- The city is beautiful. I visited Cardiff when I was 15 in December and found the Christmas atmosphere captivating. The Winter Wonderland and city centre stalls make you feel cheerful. On a long-term basis, the city has many large parks, a castle, river, bay, many shops and restaurants as well as fantastic cinemas scattered throughout the centre.
Bute Park under snow, Cardiff, Winter 2018
- The university staff are incredibly friendly. My first interactions (as a lost 15 year old) were when I wandered in to the School of Mathematics and later Engineering and was shown into a 1st year lecture later that day with the staff going out of their way to organise something for me. This attitude I’ve seen over and over again since coming here to study. Everyone really cares about you no matter how big or small your needs are and they treat you with respect, as an equal, not just a source of income (which was my impression from visiting other universities).
- There are free language courses available in the university. Every year, you can choose up to three different accredited language modules (from 9 different languages) absolutely free with “Languages for All”. This was actually one of my main selling points as other cities cost £300-400 per semester of language tuition so not something a student wants to pay.
- All the lectures are video recorded. If you miss a lecture, don’t understand something the first time or simply didn’t manage to write something down, you can re-watch the lecture anytime and allow yourself time to get to grips with the material or use it as a refresher before exams (I like to then watch them back in double speed so the whole module is seen together as a whole).
- There are over 200 different clubs and societies as well as countless services such as “Jobshop” within the Student’s Union, which is in the top 4 in the country.
- You always feel safe and welcome no matter where you find yourself. The streets are well lit and I’ve never had an issue walking home (alone) at night.
- University accommodation is located throughout the city so if you chose well, you can find yourself living 2-10 minutes away from your department/sports centre/whatever you find most important to be close to. At the same time, you’ll have access to all university libraries which are also located by all major department buildings and some are open 24h so you can pop down whenever you need!
Main Building and Science Library, Cardiff University
If I could go back in time, would I change anything?
Absolutely not! Cardiff University has introduced me to many things I never imagined I would experience (such as exhibiting in the Excel Arena in London or playing competitive badminton against other unis).
As a fresher, Cardiff gives you loads of opportunities to meet new friends through its “Give it a Go” programme (https://www.cardiffstudents.com/whatson/all/) which lets you try lots of different activities to see what you like before you commit. If you choose university accommodation, you’ll automatically have the opportunity to meet people from your flat.
What I find best about Cardiff is that it has a perfect balance of activities for both introverts as well as outgoing people. Nobody will force you to get involved with anything but the opportunity and support is always there if you choose to.
All-in-all, even though I’m two years into my degree and still have no clue what career I want to pursue, making the last-minute, chaotic decision and coming to Cardiff was definitely the right one for me as the happy memories and friends I’ve made here couldn’t be replaced.
So, my advice to you: whatever course you choose to study, pick a place which will offer you a life outside of your lectures and give you the choice of how many opportunities you’ll want to make the most of in your free time.