I am from the small town of Hughson, California, and I am the first person in my family to go to a university. I never thought that I'd have the opportunity to travel outside of the US, let alone be abroad for a year. I applied to study in the United Kingdom for my junior year. It has definitely been one of the best choices I have made in my life. I absolutely love learning about cultures, and being here has provided me with plenty of opportunities to learn.
This is a picture of me outside of the Louvre in France. I went to Paris for the weekend with help from the university's travel shop.
This is a picture of me and my Welsh friend Beth, who has really helped me get the most out of my experience. She has helped me learn the subtle differences between Welsh and English customs, and taught me things about my own culture that I hadn't thought of before.
The flight here was long, but after a good night's sleep I got to awake to a gorgeous day. The sun was out, the sky was clear, and the ocean looked beautiful. This picture is the view from my bedroom window on that day. I had worried that the skies would always be grey and raining all the time, but Swansea has proved my worries to be in vain. There have been plenty of sunny, beautiful days since I've been here, and even when it rains Swansea is still so very beautiful. I am so happy that I live on campus and that I have this beautiful view every day.
I spent the first week registering for classes and getting acquainted with the campus and the town. Registering for classes was a two-day process. It wasn't as convenient as online registration, but it was a great chance to talk to professors one-on-one about what my courses would entail. In this picture you can see the Faraday Building, which has tons of classrooms and departments, and the library. The library has study areas on ground level and up, and its books are under ground level. It is open until 2am Monday through Friday. Students here study in the library all the time.
Swansea University has somewhere around 70 societies and clubs. I decided to join a couple different societies. One society I joined is the English Society; this is Claire and I wearing our society sweaters. Being a part of a society is so much fun. The English Society has a book club, does creative writing, and even has socials. Joining societies went a long way in helping me make friends in my field of study and friends who have similar interests.
I also joined the Hogwarts Society. I got to be sorted with the sorting hat and found out I am a Gryffindor, and I got to attend a "potions" class, in which we "brewed" strawberry lemonade. In the society we compete as houses for house points, but in the end we all hang out together. This picture is me and some Gryffindors hanging-out with some Ravenclaws after a Harry Potter quiz.
Getting around in Swansea is very easy. There is a bus stop and taxis right in front of Fulton House. This is the bus stop on campus. Walking to city centre is also an option; all one has to do is follow the ocean into town.
The first time I went to city centre I walked there. The walk was a great way to explore the city and learn the streets. As I walked through town I kept being surprised by all of the franchises I recognized from home. When I stumbled upon Poundland I was surprised yet again, but I was also really happy. Just like the dollar-stores at home, Poundland has a variety of things students need, like cups and body wash, for a cheap price.
Swansea has an amazing indoor market. It is huge and full of butchers, bakeries, and various shops. Some people even offer a student discount. In the indoor market, I found some Welshcakes for a great price. Welshcakes are soft, sweet and a yummy way to experience the Welsh cutlure. My favourite way to have them is with black tea.
At the indoor market, I decided to be adventurous and try laverbread, a local delicacy to Swansea. Oddly enough, laverbread is not actually bread. It is more of a way of preparing seaweed. I got laverbread that was meant to be fried and had a Welsh friend help me prepare it. I can't say that it came out perfect. But I can say that I actually enjoyed eating it, and that it certainly isn't an everyday food.
The university arranges day trips and weekend trips to various places. This picture is from the university's day trip to Avebury and Stonehenge. On this trip I got to meet other exchange students from all over the world and learn about their cultures and university experiences. I made some really good friends from Italy, Canada, and Spain just to name a few.
One of my friends asked me about Thanksgiving, and so I decided to host a Thanksgiving potluck style. Friends from the Stonehenge trip and my society, as well as friends from my floor showed up and we had a feast with turkey and stuffing. It was a great way to share my culture. It wasn't a typical Thanksgiving, of course; because everyone brought one dish to share- we had Italian food, Spanish food, etc. present. I was so happy to bring all of my friends together. They have been supporting me and helping this place become a second home for me. That day I was truly and utterly thankful that I got to have this amazing experience studying abroad.