That’s right, folks; this girl is leaving the country in two days. Not for good or anything (although, with the upcoming election, I might stay a little longer than planned…). The fall semester of my junior year in college will be spent abroad. For three months, I will be studying at Cardiff University, which is located in Cardiff, Wales. Before you open a new tab and type “Where is Wales?” into your favorite search engine, let me try to help you out a bit…
Wales is a country in the U.K. North of Wales lies Scotland, England can be found to the right, and Ireland and Northern Ireland are just across the pond to the left. People in Wales speak English, but some also speak Welsh. Welsh is full of cool words like Cymraeg. Cymraeg is the word in Welsh for Welsh. Cymru is the word for Wales, the country. Cwn is valley. And my personal favorite: Llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwllllantysiliogogogoch is the name of a small town. It translates to “St. Mary’s Church in the hollow of the white hazel near a rapid whirlpool and the Church of St .Tysilio near the red cave.” Want to know how to pronounce that one? Watch this weatherman nail it! Another neat thing about Wales is that the Welsh national flag has a giant red dragon on it. Wales is looking pretty awesome right about now, isn’t it??
While I’m going to be studying abroad in Wales for the next three months, that doesn’t mean I’m going to stay in Wales and only Wales. I plan on traveling everywhere I possible can while in Europe. Traveling is slowly becoming a passion of mine. I love getting to experience new cultures, learn about their traditions, each place’s history, try their foods, etc. Right now, I have a growing list of places I want to visit, things I want to see, and people I can’t wait to meet while abroad.
Along with that list, I’ve been adding to another list of my own every time I talk to someone about my upcoming semester abroad. I’ve formed a list of advice I’ve been given and would like to share it with you all. Some of you reading this might even see something familiar!
Advice for Casey, provided by many.
- Be safe.
- Buy a sleeping bag/sleeping pad to sleep on in hostels. You don’t want to sleep in those sheets!
- Hostels are awesome–take advantage of them. And their free books!
- Take a suitcase with wheels.
- Do you play sports? Doesn’t matter. Tryout for a team anyway.
- Drink it all in–literally, you’ll be of age.
- Don’t pay for an international phone plan.
- Pay for an international phone plan.
- Don’t forget your passport.
- Travel everywhere.
- Bring a frisbee. It’s a great tool for meeting new people. Everyone loves frisbee!
- Have a glass/can of lemonade. It’ll be the best tasting lemonade you’ve ever had.
- Buy your Christmas presents while abroad.
- Take the train.
- Join every club/society you can.
- Don’t take more than one suitcase.
- Take pepper spray everywhere you go.
- Save all of your receipts. They’re good souvenirs for people you forget to buy souvenirs for.
- Meet up with my cousin/mum/uncle/dogsitter’s boyfriend/etc.
- Go shopping on Oxford Street in London.
- Buy an actual map. Don’t rely on that stupid GPS thing. Siri can and will be wrong and you’ll wind up in the middle of a sheep farm.
- Learn the name Gareth Bale. Period.
- Buy a bike.
- Don’t leave your luggage to pee, even if you’ve just had two large Mountain Dews, a cup of coffee, and a full Nalgene water bottle.
- Go to class.
- Skip out on class.
- If you feel safe, go on trips alone–gives you a sense of independence and freedom when you’re tired of your flatmates and missing home.
- Take pictures of everything.
- Visit [insert place in Europe here]. It’s the coolest place in the world!
As my friends who are also studying abroad either settle in to their cosy new beds for the semester or settle into their not-so-cosy plane seats for the next 8-12 hours, I will continue to cherish my last couple days in the good ‘ole U.S. of A., sipping on a smoothie, snacking on leftover Chinese take-out, and watching Gilmore Girls on Netflix.Until then, see you soon, Cymru!
P.S. Keep the advice coming! I love all of it, even if it’s something I’ve been told a million a one times! I want to know all our your suggestions, too! Thanks!