Living in Cardiff: An International Student’s Perspective

This is my 10th month of study in the UK. When I first set foot on this land in the early autumn of last year, my heart was full of expectations and trepidation because a brand new life was beckoning me. I was so cautious that I was afraid of being discriminated against because of my different cultural background, but my experience later proved that I thought too much.

It is less busy than London, Manchester, Edinburgh and Glasgow, but a simple, comfortable, self-reliant and harmonious seaside city. As a small travel lover, I have been to big and small cities and towns in the UK, and compared to big cities like London, Manchester and Edinburgh, the people in Cardiff are friendly.

Preparing For Cardiff

Arriving Cardiff

If you feel confident enough, you can book your flight before you get your visa. But for insurance, most people buy air tickets after having a visa. When I am in the UK, I usually book flights on Skyscanner

One way is to fly directly to London. You can choose British Airways or Virgin Atlantic. If you are changing planes in London, you need to calculate the transfer time in advance, which should be at least 2 hours. Otherwise, you may be late to catch the next flight. Another way is flying to Cardiff, but there are few direct flights. It is usually a transfer to Amsterdam in the Netherlands. The disadvantage is that the price is relatively high and there are only few flights.

Ultimately, my friend and I chose to fly directly to London and then take the bus to Cardiff. The tickets we booked in advance on National Express cost £18. (I heard that the ticket price, if purchased on the same day, will soar to 50 pounds.) Payment can be made directly by credit card or PayPal. Afterwards, a confirmation form will be sent to your email. According to the online statement, this form must be printed out so the driver can quickly check it when you get on the bus.

SIM Card

I bought Giffgaff‘s SIM card online in advance before I went abroad. Most international students choose this company. The best thing about this company is its wide range of packages, so students can choose according to their needs. Don’t worry if you didn’t buy one before coming to the UK; you can buy them in many supermarkets and convenience stores, and even special vending machines in airports.

If you seldom use your mobile phone to access the internet and don’t make many phone calls, you can choose the ‘Pay as you go‘ type of offer. The biggest advantage of this type of offer is that you don’t need a local bank card to use it. You just need to buy top-up vouchers at the convenience store or supermarket and top them up.

Student Accommodation

Unite Students - Blackweir Lodge

Blackweir Terrace, Cardiff, Wales CF10 3EY
From £119/week

I initially wanted to book a flat at university, but when I enquired, it was fully booked, so I opted for off-campus student accommodation in Cardiff. It was an en-suite room, with 4-6 people sharing a kitchen and living room, and each room had its own bathroom. Although the flat was opened in 2003, the facilities are all new, and there is a maintenance team, so you can contact the front desk to take care of any damages immediately. There is bike storage both here and at the university, so I bought a bike specifically for this purpose, and it was very convenient to cycle from here to the university in 5 minutes and to the city centre in 7 minutes.

  • Cardiff University: 17 minutes on foot, 5 minutes by bike
  • Cardiff Metropolitan University: 28 minutes on foot, 8 minutes by bike
  • Cardiff Business School: 5 minutes walk
  • Cardiff Central Railway Station: 18 minutes by bus
  • Cardiff Queen Street Train Station: 14 minutes by bus

University Situation

Regisitration

On the first day of school, your teacher will check your visa individually and give you an itinerary after the pep rally. It has your itinerary for the next two days. Student ID and BRP, bank reference letter and medical registration (all collected together in the Union building.). You need to go to the police station to register, make an appointment for the registration, and then go to international student support to complete the registration. After registration, you must bring your passport, visa photo, BRP letter, offer, CAS and other documents to the police station. In fact, it is not necessary to register at the police station within 10 days, but you must go there and make an appointment in advance.

Language Course

The next step is to start the classes. This year’s language classes have been enlarged, with more than 500 and almost 600 students. The teachers are different every morning and afternoon, with your class teacher in the morning and the neighbouring class teacher in the afternoon. The first four weeks are grammar in the morning and academic writing in the afternoon. On the Friday of the 4th week, grammar and skill exams are taken, after which classes are re-grouped, and a score of 50 or more is considered a pass. This exam is not counted as part of the final assessment, but it is essential!

On Monday morning of the 5th week, you will be notified by email to go to the lecture theatre and listen to the new class arrangement (if you still need to pass the grammar) or go to class directly (if you have passed the grammar). Students who did not pass must continue to make up grammar after school on Friday. There will be an opportunity for a make-up exam in the final 11 weeks, so if they don’t pass the make-up exam, they will have to go home or choose another school.

Overall, language classes are challenging. But passing is fine as long as you attend class every day and study hard. It is essential not to be shy in class. The teachers are happy to help you with your problems. The teachers are always glad to help you. You must hand in all your homework, and most importantly, on time.

It was also marvellous for me to come to Cardiff as it was the first to make me an offer. I also chose Cardiff thanks to the efficiency of Cardiff University so that I didn’t have to endure too much waiting. After that, York, Reading, Newcastle and Nottingham followed. If I had to go back and make a new choice, I would choose Cardiff even more. There are too many unanswered choices, but it’s great that there are surprises in every choice because life is what you make of it.

If you are interested in Cardiff accommodation or other city’s study story. Please check following blogs!

If you are interested in Manchester study life or other city’s accommodation. Please check following blogs!

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