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Comparing Baltimore to Cardiff

Going to school in Baltimore and going to school in Cardiff are two incredibly different experiences, and not just because of the difference in school systems but because of the cities themselves.

First off, the majority of Baltimore is not somewhere you want to find yourself in alone, it still is one of the US’s most dangerous cities, although not number one any more.  The Inner Harbor is touristy and safe, Charles Village, where I live, is full of students and safe for the most part but we still get emails about armed robberies every so often, there are a few other parts of the city that are okay, like Hampden but for the most part it’s pretty dangerous.  It’s unwise to walk more then a few blocks away from campus.  Because of this there’s a phenomenon referred to as the Hopkins Bubble meaning that most students rarely get off campus.  Not a lot of students have cars so our options are public transportation, which is not reliable to say the least, and walking, which means we mostly stay on campus.  There are enough events or work to do that we’re not always bored, but it does get restricting at times.

Cardiff is a totally different story.  My dorm is in a great location for walking.  It’s closer to the City Centre than most dorms and close to most of the University buildings as well, less than five minutes to my building.  The City Centre is incredibly convenient.  It’s got pretty much everything you could need and it’s already decorated with lights for the holidays.  My dorm is also less than a 15 minute walk to Albany Street which is quickly becoming one of my favorite places.  It’s full of charity shops, cafes, and a few grocery stores.  It’s also the location of Rainbow Bargain, a bargain stores situated in a beautiful old church.  It’s got a much bigger selection than Poundland and is much cheaper than Pound Stretcher, both of  which are located in the City Centre.  This is where I finally found cheap(ish) hangers.  But what I like most is the charity shops.  I am a big bargain shopper so if I can buy a purple wool coat for £4.50 ($7.25) I’m a happy camper.

I feel much more free in Cardiff.  I can go where I want to, I can walk around and explore.  Case in point, there’s a park just down the street from my dorms in Baltimore where I lived for two years, I’ve never been there.  I’ve been in Cardiff for just over a month and I’ve already spent several hours wandering in Bute park admiring the landscape.

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