TechFitNerd
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Hi all,

I'm in the final stages of choosing where to attend school in the fall. I'm doing a computer science conversion. I'm an international student from America and I'm also a minority. I've been accepted to sixteen programs of which the top affordable choices are: U of Glasgow, U of Kent, Newcastle, Cardiff, Loughborough, Queen Mary University of London, Swansea and U of Bath.*

I was pretty set on Cardiff or Kent due to the structure of the course, placement year opportunities and language learning program. Cardiff is a RG, so I thought it might be better. However, I keep seeing things about Wales being the most racist place in the UK. Is that accurate? It stinks that I can't visit the universities due to Covid, so I am asking for honest opinions here.

For reference, I'm from Texas in the US. I'm a black female in my late 20s. None of the schools I've attended from grade school through university were the most diverse. I have friends of every race. I haven't really experienced any major issues to be honest. I make friends easily. I've excelled at work and school. I have had more uncomfortable incidents in my adult life, but nothing extreme. My question is will it be similar in the UK? Would you steer me away from any of those universities? I don't expect everyone to like me, but I do want to have a positive university experience with minimal drama... Hate to even make this post, but it is a real concern of mine.
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G_ogh
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I'm also a black uk student doing computer science and Im in my second year. From my experience 99% of people don't care about the way you look, the most you get is the occasional look, most people will want to be your friend because they see black people as cool and trendy plus you’re american so people will be intrigued by you. If I was you I would go Newcastle, Loughborough, Bath or Glasgow but all of your options are good. You have nothing to worry about but if something does happen the uni workers are very strict when it comes to discrimination so if something does happen then that person will be punished. Good Luck!
Last edited by G_ogh; 4 weeks ago
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Joleee
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i don't know anything about living in Wales. what i do know is that you have to take rumours with a grain of salt 'cause it's just one person's experience or a handful of experiences. that doesn't make the entire country racist. you also have to bear in mind that being at uni you will have a disproportionate experience of being around liberals. also, according to the Cardiff uni website, one in four students is an international student, so you will not be alone in this regard. in my experience as an international student, international students tend to stick together. my best friends are from South Africa, India, Bahrain, Hong Kong, Korea and Greece. imo go to the best school you can afford and don't worry about not fitting in cuz you probably will.
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swanseajack1
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I dont know where this information comes.

I am Welsh and come from Swansea. They are numerous American students in Swansea. There is a link with one of the Texan universities. The Bay Campus where you would be based has a very high level of BAME students. I believe there are over 600 chinese students before taking into account the others. I have come across American's, Mexican's, Chinese, Malaysian's Thai, Japanese amongst others. I very much doubt the universities will differ from those in England and I would expect the same in Cardiff.

Swansea university has more English students than Welsh and this will apply to every university in Wales.

A girl from Virginia taking her PhD there told me how safe she felt in Swansea compared to back home. A Malaysian PhD student I also worked with commentated on how much she enjoyed seeing the sky something she didnt experience in Kuala Lumpar.

Go wherever you wish but racism exists everywhere and it is no difference in Welsh universities to anywhere else.
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TechFitNerd
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(Original post by G_ogh)
I'm also a black uk student doing computer science and Im in my second year. From my experience 99% of people don't care about the way you look, the most you get is the occasional look, most people will want to be your friend because they see black people as cool and trendy plus your american so people will be intrigued by you. If I was you I would go Newcastle, Loughborough, Bath or Glasgow but all of your options are good. You have nothing to worry about but if something does happen the uni workers are very strict when it comes to discrimination so if something does happen then that person will be punished. Good Luck!
Thank you for responding. How are you liking your computer science course?

From what you say it'll be similar to what I'm already used to here in America. Now as far as those unis what do you think about Cardiff? It's the only one that offers the placement year. Seeing as I'll be doing a conversion Masters, I thought that year of experience would be helpful in getting an actual job later.
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TechFitNerd
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(Original post by Joleee)
i don't know anything about living in Wales. what i do know is that you have to take rumours with a grain of salt 'cause it's just one person's experience or a handful of experiences. that doesn't make the entire country racist. you also have to bear in mind that being at uni you will have a disproportionate experience of being around liberals. also, according to the Cardiff uni website, one in four students is an international student, so you will not be alone in this regard. in my experience as an international student, international students tend to stick together. my best friends are from South Africa, India, Bahrain, Hong Kong, Korea and Greece. imo go to the best school you can afford and don't worry about not fitting in cuz you probably will.
Thank you for the reassurance. What uni are you attending if you don't mind me asking?

