Having previously studied abroad in Denmark, I wasn’t a stranger to living in a different country. From that experience, I wanted the chance to live abroad again. A couple years after I graduated from undergrad, quite a few people I knew had moved to the UK. When the idea of moving abroad to the UK came to me, I initially brushed it off thinking it was too far-fetched. However, this idea eventually grew on me and I then realized how much I wanted this. I had visited the UK previously and enjoyed it very much. I knew that the culture would be easier for me to navigate because it’s similar to the US, but also different enough for me to experience a new perspective. Also, I wanted to start my career in international marketing. This is when I thought was the best opportunity for me to experience living in another country again, as well as pursuing my career goals by completing my master’s in the UK.
When my advisor from Across the Pond helped me compile a list of schools that had MBA programs, I eventually decided on Bangor University. There were a few different factors that led me to choose this university. Firstly, the university had a good quality MBA program in international marketing that was affordable. Secondly, the university was located near Snowdonia National Park which I thought would be a great opportunity to explore during the school break with my new university friends. Lastly, the university’s student life appeared to have a variety of activities for students whether that’s different societies to join or events for students living on campus.
Bangor itself is a quaint little town located in North Wales. It’s quite a picturesque place and located close to nature as well as Snowdonia National Park. One of the things I enjoyed about living there is that it’s an easy walk to the forest, beach, or the mountain as well as the surroundings of the town are quite peaceful. The town itself though is very hilly. The student accommodations are located on steep hills and can be quite tiring to travel up and down. The town itself is mainly a university town so it’s easy to run into people I knew. Locals who lived there were quite friendly and very hospitable whenever I found myself lost somewhere as well.
At Bangor University, I stayed in St. Mary’s Village. This accommodation area comprised of various halls as well as townhouses connected to each other. I stayed in one of the Ffordd Tudno townhouses and was living with 8 other students. In this townhouse, there were four floors and I had my own room and a shared bathroom on the third floor with the kitchen and common area located on the first floor. This experience was different to what I was used to for American halls in university where we had to share rooms and bathrooms. The kitchen and common area were quite spacious and I enjoyed being able to use that space to have friends over to cook together and to hang out. With the accommodation located on a steep hill, climbing that hill every day helped me stay in shape throughout the year and I enjoyed the view over the city from up high.
In my spare time when I wasn’t studying. I loved doing a variety of activities. I enjoyed exploring the local coffee shops and restaurants the town had to offer. I also liked traveling to nearby towns. North Wales has so much to offer, especially with the different attractions nearby from beaches on Anglesey, to castles in Conwy and to the pretty town of Llandudno. Aside from those, I also enjoyed attending the different university socials and events, such as Sunday Roasts or walks to Snowdonia where I met my friends. Most of my friends were international as well so it was quite nice to be able to explore North Wales with them.
I completed my MBA in International Marketing at my time at Bangor which was only a year long program compared to a two year MBA program in the US. I enjoyed being able to explore different marketing topics and how to approach marketing in different countries. The international perspective was more insightful in the UK than simply learning in the US where I learned more about various companies that existed outside the US market.
There were quite a few differences when experiencing student life in the UK compared with the US. One of these things were that students can start drinking at 18 so there were university events where they served alcohol. The university also had their own nightclub called Academi where only students were allowed. Aside from that, Wetherspoon’s was a common place where students hung out. It’s a chain of cheap pubs and a typical night out for uni students tended to start at Wetherspoon’s, also known as ‘Spoons’. At universities in the UK, sporting events are not as big as sporting events at universities in the US. They tend to be considered more recreational. For coursework, there were not as many assignments, so the focus was more on self-study and research. There was also an exam at the end that was essay format and not multiple choice.
I often get asked how an American ended up in a tiny Welsh town like Bangor. When I get asked this, I always bring it back to my experience with Across the Pond. When I first started applying to universities in the UK, I had no idea what I was doing so I was very fortunate to stumble on Across the Pond. They simplified the whole process for me with one application and walked me through everything. During my time attending Bangor University, I have gained many international friends as well as a valuable perspective within my marketing degree and career. This was a memorable experience I’ll get to cherish for a long time.