For one rising junior, the chance to study abroad, again, was an opportunity she couldn’t pass up. Marie Vernon grew up in Japan and studying in America was her first experience abroad. The opportunity to study in Wales at the University of Wales, Trinity Saint David this spring was her second.
“I wanted to study abroad in the United Kingdom because I have been a big fan of British culture for years,” Vernon said. “I love watching British movies and TV dramas and reading British literature, especially classics like Jane Austen. Spending time in the U.K. has been one of my dreams.”
While she was in Wales, Vernon studies English literature of the 18th and 19th centuries, creative writing and teaching English as a foreign language. Like her Averett classes, classes at the University of Saint David were very small, which allowed students to develop a friendly relationship with the professors. It was so friendly, Vernon remarked, that students called professors by their first name, without using a title like doctor.
Classes in Wales were different from classes at Averett in that she had more spare time. While a student would spend three hours a week in the classroom for each class, the number of classes a student took was three compared to the five students at Averett traditionally take, Vernon explained.
The grading system was also completely different. “In Wales, a score above 70 is considered a ‘first mark’ – an ‘A’ in America – so a student from America need not get upset upon receiving a grade like 72 because that is actually an excellent result. It’s unusual for anyone to receive a score above 90, and if a student does, that means his or her work is publishable.”
The University of Wales arranged various cultural trips for its international students, which allowed Vernon to visit other places within Wales including Carmarthen, Aberystwyth, Swansea, Cardiff and Tenby. She was also able to travel to England where she visited the cities of Bath and London. The highlight of Vernon’s Welsh experience was being exposed to different cultures, not only the Welsh culture, but also the cultures of other international students.
“I met some very nice local people who invited me to lunch and dinner and introduced me to some aspects of Welsh culture, including their delicious foods. I also enjoyed becoming friends with other international students and learning about their cultures. It was inspiring to interact with people who have completely different backgrounds from mine and to realize that we could appreciate each other’s company despite the differences, or rather because of the differences.
“What impressed me the most during my time in Wales was how helpful people were. Before going to Wales, I was very nervous about how I would do in an unfamiliar country at an unfamiliar university; but I found soon after arrival, that people were always very nice and willing to help.”
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