Sadichchha Pokharel tells Opinion about the experience of being a foreign student in Cardiff
Moving to a new place is always a little frightening. But having to move to a different country whilst living away from your family for the first time ever is a whole new level of it. Having lived in two very dissimilar countries, first Nepal then Zambia, I had experienced how depressing moving to a new place could get. It had taken me a full year to adjust to living in Africa, despite having lived there with my family. So when I first arrived in Cardiff I was quite prepared to face all the terrifying challenges that headed my way. However, to my amazement it took me less than a week to feel at home in this strange place. The size of the city and its unexpectedly friendly environment instantly made me comfortable. Cardiff is not so overwhelmingly big that you feel lost, but big enough for you to enjoy all the perks of living in a city. Since it is also pretty multicultural and has an enormous student population, I found myself fitting right in.
That being said, I have had my share of troubles. For someone coming from Zambia where it hardly ever rains, the Welsh weather is awfully depressing, to say the least. I had a hard time getting used to not seeing the sun for days. Then there were those unavoidable moments of culture shock. Although I don’t agree with the stereotypical notion of British formality, I have learnt that going out in sweatpants and flip-flops is not highly appreciated in this country. I was given odd looks while going to Tesco in my old grey sweatpants on fresher’s week. I have never worn them outside the halls since. It also took me a while to get used to rain jackets and bulky boots, and a few disastrous walks in the rain before it became a habit to carry an umbrella with me everywhere I went. Food has been an issue, my halls are part catered, and although I am not particularly picky, there is only so much fish and chips one can eat. I am not much of a cook and there are times when I badly crave home food. Being unable to go home for several months makes it worse.
Yet, in spite of the occasional difficulties, I enjoy living in Cardiff. I like the halls, my crazy hall-mates, and the great night outs with my friends. I love how I am able to stand out as a minority and still get accepted here, and how I feel a sense of belonging. I do feel lost and homesick at times, but independence has its own charms. I am still getting to know the city, adapting to a new culture and learning to get by on my own, and so far it has been very exciting. I have to admit, I have grown to love Cardiff, and I am hardly exaggerating when I say that there is no other place I would rather be.