DURING THE SEMESTER
Throughout the semester Swansea University offered a variety of day trips aimed towards international and exchange students to help experience the British culture. On top of that there are the many sport teams, clubs and societies that provide plenty to do during the week and on the weekend. Along with the university based trips I went on there was weekends away to other areas of the UK and Ireland that were both cheap and didn’t impact much on my studies. Not only that there were trivia nights at the Wonky Sheep (The Student Village’s pub), Halloween, Wind St. Wednesdays.
DAY TRIP TO BATH
Swansea University offered a day trip to Bath which was a 3 hour drive by bus with fellow students and members of staff. Bath was a very historical and picturesque town that would have been absolutely beautiful during Spring when all the parks throughout the town would be covered in colour. The photos below are a short summary of the beautiful scenery throughout Bath.
LOCAL SPORT IN SWANSEA
As a pretty big sport fan before heading over to the UK so seeing an English Premier League was at the top of my list. Swansea City A.F.C.is the local club that has been in the EPL for a couple of years now and are competitive. We were able to go to two games throughout the time I was there and it was absolutely amazing. The atmosphere was way better than any sport I had previously been to in Australia. Tickets were pretty cheap as well with their student pricing. The stadium is about a 20min cab from the student village and it also home to the Ospreys which is Swansea top flight Rugby club. We were able to get to a game as well which had a very similar vibe to watching rugby back in Brisbane.
A WEEKEND AWAY IN DUBLIN
Dublin has always been a city that I wanted to visit and so I was able to find myself a traveling companion within my house and a Thursday to Sunday weekend to get away. Dublin is quite a flat and small city so getting around was super easy and we were able to see most of the sights. As a city with such a rich history and strong cultural identity it was fantastic experience. Temple Bar lived up to everything with fantastic traditional pub music atmosphere with awesome food. Although it was rather touristy and a bit expensive it was so much fun. My traveling buddy had a friend from home who was with us and he had family there so we were treated to a home cooked roast dinner (with bulk potatoes).
CARDIFF – WALLABIES vs. WALES
Buying tickets to the Wallabies vs. Wales game was the first thing I did with my first full day in Europe. I had heard so much about the Millennium Stadium and the Welsh crowd at rugby games. Needless to say I wasn’t disappointed. I went with one of my welsh housemates which provided some friendly competition throughout the day. The buzz around Cardiff was something I hadn’t experienced before and I was wearing my Australian jersey with pride whilst also experiencing some friendly banter. It was the first time I had ever been an away supporter at a sporting event which was an entirely new thing for me. It felt good to belt out the national anthem after being away for so long but with the stadium’s roof shut the Welsh national anthem boomed out and really set the tone for an incredible game of rugby. It was honestly the best rugby game I have ever seen, both from an actual game perspective as there was plenty of tries and it was also a very close game. The atmosphere was far and away the best I have been in and words can’t really describe the feeling. When the Wallabies won there were strangers high-fiving and hugging as they felt the national camaraderie on foreign soil.
STONEHENGE & AVEBURY
Swansea University offered another day trip to see the world famous Stonehenge and the lesser known Avebury which is a similar neolithic stone structure but in circles. Despite the touristy nature of both landmarks it was still astonishing to think about the size of the project it would have been to assemble these structures. Considering that Stonehenge is a 3.5hr bus ride from Swansea it is mind-blowing to think that thousands of years ago they were able to move these mammoth rocks for hundreds of miles.
As a Manchester City fan I made it my mission to see a game. The last time I was there it wasn’t football season so I wasn’t able to see a game. I had a friend from home living and working in Manchester so I spent the weekend with her and we went to the game. As a massive club with billionaire owners the whole match day experience was incredibly different to that of Swansea.
It was a fantastic weekend away and well worth the 4hr train ride. There were plenty of nifty bars and pubs with a lot of pop up food stalls near where I was staying. It was late November so there was the Christmas markets which are always a good time to wander through.
THOUGHTS ON MID SEMESTER TRAVEL
Looking back on my time on exchange I wish I had done more weekends away to a variety of cities in Europe but the reality is, Swansea is a 3hr bus/train ride from Bristol and then the airport is 20mins from there. The idea of a quick cheap flight is ruined by the journey you have to undertake from Swansea if you’re catching an international flight it ends up being a 6 hour journey. The cost of travel or accomodation if you had an early flight negates the ‘cheap flight’ you might get. It was a bit of a bummer but Europe isn’t going anywhere soon and I can always go back! The memories of hanging with my friends in the Student Village are some I’ll treasure for many years to come.
For more on my exchange to Swansea see the following links: