My 2014 -The Necessary Look Back 0

I almost always start off the new year thinking back about the last one, and wondering where the time went. This year I’m shocked by how many experiences I managed to pack into just one year. I feel like I’ve grown so much this year, and it’s really interesting looking back.

This time last year I was getting ready to study abroad. The International Office was doing a pick up of the semester’s incoming international students, so I tagged along to help before getting on my flight. Flying really stresses me out, and for so many years I’ve hated airports because of all the goodbyes I’ve had to say. Now I kind of love them, because of the pickups. As a buddy you’re basically going to meet people that you’ll be best friends with in a few weeks. This time was different though, I was going to be the international student, and not the buddy when I arrived in America. That was a bit weird at first, because I love helping people but find it really awkward receiving help. I really needed help that day though, because the idea of getting on a plane and leaving everything I had come to know was a little intimidating, because I’d done it before. I know how difficult it can be, but I also know how amazing. I knew it was something I wouldn’t regret doing. The friendships I’d made at UWTSD really helped me focus on the positives and get myself together. It was so hard to say goodbye. I’m so thankful for all the help I got at the airport from Gruff, who runs the buddy programme. He made sure I made it to the right terminal while juggling everything else. He’s the best!

IMG_3601

Reena and I, we love selfies

Once I arrived, of course everything was fine, I came away from it with such a love for the course that I’m doing and an appreciation of the different learning styles. I felt more than ready to tackle third year and my dissertation. I also loved the people that I met, and I can’t imagine life without them. Even though we didn’t fly over on the same day, I went with one of my best friends, Reena. Studying abroad alone is pretty awesome, but getting to share a room with your best friend and go on adventures with her in another country? Kind of priceless. It brought us a lot closer and we helped each other get through our first Finals Week. She was also always there to remind me that no, actually, frozen yogurt all day everyday is not ok, even though it’s free and just EVERYWHERE on campus. You can read about my study abroad experience here.

Campus at Presbyterian College in South Carolina

Once you’re settled into your routine anywhere it becomes a little like home. South Carolina and all the wonderful people I’d met there were definitely starting to take up a big place in my heart, and unlike when I left Wales, I didn’t know when I would be back. So saying goodbye was hard. But I knew I was going back to summer in Wales, so I was also excited.

Throughout my summer I worked as a Student Ambassador for UWTSD, I especially enjoyed going on the Reaching Wider days out, where you go into schools and interact with children and do workshops with them. It’s a really fun few days, and you get to share your experiences of university with kids who might not have known it was a possibility for them. My favourite memory from one of those days was when one of the boys told me he didn’t think he could go to university because his parents wouldn’t be able to afford to send him. When I explained how student loans work and how there is so much support available for students in the UK and especially Wales, he was so excited about his future. Days like that, when you know you’ve impacted someone’s life are the most special. (To find out more about the programme click here 

I carried on volunteering as an International Buddy for the International Office at UWTSD. It’s always so fun if you’re around during summer to help out with the summer schools, because you get to go on a packed week version of the Cultural Programme. So I got to travel to all the places like Bath (my favourite), Llansteffan, and fun places like Big Pit and London. St. David’s is another one of my favourites, because of the stop at Whitesands Bay.

Heathrow pickup of a Summer School from Quest in Canada

Once I started working as a social media ambassador time started flying by. Sharing #MyStory has been so fun and the feedback that we get is always so inspiring. I loved working with the team and getting to know everyone. I’ve made some awesome and really special friends that I just adore.

Open Day on the Carmarthen Campus!

I always have awesome summers working for UWTSD but nothing compares to when term starts again, and all the students come back. It’s so fun seeing the freshers that you gave campus tours to and helped to apply, really fitting in and enjoying it. This academic year started off with training for my  new job as a Hall Warden. It was really fun learning how to do the job and spending time with my fellow wardens. It’s one of coolest jobs, and I love being able to help students face to face as well as online. It’s a really great experience and I would definitely recommend it!

Merry Christmas from the Carmarthen Hall Wardens! 🙂

Even though there were parts of this year that were kind of difficult, like not having time to go back to South Africa to see my family, and dealing with increased amounts of work, (academically too), I wish I could do it all again. I absolutely love the people in my life and the environment at UWTSD, being a student here is something I’ve become completely immersed in, and I can’t believe I only have one semester left.

My hopes for 2015 include so many things, but I know at least the first half will be spent here, and I’m so happy about that. To everyone that’s been a part of my journey this year, thank you so much for being there for me. I feel so blessed to have the people in my life that I do. Let’s go 2015!