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Suggestions and Observations 2

Time October 28th, 2015 in 2015 Fall, College Study Abroad, Wales | No Comments by

Use the school’s library. Most of the others in my classes have been buying the books, so the library’s copies have been available for use.

 

Printing is NOT free. Make sure that what you print is absolutely necessary, or else be prepared to factor in a sizable printing budget. Typically just showing a receipt on your phone is enough though.

 

Getting into London takes a while (see previous post on bus/coaches). Taking the train is faster and probably less time consuming, but also a bit more expensive; I would recommend it if you get the student traveler’s card, since the discount and time can make up for the cost.

London is especially troublesome traffic wise. I went with the school’s Anime Society (clubs are for sports in the UK.) to MCM London, and it took us an extra hour, just to leave the city in the evening. We left London at 6pm, and got back to Cardiff near 11. We also had to leave Cardiff at 5:30am. London IS close enough for a day trip, but it’s not fun.

 

Laundry is not inside the flat in Talybont; it is consolidated in a building. Trash disposal is also consolidated. Be prepared for walking in the rain. A large and sturdy umbrella is required.

It hasn’t been too rainy in Cardiff… but everyone tells me there’s a big YET that must be attached to that statement. I will describe it when I see it.

 

The Cardiff Student Union runs a lot of events; some of the longer trips will make you miss classes. Make sure your lecturers are OK with that first.

On that note, there are three main forms of address for “professors” in the UK, Professor is a special mark like tenure, and is probably even harder to get, it is even harder to get than Dr. the second tier of address, the third group are just lecturers, and I haven’t quite figured out how e-mails to them etc. should be addressed. Good Luck.

 

Time has been going crazy fast for me; this is a first for a school year. Probably because I feel like I’m not doing as much as I should be exploring. I’m halfway between wanting to be a tourist, and focus on going places, and wanting to be a good student, and not do things to get work done. I have not yet found my balance. Expect to feel like you’re not able to do as much as you hopped, even if you have scouted out some points of interest like I did beforehand. I’d recommend staying till January if you’re only a semester student, as then you have the winter to properly explore.

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Adventure Weekend

Time October 28th, 2015 in 2015 Fall, College Study Abroad, Wales | No Comments by

TL; DR: It was good. I chose an all-day event, so I can’t give good suggestions on what to do. If you’re attending IFSA, then go, because it’s better than a weekend in the dorms.

 

Full Version:

Sorry for the late posting, I got a cold and a ton of homework right after it finished, so I’ve been near out of commission for the last few weeks.

The event was in the Snowdonia region, and we were based out of a little resort town called Llanberis. The hotel was nice, but the influx of college kids basically broke the wifi. I know, because my group got there about an hour before everyone else; Cardiff is approx. a five hour drive, London, six.

One of the interesting things about catching a coach (van), or bus (think greyhound), is that drivers are required to take rest breaks, and those usually last 30-50 minutes, so remember to add that to the google maps estimate.

I only needed a backpack. I brought no homework with me, having done most of it during the week leading up, so getting that mental rest was nice as well. I slept early too; after going to bed near 12am, a 9-10pm bedtime was a nice change.

 

On arriving, the hotel was pretty nice; it was probably built during the Victorian period, and it shows in the lobby and dining rooms. The bedrooms were modernized, and there was a bathtub, which made the trip worth it in my opinion.

I choose to do the all day hike up Mount Snowdon, the bath felt very good after it.

 

As I did an all day event, I didn’t get to try some of the other cool stuff like gorge scrambling, or trampolining in a cave. The hike was a good hike, if you’re used to going to national parks. I wouldn’t recommend it to someone who’s never really left a city before, but I’m nowhere near in shape, and I did it, so if you own a good pair of hiking boots, you’re probably good for it.

The group recommended both a jacket for warmth, and one for rain, so make sure that you have those. If the group follows those rules, you should be able to get back to the hotel approx. an hour before any of the other groups (we left near 9am, and were back by around 4.) One thing I’d suggest to any of the more eco-conscious is to bring a sturdy plastic bag to do some trail clean up on the way down. It helps you notice different things on the way down. My group decided to do it on a whim using the paper lunch bags we had been given. Some ripped, so I’d suggest a more durable plastic.

