We've spent the last few weeks traveling around Wales, meeting students who’d decided to study here to interview them about their experiences, studies and excitement for the upcoming World Cup. Whilst most of those we spoke to are hoping to see their home nation life the trophy, they could all agree they're cheering Wales on too.
It was important for us to ensure that we were able to visit as many institutions as possible whilst filming for this project, and we were able to get representations of all of Wales.
We started our journey in Wrexham, home of Wrexham Glyndŵr University, where we were able to take a group of international students into The Racecourse Ground. This was a wonderful way to kick-off our project, as both the students and our crew were excited to be able to visit such a location, which is the iconic backdrop of the popular Disney+ show ‘Welcome to Wrexham’. We had a wonderful time filming here, with the students eager to don a Welsh scarf and bucket hat, lining themselves up in the stands and giving us a cheer that would make Ryan Reynolds and Rob McElhenney proud.
We continued to film in the north of Wales, visiting Bangor University and Coleg Menai. We had a great time being shown the wonderfully traditional design of the interior of Bangor’s main building, and enjoyed finding old statues to feature our bucket-hats. At Coleg Menai, we were shown around by a group of young engineering students, who were eager to show off their Welsh to camera and show us around their facilities. Afterwards, we were taken to their brand-new sports hall and gym, making us one of the first to be able to take a glance at the new building; this excited the students we were with very much, and it really added to the excitement of filming.
We made our way back to the South, stopping off at Aberystwyth University to meet two students there. They were enthusiastic about sharing their experiences since coming to study in Wales, although they did also vocalize that they had yet to see a dragon in the flesh. We assured them that there was still time.
Luckily, the day that we decided to do some filming around Swansea University and Gower College, the sun was shining. This really did allow the beauty of the Mumbles to provide a wonderful background to our filming; from two of the students we met during this sunny day, we learnt that the beauty of Swansea does indeed compare to the beauty of Jamaica, with one stating the beaches of Swansea made her feel closer to home. Another student from Brazil stated that - after spending years traveling to different countries around the world - that the welcoming and peaceful atmosphere of Wales was exactly what he’d been looking forward to when deciding to come and study here, although he hadn’t predicted how much he would love to take part in a good pub crawl.
Once back in Cardiff, we were excited to be shown the Creative Industries available at the University of South Wales, and here we met a young student called Jack from Brooklyn, NYC. They had traveled across the world to visit the University during one of it’s open days, and they had immediately fallen in love with the language, culture and history of the country, deciding to take a very scary leap and move halfway across the world to study here. Surprisingly, they said that they often didn’t feel like they were too far away from home, as Cardiff and Brooklyn were apparently more similar than one might originally think.
Behind-the-scenes, the students were enthusiastic to help and get involved as much as possible. We decided early on in the filming of the project that it would be good to hang a washing-line of shirts throughout some of the scenic locations that we were visiting these afternoons. At many of our shoots, students would rush over to help, happy to get involved as much as they could. One of the best experiences during our time filming was sitting down in the sun for pepperoni pizza with the group of students from Gower College after we’d all had a kick-about together.
The best thing about the project is that none of the answers given by the students were scripted. We wanted to make sure that the videos were as authentic and as genuine as possible, and we knew the only way to achieve this was to allow those interviewed to say whatever they liked. We presented them with a set of questions that ranged from ‘why did you choose to study in Wales?’ and ‘what did you know about Wales before you came to study here?’, all the way to questions regarding the upcoming World Cup and who they believed were going to win. Some were more enthusiastic about football than others, but they were all eager to share with us things they loved about studying in Wales, the activities they’d been involved in since beginning their studies, and what the future holds for them.