Chemical Engineering student Ben Bottrill spent a semester studying at Texas A&M University:
"The main attraction of the exchange was personal development, not just in an academic way but also in a social and cultural way. The cultural differences between Swansea and Texas are notable, and one of the biggest differences was the energy associated with the Aggie spirit of students and alumni at Texas A&M.
One of the best things about the exchange was the opportunity to travel which allowed me to learn and understand the rich, diverse culture within Texas. I also enjoyed being able to build strong relationships with fellow students from diverse backgrounds.
My overseas study experience will definitely stand out to future employers because of the transferable skills gained from the exchange: I had to be confident and adapt quickly to settle into a new environment. My classes started a few days after arriving, so I needed to have the capacity to learn quickly in a new situation and the perseverance to get used to a new style of learning whilst also trying to adapt to the cultural differences between the UK and the US.
The exchange definitely changed me: it allowed me to become more confident and proved to me that I have the ability to be able to solve problems successfully. My experience in Texas was a challenging one but one which I will relish for a long time."
Giovanni Ontiveros from UT Austin undertook an internship exchange in Politics and Cultural Studies at Swansea University:
"I had no idea what to expect when I decided to travel to Swansea for a study abroad internship program, but I can tell you now that my time in Wales was far better than anything I could have possibly imagined!
As a government major, I got so much out of this program because I gained a much greater understanding of British and European politics than I had before. On top of that, I was also able to intern at the National Assembly for Wales! During my internship, I was given the opportunity to experience the inner-workings of a governmental institution, and I was surprised by just how much is done behind the scenes to keep that institution working efficiently.
This internship offered me a wide variety of skills that I will be able to take into my future work environment. Every day I was tasked with something new which involved everything from casework to speech writing, and every new task taught me something different and useful.
Outside my studies, I made quite a lot of friends. Swansea is a quaint city with a homely vibe, and I met so many nice people with whom I spent some of the best weeks of my life. The internship program was an adventure and an experience that I will forever cherish and remember."
Applied Medical Sciences student Jemima spent 6 weeks at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston:
"I was drawn to the chance to observe, first hand, how novel solutions to medical problems impact the healthcare of individuals. I also wanted to gain experience of a foreign healthcare system to see the differences to our own.
We did lab work, participated in think tanks and talks, and observed experiments and surgeries. The facilities were second to none: the labs, equipment and research we had the chance to experience and be a part of were world class.
The best part of the experience was the opportunity to work alongside and network with leaders in various fields of research and healthcare. The chance to experience the Texas Medical Center – the largest medical centre in the world - was exciting and really highlighted that problems in medicine are usually solved by engineering.
The programme developed my communication, time management, team work and networking skills, and I also learned new lab techniques, software and knowledge of engineering and physics. The experience helped me to become more independent and to improve my confidence in professional situations."
Meredith Davies, a Medical Engineering student from Texas A&M University spent a semester studying at Swansea University:
"I was first attracted to the Swansea University exchange program because all of my classes would transfer back to my home university meaning that my graduation would not be delayed by studying abroad.
Living in Swansea was exciting because I don’t go to school in a large city. Swansea is big enough to have a lot going on, but small enough so it isn’t overwhelming. The University is very welcoming to exchange students - it put on events for inbound students and staff are always available to answer questions.
The best thing about my exchange was all the traveling! I was able to go to Iceland, Scotland, Ireland, France, Spain, Austria, Greece, Italy, Czech Republic, and Poland! I really enjoyed having the opportunity to experience so many cultures in such a short time."
Psychology student Kate Miller spent a year studying at the University of Texas at Austin:
“I was attracted to the study abroad programme because I wanted to get the most out of my university experience and take advantage of as many opportunities as possible.
The type of university work in the US was completely different to home: We were required to do more quizzes and homework tasks, instead of the usual essay and exam at the end of the term. This change was dramatic at first, but it allowed me to build my organisational skills.
I really loved the city of Austin. There was so much to do and there was a fantastic happy vibe of 'Keeping Austin Weird'. I loved how quirky Austin was, and how it was a mixture of a built up city and peaceful green area, with the picturesque lake and park right next to downtown.
The best thing about my experience of studying abroad was the feeling of being completely independent. There was something about being in a new place, miles away from your comfort zone that was terrifying but at the same time extremely rewarding when I succeeded.”
Charlene Morrison, a biomedical engineering student from Texas A&M University, spent a semester studying at Swansea University:
“Signing up for a study abroad program was the greatest decision I’ve ever made.
Being a student in Swansea was great - the courses offered matched my degree plan and are all at your pace. Best perk though? Exiting class and being able to step right onto the beach.
