My experience of being a Welsh student at an English University
Hello, I am Hannah, and I have just completed my degree in Sport Management at Loughborough. As you can probably guess from the title, I am from Wales. I did not really think about the differences of living in England compared to Wales before I started university. So, for those of you who are Welsh and making the move, I thought I would share my experiences of studying outside the land of song.
Firstly, I thought I would start with a very important aspect of being a student, finance. As a Welsh student you will need to go to Student Finance Wales to apply for funding, which is different to English students. The website gives you all the information you need regarding how and when to apply, and outlines what financial support is available to you. The website also gives the details regarding the Welsh Government Learning Grant, which helps with expenses while studying. I would definitely recommend reading through the website before you apply so you know what you are entitled to.
Can you speak Welsh?
Be prepared to be asked this question numerous times, and not just during freshers, but throughout your whole university experience. Having only studied GCSE short course, the best I could do were simple phrases such as “dw i’n hoffi coffi” which means I like coffee for those who do not speak Welsh. Nevertheless, these still seemed to go down well with those who asked. So, I would certainly recommend looking through those Welsh textbooks to remind yourself on how to say those simple phrases. For those of you who can speak Welsh well, knowing Europe’s longest place name Llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwllllantysiliogogogoch becomes a really good party trick!
Rugby is a big part of the culture in Wales, as pretty much everyone I know owns a Welsh rugby top. However, being in England you will come across seas of white tops during the six nations. While as a Welsh rugby fan, beating the English is a top priority, I never anticipated the amusement of watching a Wales v England match with supporters of both sides. The English supporters are not as bad as you may think, and they actually can appreciate a decent kick. So definitely bring your Welsh shirt but be prepared, the England rugby fans are just as invested as us Welsh!
How far is that away from Cardiff?
Unless you are actually from Cardiff or Swansea, no one really knows exactly where you are from. If you are from South Wales, you will most likely say the proximity of your village or town to Swansea or Cardiff. If you are from North Wales, the proximity from Liverpool or Chester will usually help.
Something I did not really think about were signs. Growing up in Wales you do not really know any different when it comes to signs, road signs especially, being in Welsh and English. Until I moved to university, I did not even think about Welsh not being on almost every sign you read. I often found myself skipping lines expecting there to be the Welsh translation. What is even more confusing is adapting back to seeing Welsh on the signs when you go back to Wales.
Another factor I did not even consider was my driving licence. I failed to properly notice that the words driving licence were even written in Welsh at the top. Take a look, it actually does. I have experienced the puzzled faces of security when they notice the “TRWYDDED YRRU”. But rest assured, they realise in the end, and you will be in the pub in no time.
“Oww, what’s occurring?”
Everyone loves Gavin and Stacey! And from my experience, English people seem to love it. The amount of times I have heard “Oww, what’s occurring?” in a Nessa voice is astonishing. However, some people’s attempt of the accent is definitely worth it. Do be prepared to rate their accent and hear them repeat it quite a few times while they try and get it spot on. I will warn you in advance, if you have got a strong Welsh accent, people will more than likely copy some of the way you say words, which provides a lot of entertainment for you. Why some English people have such a fascination with the Welsh accent is beyond me.
Wales is quite big
It takes roughly 4 hours to get from the North to the South coast of Wales. Yes, that is quite a long journey. You will be surprised that many of the people you meet at university do not realise how big Wales is. Yet, they think we might live in a field full of sheep. Disclaimer: people do live on farms where there are sheep. However, the majority of people, while they might see sheep from their houses, do not live with the sheep.
Proud to be Welsh!
Most importantly, be proud of being Welsh. Be proud to wear the dragon flag. Be proud of the fact you know what a Welsh cake is. And while being over a 3-hour drive from home, and having no Welsh on the signs, I have personally had an amazing experience studying at Loughborough.
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