"SIRC Family" by Amewu Attah - 31 October 2014

One of my main concerns about leaving home to pursue a postgraduate degree abroad was that I was going to leave my large family behind. I was particularly anxious about how I was going to fit into my new setting without the encouragement and support of my husband, son, parents and siblings. I am part of a large but closely-knit family of eight siblings. As a result of the bonding between us, even though I got married and had to move out of my parents’ home, I still maintained close contact with my parents and siblings.
Coming to Cardiff therefore represented a test case for me in terms of how I was going to cope without the encouragement and support of the family. I however quickly found peace in my heart when upon my arrival in Cardiff; I discovered that I could count on the support and encouragement from other fellows and staff at SIRC. A welcome reception organised by SIRC and an outing organised by SIRC fellows was a first major opportunity to meet the SIRC family. Fellows were helpful in offering advice on what to expect from the modules I took as part of the SSRM programme in the first year. Others also offered tuition support when I had difficulties with some modules. For me the most important thing was that I had people I could count on in times of need and this made a difference to my successful integration into Cardiff life. The most important support from the SIRC family was the overwhelming encouragement I received from everyone when my dad passed on in my first year at Cardiff. It was at that point in my life that I experienced and understood the phrase “a home away from home”. I will forever feel blessed to be part of such a great family. 

Back to Experiences in Cardiff 

    "Housewarming without the Hostess" by Lin Li - 28 July 2007 

Days of torrential rain had made everything wet; not only wet trouser legs, wet shoes and wet umbrellas, but also wet grass, wet air and wet pedestrians in town. Momoko might possess real shamanic expertise to choose a day of auspices when the sun started to take over the job of humid clouds. Yesterday was just a fine day for a dinner party to celebrate with so many reasons. It was to celebrate the coming wedding of Momoko in August when she is going back to Japan; it was to cheer Lijun’s first submission of the draft of his complete PhD thesis; it was to say goodbye to Victor and Yvonne for their immediate holidays in Germany; it was an opportunity to testify one of Don’s many travels which this time would be of his visit to the Netherlands; and it was also for the so-called house warming to Lin’s newly rented flat because Momoko had moved the scheduled party from Victor’s house to Lin’s uninhabited flat one day before the party, due to Victor’s impromptu absence yesterday. The house warming of Lin’s flat is only half true as Lin’s family are going to arrive in this country a few days after the party. But Lin was happy to have the party taking place in his newly-rented flat for whatever reasons.

The day before, Momoko had sent an-email in which she dispersed the chores of the party to each Nippon Fellow who was supposed to attend the party. Lijun and Lin were going to make delicious Chinese dumplings; Syamantak is a virtuoso in vegetarian cuisine and he would provide us with a wonderful salad; Momoko would herself prepare everything for sushi and then assemble the ready ingredients into sushi rolls with the help of Iris, and the rest of fellows would be in charge of juice, beer and wine.

Lijun and Lin were first to arrive at Lin’s flat. Lijun had mixed two kinds of the dumpling stuffing beforehand because there would be one vegetarian among the attendees and Lin bought three bags of dumpling wrapping from a Korean and Japanese store. They began to wrap dumplings after they put everything on the kitchen table. After the next three fellows arrived, Lijun began to cook dumplings using oil and water rather than adopting the conventional way of boiling. He heated up a fry pan with oil on the flat bottom, lined dumplings in the pan and finished by pouring water into the pan aiming to immerse the dumplings half way through for sizzling. Everyone had a taster dumpling when the first pan of dumplings was cooked. They gave unanimous compliments to the taste of dumplings and then came two bowls of salad as Syamantak arrived. Except for Lijun and Momoko who were busy rolling sushi rolls, we took salad plates from Syamantak to judge his expertise at hors d’oeuvre, the feedback made him delighted. On the other table sushi rolls had been piled up in a large plate waiting for slicing. Therefore the taster trial of sushi did not commence until Momoko cut up the rolls into thin slices and diluted wasabi with soy sauce to go with sushi. The sushi was wonderful and substantiated our party into the next day.

