Student Blogs & Vlogs | College Study Abroad Programs, IFSA-Butler

Casey in Cymru

Time September 12th, 2016 in 2016 Fall, Wales | No Comments by

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 CymraegCymraeg 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 you can see, I’ve been given all kinds of advice (and too many places to visit to list them all). Will I follow all of it? Probably not. Will I try? Probably. What I am going to promise to do, though, is compile a list of advice based off this list given to me and my experiences while abroad to share with others wanting to spend a semester abroad.

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!

Want to know more about me? More about my adventure? More in general? Check out my travel blog “Casey in Cardiff” by clicking here or typing the following into your browser: www.caseyincardiff.weebly.com
Share

What’s the Welsh for “veni, vidi, vici”?!

Time November 17th, 2011 in College Study Abroad | No Comments by

…Or is that premature of me to ask? Despite the fact that I have a million essays and assignments to be working on, I am currently floating upon a cloud of happy, triumphant energy. Why, you might ask?

 

Because I just finished my first Welsh exam! Now, I could be wrong here, but I think I did quite well on it! My hours of studying, despite the fact that I devoted my Reading Days to it, totally paid off. Or so I think. A lot of other members of my class were not feeling very confident after the test, thought it was difficult, or were very ambivalent about the whole thing, but I found it to be quite straightforward.

 

Then again, with Welsh it’s always the little details that seem to trip one up.

 

In addition to my fantastic feeling about the Welsh exam, I also got my first Welsh written assignment back and got at 66 on it! Now before you Americans gasp in horrified astonishment at that rather deplorable sounding grade, I should point out that in the Welsh department everything we turn in is marked out of 70, which puts my grade at ~94%! HURRAH!

 

Okay, I think I’ve bragged enough. I don’t mean to sound pompous, I’ve just been working really hard and am very excited.

 

Moving on, I’ll take a step in reverse back to the rest of Reading Week! In my last post I discussed my trip to the Wye Valley. On Wednesday, I spent the morning studying and then spent my afternoon in the stables having a lesson with my riding group in the Cardiff Uni Equestrian Club. It was a pretty miserable day and we had to walk the mile and a half to the stables in the pouring rain, but everyone in the club is pretty nice and friendly, so I had a good time anyway. I rode a 5 year-old Cobb mare in the lesson–she is still rather “green” and didn’t really understand what I was asking her all the time, so it was challenging ride!

 

I wish I were able to take pictures. The problem is that there have been thefts at the stables and I don’t have anywhere safe to put my camera whilst I ride.

 

Thursday and Friday were fairly uneventful days primarily spent studying.

 

Saturday was another great day. In the morning, I met my fellow IFSA Butler Cardiff Uni student, Sarah, to study Welsh! Because we were meeting pretty early, we decided that a breakfast of crepes was definitely in order if we were to get any work done. ;]

 

The place we went is called “The Pancake House” (located in the Old Brewery Quarter, if you are someone planning to visit Cardiff!), and it was absolutely fantastic. I chose the deliciously decadent Nutella & banana crepe:

 

Photobucket

 

I feel as though it is necessary for me to mention that we DID in fact get some good Welsh practice in during the hour and a half we spent sitting outside!

 

It had been quite sunny and warm when we arrived at the Pancake House, but after we’d been sitting outside for a while it became very cold and a bit overcast, so we re-located to the warm interior of a nearby Costa and drank glasses of cocoa as we drilled Welsh vocabulary. A lovely morning, all in all! It was also fun to be in City Centre at that time; the Christmas markets have all been set up, stall upon stall of food, hot drinks, Welsh crafts, and other items, and it seemed like the whole world was out and about shopping!

 

After our Welsh study, I headed back to my apartment to do some reading for another class and, you guessed it, study more Welsh, before heading to a pub down the street for dinner with some flatmates.

 

And then I studied MORE!

