Monthly Archives: July 2016

Private accommodation vs Student halls in Cardiff

*Everything is based on my personal experience.


  • Pros: It’s cheaper, your flatmates are like your family because you share food, organise gatherings over the weekends and go out together A LOT. Also, you don’t pay an extra fee for doing your laundry and your landlord is like your father (whenever there’s a problem, he comes to your rescue).
  • Cons: sometimes the Internet is very slow, you share the toilet and the shower – which is really small – and you live far from the city centre.


  • Pros: The facilities are amazing and it’s pretty safe. They have security cameras EVERYWHERE and there’s always a guard on reception; they also organise parties and gatherings but these are more impersonal since they invite all their residents. However, you’re allowed to throw social meetings at your flat if you want. Also, the toilet and shower are not shared because you have your own, and if there’s a problem with the fridge, the bathroom or whatever, they have a maintenance guy that literally can fix anything. Likewise, you live near downtown which is AWESOME because you just have to walk a few steps to go to the cinema or to Queen Street, the main avenue of this Welsh city.
  • Cons: it’s TOO expensive; you pay an extra fee for doing your laundry and they charge you more money over the summer per week.

In conclusion, both are excellent places to live. Although I’ve been living in a private accommodation for just a month, I’m loving it much more than where I used to live because I feel like I’m being part of a family.  Moreover, there’s a theatre and a cheap supermarket just around the corner, so I don’t need to go to downtown to do my shopping anymore 🙂

I hope this was helpful!

Good luck everyone on finding a place to stay for this coming academic year!



Review: The Lady in the Van


In this movie, screenwriter Alan Bennett adapted a particular moment in his life to the screen which had nothing to do with his career directly, but with an old moody poor woman named MARGARET ‘Mary’ Shepherd who he met in the seventies. Mary, played wonderfully by Maggie Smith (a character that contrasts with the Countess of Grantham, the role she played in Downton Abbey), was a homeless person that lived in a yellow van and moved in and moved out from house to house (where she parked it) every three or fours days, depending on her mood and needs.

In the opening scene we see her running away from the police because, apparently, she has killed someone with her car. Later on we find out she isn’t a murderer but she had the misfortune of being in the wrong place and in the wrong time. Because of this incident, she’s on the run and wants to live ‘incognito’ but she’s too sick and old to live on her own without the help of her neighbours. That’s when Bennett, unwillingly, becomes her ally and eventually, her friend.

Something I liked in the film was presenting Bennett as a double character: as the writer that experiences life and as the writer that only writes, watches everyone from the distance and thinks out loud. It is like having a never-ending conversation with your non-existent twin. This resource works pretty well because it is more visual than the typical voice over.

Although the story doesn’t give us a direct critique about homeless people, it invites us to change our perspectives about them. Not every homeless person ends up like that because of a dysfunctional family or drugs addiction. Some of them had a wonderful and promising life but because of a bad decision or a disgraceful incident, their lives changed for the bad like happened to Miss Shepherd, who was an educated woman and a very talented pianist.

I would have added more scenes of Bennett’s relationship with his mother to understand his motivation of using her in his work. He clearly says he has something with old ladies but why is that? Did she traumatize him when he was a child? Was he closer to her than with his dad? Did she influence him in some way? The story of Lady in the Van is fascinating but I wish I could have seen why Bennett was keen on writing about old ladies.

After dealing and living with Miss Shepherd for 15 years, Bennett realises that some of the best stories happen when you get out of your comfort zone and try something new. He didn’t want to be friends with a homeless woman because he didn’t imagine that relationship would help him to become a more empathetic and kinder person and to conceive new ideas to write about. That is to say that every experience or person you meet in life could be the start of a great story as well as the start of an unforgettable friendship. You never know.