Overseas university spotlight: Cardiff University (UK)
Updated: May 23
Established in 1883, Cardiff University is one of the more popular options for many students thinking about studying in the UK.
With 33,000 students, it's a member of the prestigious Russell Group, where teaching is led by research.
And it's set right in the heart of the capital city of Wales, where there is no shortage of things to do: a lively music scene, around 330 parks and green spaces and convenient location just two hours from London.
Here are some of the highlights from my visit in April 2023!
Cardiff is very much a young person's city.
With a population of 350,000, about 20 percent are students from across Cardiff's three universities.
It's often described as a big village - because it's very easy to bump into people you know wherever you are.
This helps make students feel at home and part of a community.
I have to say that the amount of green space in the city also really surprised me.
And whilst Cardiff is the capital of Wales, Wales just happens to be the castle capital of Europe.
In total, there are more than 600 castles, and many students will be delighted to know that there is a massive castle right in the heart of Cardiff as well.
This castle is not only just for tours though; it often hosts concerts or events in its grounds as well, getting a fair amount of modern-day use.
Cardiff is also famed for the iconic Principality Stadium, just a stones' throw from the castle, in the very centre of the city.
The stadium has played host to many a world-leading sporting event, including European Champions' League finals and WWE Wrestling clashes.
It has also been the venue for shows by artists including Beyoncé, Foo Fighters and Bruce Springsteen.
To me, Cardiff has a kind of cool, alternative vibe, and there are lots of nice pubs and coffee shops.
It's a lively city, but it's all on a manageable scale, and the people are approachable and welcoming.
One of my favorite aspects is just the walkability of the place; you can really get just about everywhere on foot.
Speaking of coffee, after trying a fair amount of places around the city, I have to say my favorite would be Uncommon Ground in the Royal Arcade.
It's also a great place to get some study or reading done, as they (deliberately) don't offer Wi-Fi!
Inside the Royal Arcade is also where you'll find a student-favorite sandwich shop called Fresh, but make sure to get there early to avoid the long lines at lunch!
In terms of industries, I would be remiss if I didn't mention that TV and film production is booming in Cardiff right now.
It's the second largest center for screen industries in the UK and one of the largest in Europe, with 32 major TV and film series currently being produced in the area.
If you've ever watched an episode of Dr. Who, you'll likely have seen some of Cardiff already - the show has been filmed there since its relaunch in 2005.
It also has the highest number of media jobs outside of London, attracting many London defectors on account of its liveability.
Cardiff University - Academics
Cardiff Uni is home to three colleges and 24 schools; it's a large university currently ranked #166 in the world (2023, QS).
By comparison, Texas A&M, the University of Maryland, Michigan State and Case Western are all ranked similarly.
Most of the schools are located at the Cathays Park campus; however, there is also a healthcare campus in Heath Park around the University Hospital of Wales.
One of the main benefits is that its learning facilities are integrated right into the heart of the city, next to many government buildings, the main shopping streets and loads of restaurants.
In fact, the School of Journalism, Media and Culture (JOMEC) is co-located with the BBC - the only Journalism school in the UK to offer this type of location.
This school is home to the oldest journalism program in the UK and is the largest provider of journalism education in the UK and Europe.
It has its own dedicated library, six newsrooms, TV and radio stations, editing suites, innovation and computer labs and more.
In this way, it feels more like a media company than a school.
Cardiff is also particularly well-regarded for a number of programs, including architecture, law
All students have the opportunity to study a language for free as part of the Languages for All program.
And of course, there are plenty of opportunities for students to learn a little of the Welsh language (it's not essential - but it's great fun to give it a try!).
And whilst many UK cities and university struggle to provide students with housing after first year, Cardiff actually guarantees housing for all years of the degree.
Cardiff also has the third best students' union in the UK (I agree it's great; the space is quite cool!).
It has a coffee shop, lecture halls, study spaces, student support, recreational areas, a bar and a nightclub all in one.
Cardiff University: Summary
As a city, Cardiff is a lively place and one of the most walkable cities I've visited.
It's a great option for students looking to have a capital-city experience on a lower budget and a rigorous academic environment at Cardiff Uni, the highest ranked university in Wales.
As a former journalism student, I absolutely loved the J school facilities as well.
All this, and you're just an easy two hours on the train to London - check it out!