When you move to university, not only are you leaving behind the place you grew up in, you’re taking on a whole new way of living. Let me explain; although my experience is not quite as extreme as might be had by an international student, I have noticed a lot of significant differences between how things are done at home (in my case Wales) and ‘up north’ in Ormskirk. So, I thought I’d share with you a few of my experiences as a Welsh Student in an English Uni.
The Great Bread Debate (Dialects)
One of the main arguments that characterise uni students is the ‘great bread debate.’ If you’ve never heard of this, run, run away now and never get involved! Basically, there will come a point in your life when you order a bread roll/bun/bap/batch/barm whatever you call it, and spark a debate with your friends that will span centuries. The thing is, every region of the UK seems to have a different way of describing the crusty roll that is the king of the bread world and that is a BIG deal for students. Personally, my rule is it’s a chip bap, burger bun, bacon butty and for all other uses a bread roll. Yes, I am that indecisive. The reason why a lot of students get so up in arms about what to call bread is because when you’re surrounded by people with different dialects, you become exposed to loads of different ways of saying things. Therefore you may find yourself becoming far more assertive about the ‘right’ (your) way of saying it. It’s important, however to be open to different dialects and you may even find yourself adopting some great new phrases – I know I have!
No One Understands the Struggles of Welsh Bacc (But that’s part of the fun!)
Anyone from Wales will agree with me that the Welsh Baccalaureate, whilst very useful for gaining an all-round knowledge and extra UCAS points, was by far the most stressful course you will ever undertake! But nothing compares to the excitement you feel when you find another Welsh student to share your sixth form horror stories with, because unfortunately no other student will quite understand the pure struggle. Again, because all your uni mates will come from different educational backgrounds, not all of them will have experienced school/college the way you have. But do you know what? That’s okay! One of the easiest talking points when you first meet your uni friends is to talk about their experience of education and comparing what you loved and/or despised about your school. This can also be helpful when doing assignments as your friends may have a totally different understanding of a subject than you do and therefore bring new ideas.
‘You can speak Welsh? Go on then.’
Okay, so, the most frequent thing I’ve had to encounter as a Welsh student, which is probably true for a lot of international students also, is the fascination with your ability to speak another language. I have to admit, I’ve been guilty of this a bit myself, so I’m coming from both sides. The only problem I have with this is that I haven’t spoke Welsh since my GCSEs and I’ve dropped most of the more constructive words from my vocabulary (though Sboncen and Sglodion will always remain as my favourites), so that makes stringing together a few simple sentences quite the task. I tend to just opt for the obvious ‘Dwi’n hoffi coffi’ but that doesn’t tend to cut it these days (Thanks Gavin and Stacey). I mean, on the upside it motivates me to actually brush up on my Welsh and try and slip it into everyday conversation to confused the non-welsh speakers – that’s always fun!
I hope that gave you a bit of insight into the funnier parts of moving to a totally different part of the UK, and that it will, perhaps, help my fellow Welsh applicants to prepare for uni. Until next time! 🙂