Cardiff University

Hey yo from Cardiff, Wales, UK!

I’m Yi Xuan, EPD Junior and currently attending Cardiff University’s International Summer School, Big Data and High Performance Computing! Its a 2 week summer school covering topics like computing, data processing, and machine learning and their applications. Cultural visits are also included in the course. This year is their 4th year conducting their Summer School with their biggest batch yet, 265 students from 36 University and 10 countries!

Some background about Cardiff and its Uni. First off, Cardiff (the city) is the capital of Wales and its largest city. Currently I’m living near its shopping district so there’s many shops to look at while walking around and on the way to class (ps you can basically walk everywhere here, I have yet to need to take their public transport, so yup lots of exercise) They have various attractions around the city like their national museum (it’s free! and huge!), Principality Stadium (Wales’ biggest stadium) and even its own castle! All within walking distance.

Cardiff (the Uni now) was open wayyy back on 24 October 1883 and today have 30,676 students from 100 different countries! The campus is spread along the east side of the parks Gabalfa, Blackweir Fields and Bute Park. They also have a campus south of Health Park. So overall its a pretty big campus with lots of greenery and a mix of beautiful old stone buildings and modern glass ones.

On Saturday we were picked up in batches from London Heathrow Airport and took a 3 hours bus ride to our accommodations in Cardiff. From then we were free to explore the city till Monday. I spent Sunday exploring the entire shopping district, there were lots of shops with many international and local brands as well as a large assortment of cafes, restaurants and drinking places. Fun fact there aren’t any convenience stores like 7-11 or cheers here, instead they have mini supermarkets or pharmacies like M&S, Tesco and Boots. Even though food is pretty expensive here, daily necessities like soap are pretty cheap.

Shopping street
Shopping mall

Day 1: Intro and amazing race!

We had breakfast (breakfast and lunch are provided in this course) followed by a welcome talks sharing the school history and summer school. We played human bingo as an ice breaker before splitting up into groups for the amazing race in the afternoon.

Intro talks
Ice breaker

Armed with a packed lunch, we set off to the various stations around the city. We saw various sights such as their oldest church, Principality Stadium, Animal Wall and Cardiff Central station. Unfortunately my group didn’t win but I did had fun exploring the city.

St John the Baptist Church
Cardiff Central Station

We were dismiss after the race and it was still early so I decided to go to the Cardiff Castle. First time going to a castle. It was cool! What’s more since Cardiff mainly had low rise buildings, going all the way to the top of the castle gave an incredible view of the city and its surroundings!

Cardiff Castle
Cardiff Castle grounds
View from the top of Cardiff Castle

Day 2: First day of lessons and Tour of CUBRIC

First lesson of the day was a lecture introducing data processing and its applications. It was really cool, I finally understood what they meant by data mining and processing with the example of the data they got back from their SPIRE sensor which is on the Herschel Satellite in space! They actually designed the sensor which is in SPACE!!! SO COOL!!!

Anyways after that we had a tutorial crash course on Python, using it for calculations as well as presenting the data in graphs.

After lunch we got to go visit CUBRIC, their brain research facility. It was really cool and they show us various instruments used to study the brain and even did a demo with a dummy MRI scanner. LOL I finally understand how a MRI scanner works, so yay to that!

Dummy MRI scanner


Day 3: High performance computing and National Museum of Wales!

So today we had our first of 3 lectures and tutorials on HPC. Today it was on openMP which helps to break up a task into smaller parts to be run on multiple cores, thus speeding up the process.

After lunch we went to the National Museum of Wales. Its a pretty cool museum with exhibits ranging from the natural world to arts and history. They even have a piece of the Moon there on display!! Taken from the Apollo 12 mission!

National Museum of Wales
Moon Rock!!!


So yup that concludes day 1-3 of this Summer School, stay tuned for more updates!

Yi Xuan over and out!


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