Piers Ellison Mountains

Piers Ellison

United Kingdom

American Studies

I spent my year abroad within my American Studies degree at Colorado State University in Fort Collins, and I couldn’t have asked for a better experience. I was welcomed with open arms by every person I met not only within the inclusive and wide-ranging induction week, but in the wider community as well. From family dinners with local residents to weekends spent in CSU’s Mountain Campus (yes, it’s really a thing; they run a tiny, off-the-grid university campus nestled into the Rocky Mountains), Colorado couldn’t have made me feel more welcome.

I was attracted to CSU [due to] its proximity to the high peaks of the Rockies, but I was also drawn by variety of unique classes that I couldn’t find anywhere else. Being able to study subjects such as the History of US National Parks, America’s Public Policy Process and Environmental Ethics gave me the chance to study topics I’m truly interested in, and helped me to come up with a topic for my final year dissertation in Swansea.

Outside of CSU, I fully engaged with life in the wider Fort Collins community. I got stuck into the local music scene, regularly playing at the town’s many fantastic local music venues and going to see bigger artists at Colorado’s famous Red Rocks Amphitheatre.

Moreover, Fort Collins was ranked as the most bike-friendly city in America in 2018, so I took advantage of this and bought myself a used bike at the beginning of the year. Not only was it the best way to get around the town, but I also made a lot of friends with my newfound love of riding up mountain roads! For one last big trip at the end of my year abroad, myself and two friends rode our bikes from my accommodation over the Rocky Mountains and through the desert to Moab, Utah. A year before, in June 2018, having just sat my last second year exam in Swansea, I definitely couldn’t have imagined that I’d be doing such a thing in my year abroad.

I’ll always be grateful for the help I received from Swansea’s Go Global team and CSU’s Office of International Programs for making the transition from Wales to Colorado so seamless. The exchange program is a fantastic opportunity for anyone, and I can’t recommend it highly enough.