Matthias studied BA Applied Foreign Languages in a small university in the Alps. For his final year, he had the opportunity to do a year abroad and chose to spend this time in Cardiff before going on to pursue his Master’s here.
Name: Matthias Héjja-Brichard
Course: MA in Political Communication
Year of graduation: 2019
Why did you choose Cardiff University?
When I first chose Cardiff University, I had the option of either going to Newcastle or Cardiff. As I hate being cold, I took the southern destination. Quite random but it was probably life changing!
After finishing my undergraduate degree and year in Cardiff, I did not want to go back to France because I already felt that the quality of teaching was so much better here. I decided to stay in Cardiff for the simple reason that I love the city (you know, a capital but at human size) and because the School of Journalism, Media and Culture is world class. I applied here as my very first choice for the MA and was accepted before even applying anywhere else.
Tell us about your course. How is it different from studying back home?
There are two major differences between here and my former university.
First, we are much closer to the teachers here. In France, you call them by their last name and always have to show politeness with Sir/Madam. Here, you can call them by their names and the exchanges are less formal. Thanks to that, I felt more confident asking for help or advice at any time. You know that they will usually answer within the next 24 hours.
Another thing is that here, the teachers want to encourage us and not just blame us. I remember, back in France, I had an issue with pronunciation in Spanish. When I sought help from my teacher, he did not really care and even made fun of me. At the time, it didn’t strike me because you get used to it, but since I have been here, I realised how much of a difference it makes. In Cardiff, I wanted to work more to show I wanted to progress rather than because I was scared of a bad grade or a remark.
What have you enjoyed most about studying at Cardiff University?
As I said in the previous paragraph, I loved the relationships with the teachers. But there are many other little details that make all the difference too. They go from the libraries which are open 24/7, to the abundance of clubs and societies for students to join. It is all these little things that made me like studying here so much.
What is the best thing about living in Cardiff?
The city centre is entirely pedestrianised. You can do whatever you want, no car will ever annoy you in the main streets and that is a wonderful thing. The bicycles can be a problem (and I am part of them) but it is not a major issue.
I also love how friendly everyone is. As soon as they hear you have a foreign accent, everybody gets even nicer to you, being interested about where you are from, why you are here and all of that.
Are you a member of any clubs or societies? If so, what’s it like to be part of a society?
I have been a member of different societies and even part of a committee during my time in Cardiff. This has been interesting because I met a lot of people through these groups.
The best experience has been my involvement in the Athletics Club, because I found very good training partners and it meant that I was a part of the big Varsity competition. Being part of the team and competing in this event was just amazing.
Tell us about your most memorable experience at Cardiff. Have you done work experience/ Give it a Go/ Languages for all?
I cannot recall one specific memorable experience. I think the whole experience is memorable because of a lot of smaller events.
I have done some work experiences thanks to the status of the city. I worked for the women's champions' league finals and I guided French tourists for the Six Nations (and even managed to get a free ticket).
Give it a Go was amazing in that it allowed me discover some parts of Wales I would have never been to and also to experience the societies and clubs before joining up as a member.
I have done Languages for All to continue studying Spanish, as it was not part of my degree anymore. It helped a lot because combined with a lot of Spanish friends, I improved more this year than ever before!
What would your advice be for prospective students thinking about coming to Cardiff?
To buy a solid rain jacket!
More seriously, to be ready to enjoy life in a very lively city where it is nearly impossible to be bored. Also to plan to visit Wales, because every part of this country seems to be a hidden gem.
What are your plans for the future?
I planned to stay in Cardiff until the end of the year and then start to work around January. My aim now is to find that work. I would love to stay in the area but I do not really mind moving since I am far from home anyway.
I do not really know yet what I want to do. Despite having done Political Communication, I would rather do communication in the private sector. I have broad interests so I will see what offers I find and then decide.