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Central College Abroad - Study & Intern Abroad in Wales
Courtney Burns is from Raleigh, North Carolina and studied abroad in Bangor, Wales through Central College Abroad. She graduated from William Peace University with a degree in Psychology and enjoys studying mindfulness meditation and yoga.
When: Summer of 2012
Highlights: The academics in Wales were a bit different to what I was used to in the US. Many of my classes consisted of just lectures and our take home requirements were mostly reading and writing essays. Because of the difference in the US school schedule and that of Great Britain, we were given the opportunity to complete our final exams earlier than the other students. All of my finals included writing an essay or reflection on what we had learned in the class. My favorite part of the academics in Wales was being able to study along side Welsh students. In some of my classes, the professor was Welsh, and oftentimes, the Welsh students would ask questions in Welsh and the teacher would answer back in Welsh before translating for the rest of the class. I found this very fascinating and exciting!
The highlight of my trip would most likely be my opportunity to participate in an outdoor pursuits class provided through our program. I was able to take part in activities I never thought I'd be able to, especially not in another country! My favorite activity was sea cliff traversing. Sea cliff traversing is when you climb across the sea cliffs right above the ocean. A bit like rock climbing, because you have to find footings and hand holds but at the same time very different. There were parts where you had to cross through the water and swim and other parts where you head to time your jumps so that a massive wave didn't hit you. Being able to immerse myself in the beauty and nature of Wales was an amazing experience!
Morning: If it happened to be a school morning (which fortunately, was not very often!), I would wake up and get ready for the day. The ensuite bathroom was a treat to have, but was also very small. When you showered, you literally ending up taking a shower in the entire bathroom! It took about 5 minutes to walk through town for my classes at the university. The walk was beautiful! Except when it was raining, then it was horrendous (a lot of rain in Wales, but when it isn't raining, it is spectacular!). My breakfast almost always consisted of toast and Nutella spread...and yes, you can get sick of Nutella!
Afternoon: Most days consisted of a lunch of potato and leek soup (leeks are the national vegetable of Wales) and a grilled cheese. Once the semester was a couple of weeks in, I would take the afternoon to work on essays and do some reading. Many of us in the group would get together and plan for our next excursion or night out.
Evening: Bangor has many different pubs to choose from. Most of our nights out were spent gathering in the communal kitchen, making an "American" dinner (usually nachos or tacos) and preparing for the night. We usually ended up somewhere on High Street, either at the Varsity (a favorite place for many of the students) or the Kings Inn. We also frequented the Belle Vue which was just down the road from our dorms.
Shanna Aberson is a 21 year old female from Orange City, Iowa, and she is currently completing her senior year at Central College in Pella, Iowa. She spent this past spring semester studying abroad in beautiful Bangor, Wales. She truly loves studying abroad (having done so not only in Wales, but Mexico and Australia as well), but she also enjoys participating in athletics, expanding her movie collection, and making memories with family and friends.
When: Summer of 2012
Highlights: There were so many amazing moments from my semester abroad, it is hard to narrow it down to one or two favorite moments. My favorite course from the semester was definitely Outdoor Pursuits. This course allowed us to participate in incredible outdoor activities from mountain climbing to gorge scrambling to kayaking. Probably my favorite day was when we did sea-level traversing which included everything from swimming in the ocean to horizontal rock climbing to even a few cliff jumps.
Outside of academics I absolutely loved the field trips we took as part of our program. Tecwyn Vaughan Jones, our Program Director, not only took us all over Wales but to parts of Ireland, too. Hands down, Ireland was the ultimate experience for me. I fell in love with its music, food, and lively atmosphere. It is defintely a place that I will be visiting again some day.
Morning: Living in Bangor, Wales, definitely took some getting used to if for no other reason than I had to cook all of my own meals. On a typical morning I would get up around 8:00a.m., go to the kitchen, and have my usual breakfast of eggs and fruit. I would then get ready for the day and perhaps work on some homework before heading off to my late morning classes.
