After receiving the amazing news that I had been selected as one of the students for the #SendMeToCardiff scholarship programme, I was speechless and extremely excited. I couldn’t help but reminisce about all the late nights and hard work I had to put in to get where I am. It was no easy task and there were many days I felt like giving up, but thanks to the support from my family and of course my lecturers, I managed to stay motivated and determined to succeed. In the end it was completely worth it and being noticed and rewarded for all my efforts was the best feeling in the world. However, I was quickly brought back to reality once it dawned on me how much I had to start preparing for one of the most exciting opportunities of my life!
The first challenge I was faced with was the “Dreaded” Visa Application. There was a lot of information that was required and the general process was quite overwhelming and stressful but, with the great support I received from the staff at the International Office, I was able to quickly and easily complete my application.
After about 15 working days, I now had the Visa in my possession. I was ready to go which led me to the next challenge, and probably the hardest. Saying goodbye to friends and family is never an easy thing to do but it was agreed that it would be an absolutely amazing experience and they are all excited to hear about my adventures. One thing I was very grateful for was that the 10 hour flight went by surprisingly quick. Upon arriving in Wales, the first thing that surprised me was the fact that it was not raining! I had mentally prepared myself for rain every day for the next 15 months.
After the three hour bus trip from Heathrow Airport to our accommodation in Plas Gwyn Halls of Residence, I was pleasantly surprised with my room, it has everything you need including an en-suite bathroom with a shower, there is even a bar fridge in your room! The kitchen is stocked with the necessary equipment and plenty of cupboard space, all that was required was our own cooking utensils (pots, plates, cutlery, etc.). Once I had finished unpacking, it was time to face another challenge, making new friends, which in hindsight was no challenge at all. The people around Plas Gwyn, the Llandaff campus and Wales in general are all extremely friendly and never hesitate to offer help with anything you may need. Probably one of the greatest things about living at Plas Gwyn is that the walk to Llandaff campus, which is only around 15 minutes, gives me the opportunity to pass the beautiful Llandaff Cathedral.
The university was very welcoming by arranging a brief induction on the Saturday that we arrived where we were issued welcome packs containing sim cards, umbrella and an international student handbook. The international office also had multiple trips planned for us, starting with a trip to Swansea and another trip to “Big Pit” which is a guided tour in an actual coal mine where you gain a lot of respect for the miners and the harsh working conditions they faced. The recent trip to London was one of the best so far and I am already planning my next trip there as there is still so much to do!
The “culture shock” has not been as bad as I had first imagined, although, for my first week here I was starting to worry about myself as everyone I met, even complete strangers, would ask if I’m alright? It was only when I was explaining this strange phenomenon to one of the locals did they laugh and explain that it was the local’s way of saying hello, or the equivalent of saying “Howzit” in South Africa.
I have been here for just over a month now and I can confidently say that this is one of the greatest experiences I have ever had. The university facilities are top of the range and I have already learnt so much, not just from lecturers but from fellow peers as there are so many international students. I feel that having the opportunity to study abroad and engage with different cultures will make me a more fulfilled person and provide a significant stepping stone for my future self-development. My family and I are avid travellers and believe that the more one travels the more open minded and considerate they are to the world.
I look forward to the many great adventures still to come during my time as a Cardiff Metropolitan University student.