Why Illinois? #3: Study Around the World

Here’s a map in case you’re wondering where Wales or Swansea is located!

Another week, another opportunity to share why I love the University of Illinois! This time, I would like to reminisce and take you back with me to Spring 2013. From January until May, I lived in Swansea, Wales in the United Kingdom.

When I visited Illinois for the second time, I learned about how extensive Illinois’s study abroad program. Most universities had not even mentioned study abroad during my engineering tours. Engineering programs require a large number of classes, so typically it is more difficult for engineering students to study abroad.

Unless you’re at the University of Illinois! The College of Engineering at Illinois has an office named iPeng which focuses on providing study abroad programs to engineering students. Beyond iPeng, the University of Illinois has a Study Abroad Office with programs in almost every country in the world.

I was extremely determined to study abroad. I knew it would be challenging, but I talked my academic advisers during my freshman year. They helped me figure out that I could study abroad during the spring semester of my sophomore year and that I would need to take thermodynamics for chemical engineers. I also wanted to study in an English speaking country, so I planned to study abroad in the United Kingdom or Ireland.

Unfortunately, none of the iPeng programs matched my criteria. But the Study Abroad Office offers study abroad programs at universities throughout the UK and Ireland. I determined which of these universities offered chemical engineering classes through a lot of university website stalking. In the end, I settled on Swansea University. It offered the classes I needed and Wales sounded like a cool place to be. It was special and unique!

Thus, I spent 5 months living and studying in a foreign country and traveled throughout Europe! I took a lot of engineering courses, but I also found school to be easier because the UK doesn’t give as much homework. For Easter, British universities have 3 weeks off so I spent my time backpacking through 7 countries in the mainland!

Study abroad was a huge time of growth for me. I learned so much about other cultures and people as well as about myself. There were some really stressful moments and not everyone loves it. To me, study abroad was a beautiful experience because it changed how I see the world. Not in a cliché way, but in a way that has changed my values and what’s important to me. I feel more self-assured and comfortable with myself. I’m so thankful the University of Illinois provided me with such a wonderful opportunity.

And now, just for fun, I want to add some of my favorite pictures from studying abroad:

2013-03-03 17.18.24-2 2013-04-02 15.53.35

2013-05-12 12.36.02

Swansea University Catholic Society: my best friends in Swansea!

2013-05-28 13.11.10

Yes, that’s me on the right! I’m in Ireland!

 

2013-04-19 14.59.17

The beach that was less than a 5 minute walk from Swansea University.

 

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