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How easy is it to live through the medium of Welsh in our capital city?

5 May 2016

Gym-Gym members in a Dublin bar.
Gym-Gym members in a Dublin bar. (Credit: Dylan Nicholas)

By Osian Morgan, First Year student, BA Welsh

This time last year I was facing a difficult decision, which Welsh University I should attend to study BA Welsh that September? One of the influencing factors in my decision was how easy would it be to live through the medium of Welsh at the different Universities. It’s no secret that Cardiff, as a city, is a little less Welsh than say Aberystwyth or Bangor, but would that mean it wouldn’t be possible to live through the medium of Welsh in Cardiff? In this article, I want to discuss the many ways in which Welsh language students can use Welsh in the capital.

There are a variety of Welsh societies at the University, and one of the biggest is the Gym-Gym (the Welsh Society), with hundreds of members. If you are a ‘Gofi’ or a ‘Hwntw’, a fresher or a postgrad, the Gym-Gym offers a warm welcome to everyone. One of the most popular Gym-Gym activities is the monthly ‘crawl’. Seeing a group of more than 100 young people walking in to a pub is sure to a put smile on a pub landlord’s face in Caernarvon, without mentioning Cardiff. The ‘crawls’ are excellent opportunities to meet new people and socialise in Welsh.

Without a doubt, the biggest event on the calendar is the rugby trip, to either Dublin or Edinburgh, to watch Wales play (and hopefully beat) Ireland or Scotland. However, sitting in a Dublin pub drinking Guinness all day is not the Gym-Gym’s only commitment to the world of sport. The society has football, rugby and netball teams who compete against other university societies on a weekly basis. It is a great way to keep fit while speaking the language of our fathers.

In addition to the Gym-Gym, the Iolo Society has been re-established. This is a society for the city’s Welsh language students who would like to take part in Welsh cultural events such as watching Welsh plays or participating in the annual ‘Stomp’ against the lecturers from the School of Welsh.

Cardiff is also a brilliant city for those who follow the Welsh language music scene. Clwb Ifor Bach holds a monthly Welsh music night which is fantastic opportunity to hear contemporary Welsh language bands. As well as Clwb Ifor, gigs are sometimes held in GwdihĊµ, while the facilities at the newly opened Hen Lyfrgell would be ideal for hosting gigs. There are certainly plenty of opportunities across the city to enjoy Welsh language music.

For those with an interest in more traditional Welsh music, joining the Waun Ddyfal choir is an excellent opportunity to compete in Eisteddfodau and meet many more Welsh speakers. Waun Ddyfal is a highly successful choir but that success isn’t confined to the stage as it manages to unite the city’s Welsh speakers and offers a chance to socialise in Welsh whilst enjoying some of our traditional cultural activities.

It is much easier than someone would imagine to live through the medium of Welsh in Cardiff as there are numerous opportunities and institutions trying to unite the city’s Welsh speakers. As I come to the end of my first year, I have greatly enjoyed being able to use my Welsh all day, every day, and I look forward to continuing to do so in the years to come.

This article first appeared in Gair Rhydd and is re-printed with permission.

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