs is a very big part of the British culture. Seven nights a week, you can bet something will be going on! Even during the week, those British people love to party.
While I was in Wales, I got to do quite a bit of traveling. We had a month long Spring Break when I traveled to 9 cities in 6 countries, and in addition, I went on a few weekend trips sponsored by the American Studies Department and the Student Union. It was amazing being able to do & see as much as I did.
The picture to the right is of the Gower Peninsula in Wales. I went there on a field trip with the other American students on the first Saturday that we were there. It was gorgeous.
The photo on the left was taken in Florence, Italy, during my spring break. I traveled with two of my American flatmates. We had a blast.
In conclusion, I had a very rewarding and amazing time abroad. I would not trade this experience for anything, and I definitely recommend Swansea, Wales, as an excellent choice for studying abroad. The people are incredibly interesting, the land is beautiful, and the overall experience is priceless.
Contact Kristin by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org
To learn more about the University of Wales Swansea study abroad program, visit http://www.siue.edu/studyabroad/programs/Swansea.shtml