Travel, Writing

Cymru Am Byth! (Wales Forever)

While abroad, I have written posts about some of the lessons I’ve learned in the midst of my journeys, the differences in phrases between the UK and the US, and the differences in our University education systems. However, when it comes down to it, I have mainly realized that we really aren’t that different at all. Yeah, maybe I don’t call the trunk of my car “the boot,” but at the end of the day, people are people. I have met a lot of quality people during my time abroad, and I’m thankful that they were so willing to welcome me in, show me around, and give me a deeper appreciation of what is most likely, my own heritage. I had the privilege of sharing my experience with my university’s student newspaper, and I thought instead of writing a separate summary to my time in Wales, that maybe I’d just share it here on the blog for those who won’t be able to read it in the paper. I don’t feel like I can properly put into words how much I have enjoyed my time in the Land of Dragons and Castles, but I hope this is at least a start:

“As I near the end of my four months abroad, I can honestly say that the first word that comes to mind is simply, wow. I have truly had the most amazing experience studying in an environment that, in some ways, is completely different to the one I am accustomed to at home, and in other ways, feels just like home. I can see why the Welsh chose to settle in southern Ohio because when I look at the winding roads, the hills, and the green fields speckled with farm animals, I am reminded of my own little village and how much natural beauty it possesses. It may be clichĂ© to say that leaving home has given me a deeper appreciation of my roots than I already had, but I cannot deny that this is true. I am, however, so thankful to have had the opportunity to experience cultures outside of my own bubble and be able to grow in independence and confidence in areas of my life that were underdeveloped before leaving Ohio in January.

During my time in Carmarthen, Wales, I have made friends that are more like family, I have been pushed outside of my comfort zone in my course work for the BA Acting program which without a doubt has made me a better performer, and I have eaten very well. Also, because of having a three-week gap from courses for Easter break, and due to travel being so much cheaper within Europe once already being here, I was able to explore some of the locations outside of Wales that I have had on my bucket list since I was very young including London, Ireland, Santorini, and before I head home in a few weeks, Paris. Without question, this experience has been one of the best decisions I have made. While yes, I am ready to head home to the beautiful foothills of Appalachia at the end of May and reunite with my family and friends (and Shake Shoppe hotdogs), I also find it hard to say goodbye to the place and the people that have taught me so much and have made my final semester before graduating the University of Rio Grande so rich. I wish saying thank you could fully encompass my gratitude for all those who encouraged me to pursue this opportunity . . . I hope that I can be that voice of encouragement for upcoming students considering taking the plunge and journeying across the Atlantic as well.”

Since writing that article, I have completed my final term, danced my butt off at the silent disco, packed up my slightly overweight baggage, and said tearful goodbyes to all the wonderful people who I wish were coming home with me. I can honestly say that Wales and the memories it has given me will never be forgotten: Cymru am byth!

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