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Lillian Wolford

Lillian Wolford - USA

Lilly is a first-year Journalism and Communications student from Ohio.

Course title: BA Journalism and Communication
Country: USA
Year of graduation: 2025

Why did you decide to apply to study in the UK?

Early on in high school, when thinking about going to university, I always knew I at least wanted to take a semester abroad. My sister loved the year she spent in London, and I found her experience fascinating. I researched programs in the UK, and I found so many benefits. I loved that the UK programs were mostly 3-year programs with opportunities to get real experience during a placement year.

The cost was also a big factor for me and honestly, a lot of the universities I was looking at in the US were more expensive than the international tuition here. Another huge plus for me was that all the classes I would be taking are directly linked to my course of study. Coming from understanding the US system, I had always known that the first year of university was spent on general education classes that give you the opportunity for a more well-rounded education before starting your actual degree.  I loved that in the UK, I could immediately dive into the course I was there to study.  Another reason I wanted to apply abroad was the experience a new place with a different way of living.

What made you pick Cardiff?

As a journalism major, Cardiff had an amazing reputation. The journalism courses really interested me and that’s all it took for me to apply to Cardiff. But when choosing Cardiff, I loved that the Bay was a short train ride away. I loved the hustle of a big city and Wales in general piqued my interest because I didn’t know a lot about it.

'I loved the price point Cardiff offered for international students but honestly, what ultimately made me choose Cardiff was how the staff and students made me feel. I felt safe and comfortable with everyone I had talked to, and it felt like a home away from home before I had even applied.'

Lillian Wolford, BA Journalism and Communication

How did you find the application process?

The application process was a breeze. Again, I’m used to what I have been taught in the US. As a senior in high school, most students are prepping their university applications where you must submit separate applications for each school with different deadlines. Each school has different essay questions they want you to write about and it’s a very daunting process at times. Compared to the lengthy process that US universities can have, applying through UCAS was simple.

I had all my scores ready to be sent through, inserting my information was easy enough, and when writing my personal statement, I loved what I was majoring in, so it was not so hard to try to express that in writing. The personal statement took a lot of time but that was because I really wanted to nail it and truly express why I loved what I wanted to study. Everything with the UCAS application process was so simple that I feel like I got lucky in a way.

What were your first impressions of Cardiff?

I don’t recommend this for all, but I had not gone to Cardiff until I was moving into my accommodation! Everyone thinks I’m crazy for this but with travel restrictions still going on, I wasn’t able to fly to the UK before attending school. But it made the city more magical for me. My first impression of Cardiff happened when I was driving from the airport and simply experiencing the little differences like driving on a different side of the road, seeing the gorgeous Castle for the first time, and just being surrounded by the hustle of a big city. But the one thing that stuck out to me was every person I had interacted with since I stepped off the plane was genuinely so kind to me. The taxi driver from the airport was the sweetest soul and my Residence Life Assistant welcomed me with open arms as I was trying to figure out what I was doing. I’m glad those were my first impressions of Cardiff.

Have you found it easy to make friends?

Cardiff gives you a lot of opportunities to make friends, from your flatmates to societies to coursemates. I would say it was very easy to make friends and some of my closest friends I met online even before I came to Cardiff. I highly recommend joining Facebook groups and WhatsApp groups to start talking to people before you arrive. I am more of an introverted person so making friends is a little harder for me but even so, I have made amazing friends so far by just being involved in university life.

How did you find the settling-in process?

Settling in was a little tougher. As an international student, I was dealing with culture shock and being so far away from my family which is hard. But after a few weeks. you figure out routines that work and become comfortable with living on your own. It takes time to find your favourite spots to grocery shop, hang out, exercise, etc... but it’s all a part of the fun journey.

What’s it like studying in the UK system?  

I love studying journalism and communications. Not many will say this, but my education is my favourite part of my life in Cardiff because I genuinely love what I’m studying, my coursemates, and my lectures. I’ve come to notice that my schedule is very different than my friends back in the US. I attend 3 lectures and 3 seminars and week, and a lot of my own time is exploring aspects of my course that are more focused on topics I want to specialize in.

The first year of US university is filled with general education classes. Many of my friends are still taking these classes with 6 different lectures a week and weekly assessments to complete. The differences between my friends’ courses and mine are that theirs are a little more structured while my courses allow me time to research on my own. I love that I am encouraged to research other aspects of journalism on my own, but my friends back home love the aspect of constant assignments that reinforce their understanding of what they study. We have different modes of learning with the same end goal which I find fascinating.

What’s your favourite thing about the University?

I love the Journalism building. Architecturally, it is a gorgeous building with amazing facilities and it is settled in a hub of the city next to BBC giving us opportunities that we normally wouldn’t have. The building is equipped with the perfect study spaces, a library, and studios for radio, TV, and other news aspects. The building is often my safe space to retreat and get work done because I feel so comfortable there.

However, I also love our Student's Union. The restaurant is an amazing place to grab lunch and watch a game and socialize. I go to study on the third floor, and I love how it has comfortable seating for all types of people. The SU is equipped with everything from a mini grocery store to practice spaces and a variety of student support services.

Do you have any advice for anyone thinking of studying in the UK?

Do your research so you know what you are getting into. If you are an international student, the jump to the UK can be big but if you've done your research, it is so worth it. You will find opportunities you could have never imagined and meet amazing people. Also, enjoy what you are studying. Apply to a programme where you already enjoy the topic. You don’t have to know the ins and outs of what you are studying but understand the basics and whether you truly enjoy it. Don’t be scared to try something new because I know I’m glad I did.