What you say is 100% true about one experience. I hadn't even thought about it until I saw a YouTube video mentioning it from a current student. Of course that led me down a rabbit hole of Google experiences. 1 hour later I was rethinking everything 😑 I know if you look for something you'll find it anywhere. From what you guys are posting I can't imagine it'll be much different than my experiences growing up in America. As I said in my original post, I haven't experienced much beyond some uncomfortable situations that I can deal with.
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G_ogh
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Computer science is a good and well rounded course but it can get difficult at times but people on your course will be happy to help you out. As for Cardiff it is a very good university and if it does the course you want then you should pick it but make sure you do your own research!
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swanseajack1
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(Original post by TechFitNerd)
Thank you for the reassurance. What uni are you attending if you don't mind me asking?

What you say is 100% true about one experience. I hadn't even thought about it until I saw a YouTube video mentioning it from a current student. Of course that led me down a rabbit hole of Google experiences. 1 hour later I was rethinking everything 😑 I know if you look for something you'll find it anywhere. From what you guys are posting I can't imagine it'll be much different than my experiences growing up in America. As I said in my original post, I haven't experienced much beyond some uncomfortable situations that I can deal with.
America is far more racist than the UK especially the Southern states. Most never experience it here but it would be folly to suggest it doesnt happen. It does everywhere but there are very few cases. It is not in the universities interest to allow it go unchecked.
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TechFitNerd
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(Original post by swanseajack1)
I dont know where this information comes.

I am Welsh and come from Swansea. They are numerous American students in Swansea. There is a link with one of the Texan universities. The Bay Campus where you would be based has a very high level of BAME students. I believe there are over 600 chinese students before taking into account the others. I have come across American's, Mexican's, Chinese, Malaysian's Thai, Japanese amongst others. I very much doubt the universities will differ from those in England and I would expect the same in Cardiff.

Swansea university has more English students than Welsh and this will apply to every university in Wales.

A girl from Virginia taking her PhD there told me how safe she felt in Swansea compared to back home. A Malaysian PhD student I also worked with commentated on how much she enjoyed seeing the sky something she didnt experience in Kuala Lumpar.

Go wherever you wish but racism exists everywhere and it is no difference in Welsh universities to anywhere else.
Thank you for your post. I doubt I would have overreacted so much if I had the chance to visit Wales before making such a big life decision. Even though I haven't dealt with any major issues in America there are places I avoid here. There are places I wouldn't recommend here in Texas because of the very real issues in those areas.

I've been to Scotland and England before, but have not had the pleasure of visiting Wales. In Scotland, the extent of awkwardness was people staring at me like I was an alien. I worked out in a gym, and the first 3 days people just stared without realizing they were doing it I guess. The 4th day I just walked up to one of them and asked for a spotter. Actually made a new friend that day.

Situations like that don't bother me at all. I'm used to it. I just saw a YouTube video of a current student complaining. That led me down an hour of Google searches looking up negative info 🤦🏽*♀️. I'm sure I wouldn't have even wasted my time if I had the option of visiting the university myself. I didn't mean to offend by my original post, and I apologize if it was offensive in any way. Wales looks like such a beautiful place, so regardless I'll be there someday.
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harrysbar
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(Original post by TechFitNerd)
Thank you for your post. I doubt I would have overreacted so much if I had the chance to visit Wales before making such a big life decision. Even though I haven't dealt with any major issues in America there are places I avoid here. There are places I wouldn't recommend here in Texas because of the very real issues in those areas.

I've been to Scotland and England before, but have not had the pleasure of visiting Wales. In Scotland, the extent of awkwardness was people staring at me like I was an alien. I worked out in a gym, and the first 3 days people just stared without realizing they were doing it I guess. The 4th day I just walked up to one of them and asked for a spotter. Actually made a new friend that day.

Situations like that don't bother me at all. I'm used to it. I just saw a YouTube video of a current student complaining. That led me down an hour of Google searches looking up negative info 🤦🏽*♀️. I'm sure I wouldn't have even wasted my time if I had the option of visiting the university myself. I didn't mean to offend by my original post, and I apologize if it was offensive in any way. Wales looks like such a beautiful place, so regardless I'll be there someday.
Cities in the UK tend to be far more multicultural than smaller towns and villages so I wouldn't imagine you having a problem in Cardiff. London is hugely multicultural of course but has its own problems, mainly cost.

