PEARTREE LIFE: Experiencing Languages

My time in Wales

Hi! Do you remember me?

I'm the Italian girl who was doing her internship at Peartree Languages.

I'm back one last time here to tell you about my experience in Cardiff. I could sum up all my trip with only one word: “Fantastic!!!”.

My whole life in Cardiff has been hilarious, with some fun mistakes and a lot of misunderstanding -but always happy. I think that now it's better to add some details to my story so you can understand why I love this city and this trip.

My fun-infernal travel

Before everything I would like to tell you about the fun infernal travel. I still have to understand how we arrived here without losing ourselves… So, on Saturday morning my Italian friends that took part in the Erasmus project and me meet at 3.00 am at the bus station in Belluno. And up until then everything was ok, the meeting was a little early because I had to wake up at 1.30 am but okay. We absolutely had to leave Belluno at 3.30 am if we didn’t want to miss the flight, but our driver arrived  at 4.00 am! We were 30 minutes late and risked missing the flight.

However the driver, that was very sorry, was able to regain some lost time. But when we arrived at the airport, our teacher discovered that she had left her ID card in Belluno! I’m not joking. We spent 2 hours walking around the airport with the police to find out if the teacher could come without her ID card but with the loss report. So, just 5 minutes before boarding closed, the English police said that no one can get into the UK without the right documents. We all looked into each other's eyes and decided to leave without the teacher. We ran through the airport, because obviously we were exactly on the other side of the airport to our gate, and arrived at boarding just in time for the last call.

The bad luck, however, was not yet over because the flight was quite terrifying. The weather was bad and there was a storm, so there was a lot of sudden changes in altitude. Furthermore, the landing of the plane was very rough and my stomach just wanted some peace and quite. Finally we arrived in Bristol’s airport where we found and caught the bus to get to Cardiff.

Obviously the fun-infernal travel wasn’t finished yet and we were stuck in traffic for a further 2 hours because of a car accident. However, finally we arrived in Penarth station where all our host-families came to pick us up and take us home.

So, my amazing travel ends but another story about my host-family and my culture shock is about to begin. My culture shock In Italy we say: “Città che vai, usanze che trovi”. It’s a way of saying and the approximate translation is “Place that you go, traditions that you find”. It means that every town has its traditions, culture, quirks and life style and the beauty of  travel is, of course, to find these differences and the common points that we have with each new city!

Do you think that my culture shock is about normal things? For example the completely different type of coffee and the bad whether?

Absolutely not.

The main reason of my amusing shock is my host-family and the Welsh people in general. Start talking about my host-family. I lived with my best friend and another girl, in an amazing zone in Penarth, with a fantastic family. I really loved my host because, since the first day that I have known them, they have been friendly, nice, helpful and very willing to talk. My host-dad is also a sublime chef who loves to try to cook new recipes and the results is great!

But there are only two things that I can’t understand about his cooking. The first unanswered question is, “Why doesn’t he ever use salt but throws onions everywhere?!” My host-dad uses onions to dress everything, from a normal pasta to his new recipe: the “onion-cake”… the name should help you to understand what it is… It is something resembling a cupcake but made with raisins and onions of course... I would like to joke but this is the hard truth.

The second question is, “Why don’t the Welsh use the napkin?!” It’s so difficult to eat without getting dirty if you don’t have a napkin! The first meal in my Penarth house I thought that the family, excited to host new students, had forgotten to put the napkins on the table. But then I realized that also the following days there were no napkins! I asked my friends if their families were used to having them and they replied: “No!" It’s a very strange this thing!

Now, to add to the list of things that shocked me here in Cardiff, I would like to tell you about my host-dad's hobby. Let's start with the fact that he has a lot of free time because he is retired and his hobby is a little bit particular. His maximum happiness is in fact destroying everything that happens to fall into his hands! For example, one morning I went to have breakfast and I find the toaster completely destroyed! There were something like 100 pieces of toaster parts scattered all over the kitchen table. When I asked him for an explanation, he simply replied: “I was getting bored and I decided to dismantle and reassemble the toaster. Isn’t it exciting?!”

