My name is Michael Lyle, and I’m a senior at Iowa State studying marketing and international business. This time a year ago, I had submitted my application for Swansea University in southern Wales. Studying abroad was always something I had wanted to do, but it didn’t become a reality until I found out it was required for my major - although it didn’t seem as much of a “requirement” as a privilege.
One of the best parts about the Swansea program is the pre-sessional Introduction to British Culture course, which is a three-credit class taken in London or Swansea before semester classes begin. I chose the London pre-sessional, and it was an awesome way to begin my time abroad. Days would consist of a small lecture with our professor, as well as an excursion in the city to places such as Parliament, Westminster Abbey, the Financial District, St. Paul’s Cathedral, the Museum of London, Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre, and the Imperial War Museum. It was really beneficial to have our professor with us because he acted as our tour guide and would point out relevant information and answer on-the-spot questions.
Swansea University has been working with Iowa State students for over twenty years and offers a large variety of course departments and classes. I was fortunate enough to find classes that followed along with my four-year plan, and therefore I was able to avoid postponing graduation due to studying abroad. Classes were structured a little differently than here in the U.S., and there was less emphasis on weekly assignments and more on group discussion and participation.
Swansea City is similar in size to Des Moines but is located along the coast, so the terrain is nothing like what you’d see in Iowa. The beach is literally right across the street from campus property, and I even had a class with a view of the ocean. Farther west along the Gower Peninsula is home to a couple of Britain’s top beaches, including Rhossili and Pennard. If you’re lucky, you may even be able to see a couple wild horses among the numerous sheep.
I thoroughly enjoyed my time in the United Kingdom and highly suggest studying abroad to anyone who is still on the fence about the idea. The memories and friends made are irreplaceable, and I know I would have regrets if I never went. On the first day of class in London, my professor said, “The only thing better than being a college student, is being a college student in another country,” and I can’t emphasize enough the truth behind that statement.
For more information about the Swansea programs, check out: