Embracing the Outdoors in Wales
One of the best and most highly anticipated parts about studying abroad with CEA CAPA is getting to travel–both within your host country and through countries around it. Since I studied abroad in London, I mainly focused on seeing parts of England, as it’s a beautiful region with a lot of different places to see.
Another weekend trip I took and loved was to Wales, through a CEA CAPA excursion and an outdoor adventure company called Preseli Venture. Both Preseli Venture and CEA CAPA handled most of the planning, which made it very easy to get around, and allowed us do so many fun activities. Preseli even handled the food, making us hearty home-cooked meals three times a day. Myself, my roommates, and many other CEA CAPA students took a train on a Friday from Paddington in London to a small town in Wales known as Fishguard and Goodwick, where Preseli Venture staff picked us up.
Preseli Venture has a huge lodge located deep in a beautiful green field near the coast where we stayed. When we got there on Friday, we got assigned rooms and treated to a delicious, home-cooked dinner consisting of some of the best mac and cheese I’ve ever had and a fresh, warm brownie. We then spent the rest of the night outside, admiring the luscious greenery all around us and the fresh, cool air.
The next morning, our activities began. Prior to the trip, everyone picked the activities they wanted to do, such as kayaking, coasteering, hiking, etc. My first activity that morning was kayaking. We got all suited up in wetsuits, warm undershirts, helmets, and water boots, and headed to a bay where we took off into the freezing water. I never kayaked before this, but got the hang of it with help from my group and activity leader. Kayaking along the coast was an unreal and unforgettable experience; we saw so many animals I never saw in the wild before, from seals to huge crabs. We even got to kayak into a tiny cave and jump into the water! I’m by no means an outdoorsy, nature person, but I truly had so much fun.
My next activity was surfing, and I cannot even explain how fun it was. I never really surfed before, only wake surfed off of boats. Real surfing was nothing like it. Again, we got all suited up into very tight wetsuits, complete with very soggy boots, and piled into vans to get to the coast. I was terrible—I could barely balance myself onto the board at first. By the end of the session, however, I could almost get on my knees while riding waves all the way to the shore! I took quite a beating—those waves hurt! But, it was a new experience, and one that I won’t get again soon. It was amazing.
My final activity on Sunday morning was a whopping seven-mile hike. I'm not a hiker, and I was honestly dreading this all weekend. Preseli took us to the start of the trail, which lined huge cliffs against the sea, and we hiked all the way back to the lodge.
The trail wound along these cliffsides and through farmland filled with sheep, and was seriously stunning. As much as I dislike hikes, I was amazed by the beauty of the coast, and it ended up being a wonderful experience.
If you get the chance to study abroad, make sure you capitalize on the experience and do things that you wouldn’t normally do. Going to an ecolodge and participating in a bunch of outdoor activities wasn’t something I planned on doing during my London study abroad program, but my weekend in Wales was one of the best weekends I had during my summer abroad.
Mariam Hassan is an official blogger for Summer ‘23, sharing her story in frequent posts on our blog. A Biology, Society, and Environment major at University of Minnesota, Twin Cities, she is studying and interning abroad in London this semester. All views expressed are her own and may or may not reflect the experiences of other students.
Mariam Hassan is the Content Creator - Blogger.