I doubt you would have issues at any of the places you have listed tbh, especially if you are friendly and confident. I'm sure you will make friends easily and your biggest problem with Cardiff is more likely to be the rain than racism - it rains a lot in Wales!
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swanseajack1
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(Original post by TechFitNerd)
Thank you for your post. I doubt I would have overreacted so much if I had the chance to visit Wales before making such a big life decision. Even though I haven't dealt with any major issues in America there are places I avoid here. There are places I wouldn't recommend here in Texas because of the very real issues in those areas.

I've been to Scotland and England before, but have not had the pleasure of visiting Wales. In Scotland, the extent of awkwardness was people staring at me like I was an alien. I worked out in a gym, and the first 3 days people just stared without realizing they were doing it I guess. The 4th day I just walked up to one of them and asked for a spotter. Actually made a new friend that day.

Situations like that don't bother me at all. I'm used to it. I just saw a YouTube video of a current student complaining. That led me down an hour of Google searches looking up negative info 🤦🏽*♀️. I'm sure I wouldn't have even wasted my time if I had the option of visiting the university myself. I didn't mean to offend by my original post, and I apologize if it was offensive in any way. Wales looks like such a beautiful place, so regardless I'll be there someday.
Cardiff is pretty much a cosmopolitan city as is Swansea and as said previously many of the students you will meet will either be English or International. Similarly that is often the case with lecturers. Some of the smaller communities in Wales you might suffer racism such as staring as it is rare to see black people there. That isnt the case in universities which literally have all races and cultures. If you do come across someone has a problem with your colour it is they who have a problem not you but it will be a tiny minority as there is everywhere. The Welsh people generally are far more welcoming than the English especially down south. It is part of the Welsh nature and many find the way the Welsh are as nosy. That is just how things are.

If the course is right for you in Cardiff then go there. It has a really nice indoor shopping area (mall) in the centre of the city. It has some of the best nightlife in the UK and has many major sports take place there including Ice Hockey. There is an indoor arena where concerts take place together with a theatre and a separate concert hall. It is bigger than the likes of Bath, Swansea and Kent but much smaller than Glasgow or London. It is probably the most friendly city other than Swansea. Everything is basically walkable in Cardiff and the university is less than 10 minutes walk to the city centre.

I hope this will have allayed some of the fears you have. Unfortunately there will always be people who are not happy but in all honesty Cardiff will be no more or less racist than anywhere else.

I have visited your country on many occasions and thoroughly enjoyed it but the racism shines through more there than you will find in Wales but dont be surprised if Welsh people ask you many questions. That is our nature.
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TechFitNerd
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(Original post by G_ogh)
Computer science is a good and well rounded course but it can get difficult at times but people on your course will be happy to help you out. As for Cardiff it is a very good university and if it does the course you want then you should pick it but make sure you do your own research!
Yes I'm expecting it to be challenging. It wouldn't be worth pursuing otherwise. I've researched countless hours on courses and I think I may end up at Cardiff.

Another question for you. I'm many years removed from undergrad, and my major wasn't math based anyhow. I'm doing some self study to prepare. Quarantine gives me a lot of free time thankfully. I'm doing some math courses and started on the Odin academy. Is there anything else you'd recommend to prepare? I realize your course is different but any advice is helpful.
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swanseajack1
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Say it as it is it rains all the time in Wales but OP will get used to it.
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artful_lounger
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My general impression, as a white American living in the UK for many years now, is that you will probably find the experience of racism in the UK more akin to racism in e.g. the more liberal parts of the midwest and northeast of the US. That is, it definitely occurs, but is maybe less overt - and often the people being racist do not believe or understand (or even refuse to believe) they are in fact being racist. This in comparison to the US south where there is some elements of more overt racism but also the majority of the population there will have interacted with people of colour regularly throughout their lives, and will not exist in a sort of white "bubble" where they believe they cannot be racist despite the fact the could count the number of people of colour they've had extended interactions with on one hand. The latter environment just sort of engenders a different sort of implicit racism....

I imagine you will find more major metropolitan cities with more diverse populations more similar perhaps to your experiences living in the south - that is, there is potentially more overt racism but also most people will actually know how to interact with a black person without making it "weird" - and smaller regional cities, especially in the south of the UK will be more like the northeast and midwest of the US, where there is potentially a lot more bigotry bubbling under the surface. I can't comment on the universities specifically though, as often universities can be their own microcosm quite distinct from the local area.

