Greg Handley, who is graduating with a First in Medical Engineering today (Thursday, July 17) was the first Swansea student to undertake a semester exchange at partner university Texas A&M.
Greg, aged 21, from Oxford, was chosen to go as one of the highest achievers in his first year – and he loved his time in the Lone Star State.
“The best thing about Texas, although a cliché, was the sheer size of everything. The campus was vast and home to over 50,000 students. The sports facilities were out of this world, with their college football stadium accommodating over 90,000 – a number not big enough for them as just after I left they were set to start work to increase this to over 100,000,” said Greg.
“The variety and amount of food you had access to was dangerous, with numerous restaurants and cafes dotted all over the campus. The people were unbelievably friendly. Within a week of arriving I had been invited to about five separate homes and ranches for Thanksgiving, a particular highlight for me as it basically meant I got two Christmas dinners that year.
“The welcome I received meant that right from the start I was encouraged to partake in various Texan specialties including hunting and (American) football and am now the proud owner of my very own stetson.
But the campus north of Houston did not eclipse the delights of Swansea.
“I chose Swansea for three reasons, it offered medical engineering (a fairly specialised but emerging field), I'd heard very good things about its post-graduate medicine course and finally its location – it’s absolutely beautiful and I love the sea,” he added.
In Texas Greg studied modules that were directly comparable to those being studied in Swansea so it did not affect the time he took to graduate.
“I would highly recommend a semester abroad. I feel that it was an entirely positive experience benefiting me both academically and socially,” he said.
Dr Caroline Coleman-Davies, the university’s Strategic Partnership Manager, said: "I am delighted at Greg's degree success and offer my warmest congratulations to him today.
“Swansea's partnership with Texas A&M University gives students in Medical, Chemical and Environmental Engineering the opportunity to spend a semester studying abroad without adding time to their studies.
“The exchange programme is one of a number of activities that have come out of Swansea University's Strategic Partnership with Texas which also includes research collaboration, knowledge transfer, sharing of infrastructure and the exchange of academic staff.
“It is heartening to hear that Greg has decided to stay on at Swansea and I wish him every success in his future medical studies."
Medical engineering degree is a far more popular and developed field in the USA but Greg has decided to stay in Swansea and start post-graduate medicine.
“Swansea can’t get rid of me that easily but I hope that at some point during my medical career I will get the opportunity to return to Texas.
“I chose to stay in Swansea because I honestly found it hard to believe that I would find anywhere else as fun and as beautiful as Swansea.
“And it’s far away enough from home to stop mum popping over for dinner!”