Two suitcases. Two suitcases are the only things I had wheeling behind me as I left my comfortable life in New York even further behind. “Just keep looking forward,” I told myself as the hustle of Heathrow airport whizzed around me.
I stared out the bus, my eyes straining for the warm grey skies with puffs of cloud, and bright green fields with puffs of sheep. A sight I’ve seen many times before, but without having the satisfaction of calling it home. And finally, after a bus ride that felt like close to eternity, and two suitcases still wheeling behind me, I began settling into my new home – Cardiff.
A year ago I was in Brooklyn, never imagining that I will one day be staring at a house is in Cathays, Cardiff calling it mine. My housemates, wholehearted and lovely, are born and raised Welsh. The beautiful yet confusing language can be heard echoing throughout the walls of the household, and they are very patient with my novice grasp of it.
After a day of unpacking and trips to TK Maxx and Wilcos, my housemates took me out to a bar called Buffalos. Two-for-one cocktails and an outdoor garden made for a kindly welcome into my new home. Life hack: Are you a foreigner to the U.K. with almost zero native friends? Give alcohol a try! Quick companionship guaranteed.
That night I heard a lot of, “Cardiff, Kristine? Why leave New York City for Cardiff?” Well, what I did next is a perfect example of why I think Cardiff, Wales is an even better place to live then NYC.
With a bit of a headache, I phoned my Welsh friend and asked for two simple hangover cures: A beach, and a castle. That Sunday morning, I got to experience the very reason Wales is my favourite place on Earth. Passing the grey brown stone buildings, passing the queue of cars, passing the crowds of shuffling people, the world suddenly opened up and I could see fields and fields of sheep. Being a city folk, I still get quite excited to see sheep. So excited, that I screech. So excited, that my friend nearly crashes swerves off the road every time I see one.
We first stopped at Ogmore beach. The city of Cardiff quickly faded away as I hiked through mountains of sand dunes. However my fear of horses quickly faded into view as majestic horseback riders sped passed. And after a Tesco sponsored picnic at Ogmore castle, my hangover was suddenly cured.
After a weekend of settling into Wales, I started Freshers Week feeling, well, fresh. I enrolled in my MA course, and even signed up for rugby – something I’d never played before!
If it’s not evident already, I’m very excited to see what adventures lie ahead.
Read more about the experiences of international students coming to Cardiff.