 

Food was OK, and I didn’t go to their bar, so I don’t know about that. There is a town, but I did not explore it. You need relatively little money on the trip, so there’s no need to bring much, unless you intend to buy souvenirs from North Wales.

 

On Sunday, we did a detour up to a seaside resort town of Llandudno before returning to Cardiff. It being October, the town was pretty empty comparatively. Walking around it was nice; the town had its WWI/military remembrance service, so it was probably busier in town than what I’d guess it usually was. We didn’t get too long there.

 

After that was a five-ish hour return drive, so don’t try keeping any plans for Sunday. You probably won’t be back in time, unless it’s a night event.

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Things I would have done differently/wish I had known before arriving in Cardiff

Time October 5th, 2015 in 2015 Fall, College Study Abroad, Wales | No Comments by

It takes a day to unpack, and two weeks plus to settle in.
I am still not done with the things I need to do to feel officially done with moving in, so here are some things I wish I had done differently/knew about before coming to Cardiff:

1) That I had the choice of picking up my Biometric Residence Card from the Cardiff University Student’s Union. I didn’t see that option on my visa application, and I had to find my way to the nearest post office with just my google maps as my guide.
2) That I had gotten my ID and Residence card my first day in. It would have made opening my bank account much easier. I currently am still waiting for my appointment, so if you plan to go to Cardiff for a year, make getting an appointment at the bank of your choice a priority. One useful piece of advise is that the bank that is in the Student Union charges a fee for having an account with them. I chose to try for Lloyds, but everyone else seems to have as well. (There are two other Universities in Cardiff, and they have internationals as well)
3) The Student Union offers wristbands. They are competing with other “Fresher” events sets/wristbands (they may be called “freshers” but everyone seems to go). Know which set your flatmates are choosing, or you will be left out. I can only recommend the “Give it a Go” wristband. I did not really go to much of the dances, because I am used to being home at about 12am, and the dances don’t really start really getting big until 1.
4) Be warned that UK students stay up much later than their American counterparts, and are much more used to alcohol.
5) There are differences in bedding from where I am from; duvets need duvet covers, and duvet covers come with pillowcases, so there really is no need to buy separate cases.
6) Even though you’re told to try to scrounge from what other people leave behind, you are probably going to need to buy your own cooking gear. Know what kinds of things you need and how to check if they are good. The one good thing is that Cardiff holds a rummage sale for this kind of stuff, so dishes and silverware can be gotten cheap.
7) You need a phone for Tesco, and if the room’s welcome packet doesn’t change, there will be a simcard from Giff-Gaff inside of the playing card deck it gives. It appears to be one of the better options, and the one the international students at the help desk recommended to me. DO your own research, but be sure you know exactly what a company needs for registration before you get to the UK. I didn’t look at the application page, and that made me lose some time.
8) Clubs are for sports, and Societies are for what I’d think of as clubs. You can really only choose so many, and you have to pay a fee to be in any of them. Go to their “taster” or “Give it a Go” events before the Club fair if possible, certain clubs may have discounted joining fees, so knowing what you’re paying for is a good idea. I did a impulse buy, and am regretting it. I am not regretting the club I went to a taster of.
9) A second thing to note is that many club and society meeting schedules overlap, be sure to not pick more than a total of four to five in total to not feel like you’re skipping out on all of the events you’ve paid fees to go to.
10) Courses do not talk to each other, and all of them will have different methods of registering you for courses. Be Warned.
11) People wear dark colors, even at night. If you wear “light” anything, you will stand out. Even medium toned blues can stick out. I have seen bright colors, but I do not yet know when things are allowed, so good luck with your own wardrobe.
12) Unless you are in a science, assume you will have a lot of down time, and make sure you stay busy during them all. There are supposed to be a lot of papers that will sneak up on you.
13) Go to any International info sessions you get told about, and go to the study abroad office, not the International student’s office, to insure that you’ve heard about all the meetings just in case. Learning how to use the school’s tech is terrifying even after the how tos, so trying to do it by yourself is not advisable.
14) Cardiff offers free language courses. You do need to buy books from them. Wednesdays are a good slot for them, but Wednesdays are also educational half-days, so know that you are probably going to be missing out on club/society stuff to do the courses.