Mainly I am saying this because there is a widespread belief (among white people, anyway) that racism doesn't "exist" in the UK, as such when it certainly does, but unfortunately people here fundamentally do not understand (and often refuse to understand) that racism is more than outright saying the n word to a black person or lynching them...sadly though people here will for example bend over backwards to defend their right to dress in black face for "fancy dress" parties etc (citing "well it wasn't intended to be offensive! it's just fancy dress! I'm just a white man dressing up in black face as one of the only black female MPs in the country as a joke!"). There is also a widespread unwillingness to understand or learn what the concept of a microaggression is and it affects people.

So I feel like some context/a contrasting perspective may be helpful...I think you may find there to be less racism on the whole, and for it to be less overt (than anywhere in the US tbh), but it's definitely there and I think in areas where the population is not very diverse (either the academic or local population, or both), it is quite possible you will be exposed to more implicit bias or (ignorant) microaggressions than in more diverse locations.
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TechFitNerd
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(Original post by swanseajack1)
America is far more racist than the UK especially the Southern states. Most never experience it here but it would be folly to suggest it doesnt happen. It does everywhere but there are very few cases. It is not in the universities interest to allow it go unchecked.
I live in the South in the US. I haven't experienced more than some uncomfortable situations that I could easily remove myself from. I would expect that anywhere. If that's the same in the UK, then I'm not worried at all. I just hate not having experienced Wales for myself yet.
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Quick-use
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(Original post by TechFitNerd)
In Scotland, the extent of awkwardness was people staring at me like I was an alien. I worked out in a gym, and the first 3 days people just stared without realizing they were doing it I guess.
Uh, really? Where in Scotland did you go? Both Edinburgh and Glasgow are extremely, extremely multicultural and diverse. I can't imagine that happening to anyone unless they went somewhere incredibly rural and/or if they had a very loud and potent American/English accent... :lol:
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TechFitNerd
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(Original post by harrysbar)
Cities in the UK tend to be far more multicultural than smaller towns and villages so I wouldn't imagine you having a problem in Cardiff. London is hugely multicultural of course but has its own problems, mainly cost.

I doubt you would have issues at any of the places you have listed tbh, especially if you are friendly and confident. I'm sure you will make friends easily and your biggest problem with Cardiff is more likely to be the rain than racism - it rains a lot in Wales!
Yes that was another reason I was looking at Cardiff. It seems affordable. It rains less than Glasgow right? I am used to sunshine and 80+ deg temperatures so that'll take some getting used too. I'm just getting in from a jog in 96 deg f temps. The cold kind of scares me the most about the UK lol
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G_ogh
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(Original post by TechFitNerd)
Yes I'm expecting it to be challenging. It wouldn't be worth pursuing otherwise. I've researched countless hours on courses and I think I may end up at Cardiff.

Another question for you. I'm many years removed from undergrad, and my major wasn't math based anyhow. I'm doing some self study to prepare. Quarantine gives me a lot of free time thankfully. I'm doing some math courses and started on the Odin academy. Is there anything else you'd recommend to prepare? I realize your course is different but any advice is helpful.
Most computer science courses in the uk teach you the fundamentals so it is beginner friendly but I would recommend looking at the module descriptions on the university website just to get an idea of what you will be learning.
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swanseajack1
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(Original post by TechFitNerd)
I live in the South in the US. I haven't experienced more than some uncomfortable situations that I could easily remove myself from. I would expect that anywhere. If that's the same in the UK, then I'm not worried at all. I just hate not having experienced Wales for myself yet.
I realise that knowing you are from Texas but certainly from my visits there and having family members there I have no doubt that it is far more racist than over here especially in larger towns and cities. My son went to school with black and asian pupils and his school was a city centre school. Where I was brought up was very white but even then there were only a few who were racist but that is not a city area.
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swanseajack1
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(Original post by TechFitNerd)
Yes that was another reason I was looking at Cardiff. It seems affordable. It rains less than Glasgow right? I am used to sunshine and 80+ deg temperatures so that'll take some getting used too. I'm just getting in from a jog in 96 deg f temps. The cold kind of scares me the most about the UK lol
It rains more in Cardiff than Glasgow. Cardiff and Swansea are amongst the wettest cities in the UK but we dont get the extreme cold weather and snow you get in Scotland or Newcastle. You better get used to wet weather if you are coming to Wales. Cardiff is one of the most affordable student cities especially compared to Bath or London.
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