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My Cardiff

Vivian ZHOU Wei

Vivian ZHOU Wei travelled to Cardiff in 2006 as part of the British Chevening scholarship scheme and enrolled in the MA in International Public Relations. Zhou recalls some of her first few days in Cardiff

Vivian ZHOU Wei

Vivian ZHOU Wei

Unlike a Chinese University, there is no huge arch-shaped gate marking the border between the school and the off-campus area. I didn’t get used to this open campus layout upon my arrival because school, in my mind, is a quiet and safe paradise away from the hustle and bustle of the rest of the city. Yet here the school is open to anyone and any vehicle. Even the community train cuts across the campus. I have now come to appreciate the beauty of this unique arrangement which facilitates full integration and communication between students and the rest of the community.

The key words of my first week in Cardiff are green, sunny and lovely. I “hiked” from Bute Park via the Millennium Stadium and all the way to the Cardiff Bay. Given the average percentage of sunny days throughout the year in Cardiff, I was very lucky as the first week was continuous sunshine and brightness, and I therefore regarded this as a warm welcome sign as a new member of the city. Bathing in the sunshine, I indulged myself in inhaling long-missed fresh air, enjoying the crispy smell of grass and flowers. I watched the locals fishing and playing with their dogs, I joined the joggers, young and old, to release my body’s energy and I sipped freshly-brewed coffee while sitting facing the Bay. This very first sweet and relaxing chapter of my Cardiff story prepared me for the more stressful yet equally rewarding days to come.

During this one-year stay in Cardiff University, the list of “first times in my life” is very long. It is my first time of living independently away from my family and friends; of giving presentations in English in public; of working hard with my teammates on the eve of the Chinese New Year; of e-mailing, calling and even travelling to meet senior Public Relations professionals to solicit their opinions on my academic papers and career development; and of participating in a local Easter parade.

The list would never finish if there was enough space available. My experience in Cardiff University, and the School of Journalism, Media and Cultural Studies in particular, has changed me significantly. I have accomplished many tasks that had been regarded as “mission impossible” or never occurred to my mind before. I have become more open-minded, creative, courageous, resilient, sociable and comfortable with teamwork. The most important development is in my independent thinking. Formerly, I was a Chinese-English language interpreter whose job was basically decoding the ideas and thoughts of other people rather than myself.

Cardiff University is a truly international Welsh University! What a privilege to be a part of the first 125 years of Cardiff University. I hope more students, especially my Chinese counterparts, will share my excitements in another 125 years to come…and another beyond that!

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