After an amazing few days in Edinburgh, my mother and I finally arrived at our destination, Cardiff, the city I will call home for the next ten months. I was so incredibly excited. I had been dreaming of this day for over two years and it was finally here- nothing could ruin it! … But then someone did.
We took a taxi from Cardiff Airport into town. Our driver did not know exactly where my accommodation was, only that it was in the, quote, “dodgy area.” Great. He also told me never to walk around in my area by myself as “a Somali will attack you and hold a knife to your throat for your mobile.” Shit.
~ Welcome to Cardiff~
We finally found my flat and dumped all our bags off. Disheartened and somewhat frightened, we walked to campus clutching our phones to pick up my student card and residents permit. On the way, we saw some children playing on bikes in the middle of the road and a lot of garbage on the sidewalks. No one here has grass in front, only cement and garbage. Maybe this is the dodgy area, but I was determined to at least pretend to be happy. Once all the paperwork was sorted, we tried out the one Japanese restaurant in town, and I have to say I was pleasantly surprised- this was the best thing to happen so far. We then took a taxi to Ikea because I had literally nothing with me except for my clothes and shoes. This driver however seemed to think it was a very nice neighborhood. Yes, he admitted that the streets needed a little cleaning but he insisted that there was no crime at all and instead it was full of lovely people and good food. I hoped he was right, but I was beginning to feel like moving was a mistake, and that’s no good- especially on the first day.
I am living in a brand new private student hall called “Arofan House.” What that means is it is a dorm that is not affiliated with a specific University. This means my five flatmates may go to different schools than me, but it also means I get my own bathroom and I don’t have to live with first years. It is far from “dodgy” and so far everyone I have met has been very friendly. Once my room was set up and my kitchen was stocked, it began to feel more like home. My walls were covered in pictures of weirdos and my cupboards were full of soy sauce and quinoa. ~ Starting to feel better ~
I am about a ten-minute walk from the centre of town, which sits below a castle, is
pedestrian only, and is full of beautiful victorian arcades and new shopping centres. Again, not dodgy. This weekend happened to be the 100th birthday of Roald Dahl, and the entire city was out to celebrate with sculptures and performances,
including a giant inflatable peach and fake newscasts. I began to remember why I picked Cardiff for my year abroad. It is beautiful, artsy, and very friendly. It is also the major film location for Doctor Who, Torchwood, and Sherlock- very exciting! Everywhere we went, we would meet very nice people, including a real-life mad-hatter, and a couple who told me if I ever need anything, just to go down to their local pub and ask for “Bryn.” The wife gave me her phone number too just in case.
I’m too tired to find a more eloquent way of saying this, so here it is: fuck that Taxi Driver. He was a racist and he was wrong! Cardiff is one of the safest places to live in the UK. And my neighborhood is nice! It is full of funky shops, delicious eateries, and people from all over the world- now including Canada. There is even a vegetarian restaurant with a Yurt in the middle of the city which we had dinner in. Come to think of it, I now live on the Commercial Drive of Cardiff.
It may have been a rocky start, but I’m happy now. Saying goodbye to my mom was expectedly tearful, though she is happy for me and I couldn’t ask for a better support network. I will miss all of you back home but will keep you updated. That’s the beauty of the internet!
Hwyl fawr am nawr!