So that morning I couldn’t eat my toast but learned how to rebuilt a kitchen appliance. It was strangely very nice. But you can also understand that for a normal Italian who is used to waking up calmly and having a long and relaxed breakfast, it’s a shock to meet someone that in the early morning would like to dissect the whole house…

Another interesting episode happened the second day in that house. Unfortunately, my best friend’s phone fell in the sink (full of water) and didn’t work any more. However, she had the brilliant idea to ask our host-dad for some tips to get it working again, instead of simply putting it in a bowl full of rice.

The eyes of our host-dad lit up, he took her phone, examined it and in 2 seconds the unimaginable happened. He broke the phone into 6 different parts, took a paper bag and put into it the rest of the phone and then he put it above the stove! Needless to say my friend’s face was totally paralyzed when she saw her new phone over the fire! It was too funny  to watch the scene, but 4 days after the phone returns to life! Our host-dad is crazy but simply fantastic.

Our host-mum is a little more normal. She works all day and when she returns home she plays the piano for most of the evening. She is very talented and you can easily understand her mood just by listening to her music. My host-dad said that this characteristic is fantastic because he can know when he can talk to her and when it is better not to disturb her or risk being killed.

Finally, one last thing that surprised me is that the population are drunk by 6 pm here! This left me completely blown away because in Italy at 6 pm people still have to decide what they would like to do that night. You can start to see drunk people at 1 am, but not much earlier!

However, my life here has been very funny and I met a lot of new people, also thanks to the time spent at school. School time & friendship, I have always thought that friendship and human relationships are the best things in the world and this experience gave me the proof. Here in Cardiff I have got to know a lot of fantastic people from all over the world and it felt great to get to speak with them. My knowledge about the traditions, culture, languages and lifestyle of others people has increased. I listened to stories that left me shocked. (For example, in Oman, before the wedding, the groom is whipped on the back by his best friend.) I also listened to the personal story of an eighteen years old friend of mine that left his country to come here and live 6 mounts with his uncle. The problem is that when he arrived in Cardiff, his uncle said to him that he couldn’t stay in his house and then disappeared completely  - left my friend alone in a new city without knowing a single word in English! However my friend got back on his feet and found some precarious accommodation and enrolled in a language course. Unfortunately I’m not joking, this is a real story and I met this boy thanks to the school.

The first week in fact I did a English language course in a school in the city centre, to prepare myself for a month of work. Here I met a lot of new friends from all over the world and in particular my best friend and I befriended a boy from Chile and one from Oman. From that day we were inseparable, for a month we met everyday and went on a lot of trips. We would wake up in the morning and our first thought would be, “Okay, where and when will we meet today?” because we have become a very close-knit group.


In these 5 weeks, I spent so much time with them and we did an infinite list of activities. For example, we went to play every possible sport; tennis, swim, bowling, mini-golf, football, ping-pong… We watched many films at the cinema, did long walks around Cardiff Bay and visited other city like Bath, Swansea, Bristol and Birmingham. In conclusion, I had a lot of fun and also improved my English because we came from different countries and we spoke different languages, so the only solution was to speak in English. However, spending so much time with people of other nationalities made me open my mind and it was an amazing experience for me.

And another amazing experience has been my time spent working here at Peartree Languages! Since my second weeks in Cardiff I started to come here to work full-time and it was a fantastic experience. All the people were friendly, pleasant and helpful and the working atmosphere was really nice. I often spoke with the students and I had a lot of fun with them. In Peartree Languages I did a lot of different tasks and tried to help and make my skills available for the other people. I would like to say a big “Thank you” to all the people that work here because they gave me four fantastic weeks. Sadly my experience here in Cardiff is already ending but I take the memory of this trip in my heart forever. Cardiff is really a wonderful city with an infinite number of things to do and to discover, and above all full of amazing people!

So, what are you waiting for? Pack your things and come to visit Cardiff!
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About Peartree Languages

Peartree Languages is a language school located in Cardiff.

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