During the party we just laughed at various jokes and teased each other with cheerful modes under the auspices of beer, wine, gin, soft drink and our multinational fellowship. The Cardiff life for us will be never without joy and meanings.

Back to Experiences in Cardiff 


   "Cardiff, a Lovely Place with Lovely People" by Zhiwei Zhao - 10 April 2007 

At the moment that I was formally notified of being recruited by SIRC, I felt I was the luckiest girl in the world. After beginning life in Cardiff, however, I knew that was just a sweet start.

Recalling life since last September, many lovely faces are instantly reflected in my mind: energetic Louise who is always smiling and offered me much help in the process of application; fair Helen who gave me such a great opportunity to join SIRC to study and generously offer me her warm help; big-brother Lin who once took care of me and gave me valuable suggestions on my study and also my life; and beautiful Iveta who arranged the hotel for me when I had no place to sleep at 2am on the first day in Cardiff. Besides these lovely people, I am also overwhelmed by the infinite appreciation to my most lovely supervisors, Professor David Walters and Professor Theo Nichols, who lead me into the field of Social Science and support and encourage me to bravely explore the sociological world. I also cherish and appreciate my warm-hearted fellows, Syamantak, Victor, Jessica, Lijun, Momoko, Shahriar, Mohab, Nelson and Iris who once talked with me patiently and generously gave their sincerest comforts to a girl who has never been so far away from home.

There are also many other brilliant people whom I did not mention, but are also extraordinarily excellent.

With the love and care from all of them, my life in Cardiff is colourful and fruitful. I feel I am exposed to the sea of knowledge that is always stimulating and inspiring me. Further, what satisfies me is also is my continuous self-growth that I can feel in my blood and the life that I am leading now which is efficient and robust.

Because of the brilliant people, the magical SIRC, and the University that can always arouse in me a hope cherished deeply in my heart, life is good.

I love the city, the people here, and I love the life in Cardiff!

Back to Experiences in Cardiff 


    "Tea Break" by Momoko Motohashi - 27 April 2006 

Tea break is a well designed opportunity on Friday afternoons around 3.00pm when everyone gets together with a cup of coffee or tea. Though it's not a mandatory event, there are always quite a few members of us there. The reasons are simple:

1. We love people! 2. We love coffee and tea! (and cookies and candies ...) 3. We can catch up with each other. How's the project / research / study going? How's your weekend / holiday / meeting / conference? How's your family? etc. 4. We exchange information and ideas. 5. We learn each one's culture, background and hobbies etc. Especially speaking of number 5, we invite one of us as a guest speaker to talk about his or her country, culture, background, hobbies or anything interesting. This casual presentation was started for fun and friendship last November proposed by Iveta, one of our lovely administrative staff, and it is quite successful. For example, we've already learned about Slovakia, Egyptology, Chinese new year, drag racing and more! In my first year in Cardiff, I enrolled in the Social Science Research Methods course as well as the other Nippon fellows. The first semester from October to January was fully occupied with lectures and workshops almost every day so that we could see each other very often. The second semester from February to May enabled us to choose three or four classes a week besides our own research and study. So, instead of saying 'See you tomorrow', we are now waving our hands at each other, 'See you at the tea break!'

Tea break - this small but regular event in our research centre is a very important part of my Cardiff life. I'm pretty sure that it will enhance our networking inside and outside of Cardiff and strengthen our relationship as such a unique group of maritime researchers in the world. I cannot wait to see the new Nippon fellows who will join us later of this year.

Back to Experiences in Cardiff 


   "A Fellowship of New Friends" by Momoko Motohashi - 31 January 2006  

Taro Okamoto, the most famous Japanese artist said, 'Mature people are non-resistant. Meanwhile, immature people have to bump their own destiny against Fate and the whole world to explore their lives. But that's what makes them so challenging and powerful.' (The original in Japanese, translated by Momoko).

The first three months since I came to Cardiff were not easy for me. It was really challenging in terms of starting a completely new life with all the unfamiliar subjects of Social Science. It might not be only me to feel that way.  Thanks to the SIRC members, I was able to complete the first semester in Cardiff.

