I discovered @cariad77 on Twitter after a work colleague told me about this interesting guy who lives in Stockholm, is mad about Wales and tweets in Welsh. His Twitter feed is fun and really interesting and I was keen to learn more about @cariad77 aka Richard Mole, and fortunately he was also happy to share his story…
First of all, you live in Stockholm so what inspired you to learn Welsh?
I am really interested in languages and although I spent some time in Wales, I never had the opportunity to learn. I wanted to learn as it’s such an unique and beautiful language.
So, when were you in Wales and why?
I was born in Kent and I moved to Wales to study French and Swedish in Lampeter University in 1994-1997. Wales has been close to my heart since then. I actually discovered Welsh when I was on a holiday in North Wales in 1988, I remember hearing it in shops and a woman from Llanfair Pwll told me that it was Welsh and nothing like English, that’s very true!
How did you learn Welsh?
Uppsala University in Sweden was offering a basic Welsh course and I decided to go for it! I really loved it and wanted to continue. I discovered an online course offered by Trinity Saint David’s and two years later I returned to Lampeter to do the summer course.
There are several online courses and apps available but is it difficult to learn on your own in another country?
You just need to be really disciplined and patient as it is harder on your own, especially if you live in a country like Sweden where there aren’t many opportunities to practice! BBC Radio Cymru the national Welsh radio station and S4C, the Welsh language TV channel are also really useful as you can listen to the language all day long and learn about what’s happening in Wales at the same time.
Are there any Welsh societies in Stockholm or Sweden?
Not that I’m aware of. My husband understands Welsh but can’t speak it but I just practice with him anyway! I also practice on a weekly basis with Llinos form the company Gwefus. We talk about what’s happening in Wales and the world – it’s mainly Brexit and Trump at the moment! If there are any Welsh society’s or individuals out here I’d love to hear from them.
So why did you choose to tweet in Welsh @cariad77?
Firstly, it’s an effective way to practice my written Welsh, and secondly it allows me to get in contact with Welsh people around the world. It’s really important that the language is seen and used on social media.
You often tweet about your love of Welsh books – it easy to get hold of them outside of Wales?
I’ve discovered several welsh language publishers online as well as online shops and I want to support them and buy directly from them. No matter where you live it’s easy to buy Welsh books, products and produce now and that’s great for Wales and the world.
So, can I be nosy and ask what do you do in Stockholm?
I worked in a bank here from 2001 until last year, when I decided to change direction and went back to University here in Stockholm to study English and French. I hope to become a University lecturer.
It’s obvious from your Twitter account that you love life in Sweden, what makes it so special?
I love it here! It’s easy and the standard of living is really high. We pay high taxes but all that money is invested back into the community, into services and schools and to help those who are in need. Britain could learn so much from Sweden. It’s a big country with a small population which means that there’s space to breathe and so many natural wonders to enjoy.
Wales also has a special place in your heart. Are you planning to return in the future?
It’s a beautiful country and the people are so welcoming and friendly. The fact that you have your own living language means that you have your own identity and that’s amazing. My time in Wales was special to me and if I retire to Britain, then I’ll be living in Wales. For now, I’ll be visiting from time to time.
Finally, what advice do you have for others who want to learn Welsh?
Go for it, stick at it and don’t be afraid to make mistakes! Most of us don’t speak our first languages perfectly so why be worried about our second languages? It’s really important that the language is heard and seen so don’t delay – learn welsh!
Wales International would like to thank Richard for sharing his story and experiences with us. I’m sure that it has inspired Welsh speakers and those who want to learn Welsh! Thanks Cariad!
By Heulwen Davies, Wales International