Why Wales? Entry #3: Discovering and Appreciating Cardiff.
Today is February 11th, which means that I have been on this journey for 25 days. Almost a month! It is unreal for me to look back at all the paperwork and saving and see that not only am I here, but I have been here for some time now. Enough time now, to be comfortable in the city. Enough time now, for the large capital of Wales to seem not so large anymore, and in ways, not so exciting. That is a good thing, however, because it clarifies that Cardiff is becoming my home. I truly love it here. In the 25 days that I have been here, I have explored not only Cardiff, but also ventured out to Swansea and London. Those trips not only opened my eyes to the world around me, but also helped me appreciate Cardiff more. More about those trips later, I now present…. Cardiff.
At the orientation meeting when we first arrived, they didn’t tell us too much about Cardiff (or perhaps they did, and we were just too flustered with the new situations that some of the information didn’t seep through to my little gray cells). Anyway, we were told that it is the capital city of Wales, it is friendly, and it is safe.
Now, safeness (security) we have been warned is not true. Well, maybe according to statistics, but we still have to take the same precautions as we would anywhere.
Cardiff, is indeed the capitol city of Wales.
I must take a moment to remark on the friendly people of Cardiff. I don’t seem to notice it as much now, but the friendly people of Cardiff is what made my first experiences so stress free. I assume you read in the previous blog of my first day in Cardiff. Unlike the other study abroad programs, the New Paltz students studying abroad at Cardiff were not picked up at the airport; we had to find our own way to our place of living. Normally, this would have been a very daunting situation. Growing up so close to New York City, asking for help is more often than not discouraged. I had to remind myself that we were not in the U.S anymore, and that reactions may be different. I’m not sure if we would have ever made it to our halls if we did not stop and ask perfect strangers. Some people would even overhear our conversations and offer assistance.
I know, this can happen anywhere. The fact is that it happened in Cardiff, strengthening my positive first impression.
According to wikipedia.org…
Cardiff (pronounced /ˈkɑrdɪf/ ( listen), Welsh: Caerdydd (info)) is the capital, largest city and most populous county of Wales. The city is Wales’ chief commercial centre, the base for most national cultural and sporting institutions, the Welsh national media, and the seat of the National Assembly for Wales. According to recent estimates, the population of the unitary authority area is 324,800. Cardiff is a significant tourism centre and the most popular visitor destination in Wales with 11.7 million visitors in 2006.
Accepting that, I have also been told that Cardiff thrives primarily due to Cardiff Univeristy. The man that discussed this with me was a Cardiff taxi driver, who said that Cardiff is not so busy when school is not in session. I found this surpirsing, because although Wales might not be first on everyone’s list of vacation spots to go to… Cardiff does have a lot to offer.
My favorite thing about Cardiff has a lot to do with the hall that I live in. My hall is the furthest from campus… 2 miles. Although we have buses which take us to and from campus, I usually opt to walk home. On these walks home (and sometimes to campus, if I’m not in a rush) I can leisurely discover Cardiff. My home is in Penylan, which I guess is comparable to a borough of Cardiff. I turn down Birchwood Lane onto Ty-Gwinn Road, and follow that to Albany Road, which is where there are tons of stores and whatnot…. but, if you go the opposite way down Birchwood Lane, you will find yourself at Roath Park. My hall, being so far outside of the city center is more like a small village, and Roath Park is where everyone gathers. There is a lake there, along with a path that goes around the lake’s perimeter. There are also many playgrounds and gardens. That is what I love most about Cardiff- the fact that I can sit by the lake watching the ducks, or I can go into the city center for some shopping and dining. The best of both worlds.
I am thankful to call Cardiff my home.