Michaelmas 2020 Opinion

Being Welsh in Cambridge

Wales offers many natural, and man-made, beautiful sites, such as Conwy pictured. [Centre: Lisa Fotios]

I am one of only three Welsh students in my year. Considering there are 137 students in total and that Churchill’s outreach area is South Wales, I think it would be fair to say that there is a knot somewhere in the system.

During term-time itself, I am not particularly aware of the fact that I could be considered a ‘minority’. That is, until I tell someone that I am Welsh. They will always express huge surprise that I am not from the South East.

Granted, I do not have a strong Welsh accent. I could easily blend into the group from the home counties on the basis of my voice alone. I would probably express similar surprise if someone who sounded similar to myself suddenly declared that they grew up in Glasgow.

But it is quite disheartening. Each time someone exclaims “But you don’t sound Welsh?!”, it is almost as if I have to justify myself. I promise them that I do know the Welsh national anthem, I have seen plenty of sheep in my time, and I have met the occasional person who is not unlike a character from Gavin and Stacey. Yet, there is still a sense that they don’t quite believe me.

Plus, my lack of both sounding, and even more, speaking Welsh means that I am quite out of kilter with most of the University Welsh society. I’m very aware that there are so many more pressing issues that must be addressed in terms of access and diversity in Cambridge, but it would be nice to feel less like a middleman hovering between those from the Home Counties and those from distinctly “non-London” areas.

I’m extremely proud of being Welsh. I just wish people would realise that, as great as she is, there is so much more to being Welsh than sounding like Nessa.