The University of Iowa

Student Reflections on Disabilities: A learning curve

June 29th, 2012

Reflections on Disabilities Abroad

Lindsay Holzhammer in Wales on a windswept cliff

Fellow student travelers:

If you are considering studying abroad, do it!  You will have the time of your life and make lasting memories and friendships. 

When I first arrived in Wales I was nervous and a little scared.  I had just taken a long journey across the ocean and was now standing in a city I knew virtually nothing about.  I didn’t know how to get to the train station, to Swansea, nor the place I’d be living for the next five months.  Fortunately, there were friendly people to help me out.  Yes, I’m sure I looked silly dragging my bags around from bus to bus asking the driver exactly where it went but now I look back on it with pride.  I had no idea what I was doing but I did it anyway and it all worked out.  I made it to my flat and was exhausted!

In the next few weeks, as I started getting acclimated to the town and the campus, I met others who were going through the exact same transitions as I was.  A few of us have become good friends - traveling together, studying, laughing, eating out, and sharing common experiences,  and I know we will be keeping in touch long after we leave Swansea.  

I was anxious about how the academic aspect of things might differ from what I was used to at Iowa but that didn’t hold me back and I am so glad.  Professors and lecturers give some guidance into resource materials and general concepts but the majority of the comprehension of the courses is really left up to the individual.  I’m not the quickest of learners and there were people there to assist when it was needed. 

I not only learned a lot about other places, people, and things, but I learned so much about myself as well.  I’ve gotten to travel to places I’d long hoped to see at some point in my life and met some great people too, that I would never have met if it wasn’t for Swansea.  When I boarded my plane in January, I cried a little because I was going to a new, different place and I knew I would miss my family and friends.  When I left Swansea, I cried a little again because I left a beautiful place and just ended a very enjoyable semester.  I would do it all over again in a heartbeat.