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20 November 2017

Studying in Wales: A year's worth of memories

Blog by Jonas Marie Dumdum from the Philippines - MSc Renewable Energy and Resource Management Graduate Candidate - University of South Wales


Why Wales?

To study a master's degree halfway across the world to Wales has been, and continues to be the craziest social experiment in my life. Too crazy perhaps, but it did work.

It primarily was just because of the course at first. Studying renewable energy in the UK was something that was worth giving interest to as the world continues to shift away from oil, gas and coal. Solar, wind, hydroelectric and countless other sources of energy that are sustainable and good for the long-term are needed to sustain growth while preserving the world that we live in. When I first learned the University of South Wales (USW), tucked in the South Wales Valleys offered this course in early 2015, it definitely peaked my interest.

That interest became reality one year later when the acceptance letter was sent to me in mid-2016. Preparations were made quickly to ensure that I left for this new adventure in learning.

When arrived, I instantly felt the very cold breeze of the Valleys. But the cold did not prevent me from experiencing and enjoying the warmth of its people.

[Jonas at Cardiff Castle]

It was here that I learned that there are communities that have learned from the past and used the past to build on what they believe is a good future. Communities here in Wales are actually aware of their commitments to the environment and to each other, simply because they love their home. From the classrooms and laboratories of USW’s Pontypridd campus to academic discussions in Cardiff Bay, and community consultations in the Bridgend area, I have met with people that may have different approaches, but have the same goal of harnessing what knowledge we have in sustainability.

Becoming one of the six university student bloggers of USW, as well as a helper for the university’s International Welcome Programme greatly helped in making me see Wales differently as I saw its more cultural side. From ghost stories and medieval jousting in Cardiff Castle to sampling different cuisines (even Filipino noodle food in Mountain Ash) around Wales to watching an international rugby match at the Principality Stadium, Wales offers a unique perspective about how people enjoy life.

Living and studying in Wales for a year has definitely rewarded me in not just the technical knowledge in helping to change the world, but also looking into a culture that is quite well and thriving. To be more specific, any student should know a few things about living and studying in Wales:

  • Walking and lots of it: Unlike major towns and cities around the world where most of the places require extensive commuting, many towns and cities in Wales are within close distance to each other. Buses and trains do go around the major towns, but going to the surgery in Pontypridd from my house may only be a 10 to 15-minute walk and I preferred that choice.

  • Bilingualism: Street signs and even train announcements are done in both Welsh and English in Wales. For someone like me who loves listening to other languages (I am trilingual myself), I continue to be fascinated by it.
  • Rugby, and the things around it: The world’s sport may be football, but the Welsh love their rugby. I enjoy it so much now that every weekend during Autumn Internationals or Six Nations, I wear my Welsh Rugby Union shirt and join in the fun!

[Rugby international]

  • International food ingredients? Find it in Cardiff!”: Due to the high international student population in Cardiff, Swansea, and the South Wales Valleys, ingredients for international cuisines could be found in either Cathays, Butetown, or Grangetown. Even the Philippine version of the San Miguel Pale Pilsen could be found there.

[Castell Coch]

  • Castles, castles all around: Cardiff, Caerphilly, Castell Coch, Swansea, Pembroke, Newport, Chepstow, Caenarfon… the list just goes on and on when it comes to Welsh castles!
  • Welsh cakes and cawl: Both items I love. I usually get my Welsh cakes at Pontypridd or Cardiff Indoor Markets, while my favourite cawl dish could be found inside Castle Arcade!

[Welsh cakes]

  • Beauty of the valleys: Simply go up on the Valleys and see a different side of Wales.
  • University support: universities in Wales really do cater to the needs of the students, with extensive collections of reference materials, top notch lecturers and professors, and great facilities.


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Note: Jonas from the Philippines is graduating with a degree of MSc Renewable Energy and Resource Management this December from the University of South Wales. He is also a member of the USW Student Bloggers team, and you could find his works @USWBloggers on Instagram or search ‘USW Student Bloggers’ on Youtube.