Life in Cambridge

7 10 2011

Today, Friday the 7th of October, marks one week and one day in which I have been in Cambridge.  One week in the foreign land known as the United Kingdom, the land of British accents.

Like every American, I love a good British accent.  Brilliant.  Coming to a country in which that is the norm is kind of awesome–for a while.  Everyone has a British accent, and for a few days it is always fun to hear people say ‘cheers’ or ‘all right?’ or ‘let’s chat’ along with all manners of normal speech.  Then for a couple of days it felt like a sugar high.  Too much British-ness; I found myself wishing more people than just Hannah and Kasia or I would speak with a humble American accent.  Thankfully, that has also passed.  Now, I am sort of desensitized to the accents.  Life as normal can go on.

I suppose I haven’t told you about Cambridge yet, and how its organized.  If you are familiar with it, skip down a bit.

The University of Cambridge was founded in 1209, and stands as the second-oldest English speaking University in the world (behind Oxford), and is the seventh-oldest University globally.  To give you, the reader, some context, the oldest University in the United States is Harvard University.  Harvard was founded in 1636, over 400 years after Cambridge began handing out diplomas.  One could continually watch Star Wars: Episode IV over and over again roughly 1,750,000 times in 400 years.  Its a long time.  Here is the crest of Cambridge:

Very England-y

Cambridge, unlike England, does not shy away from including terrifyingly awesome animals on their flag/crest.  Just saying.

Cambridge (and Oxford) are different from the Universities in America.  In the US, a 20,000 student University is one entity, often with rough organizations of academics into similar colleges.  Another difference is that the University is interspersed throughout the town.  The town center, essentially, is a mixture of University buildings and other business and residences.  This is because of the unique division within the University of Cambridge.  It is divided in two separate directions; one can think of it as horizontally and vertically.  Horizontally, the University is composed of faculties.  Faculties of music, engineering, natural sciences, theology, etc. have their own buildings and their own libraries.  Every student in Cambridge is a member of a faculty.  Each student is also a member of the vertical division, which are the colleges.  The various colleges are the residences of the students and often the center of student life; the meal hall, chapel (if there is one), and dorms are within a college.  This helps break down the largeness of Cambridge into manageable chunks.  One of the biggest selling points of Cambridge is that one receives a large University education and a small college education rolled into one.  This is part of the reason why Cambridge is consistently rated among the top 3 or so Universities in the world.

I am a member of Homerton College.  Homerton is not actually in the city center where most of the other colleges are.  It is south of the city, 2 milesish or so away from the city center.  Homerton’s crest looks like this:

Cool animals, again. UK needs to step its game up.

 

So what’s it like living in Cambridge?  I’ll tell you!

Cambridge is a very bustling city.  It is also a very English and European city.  The town is a thousand years old.  Therefore, its layout is a bit wandering.  Unlike Kansas City’s grid layout, the streets in the center of Cambridge begin and end at their own leisure, winding around, becoming thinner as it passes by a huge chapel.  Also, street signs are practically nonexistent.  This makes it easy to get lost.  Thankfully, I have a map of Cambridge which helps immensely.

Homerton sits by the main road, which goes into town.  The one problem about Homerton is that it is so darned far away.  It takes 30-40 minutes to get to the city center, depending on where one is headed.

Here are some pictures:

There's a Subway here. I ate there once.

Public Transportation is a lifesaver

Buses are a common way of transportation, as are bikes.  I have used the bus many times.  Very useful.

Typical Pub

Good example of old buildings and new shopping

Tiny Streeet!

English streets do not use the yellow line to denote that traffic is moving in the opposite direction on roads.  When they do use it, its kind of irrelevent.

Pretty grass.

Many colleges, or at least the big ones, have a courtyard enclosed by its main buildings.  These colleges are full of uptight people because you can’t walk on the grass.  Which is dumb.  But it sure looks nice.

King's College

This is the entrance to King’s College, sort of the flagship college of the University, you could say.  It is featured in more than one film, most recently in Chronicles of Narnia:  Voyage of the Dawn Treader.  Its architecture is quite stunning, and is a tourist destination.

King's College Chapel

The fantastic King’s College Chapel.  Wonderful for architecture buffs or for people who like cool things.

So there’s your tour of Cambridge!  This week has been kind of odd for me, because it is Fresher’s week.  I am not a fresher (freshman), but neither am I a seasoned Cambridge vet.  So I have yet to make many (read: any) friends.  Though I did meet this one Guy last night during matriculation dinner.  Guy was nice.

As far as my musical exploits, I am a member of the Homerton College Charter Choir, and auditioned to be in one of the various instrumental ensembles of the Cambridge University Musical Society.  I’ll keep you posted.  Cheers!

Helpful tip for the day:

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