Travel; something everyone is dying to get out and do, but we all make 1,000 excuses of why we specifically can't go anywhere. Travel is not just for an elite, untouchable bunch. It's for you, and it's for me. It's for anyone with the passion and drive to JUST GO!
I'm going to introduce you to a number of ladies in this series, not so different from you and I, who took the leap and are living out the most amazing lives abroad.
They aren't just dreaming it, they made it happen, and we hope to show you that you can too!
Life Abroad; Beverly In Wales
- Beverly, hailing from small town Ontario, packed up her bags and headed off for a full year exchange to Wales. When I say small town Ontario, I really mean small town... as in there's less than 5,000 people in her town! Beverly took on the chance to head off to Europe with great enthusiasm and has been tearing through European countries ever since.
"It’s truly an experience that money cannot buy, and something you’ll only regret that you did not do. The truth is twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do rather than the ones you did do. "
Where were you located, and how did you end up there?
I am located in Swansea Wales which is a quaint sea faring city along the west coast of Great Britain.
Although Wales is a part of the United Kingdom it is vastly different from the other members for in many areas throughout Wales, Welsh is the first language. However, there is no need to stress as English still remains extremely prominent throughout the country; everything and everyone is bilingual.
I ended up in Swansea for a number of reasons. Initially when embarking on the decision to go abroad I had my sights set on somewhere enticing throughout Europe as I had planned to travel, but the language barriers proved to be a supreme issue. Due to my ambition to travel Europe while abroad I decided that I would chose to stay in Europe by studying within the UK. Ultimately I chose a school that best coincided with my degree, which has been an excellent choice.
Leaving the comfort of home is hard! What was it that really made you take the leap into going abroad? And was there anything that attracted you tp Wales specifically?
Deciding to go abroad can be a simple decision, but the process and the preparation is a whole other story. It takes determination, ambition, and a want for change in order to make the leap to go abroad, but really I believe anyone can go abroad as the experience will change and mold you into the person you need to be.
My decision to go abroad primarily stemmed from having always wanted to travel the world since I was a little girl. I believed that going abroad would give be a real chance to see places that may have been unreachable to me otherwise. I also felt that by going abroad I would be allowing myself to grow not only as a student, but as a person.
Experiencing a culture from all angles can be an extremely enriching process that can only benefit you. Furthermore, I wanted to give myself a larger edge in the professional side of life, as my life experiences gained through my exchange will set me above other applicants.
Overall I felt that a change was necessary in my life and the best thing for me would to make the jump into something new. Although my exchange landed me in a place I knew nothing about, I could not be more happy with my decision to go abroad to Swansea.
I want to hear more about Swansea! Now you're the expert from having lived there for some time, the next chance my readers and I plan a trip, we want to know the insider details! What are the best, most authentic locations to hit either in Swansea or in the country as a whole?
Swansea is an amazing place and I believe that I am very blessed to have ended up in such a marvellous and unique location. Wales itself is an outstanding country that has lots to offer travelers from a depth of history, beautiful castles, breath taking country sides, and an abundance of local pubs that hold a friendly and welcoming air to them.
North Wales is filled with several great locations to see some of the most beautiful scenery in the UK Snowdonia boasts some of the most beautiful islands on the island that attract visitors year round due to their beauty.
In south Wales the Gower is a predominant place of beauty as it is the rugged coast line that meets the beautiful beaches to the breath taking cliffs. South Wales also contains the two most largest cities Cardiff the capital as well as Swansea which were both originally sea faring communities.
One of the best places to visit along the Gower are the cliffs of Rhossili, as it’s a beautiful day out to the country side that can either be spent soaking up the sun on the beach or hiking worms head to marvel at the islands beauty.
In Swansea some one of the most authentic places to visit would be the 360 café which is situated along the beach in the middle of the bay. The café offers a great view of sea while offering a great cozy atmosphere to grab your afternoon tea.
Mumbles is also a great place to visit while in Swansea as it is a quaint Welsh town filled with adorable shops and cafés along the water which can make for a great day.
And of course you cannot forget the castles that are littered throughout Wales, there are so many to see some in ruins and others still holding the grandness they were originally built with.
The must see castle that I would suggest is Caerphilly Castle which is a large establishment that is surrounded by a grand mote. The castle is reasonably priced to enter and offers a wealth of information to learn more about the history of the castle.
What was your biggest culture shock? How would you describe the people of the U.K.? How are they difference from the people at home?
The UK is quite different from life in North America, even though they are both English speaking areas. The UK has different words for many common objects as well as a different air to them.
The British are extremely religious about their tea, and will make time just about anywhere to make sure afternoon tea is taken.
As well they are a more relaxed culture not structured on the time and rush on life that is subjectgated on North Americans. They are a society that bases their communities through their pubs as a place to mingle and engage. Going to the pub for lunch or just a drink or two after dinner is a common routine that I have now entered into, which has helped me form a sense of community.
What do you do for fun while abroad?
The Welsh especially love to drink so you can always be sure to have a good night out when visiting Wales. Other things I enjoy doing for fun in Wales is going down to the beach to read or wander down to the shops to browse, and of course on occasion I like to have a good winge about the rain.
And of course we need to know, where else did you visit while in Europe? I think travel is something everyone wants to do more, but finds a million reasons why they can't go. Do you have any wise, experienced words for that bunch?
There are so many things that I was able to experience while visiting Europe, as of now I have visited 14 countries while abroad.
I have been to: Iceland, England, Wales, Scotland, Belgium, Hungary, Poland, Slovakia, Czech Republic, Italy, Germany, France, Ireland Republic, and Northern Ireland.
Each of these destinations were chosen at random and were countries that I either found deals in flights or hostels. I mainly had just decided that I wanted to visit as many countries as I could while being in Europe, it really didn’t matter what ones I visited. I was able to visit Iceland during a nine hour layover to the UK, leaving the airport to bathe in the natural hot springs.
I learned firsthand that day that while abroad you are to take all opportunities that come to you, and you never know how amazing the outcome to be.
The best tip I could give those who are embarking on traveling to Europe is to just go with the flow, some things will just always happen to go wrong, but it is not the end of the world and things will just have a way of working themselves out. So always remember to take a deep breath and relax because there will always be more hostels that you can book when yours no longer exists upon arrival, there will be more trains to get you home and yes even more planes when you just happen to miss yours.
And of course ALWAYS remember to pack light, you will regret that heavy backpack every second if you don’t.
Lastly, any tips you have regarding study abroad, or getting up and taking the first step towards your travel dreams?
The biggest tip I could give anyone who is thinking about going abroad, is just do it.
Anything that you may be thinking of that could stop you will probably not matter in five years. Life will be the same when you get home, and money will fall into place and work out once you put your mind to it.
There are so many resources that are available to students such as student loans and scholarships for students wishing to travel.
It’s truly an experience that money cannot buy, and something you’ll only regret that you did not do. The truth is twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do rather than the ones you did do.
Thank you so much Bev! I absolutely cannot agree more with your thoughts on getting up and taking the first steps towards an exchange. I'm so glad you've had such an amazing experience, and am absolutely blown away by the number of countries you've been able to pack in! Have a great rest of your trip!
The Quick List
All Beverly's recommendation's in one spot!
There are many more Life Abroad posts to come! Follow along to always know when new posts go live.
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Let's be honest here, Beverly is living the dream this year and is going to remember her exchange for years! What was your favourite travel memory?
For more on Cardiff, there's a great number of guides on the city here!