I was able to visit 10 countries whilst on exchange, including Austria, Hungary, Italy, Ireland, Spain, Iceland and the Czech Republic.
The best part of my exchange was meeting people from all over the world. My accommodation block was all international students, so not only was I learning Welsh culture, but now I have friends stretching all the way from Denmark to Australia!
The only negative part of my trip was that it was too short! I would definitely go back and do it all over again because it was the best 5 months of my life.”
Applied Medical Sciences student Poornima spent 6 weeks participating in a summer programme at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston:
"I was attracted to the programme as I am considering a career in medicine and research, specifically surgery and surgical techniques.
This was a fantastic opportunity to learn American lab methods and the facilities we have access to were top quality.
While in Texas I carried out carried out project work, experiments and research, observed experiments and surgeries, learned new software and techniques, and gave a number of presentations, incuding an elevator-style pitch to leading medical device innovators.
The experience changed me as a person: it made me more able to speak spontaneously, to lead, and prepared me for my next years of study. I have been able to build strong networks with people in Texas which will help me in my future career.
It was an unforgettable experience which has helped shape the person I want to be."
Erika Patino, a Psychology major from the University of Houston studied at Swansea University for a semester:
“For as long as I can remember, studying abroad has always been a dream of mine.
One of the greatest things about my experience abroad was meeting people from different countries, cultures and backgrounds. I made so many new friends from around the world and the memories I shared with them are something I will cherish forever.
Swansea is conveniently located for traveling to other places and I visited Dublin, Ibiza, Spain, Crete and Athens. I also explored the Swansea area, visiting the beautiful cliffs and beaches at Rhossili and enjoying the various activities the city of Swansea always had to offer.
My advice to anyone thinking of studying abroad at Swansea University is DO IT! From the friendly staff at uni and the new friends you’ll make, to the education experience and the affordability of living in Swansea, it’s an experience of a lifetime that you’ll never forget.”
American Studies and International Relations student Max Warren spent a year at the University of Texas at Austin:
“I was attracted to UT Austin because it is very strong academically and has a global reputation. I also knew the size of the university, with 50,000 students and a huge athletics programme would provide me with the real American ‘college experience’.
The best thing about my study abroad experience was being a student in a country and culture so different from home. Swansea and UT Austin are both fantastic universities, but for very different reasons.
I joined a fraternity whilst there which gave me a large group of friends and the opportunity to participate in a huge number of social events. The best thing about UT Austin was being on a campus right in the middle of a large city which has so much going on.
My year abroad will make me stand out to an employer because it shows that I’m highly adaptable and not afraid to go out of my comfort zone. A year at one of the world’s top universities certainly looks impressive on a CV!”
“I was encouraged to do study abroad by my Mum who studied abroad herself. I wanted to study in the UK as I was going to have culture shock wherever I went, but I thought it would be easier to adapt somewhere that I spoke the language.
The classes I really wanted to study at Swansea were on Shakespeare and Dylan Thomas as I’m right here in Dylan Thomas’ home town. I am also taking modules in creative writing and contemporary women’s writing, which is my favourite class as it’s so different from anything I’ve read and studied before.
Swansea is cheaper than Houston to live in, and it’s really easy to travel to other places on public transport. My favourite thing about Swansea so far is the weather!
My advice to UH students considering study abroad is that Swansea is a great choice! It has a great atmosphere and it’s similar enough to back home to feel very comfortable."
“Whilst on exchange I had the opportunity to undertake an internship in the Texas State Capitol where I worked for a State Senator from San Antonio.
My main responsibilities included policy research in relation to potential legislation, writing speeches for the Senator, explaining legislation for constituents, writing press releases, and lobbying other state officials on behalf of constituents. I also had the opportunity to suggest and draft an equal pay bill to be put before the Senate, which was pretty amazing!
Austin has some great places to visit, like Barton Springs and Graffiti Park and I really enjoyed visiting thrift stores and of course trying the famous Texas bbq!
I made friends with students from all over the world, and after my exams I spent three months travelling in South America.”
"I’ve wanted to study abroad since I was a freshman in college and I knew I wanted to study in Europe.
My favorite part of the exchange was getting to explore Wales - the Gower Peninsula is gorgeous and has amazing hiking trails. The highlight was a day trip that my friends and I took to Three Cliffs Bay. We made many memories that day and it is one I will never forget.
During my exchange, I travelled to Cardiff, Amsterdam, Oslo, Stonehenge, Dublin, Edinburgh, Barcelona, Madrid, Copenhagen, Venice, and London. My two favorite places were Barcelona and Dublin: Ireland is an incredibly beautiful country, and being in Dublin on St. Patrick’s Day was an absolute blast.
