Here at Cardiff University, we are proud to have such a diverse student population! Cardiff is a beautiful city bursting with culture and full of friendly locals; we wanted to learn why (apart from these obvious reasons) so many international students choose Cardiff as their new home away from home. We also wanted to find out more about students’ hometowns, the equally wonderful places they have travelled from. Three international students told us more about their personal reasons for travelling to Cardiff to study as well as comparing it to their original hometowns. -Martha Hughes
Nisaa Hawa -Nairobi, Kenya
My hometown; Nairobi, is the capital city of Kenya, located on the equator it has the perfect climate of toasty heat and fresh rains. It also has exotic nature, wild safari’s and loads of friendly people. I came to UK to become a British Citizen, however I wanted to study in a location that lived up to the “perfect” expectations of my home. So, I set out hunting for the most impeccable location. In my first year I took a gap year as I wanted to gain experience in my subject of choice, journalism, first. Meanwhile, I began to search for the ‘best places to study Journalism in UK’ and Cardiff University popped up multiple times. Discovering Cardiff further, I found that it was ranked one of the safest places in UK (and Wales), giving it an upper hand in the ladder of my highest-ranking University choices. Finally, after considering that Wales did appeal to me more than other locations, I applied to Cardiff Uni for Journalism, Media and Literature; successfully gaining admission.
Nairobi also boasts plenty of greenery within the city
Cardiff has a variety of green spaces from the castle grounds to its many parks
On arrival in Cardiff, I kid you not, this was the closest I had EVER felt to home. First, I felt reconnected to the nature. There were vibrant trees, swaying grass and immediately I told my family (who were dropping me off to my accommodation); “It’s so green! I think I like this place…I think I like it a lot.” In Nairobi the environment is crisp and earthy as there is nature even in the urban. Nairobi is also a buzzing city, intertwined with a sense of traditionalism. Although not entirely the same to Cardiff, there is a cross similarity where the urban city is buzzing and night outs like Pryzm are spectacular.Meanwhile, the Welsh traditions and the compactness of Cardiff balances out life in the urban with life in the traditional. This is something I cherish deeply. The friendly vibe in Nairobi resonates in Cardiff, as people are avidly friendly! A few different things to point out: there is a range of diverse cultures in Wales and this was very different to home, as we only have a few cultures. I found that the only other major difference, was that everything in Cardiff is ultimately, walking distance and this is not the case in Nairobi. There, you would have to use a car or ‘matatu’ (mini van) to get from point A to B. Overall, university is hectic, I obviously miss my friends and family as well. But Cardiff gives me something to look out for and I’m not just talking about the Welsh cakes. Truthfully grateful.
Martina Merenda -Cuneo, Italy
Coming to study in Cardiff was not my first choice. When I applied for an Erasmus+ module, Cardiff was not on the list of Universities partners with mine. However, when I got the news I was selected for a year abroad, I was given the opportunity to come to Cardiff, and so here I am. Cardiff has been the best destination to attend my year abroad. I had the opportunity and the privilege to come to know a new culture previously unknown to me and make new friendships that I hope will last for a long time.
Cardiff and my city, Cuneo (North West Italy) are much different, but in some ways similar. Much like Cardiff, my city is surrounded by mountains, but being in the inland, we don’t have the sea as Cardiff has. People are much nicer here than they are at home, an aspect that made me fall in love with the ‘Diff even more. Wales is a breath-taking land, but the Welsh and their hospitable souls make everything more enjoyable. I love how people are proud of their heritage, something almost unknown to me as in Italy we tend to try to hide our regional culture and language to avoid being judged as “peasants”. I love that Cardiff is a melting pot of people from all over the world, especially the university. The university I attend, the University of Nice in South of France (I moved across the border for my studies) does not have as much of as international population as Cardiff. I find this incredible as it allows everyone to engage with cultures very different from the ones we have in Europe.
Coming to study in Cardiff was the perfect choice for my last year as an undergraduate. It gave me opportunities that I could’ve never explored if I stayed back in Nice, and I will be forever grateful for it. Diolch am bopeth Caerdydd.
Christine Hue -Beijing, China
As a person who grew up in Beijing, the most populated city in the world, I have to admit that Cardiff did not catch my eye at first sight. I got very used to Beijing’s fast pace—white collars carrying coffee running all over the street, and every morning I was pushed into the underground by people behind me. Delicious food is accessible within 5-min walking distance, and there are millions of choices for take-away. I was even a bit disappointed when I first arrived in Cardiff—all I saw was the castle, and I thought I was going to spend three years in such a provincial place. But now, as I am about to graduate, I have a feeling that I am totally going to miss this place so much.
Beijing is a bustling city, its towering skyscrapers are certainly like nothing you would find in Cardiff
Cardiff’s period buildings always win over the hearts of visitors and locals alike
That is not only because I am suffering from graduation syndrome but, to be fair, Cardiff University is definitely one of the most ideal places to study my course, media and communications. The School of Journalism, Media and Culture has well-deserved its ranking; I have certainly met the best teachers I could ever ask for. Education here has changed the way I look at the world dramatically. Compared to the Chinese education approaches, students here are more encouraged to challenge the authorities and present their own opinions. It is normal if the teachers cannot answer their questions, whereas in China it would be embarrassing in front of the class. Also, students are required to study independently rather than being pushed by teachers. It can get very tricky when you get three deadlines on the same day but learning how to handle them under huge pressure is definitely a life-changing experience for me. Besides, Cardiff is one of the UK’s most livable cities. It’s not like Beijing—the housing price is ridiculous! It is very affordable and, at the same time, and it has everything to fulfill the needs of a diverse range of demographics. You can easily find all types of cuisines and supermarkets. FUN FACT—My Chinese friend who lives in London once came all the way here just for a hot pot meal, I mean, London has everything but seems it no longer does…
Apart from Beijing, I have so far spent the longest time living here; that makes Cardiff my second home. All the morning greetings I received from strangers and the yellow daffodils on the St David’s Days parade will become my most cherished memories. It is a place I will definitely miss.
Cardiff Uni continues to be an attractive new home for many students from all over the globe…Cymru am byth!