We’ve all been there – spending more hours poring over UCAS than the revision books needed to actually get us to uni. We’ve all practically broken our backs lugging way too many prospectuses around uni fairs; we’ve all persuaded our parents to take us to an Open Day the other end of the country; we’ve all tried to weigh up factors like the course itself; entry requirements; location. And this is before we even get onto employment prospects; teaching style; whether it’s Campus or City; what the area is known for…

So, I know filtering through your uni choices can be overwhelming. That’s why My Uni Basics is here to help – and hopefully make you realise that Cardiff is a fail-safe one.

While Cardiff University is the biggest in Wales, with over 30,000 students flocking to classes, it’s not the only one in the city. There’s also University of South Wales (also with campuses twenty minutes down the road in Newport and Pontypridd); Cardiff Metropolitan dispersed between Llandaff and Cyncoed; and Trinity St David’s Cardiff campus (it’s also found in Carmarthenshire, Swansea and Ceredigion).

So, this combination means a lot of students. And luckily, Cardiff reflects this – there’s always something fun going on; something cultural; something arty; something sporty; something academic; something culinary or something scientific.

“ Cardiff is such an accessible, connected and personal city that it makes sense to get up and explore ”

As UK cities go, Cardiff perhaps wouldn’t jump to mind with as much force as London, Manchester or Birmingham. But the Welsh capital shouldn’t be overlooked. Every corner of it has an individual charm and enough to both entice tourists and make residents never want to leave.

Cathays is one of the country’s most student-saturated suburbs, so the likelihood is that here will be your new home. As well as the regulars like pubs, shops, takeaways and cafes, it’s just a stone’s throw from the idyllic views of Bute and Roath Parks. This nurtures creative ideas such as the Real Junk Food Project’s Pay As You Feel scheme; and of course Cardiff University’s Students’ Union, named fifth best in the UK, and often playing host to big name performers.

However, Cardiff is such an accessible, connected and personal city that it makes sense to get up and explore. Since moving to study English Literature and Journalism at Cardiff University two years ago, I’ve been surprised at how diverse and cultural it is here. My favourite suburbs would have to be Roath and Canton – highlights include the trail of foodie finds down City Road and Cowbridge Road East respectively; the annual Made in Roath festival which exhibits a real community feel; and arts/performance venues Chapter and Llanover Hall.

As with any city, the centre tends to be a focal point, and Cardiff is so much more than just shopping and chain restaurants – although the foodie offerings on St Mary Street and St David’s Centres are seriously impressive! There’s a notable emphasis on independents in Cardiff – the stream of Victorian arcades, each intricately detailed and unique – are an easy way to whittle away an entire weekend. With quirky shops from Troutmark Books and Science Cream in Castle Arcade; Cameraland and Wally’s Deli in Royal; and The Plan Cafe and Neal’s Yard nestled in Morgan Arcade, it’s easy to see why Cardiff is considered among Britain’s top 5 shopping areas.

Don’t look away just yet if shopping plays no role in your leisure time – culture and history sweeps up theatre (New Theatre; Wales Millennium Centre; The Gate Arts Centre); design (Cardiff Castle; Welsh School of Architecture; the Bay’s Pierhead Building and Senedd and Principality Stadium frequented by rugby and music stars) and sport (Cardiff Valkyries form the city’s first female American Football team, while Cardiff International Pool is Olympic-sized and you can also try your hand at less niche activities, from rock-climbing to white-water rafting.)

Cardiff’s nightlife has it all, whether you’re after traditional cheesy pop (Retro, Popworld, Live Lounge, Glam, Przym), or something harder to find (Milieu Spoken Poetry nights usually at Little Man Coffee or Got Beef; Ignite public speaking at the Bay’s award-winning comedy venue Glee Club; or independent theatre groups showcasing their talent – Cardiff Fringe Festival was recently in town.)

“ Cardiff reflects this – there’s always something fun going on; something cultural; something arty; something sporty; something academic; something culinary or something scientific. ”

Since 2014, I’ve found Cardiff to not only be welcoming, upbeat and successful in enveloping traditional Welsh values alongside a modern, multi-cultural outlook, but also a fantastic place for career opportunities and volunteering. The Students’ Unions have plenty of societies to try your hand at, but students need not stay in the uni domain – local charities looking for fundraisers include Ty Hafan, a Welsh children’s hospice; The Wallich, who help homelessness; and RNIB Cymru, supporting the blind. I’m also Media Coordinator at Cardiff Marrow, and we work with Anthony Nolan signing potential donors to the stem-cell register, saving the lives of blood cancer patients needing transplants. If you’re keen to give back to your new community, Cardiff is the perfect place.

Not only is it set in a lovely location – it’s a relatively small city surrounded by both sea and countryside, but it’s also bubbling with activity; constantly improving itself in terms of the food and cultural industries; and all in all, is somewhere myself and many others are eager to remain long after graduating.

I’m so glad I applied to Cardiff University – but whichever higher education centre in Cardiff you’re thinking of, I can’t recommend this vibrant city enough. 


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Written by Ellie Philpotts, 1 year ago


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