Before I was accepted to Cardiff University, in anticipation of applying to US-based graduate programs, I was preparing to sit for the GRE.
At that point I knew Cardiff was my first choice, but at the same time I also knew very little about Wales itself. So, when one of my practice reading comprehension exercises profiled a 10-day long, annual book festival held in rural Wales I was even more convinced this was the place for me.
Held in the sleepy village of Hay-on-Wye, the Hay Festival is internationally renowned and has hosted speakers including former US President Bill Clinton, actor Benedict Cumberbatch, and newly-turned politician Sandi Toksvig.
Stephen Fry is even a member of the festival’s governing board.
I immediately added a day of book perusing and culture to my prospective “To Do in Wales” wish list.
Fast forward 18 months and I’m sitting in the press tent as a blogger for the Hay Festival 2015. Smiling from ear to ear.
Covering events for the Hay Festival was an enlightening cultural whirlwind. From an in-depth look at Romeo and Juliet to traversing Hay Castle to listening to Cambridge scholars debate the common ground shared by India and Pakistan – in those 10 days I studied more subjects than I did in undergraduate school.
These were most likely the hardest, 15-hour days of my life. As exhausted as I was by the end, the Hay Festival opened my eyes to authors, music and culture it would take a lifetime to experience.