Monday, January 20, 2014

First Week at Swansea

It has definitely taken some getting used to but I am almost settled in here at Swansea! 
My fellow Oklahomans. We met on a FaceBook page beforehand and it has been nice having some friends here already. Here we are all waiting for our tour bus to take us around Swansea with about 50 other American exchange students.  

This was somewhere on the coast... it all runs together! It was really pretty, though. The guide told us that this spot (I think) has the farthest natural tide in the world! The difference between low tide and high tide is 26 miles! Also, it seems to rain about every half hour, drop 15 degrees, and blow at my face. 

There are lots of sheep everywhere! The countryside looks very similar to Ireland. 

This was voted the 2nd most beautiful spot in the UK! The pictures don't do it justice. 

Another thing about our tour, the bus driver had very characteristic British humour. From the very beginning he dryly joked about his marriage, pending divorce, dead grandfather (whom he said got tired of living with his grandmother so he up and died), and his low salary. It has been hard to understand both what people are saying and what they mean by what they say. 

You can almost see the sun! It's a rare sighting. 

Sheep have the right-of-way! Along with other livestock, I think. 

After our tour and orientation we got our bus pass that will take us about as far as we went on the tour. It's very different relying on public transportation. I think it will be easier once I come to understand the time table for the buses. It changes on weekdays, evenings, and weekends? All I know is that I end up standing in the rain for quite some time each day. A genuine Welsh experience I guess! 

This is the view outside my window! The sun comes out every once in a while and it rains almost every day. I've been drinking a lot of tea, though! 

On Saturday we went on a field trip to a coal mine. Wales used to be the coal capital of the world or something. 

There was a museum that had pictures of the workers. The original shower stalls and lockers are still there.  

These are some neat figurines in the gift shop made of coal! 

 The Welsh flag! It has a dragon on it. 
After the coal mine we went to a castle in Cardiff! 

After walking around the castle grounds for a while it started to pour down rain. You can see rain spots on the lens almost always. 

Not far from the castle there is a small town that used to be there. We stopped in for a "Jacket Potato"... a baked potato!   

This hut is either where the pigs lived or were smoked...

This is the first cow I've seen! There is not nearly as much beef for sale here and it is kind of pricy. 

We had a day off from classes on Wednesday so we went looking around the town. We're getting a little bit better at the bus system and usually only have to switch buses once or twice. 
These are some pictures from an indoor market we found. They had food and various things for sale. We're eating some "fruit filled" savouries. They were actually full of raisins and dates, which are hardly fruit. They were pretty good, though!  

Sunday we went exploring around Cardiff, the biggest city in Wales. 
Cardiff Bay has a beautiful view! 

But... there was also a lot of trash. 

A huge community center we went in had this cool "paper" airplane exhibit. 

The Castle! 

It was a beautiful day in Cardiff!  

These are two strange monkeys holding a book at the entrance to the library in the mansion on the castle grounds. They mansion was built around 1890. The family turned part of the castle wall into a bomb shelter during the wars. 
The Mansion

There was an "Arab Room" with an ornate ceiling and walls that looked very out of place in the house. I can't imagine that the owners were Muslim but it looked very much like a prayer room. 

From the top of the castle we had a very nice view of Cardiff. It was strange standing on something so old while looking at the metropolitan city. 

Overall, it was a pretty nice week! I'll be enrolling in classes next friday and starting them on the following monday. They do credits differently here, so I only have to take 2 classes during the semester and the two week course I am currently in to qualify as full time back at home. It should be a good year! I do miss you all back at home, though! I'll try to post here once a week if I have enough interesting things to share.