November 24, 2017

Arau – Finding A Home Away From Home In Cardiff

Arau in Cardiff, UK. Courtesy of Tori Arau.

By Tori Arau ’19
Contributor

To explain my first impressions of Cardiff is to consider the pieces that immediately felt like home.

Hoffi Coffi— “I like coffee,” for those who don’t speak Welsh—is a coffee shop five minutes away from my flat where I have already settled in as a semi-permanent fixture. There’s always a friend or two to be found at Hoffi Coffi, relaxing or studying.

The café’s baristas introduced me to quirky bookstores such as Troutmark, a used bookstore where each of the three floors have books on every wall, stacked floor to ceiling, with appropriately placed ladders for accessing those too far out of reach.

I also think of my time at the Llandaff Cathedral, where out of all the couples I could have sat behind,happened to  I sit behind the American couple from New York. Following the service, they introduced me to some of their friends and offered me a ride home to avoid my walk in the ever-present rain. 

The other side of initial impressions are the things that made me feel out of my depth- Having issues with registering for classes and setting up various accounts for life in the UK, as well as a lack of communication from Cardiff University at the appropriate time. (No worries now though, all has been sorted.)

Or, having to figure out how to finagle socialized healthcare due to an unanticipated issue, though significantly simpler than any process I have experienced while in the US.

Not to mention that although I hopped the pond with another girl from Gordon, I’m still largely on my own, trying to traverse the aforementioned without the support system I developed in the states. My, oh my. 

But I would be remiss if in reflecting on the beginning of my time here I neglected to consider the things that gave me hope. The friends who have walked to doctors appointments with me, providing not only unexpected support but precious conversation over cups of Turkish coffee, talking about worldview and the construction of any given musical album.

Being able to sit in Hoffi Coffi in peaceable silence, writing pieces such as these to update friends and family, or reading scientific literature in one moment and discussing the issues of autocorrect the next.

Or, quite possibly the most exciting item, being able to walk alongside the castle in city center and share the health food store and the Cardiff Market with a flat mate, all while not using Google Maps or getting lost. It is in each of these moments that home is created. Here’s to the next eight months of moments such as these. 

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