We asked one of our current Care Leavers, a series of questions about how they have found studying at Swansea University.
- Why did you decide to apply to University?
I decided to apply to university because it was something that I had always aspired to do as child, I kind of lost sight of that dream after finishing school and dropping out of my first attempt at college. I just wanted to improve myself and my life, to become somebody that my ten-year-old self would have been proud of.
- What attracted you to study at Swansea University?
The beach. No, in all seriousness I thoroughly researched all the universities that I applied to and Swansea University was among the most highly rated for my course and the support available to care leavers. Extra points were given because of the location though.
- What were your reasons for choosing your particular degree course?
I chose American Studies quite simply because it was what interested me. I wanted to do something interdisciplinary but I was not interested in joint honours, this degree gives me the freedom to study one of the most powerful countries in the world through a variety of avenues.
- What have been your favourite things about studying at Swansea University?
Again, the beach. Seriously, I love being so close to the beach, it is the perfect place to chill out with all your new friends. The friends that I have made since I got here are also some of my favourite things about studying at Swansea. Joining societies leads you to meet so many people from all over the world, which is why going to socials is so great! I would have to say that university/student life in general is one of my favourite things about being here, there are so many ways to socialise and have fun, different places to study and activities to get involved in. You can do as much or as little as you want and it is so inclusive.
- Have you found the university to be a supportive and motivating environment?
My personal experience is that the university, staff and students alike, are very supportive. Everybody wants you to succeed in what you are doing, even when you feel like giving up. One of the struggles of being a care leaver, for myself at least, is that you don’t have the same support network that many of your fellow students do. The staff at Swansea University have been fantastic in the absence of such a system, they are constantly there to give you a boost of motivation when you need it, or just have a coffee and a catch up.
- What challenges, if any, have you faced as a student? How did you overcome your challenges?
One challenge that I have encountered since becoming a student here is trying to attain the right balance between my work life and my social life. Contact hours, the amount of time spent in lectures and seminars, for my course average out at around nine hours a week. It can be very easy to forget exactly how many hours you should be working outside of this. I am still working on getting the balance correct but my current method is to treat it like a full work day: if you work from nine until five a few days out of the week then you have the rest of the week to do what you want. In theory.
- What one thing do you wish you’d known before starting university?
It is difficult to pick just one piece of information that I wish I had known. However, it would probably be this: you are going to miss home. In one shape or another, even if you never considered it home before, or you don’t have family there, it could be the tiniest, most boring town in the middle of nowhere but you will miss it to a certain degree. I have yet to meet one student who does not miss the place that they came from. The real plot-twist to this story though, is that when you go back home- you end up missing university! I think this a good thing, you learn to appreciate what both places give you and you never regret the times you spend there. Also, you should know that if you enjoy going to the beach you will get sand in everything you own. Genuinely, I have three pairs of shoes that I can only wear on the beach now.
- What top tip would you give to new students starting their courses this academic year?
To new students I would say this; try not to worry too much. I know it is difficult not to but it will all work out in the end. You will make friends, and catch up with the rest of the class and one day you will finally remember where that building is that you need to be in. These things take time and there is not much we can do about that, just try to have fun with it.
- How would you sum up your experiences at the university so far, in one sentence?!
My experience of university so far has been mind-blowing, slightly scary, and eye-opening, exciting, new and just wonderful. I could not possibly hope to contain all of it within once sentence, except to say that it has been completely worth the effort it has taken to get here.