It's almost been a full month since my last post, which means it's been almost a full month since the Cardiff half. Holy crap time flies. Since then I've gone to a music festival in Cardiff, spent a weekend in London, went on a day trip to Bath, became a tiny bit more fluent in Welsh (or rhygl yn Gymraeg), completed my first history paper in 6 years, recruited a bassist and another guitarist for Panda, worked a bit, fired someone for the first time, eaten my weight in cheese and chips, and finally gone on about 4 runs. That's it in a nut shell.
Other than the trips to cities most people have heard of I've done most of these activities from a small city called Swansea, nestled against the ocean in South Wales. Most people have never heard of the place unless they have family from here or they’ve been to Wales before. I’m not entirely sure how I feel about Swansea. It’s quite rough around the edges, but it also has it’s charms. The city centre lacks character because most of it was bombed away during WWII. In addition you can still see the after effects of Thatcherism on the area, plus the fallout from recent economic downturn has also left its mark. On more than one occasion I’ve felt that the city really has no soul. That being said, the area I live in does have a bit more personality. The Uplands is a quaint pseudo-bohemian neighbourhood that was once quite posh. The area boasts the house Dylan Thomas was born in, as well as live music venues that smell of urine and ale, and a few really nice little cafes. There are remnants of its former glory tucked in and around the brothels, solicitors, Indian take aways’ and social services. It’s that sort of place.
The residence I live in is university housing for international grad students. The facades are majestic Victorian town homes, which you walk right through to access the modest but comfortable student apartments, which were built much more recently. It’s quiet and clean, and because it’s not swarming with undergrads it’s usually fairly peaceful.
|Ty Beck Student Residence|
To give the city some credit, it does have some amazing scenery. I live about 10 minutes from the beach, which runs right down to the Mumbles. In addition, I get to walk through another beautiful feature of the city – Singleton Park. Beautiful as it may be, it’s also dangerous. A student was mugged in broad daylight a couple of weeks ago, and because there’s no regular bus service to the Uplands we all have to walk through the park after dark, and the city has yet to replace most of the burnt out lights.
That basically sums up Swansea. It’s rough and ugly with breathtaking scenery. It completely lacks character in some area but has loads in others. I don’t think I’d every live here permanently, but it’s not a bad place to spend a year.