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6 December 2017

Top things that people need to know about Wales

Blog by Jaydene Davies, 22, from South Africa, who has lived in Wales for 3 years. 

I may have been born in, and lived in sunny South Africa for 19 years of my life, but I used to visit my family in Wales every year for a two week holiday. I always enjoyed visiting Wales and thought that it was a beautiful country, however, two weeks a year was not enough to prepare me for relocating to, and living in Wales.

[Jaydene aged 8, on holiday visiting Llantwit Major, South East Wales]

In the hope that I can prepare you for living in Wales – here is my list of the top things that people need to know about Wales:


Pack your brolly (and I mean ALWAYS pack it)

There have been numerous times that I have left my house without an umbrella because it was a glorious, sunny day only to get caught in the rain. It does in fact rain a lot in Wales, but who says that rain is a bad thing? Wearing wellies while walking my dog is now one of my favourite fashion statements. The high annual rainfall also means that the mountains are covered in stunning shades of green grass, which brings me to my next point.


The stunning mountainous scenery

Wales is a beautiful country and there is no doubt about that! Waking up on a summer’s morning to the view of dewy, green mountains outside your bedroom window can relax anyone enough into getting lost in their own thoughts. You haven’t truly lived in Wales until you have hiked up the infamous Pen-y-Fan mountain in the Brecon Beacons. If you haven’t tried it yet, I would highly recommend giving it a go!

[Porthcawl, South East Wales]


The breath-taking, picturesque beaches

I think the one thing that the rest of the world underestimates Wales for is its’ beautiful beaches. I’m not over exaggerating, but some of the most stunning beaches I have ever seen have been the ones in Wales. Barafundle Bay (Pembrokeshire) and Rhossili Bay (The Gower Peninsula) have even been voted as some of the best beaches in the world, and it’s not hard to see why. The nicest thing is that they aren’t only in one area in Wales, but spread out over the country. Whether you are in North, South or West Wales, I can guarantee that there is a gorgeous beach within a relatively short drive. 

[Barafundle Beach, South West Wales]


The Welsh language

Although the majority of people in Wales speak English, the Welsh language (which is known as Cymraeg) continues to thrive. I remember when I first moved here and noticed that I had no idea how to even attempt to pronounce the names of certain places (but don’t worry, most road signs have the Welsh and English names on them). Once you learn the “rules”, it is actually fairly simple to read and pronounce Welsh, so just give it some time! I am now a Welsh learner, and I am in my second year of learning Cymraeg, which I’m thoroughly enjoying. If you would like to scrub up on your Welsh pronunciation and reading, there are plenty of websites and Apps available to help.


The fairy tale castles

Ever dreamed of a fairy tale wedding? Well then Wales has the perfect castles for you to see, and people of all ages are sure to find them enchanting! Wales has more ancient fortresses per square mile than anywhere else in Europe (this is why Wales is sometimes called the “Castle Capital of the World”), and these magnificent buildings dominate everything in their surroundings. When you walk inside any of these castles, you can literally feel the Welsh culture and heritage in the air.

[Caernarfon Castle, North West Wales]

I am now at my favourite three things about Wales – so the next three points are very special to me.


Match day in Cardiff

There is just something special in the atmosphere on match day in Cardiff. Cardiff is the capital city of Wales, and when Wales is hosting a rugby match in Principality Stadium the whole city just buzzes with life! Everyone is dressed up in their Welsh rugby shirts (and of course the opposing supporters in their teams rugby shirts), Welsh dragons painted on their faces and there is the constant chanting of songs while crowds of people walk through the city. What’s even more special is the fact that everyone seems to get on so well (even with the rival teams supporters!) and there is no bitterness whatsoever.

[Jaydene on match day, Cardiff, South East Wales]


The patriotic, proud (yet humble) nation

Let’s put this as simple as it can be explained – the Welsh are so proud of their country and where they come from, and it’s extremely heart-warming to witness. When it comes to singing the National Anthem, the Welsh will be sure to sing it the loudest. I remember a few weeks ago there was an issue with the speaker system in the stadium that Wales was playing at, but this didn’t stop Welsh supporters – they sang without any music! And let me tell you, it was one of the most beautiful (and tear jerking) things I have ever witnessed. Yet at the same time, the Welsh are so humble and are still able to have a laugh and smile even when Wales does not win.



The Welsh people

The Welsh are honestly the friendliest nation I have ever met. There is just something very special and welcoming about them. I remember how terrified I was when I moved to Wales, mainly down to the fact that I did not know anyone (which was very intimidating!) but this did not last very long. As soon as I would speak, someone would notice my accent and immediately start a conversation with me about moving to Wales. This led to me meeting so many people, and many of them who I now refer to as my best friends. I remember one particular day, when I was having a bad day and was rather upset on the train. This kind lady came across to offer me a tissue and asked if I wanted someone to chat to, which definitely helped brighten my day! How many countries people would come across just to try and cheer up someone that is a stranger to them?

[Jaydene and her Boston Terrier, Betty, who has also made the move to Wales]

After three years of living in Wales, I am now happy (and proud) to call it home! The true beauty of this country ranges from its’ land to its’ architecture, and all the way through to its’ people. I hope that my list of the top things that people need to know about Wales has provided you with an insight to this lovely country.

Welsh people often say “Cymru am byth” (pronounced come-ree am-bith) which means Wales forever, or long live Wales. Living in Wales has, without a doubt, won my heart over and so “Cymru am byth”.


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