I grew up in Rowland Heights, and before this trip, I had only been away from home to visit my family in Mexico. After I complete my bachelor's degree in psychology, I want to get a master's degree and become a marriage and family therapist.
I applied to study abroad in my junior year of college. My advice to everyone: Do not wait for this experience! Go and get it! My first choice was the U.K., and I was thrilled to be placed at my first choice!
As you can see, the natural beauty of the Gower, only a few miles from campus, is unbelievably breathtaking. This trip was arranged by Swansea University.
Coming from California, I was under the impression that the United Kingdom was nothing but rain and clouds. Number one rule: Don't believe everything you hear about the weather in England! I am wearing sunglasses! Rain was nowhere to be found the first week that I arrived.
Here, I am in Avebury, a town close to Stonehenge that also has stone circles. This was the first English telephone box I had discovered so I took advantage of it for this oh-so-touristy picture.
When I applied for student housing at Swansea, I wanted a quiet, calm setting on campus, and to have my own bathroom! I had never lived alone or on campus before, so I wanted to ensure I'd have my own space and not have to share anything but the kitchen.
This is a picture of my building. I have a medium-sized room with my own bathroom, and share my floor with seven other people. We do share the kitchen as well, but there is enough room for everyone's things. This is the quieter housing on campus, but there are many other options available to students.
During my first couple of weeks here, I made a lot of new friends and we decided to watch a professional soccer game one Friday night. It was Wales vs. Switzerland, and Wales won 2-0! This was the first professional "football" (as they call it in Europe) game I had ever been to, and I had a lot of fun. It was interesting to experience the Welsh pride firsthand.
The first week at Swansea felt like I was moving nonstop. I was getting everything I needed, getting situated in my classes, and so on. The campus had a big tent where they offered student information and they also offered free tea and Welsh Cakes. They are small, thick, pancake-like biscuits with currants in them. Delicious! This was a welcome 10-minute break on my busy first day.
Ah, Bath! There is so much history everywhere in the United Kingdom, and here especially. The Roman baths, pictured here, are famous and very, very old. They are also a must-see if you go to Bath.
Others may know Bath as the setting of many of Jane Austen's famous works. She lived in Bath for five years, where she developed a hatred for the city. She liked the calmer lifestyle, and Bath is definitely bustling with many shops and people. They have many stores that I recognized and many that are known across the U.K. but don't exist in America. Needless to say, I did go shopping while in Bath.
Stonehenge, one of the greatest mysteries of the world! For those who don't know, Stonehenge is in England, but some of the stones are said to have been moved all the way from northern Wales (which is quite far considering they walked and carried these huge rocks all the way!). This day trip was arranged through Swansea University. They have a travel shop on campus that makes it easier to arrange trips, and they let everyone know when they're planning new trips. The trips are very reasonably priced, which is fantastic for a starving student. It's easy to go to other places in the U.K., because everything is very close by.
This would be my home in England, if I ever moved here (if only!). This was in Hampshire, England. The house, called The Vyne, was built during the Tudor era and King Henry VII visited here! The building and the grounds are massive and beautiful, scattered with trees and a man-made lake around back. In the time when someone owned the house, they would have owned not only the land the house was on, but the surrounding land, as well. This they would rent out to peasants or commoners.
I joined the Hiking Club at Swansea University. On our first hike, we went to Three Cliffs Bay in Wales. It was an eight-mile hike, moderately difficult for those of us who were inexperienced.
At this point, although my fellow Californian friend Carissa and I had hiked within viewing distance of the beach you see in the background that the path continued on much further. There is a feeling of accomplishment after such a hike. I definitely recommend you join at least one club while you study abroad; it helps relieve homesickness and you meet a lot of new people.
Swansea Bay! The beach is literally across the street from campus. The weather was very nice and reminded me of home, but as I walked along the beach with some new friends, it hit me that I was in another country, thousands of miles away from home. I felt a sort of wild excitement at the thought that I'd made one of my dreams come true. Studying abroad is an experience that cannot be expressed through words. It takes a lot of adjustment, but it will always be worth it to take a chance. I recommend it to everyone.