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“Things I’ve learnt since being swallowed up by the Diff” – Ellie Philpotts

Newbie in the city! New Cardiff resident Ellie Philpotts tells us about her experiences of living in the city since she moved here before Christmas.


This is sort of a strange time period for me, because I’m still a relative newbie to the whole sphere that is Cardiff. Caerdydd has only been my home since September, yet these six months have truly made me feel like I’ve lived here forever. On the other hand, they haven’t improved my maths skills, as I still had to use that old finger-counting method to figure out how many months separate September from March.

It’s also a nice time period, because I feel I’ve lived here forever in that I feel so comfortable and secure, yet I’m also still excited by Cardiff on a daily basis, ever discovering new elements the city has to offer. The best thing about Wales’ epicentre has to be the fact that I can’t imagine this feeling ever diminishing – there really are countless things to both satisfy and challenge the interests of every single resident.


If we ignore the minor maths problem, Cardiff has taught me a lot. I guess you’d kind of expect that, what with me attending university here, but in actual fact I’ve found the most important things I’ve discovered have been away from the classroom, or lecture-theatre if you want to be technical, but instead enrooted within the wider ‘Diff.


I’ve learnt that The Grazing Shed serves the best burgers known to man; that many notable people are eager to visit Cardiff, from Asia’s first supermodel Tracy Trinita to The Chuckle Brothers to Scott Disick of Kardashians fame; the truth in the well-established stereotype that Cardiff Uni students consume a lot of chips; and not to mention some of my most crucial life lessons to date. I feel in this mere half a year, Cardiff is where I’ve most matured as a person. I’ve met and mixed with totally new groups and individuals – partly because far more opportunities are available here, secondly because I’m more willing to expand my personal horizons. I love being involved in uni events, but think it’s easy as a student, particularly during first year, to stay trapped within the comforting, non-literal walls of the university domain. However, I’ve found Cardiff’s general city vibe, and even that of its suburbs, astonishingly welcoming. Beyond uni, I’ve launched myself into new ventures such as fundraising for Shine, the cancer support group I met while here; attending Highfields Church; getting a job here; learning the art of pilates; and being shortlisted to interview stage with NUS and the BBC.


I’ve always supported multiculturalism, but Kidderminster, my former town, isn’t particularly diverse, considering how close it is to Birmingham, which is home to many different communities. So for me, life in the Welsh capital has opened my eyes to just how many varying origins of people Britain accommodates – and I think that’s a wonderful thing to witness. In September, I began volunteering with STAR, teaching refugees seeking asylum in Cardiff skills such as English, in order to improve their prospects away from their native lands. There’s a palpable irony in the fact that teaching others has actually taught me the most important thing – the real joy of giving back to members of the community I’ve found myself a part of. And I have Cardiff’s essence to thank for supplying me with such life lessons.


OK, Cardiff isn’t perfect. But if its biggest flaws are Hoffi Coffi never seeming to stock their salad boxes; silverfish dominating Talybont; and the, er, odd bit of rain, I think we’re in for a good deal.


Ellie Philpotts is in her first year at Cardiff University studying English Literature, Journalism and Media. She is  a teenage-cancer survivor; is obsessed with travelling, and her favourite cities outside Cardiff are being Sydney, NYC, Nashville and Paris. Her ‘likes’ also include general Britishness, cups of tea, exploring, attempting to write songs, journalism, Italian food, finding new places, going out for dinner and taking photos – of everything. She is not a fan of maths, mashed potato, narrow minded people, her phone constantly running out of memory for photos, or people who are mean about Taylor Swift. Follow her blog or Instagram.

All photos by Ellie Philpotts

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