My Chevening month: Cheers to a new year and new experiences
Nicolette Bryan was our Chevening Social Media Ambassador for January 2017, giving an insight into the life of a Chevening Scholar in the UK through social media and blogging.
Nicolette completely immersed herself in the UK during the month, visiting England, Scotland, Northern Ireland, and of course Wales - where she's studying!
Nicolette comes from Jamaica and is studying an MSc in Social and Public Policy at Cardiff University. Follow Nicolette through the rest of her year in the UK on Twitter and Instagram or keep up with the latest from all of our social media ambassadors using the #CheveningSMA hashtag.
The new year signalled the beginning of my Chevening month and the welcoming of new experiences. This coincided perfectly with my visit to Northern Ireland’s capital city, Belfast, for what was perhaps the most anticipated cultural experience of my Chevening journey - a ‘Game of Thrones’ tour.
Northern Ireland has the most Game of Thrones (GOT) sets, owing to its landscape’s natural beauty, effortlessly depicting the show’s fictitious realms. As a result, most of the show is filmed there. This visit also ticked an item off my bucket list - to visit all the countries in the United Kingdom!
On New Year’s Day, I did a tour of Tollymore Forest, the first designated state park in Northern Ireland which is also home to the country’s highest peak and a set for the GoT series. This was followed by a trip to Castle Ward, known to us fans as Winterfell, another of the show’s sets, for an interactive tour with staff.
The following days came with leisurely exploration of what Belfast has to offer - visits to the Peace Wall murals, Queen’s University Belfast, the Ulster Museum, Belfast Botanic Gardens, the Titanic Belfast attraction, Hazelbank Park, and I also found the best fish and chips I’ve ever tasted since being in the UK.
Back in Cardiff, I made my way around city, seeking out new places and paying visits to my favourite spots. Cardiff is Europe’s youngest capital and I am entirely in love with the city. There are multiple parks to support recreational needs and it is one of the cheapest major cities in the UK to live in so that sits well with me as a student.
One day, purely by chance, I discovered that the city centre housed the world’s oldest record shop - Spillers Records. I used the rest of my free time to explore the attractions at Cardiff Bay, take the bus up to Caerphilly Castle and blogged about living in Wales.
Amidst all this, I was able to delve into my academic work in light of the looming deadlines, which thankfully I was able to meet. To mark this victory, I made my way to London, stopped to check out a few sights and paid a visit to a fellow Chevener at Queen Mary College. I then spent a few days with relatives in north London, where as fate would have it, I experienced snow for the first time!
I am enjoying my time in the UK, and being a Social Media Ambassador for Chevening nudges me to go out in search of new experiences to share. I have got used to the weather and am now always fully prepared for rain - no matter how fair the day starts out.
I am looking forward to the rest of my year - getting good grades, meeting new people, finding more castles, and volunteering at the World ParaAthletics Championships in London this summer. Time goes by really fast but that tends to happen when you are culturally immersed, and I am absorbing it all while maintaining a balance.