Wednesday, September 16, 2009

A Wales of a time

By Liz Hammond, Associate of Arts – English

It is not in my nature to act spontaneously. I am the queen of to-do lists and rely heavily on my day timer. However, when I received an email regarding last Summer’s field school in Wales, I felt the immediate urge to take advantage of this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.

My interest grew after attending meetings and information sessions. Each of the teachers involved; Christine Dewar (Performing and Fine Arts), Susan Smythe (Geography) and Marni Westerman (Sociology) are the kind of instructors you want to have. All of these professors are kind, understanding and passionate about what they teach. They were yet another reason why I felt I had to take part in this study-abroad semester.

Once the paperwork was done and my fees were paid I was still not entirely convinced that I had made the right decision. I was nervous about living in a dorm and unsure about the idea of studying in a foreign location. I am a text-book type-A personality who sometimes finds it difficult to adapt to new surroundings and situations. Luckily, all the students and staff at Trinity University College in Wales possessed a welcoming nature that made the adjustment process much easier.

The most rewarding aspect of the learning abroad experience was the chance to witness real-life examples of course material.
I have never been particularly interested in Geography but land forms became far more intriguing to me as I explored them in various Welsh settings. One of my personal favourite memories from the program was our visit to Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre. This excursion brought to life many of the things we learned about and discussed in Performing Arts. Principles of Sociology were present throughout my entire trip as I became more familiar with Welsh culture and traditions.

The Welsh culture course provided by Trinity University College added to my amazing study abroad experience. This course was led by Conway Davies, a fascinating Welsh man who delivered historical information on Wales that related to all three Douglas courses in different respects. Through organized excursions, exploration of my surroundings and Welsh culture classes, I received a learning experience that could only be gained abroad. What stood out for me upon returning home was the overwhelming warmth of Welsh people. I felt this warmth at the college, in the pubs, and all the small towns we visited.

For me, studying abroad led to as much personal growth as it did educational. While adjusting to dorm-life I feel I not only had many great times and made new friends, I also became much more patient and understanding. As school work did not occupy all of our time in Wales, other students and I planned self-guided excursions and weekend trips. We took a day trip to the town of Hay-on-Wye, and many of us spent a weekend to Dublin. Being able to plan these outings and successfully navigate myself through new destinations left me with an increased sense of independence.

The Wales semester abroad program gave me the opportunity to become more academically and personally well rounded. If you are considering a study abroad program I would highly recommend it. For me, it brought to light that learning extends far beyond the classroom.