A Travellerspoint blog

Cardiff

There was another American field trip to the capital of Wales in Cardiff bright and early Saturday morning. I almost missed the bus because I set my alarm an hour too late, oops, but luckily I woke up without it. We first went the museum of Welsh life where we looked at different Welsh homes throughout the decades, a smaller castle, and well preserved churches. Around lunch time we went to the center of Cardiff where they let us explore for about four hours. I went to the National Museum of Wales which was both a natural history and art museum, and it was really good. It was supposed to have the best impressionist exhibit aside from London. I saw my first real live Monet and Van Gough paintings, along with many other fascinating sculptures and drawings. I probably enjoyed the art the most of everything in Cardiff. Then off to the castle we went. It was more of a castle than the other one, it had gold leafed ceilings, and a keep which was neat because we climbed all the way to the top and looked down. Following the castle, there was some shopping, and it's supposedly the best shopping in Wales, but there wasn't enough time to explore all the shops. It was a nice trip especially because it's only an hour from Swansea. The next trip should be to North Wales, which I'm really excited about because we are staying a couple of nights, and it's more mountainous.

Posted by sierrak 16:31

The school system

After talking with several Welsh students I think I understand the way it works. So the begin school at age 3 or 4 where they learn letter formation, how to read sentences, numbers etc. This type of school is primary school until about age 11 or 12, then they move to secondary school, but before that happens they take a test. This test determines what type of learner they are. There are two groups: the academic ones, or the hands-on. A friend told me the purpose of this was for the higher achievers to not be held down, and the ones who like to do hands-on work to not become bored. So in secondary school which is ages 12-14 I think, they learn in what they tested as, but if they aren't comfortable there, they can retest and join a different group. So after secondary school, they take another test I believe which determines if they go to college or like a tech school. This process begins at age 14-16, which means they have to know what they want to do already! After college, they can go to the university and only have one area of study, for the next 3 or 4 years. However, the first year is only counting toward one third of their academic career, so they only need to above a C. Also, they don't have GPA's like our system. They do factor in grades, but someone told me since everything with their grades counts as a different percentage they aren't able to tell where they are until they graduate.

Posted by sierrak 02:04

Bath

So the intership is fun and well, but not everyone has a fun or glorious job. The UNCW students met at Dr. Ervin's house in Mumbles which is about twenty minutes away from our houses to have dinner and talk about our stay so far. Mumbles is a really cute little village where Catherine Zeta Jones and about four other mansions lie, and one of these days a bunch of us are going to be tourists and try to take pictures. Betsy and her husband Dawn made us a lovely meal of pasta with cucumber, salad, beans, and crusty bread, it was delicious. I got to hear that some people were typing all day for a computer sofware company, being a teaching assistant at an elementary school, sitting at a bank all day, or doing social work. The next day all the American students took a field trip to Bath, which is half way between London and Swansea; about two hours on a bus. When we got there it was absolutely beautiful, I put a few pictures up, but they don't do it justice. It was funny because we were standing in line and there was this crowd circling around something, so I went to find out what the big deal was. Haha, well when I got to the center there were two men wearing thongs doing handstands with firecrackers shooting out of their butts. Quite amusing I guess. We went through the museum with these personal tour guides that were like Zach Morris cell phones, but it did a great job of explaining. Then we got free time for like four hours, and I walked around with another girl. When we had to load the bus there was another crowd, and this time there was this guy that was going to get on a 10 foot uni-cycle and juggle with flames.

Posted by sierrak 09:34

Orientation and Internship

On that Monday, all of the American students had an orientation telling us more about the campus and what there was to do. Then they told us that there was this British culture & politics course that most of the students would be taking over the next two weeks before classes actually begin. However, the 12 from UNCW would be doing an internship instead, which is good and bad on it's own. The Welsh students have 2 or 3 weeks of exams so they are either still on break because they don't have exams, or revising. Tuesday came, and went to my first day as an intern. I was happy to hear that I didn't have to show up until 11am because I'm not exactly the best morning person. I work for the Ents Department which is affiliated with the student union on campus and owns four different clubs on campus and around Swansea. My job is to organize social events, book bands, and be a brainstormer of new and upcoming events. It's similar to what I've done in high school, but on a much bigger and more exciting scale. I get along really well with everyone in the office, and they've taken in me and shown me all around Swansea. It also helps that they enjoy similar music interests. :)

Posted by sierrak 11:19

Gower

It is nice because there are 115 other American students in the same position as me. Iowa brought about forty students, and UNCW which is the program that I'm affliated with brought 12 from all over. There is one other ND student named Casey, but she is from the cities and goes to NDSU. After we all got settled, we took a field trip to Gower Peninsula which was said to be one of the prettiest spots in Wales. When I was at the top taking pictures, a lady approached me and asked if I was Sierra. I was wondering how she knew my name, and she introduced herself as Dr. Betsy Ervine from UNCW. She was going to be one of the two visiting professors this semester and she brought her husband Dawn who is an English professor and her four-year-old daughter Willa; who is adorable. I also met some other UNCW students, Kelly, Ashu, Casey, Rachel, Emily, and Calli. The bus then took us to the Quadrant Center which is a shopping mall and Tesco's which is their giant supermarket. I hate going there because there is so many people all of the time. It is equivalent to Wal-mart after Thanksgiving, and I absolutely hate going unless I have to. Well thats enough for now.

Posted by sierrak 04:06

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