So you’ve slogged your guts out through A-Levels, managed to miraculously survive results day and found yourself as a budding Cardiff University student. The world is your oyster; you’re flown away from the nest and are ready for the time of your life. And while you are more than likely to be ecstatically excited, you may also be, quite frankly, shitting yourself. With those endless questions clouding your impending uni experience; ‘What if everyone is weird?’, ‘What if everyone speaks Welsh?’, ‘What if I don’t like anyone? What if nobody likes ME?’ you may be questioning whether Cardiff was the best choice. After all, prior to turning up with 3 suitcases full and a ton of kitchen crockery, you may have never set foot in the place.
Rest assured, the majority of us have been there or are right there with you. Moving away to an unknown city is a big thing, luckily though, you’ve come to the right place, you’ve made the right decision, and for many, many reasons, you are going to love it. Here are just a few to reassure you!
Coffee shops and charm
For those who love a bit of charm, quaint spaces and individuality, you can almost certainly find a soft spot within you for Cardiff’s Arcades. Juxtaposed with the city centre’s modern architecture are the quintessential Victorian –era shopping arcades. Opposite the comparatively new St David’s Centre, the oldest of these is the Royal Arcade which dates back to 1858. Hosting a variety of independent stores, boutiques and delicatessens to satisfy anyone’s needs, my favourite is Wally’s Deli; perhaps a little indulgent for us broke students, but nevertheless the perfect wonderland for roaming around salivating at the range of produce. From the oldest record shop in the world, Spillers Records, to Hobos; a gorgeous vintage clothing store boasting handmade dresses in vintage prints and ripped levis, there is literally a maze of quirky independent delights right on your doorstep!
The arcades also accommodate an abundance of charming café’s such as Coffee Barker, which will absolutely become a place you spend more time in than any lecture theatre. With their wicker-backed bistro style chairs and round tables situated outside, you can’t help but feel like you’re sipping espressos on a Parisian street corner. The Arcades offer more than somewhere to simply go shopping; they are a reflection of Cardiff’s Victorian heritage and are beautiful places to wonder around at your leisure. They are also a refreshing retreat from your typical high street which. The arcades give Cardiff a certain charm that is the envy of so many generic town centres and I promise you are doing yourself a huge disfavour if you don’t make use of these wonderful arcades!
One of Cardiff’s drawing points and ultimately the most important factor for most of us has to be its nightlife. For those of you coming from small towns and villages in the middle of absolute nowhere, rest assured, the evening scene here will not disappoint. Cardiff boasts a multitude of different nightclubs and venues for whatever tickles your fancy. You’ve got the whoppers (think Ibiza but maybe a tad tackier), such as Pryzym, if flashing strobe lights, Loud EDM and endless wave of bandage dresses is your scene. But if you’re not feeling it, check out Buffalo for Bump n Grind on a Monday night. With its old school R&B, casual dress code and laid back vibe, Buffalo is just the place for getting merry with your flat mates without losing each other and wondering aimlessly every five minutes. And most importantly, the gin and juice is a must try. If you’re into an even cheaper, casual kind of night, Live Lounge will become your best friend and your worst enemy as a student. £1 drinks before 11pm will make you both ecstatic and violently ill over a period of a few hours. Glam’s monthly Shangri-La event is a massive hit with the student population and boasts an all night long house music event which features a wide variety of different DJ’s. But girls, don’t wear heels at Shang, just don’t. House music and stilettoes is never a good idea. And if none of that is classy enough for you, stilettoes are a right of passage in Revs and Mill Lane and cocktails are a given. Say yes to a porn star Martini and birthday cake vodka shot though, and all that classiness might just go out the window!
Not just a one trick pony!
You’ve probably heard it a hundred times already, but starting uni definitely is a big step. For me, it was only a year ago when I arrived in halls not knowing much about Cardiff, except that I’d be Instagramming Main Building quite frequently. Yet it doesn’t take long to realise that Cardiff really is a great place not just to study, but also to live in general. Cardiff has it all; boasting beautiful views and green spaces, the centre is peppered with rolling fields, rivers and gorgeous architecture, which melts effortlessly into wild nightlife, modern shopping centres and intricate arcades filled with eateries catering for all different tastes and cultures. Countless numbers of volunteering and sports opportunities across the city and the university itself all unite to form a thriving place to live. Cardiff University will not disappoint in either location or academic circumstances; lecturers go the extra mile to engage you and the resources available to all students are endless. It’s impossible to come to Cardiff and not love it; this place will always be the right decision!
Calling all international students
It is never easy stepping onto the flight that will take you away from home for almost a year. And it’s even harder to take that step when you’re doing it all alone. Starting university in a new country and for some, even a new continent, can be unbelievably terrifying. Arriving at the airport alone with only a suitcase to your name can often invoke a sense of panic resulting in thoughts pretty much along the lines of ‘What have I done!’ or ‘Noooo take me back!’ However, it’s pretty much a given that the majority of you international students will be wailing ‘Don’t make me leave!!’, as your year here draws to a close. Cardiff has a substantial international student population; something that enhances its welcoming and laid back atmosphere. As an international student myself, I felt immediately relaxed within the diverse environment that the university prides itself for. Student accommodation mirrors the city itself as a cultural hub, teeming with different nationalities and personalities, ensuring that no international student ever really feels out of place. Whilst home may still feel far away, there are also a number of societies to help you connect with others from your own country if you ever feel lonely and homesick. Although, given how lively, diverse and friendly it is you, probably never will!
Location Location Location!
Deciding what university you want to go to for the next three or more years of your life can be a very tough decision, yet Cardiff will almost certainly to begin to feel like a home away from home pretty immediately.
One of the best things about Cardiff is its perfect size. Although dwarfed in comparison to the vastness of London, it boasts a beautiful and convenient centre in which nearly everything is in reasonable walking distance. Whilst buses and trains are frequent, the location of Cardiff University halls ensures that a walk to the centre, to the nightlife, the restaurants and the city’s most famed tourist attractions means that living in Cardiff is decidedly much less effort than many other city and campus universities alike. If you’re strapped for cash, a late night walk back from the vast array of clubs is nothing more than a stroll away, and the location of the Student’s Union allows you to pretty much roll out of bed and into a nightclub. The compactness of the city centre ensures you can easily loop around the city and change atmospheres in a matter of 10 minutes (depending on how drunk you are), whilst passing at least 15 late night chip shops on the infamous chippy lane to refuel and contemplate life while you’re at it. Cardiff has everything you want from a city, yet you’ll never feel overwhelmed, and it is almost impossible to get lost (again, depending on level of drunkenness).