Emma – Swansea University – Wales
Semester 2, 2019
Bachelor of Fine Arts
“Diolch”, Swansea University!
Hey, I’m Emma, a creative writing student and I chose to go on exchange for my second semester of 2019. Swansea, a coastal town in the south of Wales, was by no means my first choice, it wasn’t even my third. But after being unable to secure a place at my original three choices I chose Swansea. You see, I’d been to Wales before but as a two-year-old, so my memories of that time are non-existent and apart from that trip when I was a toddler I never went back, despite living down in England for another twelve years. So, in the end, I thought, why not? Let’s go to Swansea University! The university organised a coach from Heathrow Airport to take all international students up to Swansea and this service ran throughout the day to accommodate different arrival times.
*This Meet and Greet Service is only available to students exchanging in the second semester though (first semester there) so September – December/January. They do make this clear themselves though.
**Also, ‘diolch’ means ‘thank you’ in Welsh!
People from the Student Union and Go Global team were there to greet everyone and make sure we were ok after our travels, before one of them would travel up to Swansea with us. The journey was roughly 3-4 hours from Heathrow barring traffic. Swansea University has two campuses situated about 25 minutes from each other – Bay Campus, the newer smaller campus and Singleton Campus the larger, main campus. Depending on where we were staying, the coach stopped at Bay Campus first then Singleton. Swansea has accommodation on both the campuses, but also run’s a student village and a student house. As a single semester student, I was given accommodation in the Student Village, called Hendrefoelan. Now, they don’t guarantee accommodation for single semester students, but it’s always worth applying. The accommodation department are more than willing to assist you in finding other accommodation though and it won’t hurt to do some research about other options in and around Swansea (trust me, there is plenty). There is also a Facebook group they will invite you to, which will help you meet other exchange students. I saw several people join together to find alternative accommodation.
Hendrefoelan is located 2 miles from Singleton Park Campus and there are bus services running regularly to both campuses and the City Centre. It happens to be the cheapest university accommodation option as well, with internet and bills included – £91 a week. Also, by staying there the university gives you a free bus pass, so public transport in and around Swansea and other parts of South Wales is completely FREE! This came in handy when me and some other students had to travel to the student village by bus after being dropped at Singleton campus. The Student Village itself is quite sizeable and houses hundreds of students. Each house has three floors and three flats on each floor with seven rooms, a kitchen and a bathroom – though some smaller buildings only have 2 flats on a floor. There is also a Library up the hill, a basketball court and a launderette. I shared a flat and a house with other exchange students; I met one of them on my arrival when he offered to carry my suitcase up the stairs as my flat was on the third floor.
Quick note: there are no lifts in the student village but accommodation buildings at both Bay and Singleton campuses have them. If you exchange for a year you’re more likely to get on-campus accommodation.
For what it’s worth the accommodation was pretty good and felt like a home away from home after my first two weeks. The rooms were sizable and have everything you need – as does the kitchen, though we had to buy a toaster and some cutlery, but basic appliances are there. There is a day at Singleton where you can pick up donated kitchen items as well. As for bedding and other bits, the university has a website called UNIKITOUT where you can order anything you need and it will be delivered directly to your room (so it’s already waiting when you arrive). Anything you can’t take with you when you leave, you can donate at the village. My flatmates were lovely people – different from me, but great, friendly people. Four of them were from Germany, 2 guys and 2 girls, and there was a girl from the USA and a girl from Spain. People I met from countries where English was not their main language spoke pretty good English and would always ask me or the American how to say certain words or translate certain things into English so they could improve. Meeting new people was definitely a great experience and I’m glad to have spent my time with these people.
Overall, things are quite accessible no matter where you stay in Swansea. Everything you could ask for or think of is contained in the city centre, so you will never be short of things to do. There’s two cinemas, a bowling alley, proper English pubs, a shopping centre, more than one supermarket, swimming centre, and much more… The list goes on. Oh, and there is a street dedicated to the nightlife as well. The University also organises plenty of trips to a number of locations, all around £5-7. I went on one to Cardiff City with my flatmates and Margam Country Park. They were great days out and also allowed me to see more of Wales and Swansea. I also travelled up to a place called Rhossili Beach (pictured below) with 3 of my flatmates. It’s about 30-40 minutes from Swansea City Centre, with a bus that goes right up to it. There’s so much to do and see! I even attended a bonfire night on the beach at Swansea on the 5th of November.
The university is great too and there’s tons of support for international students and clubs to get involved in. Both campuses sit directly next to the beach. At Singleton, which is where I studied, the beach is just across the road! If you have the opportunity to go on exchange, I would tell you to do it. Yes, it’s scary and sometimes you may wonder why you decided to do it in the first place, but once you’ve done it, it feels like such an achievement and it’s definitely an experience that remains with you for the rest of your life. Also, consider Wales, in particular Swansea! You won’t regret it (totally unbiased here!); just remember to take warm clothes, boots and a strong umbrella because you know… It’s Wales.
Learn more about Swansea University