 

Sunday was similarly great, but in an entirely different way. From 11am-6pm I was off on a hack with the Equestrian Club in the mountains of the Brecon Beacons! We were so lucky that the weather was great–sunny and not too cold. Cantering through Welsh fields on Welsh hills above the most beautiful Welsh valley on a scruffy Welsh horse (named Jaffa Cake!), riding past tiny farms and through twisted hedgerows made me feel absolutely as though I was on a film set or in a fairytale! At the bottom of the valley was a beautiful lake, and as it got closer to 4pm, we could see the sun starting to drift down and set behind the mountains behind the lake.

 

I wish so much that I could have taken some photos, but for safety reasons we weren’t allowed to carrying ANYTHING in our pockets and had to turn our cameras in at the office. :(

 

Though I will say, the one advantage to not having access to a camera is that you can’t be distracted by it, fumbling around trying to get a good shot. You can just focus on enjoying yourself and really experiencing the scenery, and I know I’ll remember that ride for the rest of my life.

 

Monday and Tuesday were a blur of lectures, researching for papers, meetings with professors, and studying for Welsh. I will say, I am becoming quite academically stressed. But I’m trying to stay positive!

 

On Wednesday, my Material Evidence for Ancient Historians class had a seminar on Ancient Greek Numismatics (coins!) in the National Museum, right down the street from the University. The museum is really great, and free for students! I definitely want to go back someday when I have more time to poke around on my own.

 

Anyway, I found the seminar extremely challenging and am somewhat dreading the essay I need to write on it this weekend, HOWEVER, during the seminar we were actually allowed to handle the artifacts and I must say it was pretty darn amazing to be holding such old coins that some ancient Greeks had ACTUALLY handled and used.

 

Here are just a few of the coins we looked at:

 

Photobucket
Photobucket
Photobucket

 

And here we are, Thursday evening, and you’ve already heard all about my double-Welsh class today ;]

 

What am I off to do now? Study even more for tomorrow morning’s Welsh class! There isn’t much time to take a breather when you want to stay on top of a new language, BUT I am in love with Welsh, so I can’t say I mind.

 

Coming Up this Weekend:  The Mad Hatter’s Tea Party with the Tea Party Society! “Frocks and Hats Required.” Should be a good time, though of course I have heaps of homework and reading to get through! C’est la vie.

 

Until then!

 

Share

The Death or Rebirth of the Welsh Language

Time July 8th, 2009 in College Study Abroad | 1 Comment by

According to the Cambridge Dictionary the word unique is defined as “being the only existing one of its type or, more generally, unusual or special in some way” (Cambridge, 2009). This is a word that best describes Wales and the language and culture that lives within it. Everyday the world is becoming more globalized leaving certain customs and languages behind, which is why it is increasingly important to hold onto any unique qualities that a county and culture might have.

The one thing that you will notice right away if you decide to study in Wales is that on every street sign, words written in Welsh first and then English second even though only a small percentage of Welsh actually speak the native language still. But the Welsh Assembly Government has a strong stand on their beliefs, and can’t see the road signs being any other way.

The Welsh Assembly believes that the Welsh language is an important part of Wales’ national identity. In order to revive and revitalize the Welsh language, the Welsh Assembly has been creating numerous action plans for the government and people of Wales, which the public unfortunately isn’t too keen about.

The state of the world is becoming more globalized each day. Technology has now created the possibility and even the likelihood of a global culture, which I found to be very alarmingly so while in the U.K. With the amount of American culture that I saw each day, I sometimes forgot I actually was in a different country. Obviously the Internet, and Cable TV are sweeping away cultural boundaries. I have found that global entertainment companies shape the thoughts and perceptions of ordinary people across the world.

In the present day, it is very easy for a minority culture to disappear which is why extra effort in sustaining individuality is more important than ever. This said, I completely support the Welsh Assembly Government in their efforts of reviving the Welsh Language. I really do hope that the language is maintained for the sake of the identity and culture that exists in Wales.

Share