My name is Luiggi and I just came back from my greatest trip so far this year. I arrived on Swansea around 3pm on a Monday after a long train trip from Bristol. It was my first time on Wales and the warmest welcome came from a shiny sun that accompanied me all day long. I had the chance to meet with Ryan, another Newcastle student that was on Swansea for the PICNIC program just as myself. We were both very excited to get started with the program.
Tuesday morning started a little cloudy, but I fought the cold by grabbing a jacket and walking from my hotel to the Swansea University campus. I walked across the gorgeous Brynmill Park to get to Singleton Abbey where Pete Worsley-Clarke was already waiting for me. A multitalented musician, gamer, and anthropologist, Pete was the best host I could have asked for. He had already scheduled meetings with several members of the staff and had arrange a tour around both Swansea University campus.
My first meeting was with Head of International Development Siân Impey. She gave an overview of the international student community in Swansea University, the recruitment programs the University runs around the globe reaching out for students, and the first steps they take to welcome the international students into the university dynamic. She suggested several ideas to improve the connexion between foreign and local students, for example organizing activities involving dance and sports which accelerate the interaction and the rapport between all the participants. She also advised me to visit the Mumbles, a coastal district 20 minutes east from Swansea, and to have an ice cream at Joe’s Ice Cream place. Now I’m sharing the same advice with anyone reading.
Luiggi on campus at Swansea University
In the Bay Campus tour I was shown all the new buildings and laboratories and I could saw first-hand how the students were encouraged to use all the equipment and learning spaces even from the undergraduate level. Several projects are driven by partner industries that finance the spaces and coach the students. The highlight of the Bay Campus visit came on Wednesday when we had a Virtual reality demonstration at the university VR lab.
In the virtual reality lab
On Thursday I had the pleasure to meet Cristina Monteiro, the Regional manager for Latin America and Europe from the International Development Office. Caring and very maternal, she told me about the struggles of Latin-American students to adapt themselves to a different climate and social environment. How she received regular visits from students looking for help, advice or just a little chat, and how she helped them overcome the barriers and insert themselves into the community. Finally, she introduced me to the Discovery program, a student volunteering initiative that connects both students and citizens with elderly and disabled people.
I took so much from this trip and can’t wait to share the knowledge with my fellow members from the International-Intercultural Society. I’m sure we can make a stronger impact on the International student community.