Afternoon: Another thing that I had to get used to living in Bangor was the amount of walking that had to be done to get from place to place. The majority of my classes occurred between late morning to early afternoon, and it was definitely a treck to get from one building to another. Of course I got used to it soon enough, but walking up, down, and around those curvy European streets took a couple of weeks for me to conditioned for. Once classes finished up for the day I usually spent a couple hours time at one of the local gyms. I spent my time there staying in shape for next year's track season, and I met a couple of really great people while I was there. I became friends with a couple of the regular members as well as a few of the personal trainers, and I am happy to say that stay in touch with them.
Evening: My evenings varied depending on the night. A couple time every week I had a night class that I had to attend or else I would spend some extra time making a more impressive meal to eat at supper as compared to my breakfast or lunch. More often than not I would meet up with other people from my program to go on walks around Bangor or perhaps slip over to Llanduno (a city about 15 minutes away by train) to watch a newly released movie. I also spent a lot of evenings simply hanging out with my flatmates, often comparing cultural differences between the States and Great Britain, or whatever other topic struck us at the time.
Melanie Cook is from Dallas, Texas and attends Trinity University in San Antonio; she is currently working towards a degree in Psychology with a Creative Writing minor. Melanie loved everything about her experience in Wales except their lack of Mexican food - and no, the one "Taco Bell" in Manchester didn't count.
When: Fall of 2011
Highlights: The highlight of my trip without a doubt was the Outdoor Pursuits class. I've never been into athletics or any kind of outdoor activity, but when I got to Wales I realized that I didn't want to miss out on the amazing landscape so I signed up for the class at the last minute. Every second of every day I was terrified, whether I was trying to stand up on a surfboard (never happened) or biking down a mountain (I didn't even know that grown-up bikes had gears), but I learned so much about perseverance and courage and the value of friends and teammates that help you get to the finish. I learned that I love to be right on the line between my comfort zone and my stretch zone, because that's where life gets interesting.
Morning: I had morning classes/Outdoor Pursuits every weekday except Tuesday, when I would sleep in. Every other day I woke up around 7:30 to make myself breakfast (porridge or cereal) in my flat's kitchen and then walk ~20 minutes to make my 9 am classes. Lectures were two hours long with a break in between, seminars were an hour long, and all three of my Bangor classes had both lecture and seminar components. Every other weekend we were on the bus in the morning heading off on a field trip; castles, memorials, and nearby historical cities like Liverpool or Chester were all frequent stops.
Afternoon: After lecture and seminar, I would usually walk around High Street to get lunch in the bakeries (warm pasties on cold days were marvelous) and sometimes shop for items I needed. I also used this time to grocery shop, piling my food into my backpack and walking back up the hill to the dorms site. On Mondays I took a Zumba class at the gym right next to my dorm, and some days I spent time in my room reading for class or watching TV. On Outdoor Pursuits days, of course, I was far away from campus doing something crazy like canoeing down the Menai Strait or scrambling up a mountain.
Evening: I usually ate dinner with friends, either cooking together or going out to the smaller restaurants close to campus. We watched movies and played games, I updated my travel blog, went to Trampoline Club on Wednesdays and to the Christian Union meetings on Thursdays. I usually went to bed early; I was always exhausted by the end of the day!
Kenna Neitch is 20 years old and from Victoria, Texas. Kenna is studying English Literature and Philosophy at Texas Lutheran Univerisity in Seguin, Texas.
When: Spring of 2012
Highlights: The people were definitely one of the best facets of the study abroad experience. The director, Tecwyn Jones, does so much to make the trip amazing for every student that comes. As a student coming by myself, without friends or even other students that went to the same university as I did back home, I was surprised by how quickly I found a community here. For all of us, I think, Bangor became the home away from home that we would begin to miss during our other travels. Which, of course, is another of the great benefits. Travel to other countries becomes entirely possible here, and it was an exhilarating experience planning those trips from start to finish.
Morning: My classes this semester started later than they usually do at home, so I usually take advantage of the extra time by making breakfast in the communal kitchen in our flat of 6 people. The kitchen has all the basics - refrigerator, freezer, cabinets for storing food and dishes, sinks, stove, microwave, and toaster. It also serves as a social center where flatmates congregate and have friends over.
Afternoon: After classes, there are a host of different activities to choose from. If I wanted a bit of city life, I might run down to the shops on high street with some of the other students. However, one of the biggest draws of Bangor was the natural beauty, so, instead, I would usually walk down to the Druid's Circle (think a miniature Stonehenge), the beach, the Roman Camp (beautiful grassy hill that overlooks the Menai River), or even down to the pier (gorgeous views of Snowdon and the best scones in the world).
