But hang on a minute, where exactly is Wales?
Wales is on the island of Great Britain, to the west of England, and covers an area of 20,782 square kilometres (8,024 square miles). That’s around half the size of the Netherlands, a similar size to Slovenia and slightly smaller than the US state of New Jersey.
How easy is it to get here?
Thankfully, travelling to Wales is pretty easy! If you’re flying in, Cardiff Airport is just outside our capital. Regular bus and rail links to other cities in South Wales mean you’ll have no trouble getting to places like Swansea, Newport and Pontypridd, where you’ll find many of our university campuses.
And if you’re heading to North Wales for one of its two universities, Bangor and Glyndŵr, the country is easily accessible by nearby airports in England – Liverpool John Lennon Airport and Manchester Airport are particularly close.
What about by rail? The South Wales Main Line connects London to South and West Wales, and the journey time between London Paddington and Cardiff takes around two hours.
Paddington station is a short hop by London Underground from St Pancras International Station, where Eurostar services from Paris, Brussels and other destinations in mainland Europe terminate.
So, you know where Wales is and you know how to get here. All that’s left is what to pack! Not to be underestimated, knowing what and what-not to bring is essential.
- Pack for cooler weather
The seasons are beautiful in Wales, and in Autumn and Winter, it can get pretty chilly - a few key pieces of warmer clothing are a must. Oh, and don’t forget an umbrella!
- Mementos from home
Studying abroad is an exciting adventure, but it’s also very normal to miss your friends and family. Make sure to bring a few small things with you that remind you of home. That way, if you feel a little homesick, you’ll have something to make you smile.
- Travel-sized toiletries
While it can be tempting to try to pack your entire life into a suitcase, there is only so much you can bring with you. Cutting down on toiletries and other household product is an easy way to save space for more important things, especially when those things are easy to find here. Just a few travel-sized items should see you through your first few days of living in Wales.
- Plugs, plugs, plugs!
One thing you definitely need is at least one UK plug adapter for your electrical items. You can buy these here of course, but you will want one on your first night to charge your phone and anything else you might need. You can grab these in the airport too, but they’ll probably be more expensive!
- Travel documents
Finally, make sure to pack all your essential documents in your hand luggage and not your suitcase, just in case you need them while you’re travelling. As a rule of thumb, you should bring with you: your passport and any other form of ID (e.g., driving licence or identity card), your flight tickets, your visa and any other travel documents. It’s also a good idea to have your university documents and offer letter, bank account details, travel insurance documents, accommodation documents and a small amount of cash in UK pound sterling.
But don’t just take our word for it! Here are just a few tips from some of our very own international students:
"When I first moved one of my friends gave me a box full of letters that said open when you're sad, open when you're happy, and open when you miss home and that's been so helpful. Oh, and bring warm clothes! I was FREEZING the first month that I lived here and spent so long trying to bulk up my winter wardrobe." – Ruby, from Kentucky and studying at Aberystwyth University
"For me it's about small memorabilia that you can have with you wherever you go. I have a few keepsakes from my grandparents that really mean a lot to me.
"It's a really tough decision because moving to a new country with one suitcase, you have to pack for an entire year's worth of weather and different situations, but you also have to remember what means the most to you when you're packing." – Ivory, from Arizona and studying at UWTSD
"For tickets, there's a really great website/app called Student Universe - I got a ticket for $99 from Seattle to Heathrow. It's a really great website for students to use to fly to the UK and also you can use it when you're not in school to fly places." – Nicholas, from Oregon and studying at Swansea University
If you find yourself landing in Wales and you’ve forgotten anything on this list, please don’t worry. Just get in touch with your university’s international representatives, who will be able of offer advice and support.