I’m incredibly grateful I had the opportunity to take a semester abroad and learn more about myself. Studying abroad is a great opportunity, so my advice is if you have the opportunity, take it!"
"The opportunity to study abroad at Texas A&M University was one of the reasons I chose to study at Swansea as I thought it would be a great opportunity.
Texas A&M has lots of traditions such as yell practice the night before a football game and a monthly twenty one gun salute.
The best thing about the exchange was the people I met: Texans are very friendly and very different from the stereotype people might expect.
The experience has definitely improved my work ethic. If my time in Texas has taught me anything it's that it's better to start early and finish early with work!"
"I honestly could not have picked a better opportunity to fulfil my internship requirement! Swansea is an impressive and enjoyable little town, which actually shocked me. Since it is the second largest city in Wales, I expected it to be very urbanized and busy, yet it wasn't.
The campus was absolutely wonderful. Taking a class taught during the summer is very beneficial because there are not a lot of students on campus, and that makes it a very small atmosphere where it is easy to meet others.
I really enjoyed the internship portion of the exchange with the National Assembly for Wales. It was interesting to experience and learn about other governments and how other countries function on a daily basis."
"I was attracted to the Texas A&M exchange because of the opportunity to explore a new culture and gain important international experience.
The best things about the exchange were the people I met - I made some great friends!
College sports are taken very seriously and I really enjoyed watching them. Travelling after studying was a fantastic opportunity.
The overseas study experience definitely changed me: It made me a more committed student and better engineer. I am also better at time management!"
“The best thing about my exchange was the people, who were awesome. I found the Welsh to be some of the most welcoming and friendly people I have ever met.
I thought the location of Swansea was great because of its proximity to the other countries of Europe. I visited England, Wales, Ireland, Spain, Italy, Germany, Austria, Denmark, and Poland while I was in Europe.
The highlights for me were the evenings spent on the beach around a bonfire with all of the friends I had made."
“The exchange programme enhanced my student experience both academically and culturally.
It prepared me to face different challenges and made me more self-sufficient, confident and independent.
It made me a better student and gave me additional experiences which will help my future career plans.
Texas A&M is very much about community, tradition, loyalty and optimism and I made some great friends.
I’d recommended the exchange to anyone because you will gain precious experiences, memories, friendships and knowledge to last a lifetime. I would do it again in a heartbeat.”
"My semester at Swansea University has been the greatest experience of my life.
I loved my internship with Swansea City of Sanctuary because I had the opportunity to meet refugees and asylum seekers in the Swansea community and have conversations with them about what changes they would like to see in policies pertaining to them. Working with the non-profit organization made be realize what I actually wanted to do career-wise after graduating university.
I can honestly say I have made friends for life during my time in Swansea. I was lucky enough to travel a bit, and being able to experience other cultures was absolutely wonderful.
In such a short amount of time, not only did I learn about different politics, but I learned a great deal about the world and myself making this experience truly rewarding and unforgettable."
“Texas A&M is one of the world’s best universities for Chemical Engineering and my experience was unforgettable!
We were made to feel at home from the moment we arrived and the social life quickly made me feel part of the University’s amazing student community.
I am from Poland and I loved the opportunity to meet new people and learn about other cultures.
Academically, the exchange gave me a lot of hands-on experience and improved my engineering and transferable skills, as well as boosting my confidence in facing new challenges.”
"Swansea is ideally located for exploring the UK and Europe and I visited London, Paris, Rome, and the Catalunya region of Spain, as well as Cardiff and Carmathen, Wales. Between these cities I have seen some of the most important museums, buildings, and works of art. The best part of my exchange was celebrating Easter mass in St. Peter’s Square with Pope Francis I. Nothing compares to the excitement of getting a glance of the Pope or the solemnity sharing communion with so many other Catholics.
Swansea is an inexpensive place to study and the agreement between my home university and Swansea allowed me to pay tuition to UH and bring my financial aid with me to Wales.
I was worried going 5,000 miles from home but the experience has allowed me to grow as an adult, as a student, and as a traveller. Studying abroad has shown me how strong I am.
My advice to others: If you can afford to spend a semester or a year in Houston or Swansea on the exchange program, take the opportunity of a lifetime!"
“I did not expect the welcome we got when we arrived at Texas A&M - everyone treats you like family the moment you become an Aggie!
The best things about the exchange were being on a different continent and the opportunity to meet people and travel. And the weather of course!
Being from Germany, I have always had a global perspective, but the exchange developed this further and helped to build my skills like time management and leadership.
My advice to anyone thinking about going? Make sure you go to a football game!”
"The best things about the exchange were meeting people from a different culture and looking at biomedical engineering from a different standpoint.
The experience really improved my ability to work with new people as well as my communication and teamwork skills."