Communication Connection

Friends of COM Newsletter

Faculty Profiles

Exploring Swansea with Dr. Weber

Friday, June 13, 2014

By Erin Fouhy

Dr. David Weber and 20 UNCW students from different majors, including COM, journeyed to Swansea, Wales in January for an experience of a lifetime: studying and teaching abroad, traveling, learning and experiencing a whole new culture for the Spring semester.

The unique part of this study abroad program is the internship opportunities available to students. Hannah Gilles, Junior, English and Professional Writing major is currently interning at the South Wales Evening Post, a local newspaper. She is editing press releases into stories for publication and has an opportunity to receive published work with a byline.

Swansea University, or more popularly known in the UK as “Swansea Uni,”  has similarities to and differences from the UNCW campus. Located across the street from the University is Swansea Bay--much as UNCW has the Atlantic Ocean only fifteen minutes away. This is a familiar sight and a little slice of home for many  of the UNCW crew. The campus is smaller than UNCW’s, but has about the same number  of students. Swansea University’s campus is designed not to spread out horizontally but to take advantage of vertical space, with tall, modern buildings built from granite, metal and glass.

Equivalent to UNCW’s Fisher Student Center is Fulton House. Fulton House contains cafes, convenience stores and a student center. Something different that Fisher Student Center does not have: a bar and a club, which can get as busy as downtown Wilmington. However a favorite place for many on campus is Singleton Park, a green space with botanical and ornamental gardens, perfect for an afternoon picnic. Hannah Gilles says, “Swansea is a rich city and has a lot to do. There are art galleries, museums, history and an incredible landscape – it is known as the ‘Cultural Center’ of Wales.”

Swansea, Wales,  is appealing to students and Dr. Weber from a travel perspective. While studying abroad in the UK, many have the possibility of traveling all over Europe. Dr. Weber has traveled to London, England and Cardiff, Wales. Kristen Maiden has visited Ireland, London, Stonehenge, and places near Wales. Dr. Weber states, "After the first few weeks had passed, the students began traveling and exploring.  I am very happy with how adventurous many of the UNCW crew has been.” There was  a three-week-long break in April that gave others opportunity to explore outside of Wales.

While exploring Swansea, Wales and the surrounding areas, Dr. Weber is also teaching courses. One course, U.S. American Rhetoric during World War II, is specifically for British students who are enrolled at Swansea, also known as home students. The home students who signed up for this course want to learn about U.S. history, politics, popular culture and arts. The other course is for Honors  students from UNCW, learning about the rhetorical and semiotic study of public memory. Dr. Weber said, “Of the eight UNCW-Swansea students enrolled in it, only one is a COM major. I am getting a sense of what UNCW students in other majors are capable of doing. And what they are capable of doing is incredibly good work.”

Dr. Bill Bolduc of the COM department and two COM majors, Zach Pomery and Connor Buss visited Swansea for a week in March. While in Swansea, they shot  a video documentary about the UNCW-Swansea program. Dr. Weber said, “I am looking forward to seeing the final product.” This will acquaint UNCW students with Swansea Uni and the UNCW program and therefore, one hopes, attract our students to the program in the future.

Kristen Maiden, a UNCW student majoring in Biology and Chemistry says, “The study abroad trip to Swansea is a great opportunity that I would recommend to others. While the UK is an English-Speaking country, the culture here is quite different compared to back home. There is no experience lost by studying in a country that speaks your language.”

To find out more about the student’s and professor’s experiences in Swansea, Dr. Weber’s Travel Log, http://www.uncw.edu/com/showcase/weber.html. As well as the many other blogs started by the students, found at http://www.uncw.edu/com/swansea2014/index.html.