Advice for Students, Living away from home, Settling in, Student Life, Top Tips

Navigating a Brand New City

Starting university comes with a whole set of worries and uncertainties and more often than not, this includes finding your way around an entirely brand new city. Whether you are moving from a different city, or you are coming from the heart of the countryside, the thought of living in a capital city can be a little intimidating for anyone.

Luckily for you, Cardiff is extremely easy to navigate and find your way around of as it is a relatively small city. You can pretty much walk everywhere on foot and there is little need for public transport. In the entire three years of my undergraduate degree, I didn’t board a single bus or train to get around.

During Freshers week, the university often hosts free city bus tours and orientations around the city – helping you find your way from the get go. This is not only a fun activity to do but is also a great way of meeting people!

Google maps will most definitely become your new best friend (if it wasn’t already!) Even before you arrive, if it makes you feel more reassured, you could even hop on Google street view to suss out exactly what route you will be taking on your daily walk to lectures. However, these days just having your mobile phone on hand means you can get directions to basically anywhere you want to go.  

Equally, technology is not always the most reliable so don’t be afraid to ask for help. The people of Cardiff are mega friendly – I even asked the police for directions once! If you are lost, more often than not people will be more than happy to point you in the right direction.

To make it all seem a little less daunting, suggest a group visit to town with your new found friends – everyone is in the same boat during freshers so exploring and figuring everything out together will be a great bonding experience. Even better, find a Cardiff-native (like I did) who can show you all the best hidden gems, and make the most of tapping into that local knowledge. After this, perhaps go on a coffee/bar crawl and figure out where your favourite hangout spots will be. There will never be a better an excuse to eat and drink all day long!

Using TripAdvisor may also be useful if you are looking to see all the best things to do when getting acquainted with your new home-town. Don’t hesitate to be a tourist at first – the feeling won’t last forever so make the most of the excitement of first arriving. For this reason, get lost and simply just wander. There is enough shopping in Cardiff to last a lifetime as well as a number of quaint little arcades to explore so just ditch Google maps for a while and see what you stumble across.

Finally, take your time! You don’t need to become a master navigator in one day, and finding your feet is part of the fun of it all. You will get to know the city inside out throughout your time at university so don’t stress it, enjoy the process and good luck!

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