“With dreamy ideas of castles, doubledecker buses, pubs, and all the stereotypes Americans impose on Britain, I moved to Cardiff” – Joni

Joni by Ffion Matthews

I came to Cardiff on a productive gap year. But I stayed because I fell in love.

A studio flat in Washington, D.C., working at USA Today and a lovely bunch of friends weren’t enough to keep me happy in 2007. I had just turned 26 having spent my early twenties slogging in the newsroom as a sub-editor, then graphics editor, then online travel editor. So with dreamy ideas of castles, double-decker buses, pubs, and all the stereotypes Americans impose on Britain, I moved to Cardiff.

Cardiff wasn’t an obvious choice. People where I’m from in the states think Wales swim in the ocean. My logic went something like this:

I had $20,000 to spend on one year of education abroad from the Rotarians of West Texas. Britain awards most master’s degrees in one year. It also gives you free health care as an international student, lets you work up to 20 hours a week, and allows you to get a visa to work after you graduate. (Though some of these perks may change.)Then an old professor told me Cardiff had a good journalism school, and I was sold. So that is how I came to be in Cardiff.

It was temporary, though. I was going to get my degree, round out my journalism skills and probably go home. But Roy Noble of all people read the stars before I did. Some Rotarian who had heard me speak to his club in Aberdare told Roy he found an American he should interview. On Thanksgiving Day 2007, I went on his radio show. He told me Cardiff has a funny way of making people stay. The next summer, Cardiff worked its funny magic. I fell in love.

A year later, my now husband and I moved to Llandaff’s skinny Chapel Street. This village within Cardiff reminded me of a Neighbours within Albert Square – full of stories, history and soap-style drama lurking in the corners. Keen to keep up with the pace in online journalism, I created a local news site: Llandaff News. It was my experiment with WordPress, Twitter, and the social media sphere. It was my attempt to tell the stories of Llandaff and give more people a voice. But it’s become my reason and place to engage with my new home. Llandaff is where I live.

I’m still very much American. I sing Oklahoma with gusto after a few drinks. But I’m a Cardiffian and Llandavian, too. And I love it.

Joni Ayn Alexander is a multimedia journalist, lecturer, blogger, and PhD student. She spends a lot of time reading about journalism and hyperlocal media because that’s what her thesis is all about. When she can find the time, she practices journalism on Llandaff News. She’s American. She’s not British – yet. She drinks so much diet coke she’s been known to make artistic towers with leftover cans. (Small towers,
mind.) And she loves fried chicken. She currently lives in Llandaff.

Joni was photographed in Llandaff by Ffion Matthews


2 thoughts on ““With dreamy ideas of castles, doubledecker buses, pubs, and all the stereotypes Americans impose on Britain, I moved to Cardiff” – Joni”

  1. I saw your piece quite by accident and was quite envious, to live in a place where singing “Oklahoma” is thought of as eccentric rather then crazy sounds quite novel (I live in California).


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