When you think of Wales, what image first comes to mind? What makes our small but beautiful nation unique? That’s the question we asked our body of international students when we launched our photography competition to celebrate St David’s Day.
We asked students to send their photographs with a summary explaining how their image encapsulates Wales, and we were blown away by the quality and consideration of the many, many entries we received. All of the submissions were fantastic, but the seven images below really captured the vibrancy of Welsh culture and the environmental diversity of Wales as a country. Every single one is beautiful, please enjoy!
HENNA ASHRAF, CARDIFF METROPOLITAN UNIVERSITY
Origninally from India, Henna is studying an MSc in Advanced Practice in Audiology at Cardiff Metropolitan University. This photograph of Womanby Street in Cardiff is a beautiful representation of Wales, its culture, and its people.
The colourful graffiti on the walls of the buildings depicts the artistic vibrancy and creativity that is inherent in Wales. It showcases the uniqueness of the country, its passion for art and culture, and its openness to new ideas and creativity. The Castle Arcade clock tower in the background is a symbol of Wales' rich history, standing tall and majestic against the modern graffiti art. The juxtaposition of the old and new in this photograph represents Wales' embrace of innovation and progress, while staying true to its roots and traditions.
As an international student studying in Wales, I have been fascinated by the country's rich cultural heritage, its beautiful landscapes, and the warmth and friendliness of its people. Wales is a melting pot of cultures and ideas, and this photograph represents that perfectly. It's a visual reminder of the welcoming and inclusive nature of Wales, and its commitment to fostering creativity and innovation. I hope this photograph will inspire other students to study in Wales, to experience its rich culture, and to be part of its vibrant and diverse community.
LILLY SURECK, ABERYSTWYTH UNIVERSITY
The weather in Cymru can be quite dramatic. Instead of being intimidated I learned to go outdoors anyway. It looks like my co-explorers of AberHike Lottie, Louise and Rhys enjoyed their sit down for a picnic in the fog – what a special atmosphere for a lunch!
Cymru has so many stories and folklore to offer: The photo I am submitting was taken at Tomen-y-Mur, the former home of Blodeuwedd and her husband. Are they still living somewhere in the mist?
Rolling hills, rough mountains, countless shades of grass changing with the seasons – Cymru’s nature has a unique character. These stunning surroundings impress me ever again and help me to clear my mind in stressful times.
Cymru has countless unique places to offer. Tomen-y-Mur is one of these hidden gems that you can best discover while hiking. It is always worth taking a break and admiring what’s around you: hear the wind, learn about the Welsh culture and smell the grass (or your friend’s sandwich).
Undoubtedly shared adventures in Cymru are the best way to make friends. Even if you end up getting cold, you have companions around you that warm your heart.
GEORGE AJIT, CARDIFF METROPOLITAN UNIVERSITY
This photo portrays a couple taking a selfie in front of the Pierhead Building, a historic landmark in Cardiff Bay, South Wales. The photo was taken on a moody surreal evening, when the sky displayed beautiful colours of purple, pink, and orange. The photo captures the contrast between the old and the new, the dark and the light, and the natural and the artificial. It shows the joy of living in the moment and spending time with your loved ones. The Pierhead Building was built in 1897 as the headquarters for the Bute Dock Company, which played a key role in Cardiff’s development as a major port city. The building is now part of the estate of the Senedd (Welsh Parliament), which represents Wales’s modern democracy.
The couple in the photo are enjoying a romantic moment together, while also appreciating their surroundings and history. The place itself shows the contrast and connection between the old and the new. As I was walking on the docks, I saw this couple sitting there, they were having a good time and I wanted to capture that beautiful visual without making it artificial. I sat in the distance, not disturbing them, but then I thought why not include such an important contrasty landmark in the background. So, I moved to another angle to get the couple and the building in the same frame. I focused on the building but also not blurring out the couple in the foreground to show the beauty of the moment even more. The photo is a testament to Wales’s rich culture and heritage, as well as its vibrant present and future."
XUXU CHEN, ABERYSTWYTH UNIVERSITY
If you are obsessed with nature and ecology, Wales is the perfect country. I went on holiday to climb Snowdon, the highest peak in Wales and took this photo from the top. When looking at Llyn Llydaw Lake from a particular angle, it really does look like a map of Wales! With jungles, meadows, snow-capped mountains, coasts, rivers and lakes, Wales can satisfy all your imaginations of nature.
During the journey, I was encouraged by all people who had the same goal but from different homelands. Moreover, I have also learned how to plan routes, create training schedules and implement them with determination on my own - and that's the best way to sum up my university life in Wales.
For me, Wales is a peaceful, friendly, challenging and honourable place. And I am always free to choose my preferred lifestyle here! Read a book, research with classmates, go hiking, chat with the kind locals or hop on a train to a busy big city (Like Cardiff)! I am grateful for my time in Wales, as it inspired me to gain a clearer perspective on my life and the world.
GOKUL JILLEPALLI, CARDIFF METROPOLITAN UNIVERSITY
The above attached image shows the best snow view of Caerphilly, a place in Wales.
Snowfall is more in inland hills when compared to coastal areas. We are like a snowflake, all different in our own beautiful way. Snowflakes are one of the nature’s most fragile things. But just look what they can do when they stick together. They can create a beautiful shade among the streets and places. Snowflakes always stay together unitedly to form large snow particles that falls from the sky.
I feel it as a visual wonder and in the same way the Wales connects different international students and helps them to stay together with a healthy atmosphere around them. Everyone need to know that the great things happens only when we are united. A single snowflake can’t make my picture beautiful. Having a group gives you more strength. Universities in Wales allows many international students to study and develop their career.
LENA EISOLD, ABERYSTWYTH UNIVERSITY
I had a hard time deciding on just one picture to portray Wales because it is such a pretty and diverse country but I ultimately decided on this one because it shows three things I love most about it: the nature, the sea and the wildlife.
I took this picture on my way up Carn Llidi earlier this year. Just as we came around a curve in the path we found ourselves in front of a group of wild ponies, mostly unfazed by our presence. In the background the sea unfolds. I am lucky to have a similar view every day as I live in Aberystwyth and am able to see the sea right from my window in my accommodation. The picture shows just an edge of Ramsey Island, home to thousands of Puffins for a couple weeks each year. I have not yet been able to go during Puffin season but I am very much looking forward to doing so.
It is probably impossible to encapsulate a whole country in just one picture, I can think of so many other things I could have shown - the culture, the language, the beautiful sunsets - but I am hoping my picture shows at least one of the many beautiful aspects of Wales.
ABDUL AHAD, CARDIFF METROPOLITAN UNIVERSITY
It has only been 2 weeks since I came to the Wales, and I love going to places which are quiet and peaceful. So on a Sunday Evening me and my flat mates decided to go to Cardiff Bay .
I have heard that sunsets at Cardiff Bay are really beautiful and the scenery of the Bay makes them Even better so on a Sunday Evening we went to Cardiff Bay and I love to take photos of nature and sunsets, I have been doing that since past 9 years and when I reached the Bay it was just ….. I can’t explain it in words that’s why I take pictures to show the everyone how beautiful this world actually is. When I clicked this picture for a moment everything was perfect and calming, like I could feel myself being on with the setting sun, with the white clouds in the sky , with the vanishing blue colour of the sky and the sparkling waves of water. I could spend hours just sitting there and looking at that beautiful scenery.
From this picture of the beautiful Cardiff Bay, I just want to show the people how I see this world through my eyes and sunsets are proof that endings can be beautiful too.