Lush green countrysides dotted with medieval castles and towering ocean cliffs? Sounds like a movie set for an epic blockbuster, but that’s Wales. Wales is home to more castles per square mile than any other country in the world! From the sprawling beaches to the river valleys to the mountains, the scenery will stun you with its beauty. You might not understand the Welsh language, but you’ll understand the food from the award-winning cheeses to the scrumptious Welsh Black Beef. Not to mention Wales is home to some of UK’s top universities. Study abroad here, and you’ll be transported to a fascinating land that has retained its rugged Celtic charm over the centuries.
Where to Study Abroad in Wales
Wales is located in a wide peninsula in the western portion of the islands of Great Britain. Its capital, Cardiff, is located in the southeast on the Severn Estuary and is an important seaport and shipbuilding center.
Cardiff. The capital of Wales is situated in the southern region on the Bristol Channel coast. Here you can stroll through endless parks, celebrate life at the many pubs at night, and watch a performance at the Wales Millennium Centre. Don’t miss the Cardiff International Food and Drink Festival in the summer or the Abergavenny Food Festival in September. You’ll also want to visit the National Museum and Art Gallery in Cardiff. This venue is second only to Paris for its selection of Impressionist art — take in masterful works by Rodin, Renoir and Monet, plus contemporary Welsh art.
Swansea. This coastal and second-largest city of the country is located in southern Wales. You’ll come across three impressive Grade One listed buildings: Swansea Castle, the Tabernacle Chapel, Morriston, and the Swansea Guildhall. You can consider Swansea University study abroad if you want to tack a highly reputable institution to your resume. Try some traditional seafood dishes: cockles and laverbread (oatmeal-covered seaweed). With plentiful parks, theaters, and festivals, you’ll have plenty to do to take your mind off your studies.
Brecon Beacons ripples 45 miles across Wales from Llandeilo to Abergavenny. Splashing waterfalls, mountain plateaus, hollows, and more make up this beautiful area. Brecon Beacons National Park exhibits four distinct regions, which includes hills, a forest, mountains, and lakes. Wherever you’re studying in Wales, you’ll want to come see the dramatic landscapes of this area.
Popular Subjects to Study in Wales
As one of the oldest cultures in Europe, the Welsh have an impressive artistic heritage, making this land a remarkably inspirational atmosphere for study abroad. Wales is home to dozens of colleges and universities that teach every academic discipline.
Arts & Humanities. If you’re into the creative arts, Swansea offers a plethora of programs with its plentiful theatres and art centers. You can even find short-term or long-term programs (some that even last a year) that are right up your alley. Not to worry, while Swansea is an educational hub for Welsh, you can take classes in English here as well.
Business. From non-profit to government to for-profit sectors, you could learn about conducting business in different types of sectors in leading universities. You can take classes in management, finance, accounting, marketing, and more to help you learn the tricks of the trade with working with other countries while you’re abroad.
Marine Biology. Explore the relationship between humans and the sea as you work with professors and fisherman. You’ll have opportunities to observe their behaviors, record data, and maybe even film some underwater creature action along the way as well. For those who love environmental science, oceanic sciences, and biology, you can take classes in those fields in the beautiful outdoors here.
Costs of Studying in Wales
Wales offers the lowest cost of living in the UK, and it’s fairly comparable to the cost of living in the United States. The program fees might get a little bit hefty depending on your program, placement, and duration — they usually, however, cover the cost of tuition, housing, food, support, insurance, and some excursions.
To help cover program and airfare expenses, consider applying for scholarships. This way you’ll have more money in your pocket to try some tasty Welsh cakes. GoAbroad’s Scholarship Directory offers nearly a hundred available scholarships, so get your spreadsheets ready to go for some applications! You could also recruit some help from family and friends via FundMyTravel for your study abroad in Wales adventure.
Accommodation in Wales
Wherever you decide to stay, you’ll have a whale of a time while you’re here. Your housing options will vary depending on the program, placement, and duration, but in most cases, you can expect to stay in university dorms.
The dorms usually involve six private bedrooms that share one kitchen. If you’re not interested in a dorm, you can also look into private housing; however, dorms are an opportunity to meet other local students and international students, so you’ll be able to go to social events with your mates. Program fees usually cover the cost of accommodation and arrange the housing for you.
Visas for Study Abroad in Wales
The visa you’ll need to study abroad in Wales depends on your citizenship, duration of the program, and and what courses you’re taking. In most cases, if you’re staying in Wales for up to six months, you’ll need a student visitor visa, but if you’re staying for longer than six months, you’ll need a Tier 4 (General) visa. You’ll need a passport, but for U.S. citizens, it only needs to be valid for the duration of your stay. Program coordinators can help ensure you’re meeting all of the requirements for the process — just be sure to start ahead of time. GoAbroad’s Embassy Directory can also assist with helping you find consulate resources.
Benefits & Challenges
A very important rule to remember when visiting Wales is to never, ever refer to a Welsh person as British! Though the Welsh nations lost their bid to make their lands independent of Great Britain, they retained their language and a culture that is undeniably their own. Nearly 500,000 people speak their native tongue today: Welsh, or Cymraeg, a Celtic language, but most universities run their classes in English.
It’s generally safe for foreigners, even in the bigger cities, and quite hospitable to visitors, especially ones who show a real appreciation for Welsh culture. In fact, the locals are all about hospitality and “hiraeth,” which is a longing for the green grass of home. You’ll soon experience this feeling when you leave the country of Wales.
From the Pembrokeshire Coast Path to the national parks of Snowdonia, you’ll never run out of tranquil places to find yourself lost in reverie. “Dim ond y rhai sydd mewn perygl mynd yn rhy bell o bosibl darganfod pa mor bell y gallant fynd” — only those who risk going too far can possibly find out how far they can go — T.S. Eliot.