Spending a year studying in Oregon, USA taught me so much and it really started to feel like home in no time

Sarah Swann
Sarah Swann
Year abroad: Oregon State University, USA
BSc Biology with a Year Abroad
Sarah chose to spend the second year of her Biology degree studying at Oregon State University in the USA. From carrying out fieldwork in local rainforests and mountain ranges, to getting immersed in American culture during national holidays and events, Sarah loved her time abroad so much she's now considering postgraduate study overseas in the future.
Sarah Swann

 “I knew before starting university that I wanted to study abroad as part of my degree, as I’m passionate about travelling and I wanted to experience student life in a different country. I also thought it would be a good way of gaining field experience in ecosystems unlike those we have in the UK, which as a Biology student wanting to pursue a career in research, I felt would be good experience for the future. I also love meeting new people and learning about different cultures, and study abroad seemed like the perfect opportunity to combine the two, while experiencing the country as a local, rather than a tourist. Spending a year in Oregon, USA has taught me so much about the country and everybody has been so welcoming, it really started to feel like home in no time.

“One of the biggest highlights of my year abroad is definitely the fieldwork I’ve been able to get involved in. I got to study amphibians in a rainforest, collect data for estimating deer population size in a mountain range, visit the coast to find invertebrates, and go bird watching in wildlife refuges. During these trips I also got to see some cool native wildlife including elk, coyotes, whales, seals and sea lions. The social side of studying abroad has also been fantastic, and I’ve made some amazing friends who I hope will be friends for life; we’re already planning trips to visit each other!

I got to study amphibians in a rainforest, collect data for estimating deer population size in a mountain range, visit the coast to find invertebrates, and go bird watching in wildlife refuges.

Sarah Swann

BSc Biology with a Year Abroad

“In addition to day trips and sports events with friends, I also joined the adventure club which meant I got to hike and canoe in some beautiful state parks. Being in the USA meant that I got to experience some big American holidays and events that we don’t have in the UK, such as Thanksgiving, Independence Day, and the Superbowl. These were all so much fun, and spending Christmas and the New Year abroad was also an unforgettable experience. Americans really know how to put on a celebration! Thanks to the study abroad scholarship I was fortunate enough to receive, I was able to spend a few weeks travelling the east coast over winter break which I spent in New York, Washington DC, Florida, New Orleans, and Houston Texas.

“Studying abroad hasn’t always been easy but has allowed me to gain so much confidence which has benefitted both my professional and personal life immensely. Being immersed in a new culture has changed my perspective and challenged stereotypes that I hadn’t realised I held, and I would recommend the experience to anybody. It has also opened my mind to the possibility of future postgraduate study abroad, which I hadn’t previously considered. I was able to extend my stay in the USA to work as a lab technician over the summer, so I’m excited to return to Sheffield with more work experience and confidence to complete the final year of my degree.”

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