Adventures in Cambridge

31 10 2011

After about a month and a half, I think I can safely say I’m very well-adjusted to being in London as a student. The last time I posted, I hadn’t even started classes yet, and now here I am in the middle of week 5 of classes!

It’s been really interesting to see the differences in teaching styles and class.┬áIn the states, you are given a lot of the material you are expected to know, whether it is through class lectures or assigned reading. Here, basic concepts are presented and talked about, but then if you want to know more, you are expected to go out and find readings that coincide with concepts taught in class. No readings are assigned, just a textbook that is required and a recommended book list which supports the class topics. The other thing that has been different for me is a lot more group work. In 3 out of 4 classes, I have long-term group projects, as well as weekly in-class group projects. I feel like I have done more group work here than I have in any other years in school.

I went to Cambridge about two weeks ago with a group of girls that I’ve been hanging out with the most here in London. Cambridge is a huge college town. Tons of students, markets, coffee shops, cafes and little pubs. Cambridge University, Kings College, Queens College, and Trinity College are the most well known colleges in the area.

Courtyard of Queens CollegeI couldn’t believe how beautiful the campuses for all of these colleges were. It was like something out of Harry Potter. Spires, stained glass windows, beautiful stone work, and big open courtyards. They are completely different from any college or university I’ve seen in the U.S. The picture above is a courtyard at Queens’ College.

Me at Kings CollegeThis is in a courtyard area of Kings College, which I think was the most beautiful of all of the areas we toured in Cambridge. It was absolutely stunning. Again, it looked like something out of Harry Potter. They have their own cathedral on the campus, and when we were there, an orchestra and choir were rehearsing for a concert that was happening that night. The music they were playing (which I unfortunately didn’t get the name of) gave me goosebumps.

Orchestra rehearsal at Kings CollegeWe unfortunately had to leave before the concert, but if we had stayed the night, I would have definitely gone to the concert. The week after Cambridge I went to a London Philharmonic Concert, so that made up for not seeing this smaller concert!

The best part (or at least one of the best parts) about Cambridge was punting. Punting is a recreational activity that is unique to Cambridge. It is basically a long flat-ish boat that holds around 12 people and is pushed along by a punter with a very long metal pole. If you check out the link above, you’ll learn a little more about its history.

Punting in CambridgeThe weather that day was absolutely perfect. There were no clouds in the sky, and it wasn’t too hot or two cold, and it was incredibly relaxing. There were TONS of people out punting. You could either book a time with a punting company and have someone push the boat around (which is what we did) or you could do a self-hire and push the boat along yourselves. It was really amusing to see the difference between the experienced punters, and the people who took the DIY approach — there were a few run-ins and I was convinced someone was going to fall in the water which, according to our guide, happens quite often.

Long story short, it was a really great day and I would highly recommend adding Cambridge to anyone’s England To-Do List!


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