I moved to Wales in August of 2021 and was lucky enough to have another month of summer! I spent a week in August camping in Snowdonia in Northern Wales. During this time I was able to learn a lot about Welsh history, more specifically about its industrial history with the coal mines and how this has affected so many generations. I was lucky enough on this trip to be able to climb to the top of Mount Snowdon, the tallest mountain in Wales, and back down again to my camp site!
I spent some time on this trip visiting attractions around the area, there’s no shortage of things to see! We visited the town of Portmeirion, which was built to resemble a Mediterranean seaside town, and as someone who has never been to the Med but has dreamt, they could have fooled me! This was an incredible day, I never would have expected to move to Wales and be so spoilt for choice of the things I could see in less than a day of travel.
Leaving this holiday in the North of Wales left me with so many memories to carry on with me into my PGCE year, and the experiences I have had have helped me fit in well and connect with others. Travel is so important and while initially a new country can feel scary and exciting at the same time, the gitters quickly wash away and you’re left with the excitement of meeting new people, sharing your experiences and making memories! These are the things that have helped prepare me for the challenging (in the best way!) year that I had ahead of me.
September rolled around and with it came the excitement of starting at the University of Wales, Trinity Saint David! Luckily we were able to begin this experience with in person learning, because on this first day in person I made some of the friends that have stuck with me through my first full placement in a school here in Swansea. I have been able to work closely with them and we have shared our experiences and supported each other through these past few months. The kindness of the people in this city has surprised me to no end, I don’t know what I was expecting but it certainly wasn’t to feel as comfortable as I have in moving to a new country.
In the first few weeks of uni we had the joys of learning the theory behind teaching and all about the new Welsh curriculum which I have slowly grown to understand and enjoy teaching. The weekends were full of sun and hours on the many beaches in and around Swansea, this was a great time of year to spend the evenings out with friends, a barbecue and music down the beach without a care in the world!
My first placement in a school came as a shock as the school, staff and students inside it were the kindest and most supportive people I have been surrounded with in my educational career. I was so lucky to be embraced by everyone inside and I have learned so much about myself and about the things I care about and want to pass along to future generations. I have had so many opportunities to build relationships with peers and mentors who will support me for years to come now and I can’t say thank you enough to the people who have made this opportunity possible for me. These few months have been packed full of some challenging moments but I have had more support than I know what to do with, I wouldn’t take any of these experiences back.
Coming up to Christmas, I was able to share this experience with my family as my dad and my step mom came to visit me here in Swansea. We showed them around and took them to some of our favourite places just a 40 minute drive away. This involved a lot of site seeing and Welsh pony petting! They loved seeing the beauty in this area of the world and were comforted by the brilliant people around me who are helping me through this experience. I am so lucky to now be living in a part of the world that encourages me to try new things and make new friends and memories wherever possible.
I have only just completed my first placement here in Swansea, I have gained so much experience and I am looking forward to being placed in a new school with a new class after having already worked with two different age groups. I am looking forward to using my time to the fullest during the rest of this academic year and experiencing the world around me. This month I am going to France and while I am so so looking forward to this, I’m not sure it could ever top the things I have seen in Wales during my time here. I hope you will consider all of the opportunities you have for your future as there is no end to what you can do, no matter how foreign or scary things might feel there will always be people around to support you through your adventures. Take these years to make some of the best memories, they will really change how you choose to live and experience things for the rest of your life.
I can’t say thank you enough to the people who have made this opportunity possible for me!