By Morgan Halane
Before heading to the UK for my study abroad experience, a good friend highly recommended that I make a trip to Cardiff, the capital city of Wales. With some free time and a rail pass I simply could not pass up this opportunity. Wales interested me since I learned long ago that my own name, Morgan, is Welsh in origin. Interestingly, I discovered that Cardiff is located in the historic county of Glamorgan, which translates literally as the “territory of Morgan.” I knew that journey to Wales would be a long one of nearly four hours each way, so I decided to break up my trip into two days and stay in a hostel. The journey to Cardiff was quite pleasant. Unsurprisingly, the weather in Lancaster was rainy as my train pulled out of the station. However, the skies quickly cleared as the train made its way south. Upon nearing the Welsh border, the flat English countryside transformed into rolling hills. The train made its way past beautifully green, imposing mountains and I soon found myself across the Welsh border.
The United Kingdom is composed of four countries: England, Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales. However, one does not need a passport when traveling between these four countries. In this way the countries which make up the UK are not countries in the way I typically think of them; each country composing the United Kingdom is not its own sovereign state. Upon stopping at the first train station in Wales I noticed that all of the signs were written in both English and Welsh . While I was still in the United Kingdom, seeing Welsh written on signs all over the station really showed me that I was indeed in a different country. Eventually the train made its way into Cardiff. After depositing my belongings in the hostel I immediately began to explore the city.
The weather was sunny and warm, and there was an energy to the city as people took advantage of the excellent weather. I walked past many sights including Cardiff Castle and the Wales Millennium Stadium. I then began the long walk to Cardiff Bay. Being a huge fan of the sci-fi television show Doctor Who, I was familiar with the Bay as being both a filming location for the show and the setting for much of the show. While I did not encounter any Time Lords, I did see the spectacular Wales Millennium Center, its bronze façade gleaming in the setting sun. Away for a moment from the stress of completing essays or studying for exams, I sat on a bench in front of the Millennium Center near the waters of the bay and relaxed.