Fulbright Scholars share their experiences

Choosing Wales as an academic destination can prove to be an extremely enriching and rewarding experience. With the country offering a unique cultural experience within the world renowned UK academic sector, there are a number of ways you can sample some of the delights that our nation, and its universities, have to offer.

One example of some of the existing programmes giving international students a flavour of Wales is the Fulbright Wales Summer Institute, a six-week cultural and academic programme for US students held at Aberystwyth, Bangor and Cardiff universities. During the six-week period, participants learn about Welsh culture, its history, stunning landscapes and the role that industry has taken in shaping the historical, political and culture of the nation. Those taking part also learn about Welsh influences internationally and the role of Wales within the United Kingdom and the wider world.

Travelling the length and breadth of the country, students get to experience the dramatic and wide ranging scenery and gain a unique insight into what makes Wales such a dynamic, diverse and fascinating place. Furthermore, students also get the opportunity to study at three high quality universities, each with their own areas of expertise and recognised internationally for the quality of their research and teaching.

Those taking part in the scheme recently were effusive in their praise of what they saw. Jackie Welsh, who is studying Linguistics at Arizona State University, describes her time on the Fulbright Wales Summer Institute as “some of the fullest, newest, and fastest days of my life” before going on to say that she’d “never possessed so much information about a foreign country, and I could only form ideas and conclusions about a country within the context of the limited background information I possessed. Now that I am immersed in Wales, I continue to learn information that provides me with an increasingly deep and intricate understanding of the Welsh identity.”

Matthew Waskiewicz, an Economics and Political Science student at American University, describes “the experiential learning style of this Fulbright programme is like a turbo-charged semester – each day brings with it an entire week’s worth of learning.” While for Roberto Roldan, an Editorial Journalism and International Studies student at the University of South Florida, his time in Wales left him “more confident in my ability to succeed at difficult projects and to make deeper connections with the people I come in contact with, even if they are from completely different cultures and backgrounds. The trip has also taught me a lot about the ever-changing nature of culture and how people from all aspects of society influence the future of a nation. I’m excited that now I can take what I learned in Wales to see what role I can play in changing and shaping the future of my own culture.”

However, it is not only through the Fulbright programme you can come to study at a Welsh university. After gaining a degree in Information Technology at Mumbai University in India, Amarjeet Singh Mutneja came to Wales to study for an MBA at Cardiff Metropolitan University, where he promptly fell in love with the country and stayed to work as an International Officer at Aberystwyth University. For him, Welsh “student life has brought a whole new dimension to my learning experience. It has put me outside my comfort zone, but in a very enjoyable way. More than anything, it brings you closer to discovering yourself and making friends with so many people from all over the world!

“The UK is full of surprising experiences. The more you explore, the more you learn, and the more you discover things you weren’t aware of. In my opinion, studying in the UK is far beyond just getting a degree. From personality development and communication skills to international exposure, studying here is a great learning curve.”

Amarjeet also praises the level of student support on offer to international students studying in Wales, including having International Office staff come to see him and his friends graduate, which “was a very special moment for me, and I needed someone to be there supporting me, as my family couldn’t make it on the day.”

Describing Wales as a great place to study, he concludes by saying that he wishes he could show all prospective international students how fantastic it really is. “It is something to be explored; it has something new, something challenging, something exciting, something great for every individual.”

Further information on the Fulbright Wales Summer Institute can be found here.

Meanwhile, the British Council has information on education in the UK for prospective international students here.