First of all my supervisor, Helen, is just like my sister. No matter how far away she was, she was always responding to my emails and opening her door to me. Secondly, my fellow students - we are like 'quads'. We were just born in Cardiff last September and have grown up with the SIRC family. A big boy, Mohab, is from Egypt and very intelligent with a good sense of humour. Another friendly gentle boy is Shahriar from Iran, who enjoys quantitative methods as well as qualitative ones. If there are four kids, there is always one who is restless and curious about everything. That is Don, a smiley Filipino boy. And me, Momoko from Japan, a happy girl because my three brothers look after me well, but actually I have more brothers and sisters. Third, all the senior students of the Nippon Fellowship from the first intake are just wonderful.  Syamantak, Victor, Lijun, Mohamed and Jessica were all really helpful like voluntary tutors. We talked a lot and cheered each other along. Fourth, the administrative staff, Maria, Louise and Iveta were also friendly and supportive.  They are good listeners too. Fifth, the SIRC researchers as a whole -I would really like to thank Neil for his kind and unstinting support in teaching me quantitative research methods. Nick and Nik helped us a lot for orientation and seminars. They are enthusiastic at planning all sorts of social activities at SIRC as well. Their leadership made all the events successful, including bowling, a home party and the Christmas hike.

Let me talk a little bit about our 2005 Christmas hike and lunch. It was a lovely sunny day, but chilly for walking. The experience of the countryside of Wales carried fresh air and great views of mountains and lakes. David occasionally gave us mini-lectures about the history of Wales when he found something interesting and historical. It was approximately a one and a half hour walk one way, so there was plenty of time to chat with other members of SIRC. I remember I had a long conversation with Jessica on our outbound way and with Victor and Lijun on our return. Our friendships were kept in the diary of my heart with the beautiful scenery of Wales. After hiking, we took our Christmas lunch at a very traditional looking pub. Although we shared small tables together, it was cosy and comfortable. I sat down with David, Erol, Victor and Lijun. It was a great opportunity for us to share good moments together, because I don't have chance to sit and eat together with senior researchers like David and Erol as often as Victor and Lijun. In the middle of our lunch, Nik entertained us with his unique quiz. Since we were concentrating so much on finding answers and enjoying it, everybody forgot about taking photos during the quiz. Finally, I really appreciate all the SIRC people who participated in the event and its preparation, including Neil who drove the minibus all the way for us.

What I've introduced today is just a part of my Cardiff life. There is a lot more to say, but I realized that studying as a Nippon Fellow contains intensive academic life, worthy of spending my time and efforts with all the friendly SIRC family of world maritime excellence. As my study goes further, I will probably come across new challenges. Even so, I will always remember the words of Taro Okamoto in my mind as an immature person and will keep challenging and building the network for development of the maritime society.   The SIRC family


Back to Experiences in Cardiff 

     "Meeting the SIRC Family" by Victor Gekara - 8 October 2004

Having been in Cardiff as a student for the past year, I will not talk about my first impression of Cardiff; there is, however, plenty to say about my first impression of the SIRC family.

Prior to the official reception into the family as a Nippon student I had been to the SIRC offices a few times, I had met one or two of the SIRC members but it is the formal entry that made a lasting impression. It is not grammatically accidental that I use the phrase "SIRC family" the thing I noticed immediately is the friendly, welcoming atmosphere. Everyone was eager to meet us and concerned about our well being. Then I noticed the first name phenomenon.  Whereas I would have gone round addressing Dr. this Mr. that and Miss this, it was easily Nick, Neil, Michelle or Helen and soon I was a happy, relaxed Victor with a glass of wine chatting away!

I was, of course, late to the reception lunch and feeling very overdressed and sheepish at the beginning but magically these feelings vanished and I could have sworn that I had known those guys all my life.

I knew then that this is a group I am going to be very happy working with and I am sure I am not wrong.

Back to Experiences in Cardiff 

Cardiff life