Article I wrote for the free publication Cardiff Times for their July 2013 Edition.
As a student coming to Cardiff Metropolitan University from Northern Ireland, a country still feeling the effects of past decades of sectarian violence, the vibrant make-up of Cardiff, for me, is without the doubt the most positive aspect of the city.
The University itself has overseas partnerships offering programmes in Egypt, Korea, Morocco, Sri Lanka and Singapore, allowing students from over 140 countries to study its various under-graduate and post-graduate degrees. On my own Graphic Communication course this is reflected in the make-up of my fellow course-mates who have come as far as wide as Sweden, China and Portugal. As an individual who is keenly interested in the wider world and current affairs I have viewed this as only positive as it has presented me with an opportunity to learn about other cultures and their aspects from people whose origins are rooted there. In this regards this has contributed to a mutually beneficial experience.
During my experiences in my first year within university I encountered not just academic challenges but a huge personal challenge. Since I can recall I have always found it harder to socialise than most other people. This problem was intensified when I came to university – a whole new environment for me where I had to make new friends. During the following two years however due to my own effort, determination, help from the universities student services and my tutors I have greatly improved my social and communication skills through Speech and Language Therapy at the local hospital and the broader university environment. Although I would admit I have not achieved my full potential in this area my existing improvement as a consequence of this support has given me the confidence to eventually do so.
Towards the end of my degree and with the prospect of my future looming ahead of me I decided that I wanted a future career not in design, but journalism. Fortunately I found opportunities with the help of my course tutors within university to help me develop appropriate experience and skills in this area including writing for the universities online newspaper, Retro, in addition to my own blog. In these various aspects I therefore ultimately view the decision to come to Cardiff as a positive personal step as it forced me to recognize and face my social and communication difficulties.
As a student with no interest in the clubs that my course mates flock to during the night I have travelled on various occasions to the Chapter Arts Centre to see some interesting non-mainstream films on limited release such as the horror anthology ABC’s of Death or Kill List. This reflects my own personal interest in Horror cinema. If I decided to do neither I would like to think that I would be one among very few university students who prefers to watch Newsnight than going to the city’s nightclub’s, if only for the fact I find Jeremy Paxman’s questioning style to be potentially more interesting than the possibility of watching my fellow drunken students dance until the early hours of the morning. When my course mates decided to avoid clubs themselves however nearby pubs provided a more enjoyable location to have a nice, quiet drink with course-mates.
Outside university the most striking part of the landscape is the Millennium Stadium. While I have never been a fan of rugby this does did provide quite an impressive site during trips to the city centre. As a Liverpool FC fan, watching the 2012 League Cup Final in a pub with a fan that supported both Cardiff City and Manchester United was, however, certainly an interesting experience. It is perhaps an indication of the character of the city’s residents that I was met with friendliness despite my team’s victory on penalties, always a excruciating experience for any football fan on the losing side.
Yet I can genuinely say all these aspects have made my three years in Cardiff a unique experience that I value both at an academic and personal level. After I eventually figure out what I’m going to do with the rest of life I will definitely consider returning at some point in the future.