By Tirion Davies and Natalie Graham
Our capital is special, between the events which take place over the calendar year, to the rich history which flows through each street to, most importantly, the people. The people make this city. With much diversity city-wide, many migrate to Cardiff, and it’s not hard to see why. But Cardiff is truly remarkable, for the people we embrace are phenomenal. People from all walks of life choose to call Cardiff home and they help to make our city incredibly vibrant.
Everyone has a story – in Cardiff we embrace that. We encourage it. With Caerdydd and Me, it’s time for stories to take centre stage.
“I’m 21 years old and I’m from Rhondda, in the South Wales Valleys, currently in my second year at Cardiff University, studying Welsh.
“There manages to be a society for everyone and anyone. A society which I’ve joined is the GymGym (Gymdeithas Gymraeg), which is a Welsh language society for all speakers of the Welsh language – from learners to fluent speakers. The GymGym have been so welcoming and friendly and have given me the chance to meet new friends and other students studying different courses to mine.
“I’ll be honest, the main reason for choosing Cardiff University is the city Cardiff itself. Being from the Rhondda Valleys originally, I’m familiar with Cardiff and have visited several times over the years. Living in Cardiff now means I’m only an hour away from home so I don’t get too homesick (and my Mam can do my washing!). It also means I can experience more of what Cardiff has to offer on a day-to-day basis.
“Cardiff is inclusive to everyone, including the LGBTQIA+ community. There are many gay bars scattered around the city such as Pulse, Wow and Mary’s. Cardiff also celebrates Pride each year and celebrates (the right way!) by decorating in all the colours of the pride flag.
“Being from the Valleys, there isn’t a huge gay scene compared to Cardiff, so coming to Cardiff has been an amazing experience and so welcoming to me.
“The university has also been incredible in its inclusivity of myself and other members of the LGBTQIA+ community. Cardiff University has been awarded the Champion of Diversity by Stonewall Cymru and is currently placed 11th out of 100 employers in the Stonewall Equality Index 2019 – with the university also being a top trans employer. There are societies and associations in the university which support the LGBTQIA+ community such as CCU Pride and the LGBT+ Association which work with the Student’s Union to improve the university experience for LGBT+ students.”
Ellis discussed his passion for makeup on S4C’s Youtube channel ‘Hansh’ in March of this year, in a video under the title ‘Stori Fi’ (My Story). He discussed how makeup gave him confidence in a way he hadn’t experienced before. Ellis embraces that when wearing makeup, he can be anyone and feels it’s important that makeup isn’t specific to a gender.
Coming from Rhondda, Ellis thought he’d receive backlash for wearing makeup around his hometown, but what he found was that people who knew his father (the coach of the local rugby team) were looking out for him and were supportive of his expression. He finds makeup therapeutic and calls it an artform. Ellis is a massive supporter of self-expression in any form, emphasizing the importance of being yourself no matter what anyone else thinks.
“I ended up in Cardiff as I was initially attracted to my degree course (Human Geography), with the further benefit of being close to home. Swansea born and bred, the thought of moving hundreds of miles away from the beach was too big of an ask. Coming from a smaller city, Cardiff seemed, and continues to be exciting in comparison, with lots to do in winter months regardless of the guaranteed bad weather. I can’t emphasise enough the fact that Cardiff caters for all people, for example evening entertainment doesn’t necessarily involve the club scene, but one can find sophisticated bars, alternative quirky places and lots of events such as comedy nights. It’s also a great place for alternative nights and independent businesses such as coffee shops, cafes and zero waste shops!
“I adore the parks, particularly Bute, it’s such a big, peaceful green space for a very central spot in the city. In the spring you’ll see the blossom blooming, the summer I’ll spend countless afternoons lounging around on the grass. The start of the new academic year promises autumnal walks, it’s simply beautiful being surrounded by the red and brown colour palette of the trees. I’ve even been for a snowy walk in the winter! It’s just a great place to escape uni work and feeling like you’re in a big city. I really enjoy running, so the Taff trail provides a perfect location to do so, it goes on for miles and miles. Cardiff has a multitude of independent coffee shops and cafes that are very accommodating to uni students doing work (I once stayed in one for 8 hours… oops!), namely LittleMan, Luftkins, Uncommon Ground and 200 Degrees.”
Hannah discussed the opportunities she has thrown herself into whilst being in Cardiff. “I’ve thought to take advantage of the opportunities a big city and university can offer me. I took part last year in a Women’s Global Health course which invited speakers from all over the country to educate us on issues to Women’s Health across the planet. I’m part of a University Sports team, Korfball, which is great for meeting new people and playing a new sport without the pressure of having to be amazing at it. I’m also now taking Welsh lessons provided by the university for free to improve my skills in the language.
“I’ve enjoyed having the opportunity to enjoy non-drinking evening activities, such as attending a comedy night in LittleMan coffee co, crazy golf, laser tag, bowling and of course Cineworld which amazingly lets students in for £2.90! And lastly, I’ve also taken advantage of the nightlife Cardiff so proudly boasts… maybe a bit too much (which is why I’m not retired from it)”
Don’t huddle up indoors whilst there’s a whole city and university full of opportunities and fun on your doorstep! Take advantage of the free societies and things that the Student’s Union has to offer (keep tab of the things they advertise on their website!). It’s also handy to follow cafes/institutions on your social media so you can see upcoming events they’re putting on. And when uni/work starts getting serious, make it feel less so by taking your work to coffee shops instead of the library, taking breaks in our beautiful Bute Park!