Evening: There were great nights in the flats, hanging out with music in the kitchen, and lots of movie nights. There were also nights out at the pubs and clubs, eating, dancing, or drinking, as suits your preferences. There were even a few nights of stargazing when the clouds miraculously decided to take the evening off.
Rachel James is from upstate New York and attended St. John Fisher College. She loves outdoor activities, reading, playing field hockey, and learning new card games.
When: Spring of 2011
Highlights: I loved everything and couldn't pick just one part. The people I met in my program are still my close friends and we make efforts to visit, though they live in the Midwest and I on the East Coast. Hockey was a good time, both playing and partying. The cultural and historical pieces that I picked up mean so much to me. People still say something about Scotland or Wales and I can answer their questions or make them understand what it's really like.
My Outdoor Pursuits class has stuck with me enough to buy a new mountain bike and I was gifted a kayak, plus I have future hopes for rock climbing gear. Each field trip was a new adventure, each day was different and I learned so much about the culture and myself. Taking trips on my own made me feel capable and independent, and I was able to see a favorite band in concert, a Disney show, take free tours around Edinburgh, enjoy a show in London and go shopping in Camden Town, and get some sun in Greece.
A typical day: I slept in a lot more than I expected to. But weekends we were always up early to catch our coach to a new castle we would be exploring. A few afternoons I had lectures, and there were a few large assignments that I would work on throughout the semester. Between lectures I went grocery shopping at Morrison's and used my backpack for groceries to walk up the hill. I ran errands, hung out with hockey mates, or went to play frisbee at Roman Camp. On Wednesdays and on weekends I had hockey games, so I was on the pitch or on a bus trip for those.
GO: Why did you decide to study abroad with CCA in Wales?
Shanna: Studying abroad was a key component when I originally decided on which college to attend. Central College has an incredible Study Abroad Progam with, on average, over 50% of each graduating class having studied abroad at least once during their college career. I chose to do a semester abroad to Wales in particular for a few reasons.
I have always wanted to spend time in the United Kingdom, and I am very intrigued with Welsh history as they are one of the original seven Celtic Nations. Beyond that I was very interested in the unique Outdoor Pursuits program that is offered exclusively through Central College. Finally, I have had several friends study abroad in Bangor, Wales, and each of them had an absolutely amazing time. That was enough to convince me.
GO: What made your study abroad experience unique and special?
Shanna: There are several components that I could list to answers this question. Of course the Outdoor Pursuits class was an incredible experience where I was able to do mountain biking, sea-level traversing, outdoor rock climbing, etc., activities that I would never have been able to do back in Iowa. Also, the fieldtrips that the students go on are amazing, particularly the short Tour of Ireland that is included in the program.
Ultimately, though, what really made this program special for me was our Program Director, Tecwyn Vaughan Jones. Not only is the man a walking encyclopedia (seriously, he knows everything), but he demonstrated a passion for Wales and great concern for his students that instantly put me at ease. I know that I will definitely miss his charisma and leadership when I return to the States.
GO: How has this experience impacted your future?
Shanna: The major thing that I will take away from my time abroad is that I know that I will continue to travel. Being here, seeing a good chunk of Europe, experiencing different cultures, cuisines, and ways of life, I know it is something I want to keep doing. Outside of that studying abroad has truly helped prepare me for the time when I will no longer be attending school, for when I am in the "real world."
I was forced to become more independent because I could not instantly call my family or professors back home if I had a problem. When I faced frustrations, be it through a cooking disaster or overcoming a challenge presented through Outdoor Pursuits, I learned how to take a step back, breath, and move on.
About Central College Abroad
Central College Abroad is a study abroad provider that focuses on opportunities for undergraduate students from colleges and universities throughout the United States. CCA has programs in 8 different locations around the world for summer, semester and academic year terms. Their high quality study abroad programs revolve around an appreciation for cross-cultural immersion and foreign language development. In addition, students of a CCA program can compliment their experience with service-learning or a professional internship placement. CCA operates out of Central College in Pella, Iowa.