Meet Landon at Aberystwyth University in Wales!
Name: Landon Ritzman
University: Aberystwyth University
Degree: Computer Science with Artificial Intelligence
Year of Study: 1st year
How did you choose your university destination and course of study?
Since I was really young I’ve always had an interest in computers and how things work, so I knew I wanted to do something with Computer Science before I went to uni. Before I went there was a pretty big boom in AI and I was really intrigued by all of the applications and uses of it (realistic AI voices, ChatGPT, image creation and recognition). That really was helpful in deciding what I wanted to specialize in.
What have been the highlights of your academic programme so far?
For our 1st semester programming module, we were split into different groups for our project at the end of the semester. I was given a graphics attachment for my Arduino (which is a little device we are given at the beginning of the module) and got to write code for a simple game.
Another highlight was halfway through the semester, where we all took a trip by coach about 90 minutes to an outdoor centre. There we did various activities to build bonds and communication between students in the department – rowing was my personal favourite!
What do you enjoy most about living in Wales?
I really enjoy having the rural feel small town, while still being able to find a lot of things you would be able to find in a larger city. Also, it seems like everyone I’ve met so far (students, staff, residents) are all very nice, friendly and helpful. The scenery is on another level, there are so many places just on campus where you can get an incredible view, even if you don’t want to walk to the oceanfront.
How supportive is your university to international students?
I feel like Aber really tries to help out international students and make them feel at home. There is a £2,000 price reduction on accommodation for international students and you are guaranteed a spot in your first year. There are plenty of events for international students in the welcome week and afterwards to not only get used to uni life, but also to meet other international students.
What have been 3 of the main challenges you have faced during your time at university?
- The first main challenge is definitely the travel time to get to and from Aberystwyth. A train runs between Aber and Birmingham International frequently but it’s still roughly a 3 hours ride then a flight to wherever you need to be.
- Second issue is buying groceries. While there is a CK’s and many places to eat on campus, if you need something from Tesco’s or M&S, you’ll have to go down the hill (30 minutes walk downhill). That in itself isn’t too bad, but walking up with groceries can be very taxing. Luckily there is a bus route and taxis so you don’t need to do the walk uphill all the time if you don’t want to.
- The third issue is just a lack of facilities for some sports/other extracurriculars. For example, the tennis courts at the University are not good quality and they are often stay slippery for longer than they should if it rained recently. The music society also doesn’t have its own facilities for the different groups to have practice, so they do have to move around the university sometimes to have a practice session.
What activities are you involved in outside of your academic programme?
I am involved with the tennis team and Philomusica (which is a University club that has an orchestra, string group, etc and welcomes all people who play an instrument). I also have a membership with the golf club which is a short walk away from Fferm Penglais (which is a group of accommodation flats for students).
How easy is it to find accommodation? Can you describe your living arrangements?
Accommodation is really easy to find. It is guaranteed for first-year students and international students get a discount as well (Cwrt Mawr accommodation is free for international students!).
If you want to live outside of university, there are many places that can be rented as well. I live in Fferm Penglais, which is on campus. I have a nice amount of workspace and storage to put things. The closet has enough space for a good amount of clothes and there is under-bed storage as well which is really helpful. The main benefit is an en-suite bathroom which is great if you prioritize having privacy and your own space for toiletries. The kitchen has 2 refrigerators and 2 stove/ovens to use for cooking. There is also an electric kettle and microwave. There is a large table with 8 chairs (usually a maximum of 8 people live in one Fferm Penglais flat), a TV, and 3 sofas.
The university also offers a studio version of Fferm which is a bit larger than a normal room and includes features from the kitchen for one person.
Do you think your university experience is preparing you well for the working world and do they offer support with finding jobs and internships?
I think the university is very helpful with preparing students for working after university. They have a careers service which can help you with essentials like building a CV and doing notable things outside of study to include for employers. They are also helpful with finding you jobs that fit what you want, both for an industry year and when you leave after you graduate.
What opportunities have you had to travel and explore during weekends and vacations?
During the weekends, travel is a bit limited. There are some places you can use public transport to travel to in a reasonable time, but not as many as a university in England would have. It’s much easier to travel (even overseas) during vacations (Christmas break, spring break, summer vacation, etc). There are still things to do in town as well if you don’t want to go outside of Aberystwyth.
What are the top 3 pieces of advice you would offer an international student thinking of coming to Wales to study?
- First, I would say be prepared for a decent amount of traveling to and from university. Wales can feel pretty far from everything but travel is very doable if you plan well and are ok with longer travel times.
- Secondly, don’t be afraid to ask questions or for help. I might not have ended up in Wales at all if I didn’t ask about some things that aren’t found on the website. I’ve found the people in Wales to be very friendly and they will get back to you with an email or over the phone.
- Finally, enjoy the experience! Wales is very scenic and peaceful, and there’s a lot to see and do. Make new friends and go out and enjoy yourself!
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