That’s all I can think of at the moment, I’ll do a better reflection on the City of Cardiff once I’ve seen more of it.
You can just stay mostly around the University and the closer parts of city centre without much effort.

 

P.S. Words mean different things here e.g. “college” basically means high school, and there really aren’t American style colleges in the UK, because college is something that people choose to do here, rather than feel they must like at home.

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On the Night of Arrival

Time September 15th, 2015 in 2015 Fall, College Study Abroad, Wales | No Comments by

So I’ve made it to the UK without any problems. I apparently shouldn’t have been so worried about customs, as they only really cared about meat and dairy, along with the usual duty frees, rather than about the candies and gifts I had brought with me.

 

My first reflection on traveling is that I should have brought a large converter with me. Back home, it was suggested that I get the plug converters for my products (apple computer & iPhone, and a second computer) I couldn’t find the apple parts at the store I went to, so I ended up having to buy a single plug converter in London. As such, instead of having three working wires, I have one working converter. I may have to buy a second in Wales, seeing as I tend to need to charge my phone and computer at the same time (though I could get creative and simply keep my phone charged by syncing it every day.)

 

I forgot a couple things while packing, but none of them were too important, and hopefully can be replaced once I get to Cardiff. I’m already looking forward to shopping for a sturdy second-hand jacket or coat, as the wind seems to be able to get through my thin jacket too easily.

 

It’s two days till I arrive at Cardiff, so there’s not too much to say yet, as such, I’ll go and introduce myself with the page space I’ve got left:

 

I’m Travis Nishii, fifth generation Japanese-American, gay, and an English major (creative writing).

These are probably the “big” things, though I feel like my choices of music and books in my first post are much more accurate in describing me.

I’m interested in languages, and as such, I’m planning to be in Welsh 1, and I’m hoping to take advantage of Cardiff’s Languages for All program to learn

German (I was hoping to take Arabic but that won’t be until second semester.)

 

I still don’t know how course application works, so here’s hoping everything will be cleared up on Thursday, as I only have till Sunday to sign up.

 

I guess I’ll end here today, and then write an extra post on my experiences signing up for courses, once Thursday/Friday comes round.

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Can’t sleep the night before.

Time September 14th, 2015 in 2015 Fall, College Study Abroad, Wales | No Comments by

It’s a good thing the flight is in the evening, because I can’t fall asleep.
It could be that it’s because I’m in New York for the first time in my life, and bedtime shifted from midnight/1am, to 2/3am, plus naps. Or it could be that I am finally going on a trip I’ve been panicking over for the last couple of months.

Some pre-departure heart attacks included finding out that IFSA-Butler sets up my contacts through them (I mean, I guess I should have known that might happen), and flailing about trying to figure out whether or not I should change the e-mail and address they set up to my actual ones (I decided to leave it in place because, hey, they’re technically paying the bills). While another was insuring that my visa was done far enough ahead (only real heart attack there was seeing the cost of the visa and health care.)

Overall, I am very excited.

I decided I wanted to go to Wales after taking a course called “Celtic Lit.” Wales had the stories I liked best: Melog, a contemporary novel, and the Mabinogion, a collection of stories (the mabinogi, and other tales) that are the base for Arthurian myth.

After the course, and its basic welsh pronunciation lesson, I started trying to find welsh language music on YouTube (I found two bands through it: Sŵnami and Y Bandanna) and BBC’s C2, my favorite program is Guto Rhun (I found more Sŵnami there, along with other contemporary bands).

After I applied to Cardiff, IFSA-Bulter’s suggested readings also helped. I chose the recently updated Rough Guide to Wales as my main book because it had a great culture notes section in back with its own selected books. I found another good artist, the Super Furry Animals and their Welsh language album Mwng, through their recommendations.

My favorite book of those I had read as “research” was a story called The Owl Service (plates). While the only movie Netflix had from the recommended list was The Englishman Who Went Up a Hill but Came Down a Mountain.

Packing was relatively easy; I just brought my few cold-ish weather clothes (I’m from Hawaii, so I don’t really have anything warmer than jeans and a jacket), and my well-used wet weather gear.

I’ll go do a proper introduction next time. I have to try and sleep now.

P.S. I’m currently in New York. I’ll go and figure out where the “Location” tab has run off to later.

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