Why Study Abroad?
I decided to study abroad first and foremost because I wanted to travel. I’m from a very rural area of Virginia, so I grew up always wanting to see more of the world. I also wanted to push myself outside of my comfort zone, but still have a safety net. When deciding where to study abroad, I only had one condition: that it’d be an English speaking country. I researched the universities that my university had exchange programs with, and decided that Cardiff was the right fit for me! Wales was an English speaking country with a unique culture (and language!).
The first two weeks of my semester abroad were the hardest. I was homesick and jet-lagged, and I spent a lot of time crying in my flat. If I could give any advice to incoming international students, it would be to push through all of those emotions. The best way to get over both homesickness and jet lag is to throw yourself into your new experience! Explore the city with your flat mates, go on Give-It-A-Go trips with the SU, or even just take a walk in Bute Park. Staying busy will help you adjust to the new time zone and maybe even distract yourself from your homesickness.
By choosing to study abroad at Cardiff, I became so much more confident and independent. During my first month at Cardiff, I went on a solo weekend trip to London. I was nervous about spending an entire weekend alone in a foreign country, but I took a chance. I had an amazing weekend, and it was one of the best decisions I made during my semester abroad. Another piece of advice I would give to international students: travel alone at least once. You may surprise yourself with how independent and confident you are!
My last piece of advice that I would give to incoming students is to be flexible. Whether it’s glitches in your travel plans or registering for classes at the university, you are bound to run into some bumps along the way. The key to keeping your stress levels low is to go with the flow! Have a few backups in case the module you want to enroll in is full or conflicts with your schedule. If your flight or train is delayed, remember that you’ll get there eventually. Since studying abroad, I have learned to be a bit more flexible with my plans and it has definitely affected my stress levels.
Studying abroad is such an enriching experience. Do you research, apply to a university, and off you go! I hope Cardiff feels like home for you like it did for me!