Featured Students

Peter Trearchis

Academic Discovery

Peter shares what he discovered academically at Swansea University in Wales. 


Term Abroad: Spring 2011

Home University: University of Massachusetts - Lowell

Host University: Swansea University

Major: Chemical Engineering






What major educational differences did you notice between Swansea University and your home university (i.e. differences in teaching styles, homework load, etc.)? Did you notice differences about the way engineering was taught/approached in particular?

Studying classes in a different country was a lot of fun! It is great to have professors with accents and to experience different teaching styles. Swansea's campus is amazing as well with an amazing location right across the street from the beach.

I took one engineering class at Swansea University because that's all I needed to take. The class turned out to essentially be one huge semester-long project in process design. As a result, I noticed some major educational differences. Firstly, students are expected to learn a majority of the class material on their own. Professors race through power-points and examples leaving students to figure out the smaller details and other problems on their own or with their classmates. Secondly, homework was not given out as much as in an American engineering class. In my engineering class I had three homework assignments, the project taking up the rest of my time. Our process design project was in teams and, again, students were expected to research material on their own in order to get each part of the project completed on time. In my other classes in history and management accounting there was no given homework, your class grade being based solely on a final exam or split between and essay and a final exam. Therefore, study abroad students must be prepared to do a lot of reading and studying on their own if they want to fully understand the class material. However, don't forget to have fun as well!

What did you like most about Swansea University?

I liked the student body at Swansea University the most. Everyone I met was extremely friendly and helpful, whether they were university students, staff, or residents of Swansea. Swansea is highly rated for "student experience" and this is not without reason as the university has or advertises events for students on different nights of the week and the travel shop also hosts trips to different countries. Furthermore, I loved the student village! Living in a house with British students rather than only other American study abroad students was a great way to become friends with students from England and Wales. Some of the best times I had in Swansea were in the student village, not traveling around Europe.

What advice do you have for other students about classes/academics at Swansea?

Advice I could give to students about academics and classes (called modules) at Swansea is to again make sure you keep up on assigned reading and make sure you are not confused about any material throughout the entire semester. It is better to get help before the end of the semester when you are revising for final exams. If you take engineering related modules make sure to read the class description and pre-requisites first in case you have to read up on some material before the module begins. For example in my Process Design class the other students were in the process of taking or had already taken Heat Transfer, a class I do not take till the spring semester of my junior year at my home university. If you have essays due during the semester try getting them done as soon as possible. I would rather go traveling to London or Paris on a long weekend rather than work on an essay due Monday. Finally, do not forget to have fun!! Studying abroad is an amazing experience, a chance to learn more about yourself and an eye opening way to see Europe, learn, and interact with its incredible people.

Anything else you want to add?

While studying abroad at Swansea do not forget to visit the Gower Peninsula! The Gower has some of the best beaches in Britain and spending a day hiking is a great way to see the coast. I highly recommend going to Caswell Bay (where you can try out surfing!), Langland Bay, Mumbles, Three Cliffs Bay, and Rhossili (Worm's Head)!



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