Monday, July 14, 2008


After getting lost on my way to the hostel, I was very thankful that I had my laptop and that there was an unsecured wireless connection I could hook up to while I logged onto! Stupid me on my behalf for not writing down directions (because I thought I would remember them - pfft) but anyway, I got there in the end after a half hour detour.

Cambridge itself is a gorgeous place and it is actually bigger than I was expecting. Much nicer than Oxford. There is no 'Cambridge University' as such, rather there are 32 colleges which converge together to create 'Cambridge University'. So, no matter what college you attend, you will end up with a degree from Cambridge. There are the more famous colleges, such as Kings, Trinity and St Johns which are much harder to get into due to the large demands of people trying to get into them but the education throughout all the colleges is the same.

Trinity College is the largest college in Cambridge and was founded by King Henry VIII in 1546. I am pretty sure that I was told that there have been 71 Nobel Prize winners from Trinity College alone and many more from Cambridge University as a whole.

Kings College is the postcard picture of Cambridge which is why their entrance fee is a ridiculous £5 to view the grounds and you don't even get to go inside any of the buildings except the chapel which has a fantastic fan-vaulted ceiling and stained glass windows. Kings was founded by King Henry VI and is one of the most expensive and exclusive universities in the University. Although, not so much in this day and age but it used to be very exclusive. I can't remember the exact details but King Henry VI had a huge interest in this college and he somehow acquired a lot of money - in the millions - and he gave HALF of his millions of pounds to Kings College. I wish I could remember the full details because I did find it interesting.

St Johns College is just absolutely beautiful. I loved this college because the gardens were just so beautiful and the buildings were pretty. I was lucky enough to hear the choir sing and they are amazing. They are a highly acclaimed choir and regularly broadcast on BBC Radio. After hearing them, I can understand why. I sat and listened to them for a while. St Johns is also home to the Bridge of Sighs which, like Venice, refers to freedom on one side and terror on the other... although in Venice - the terror side means death whereas in Cambridge, this refers to exams!

Another interesting fact I learnt about the colleges is when the plague hit London and wiped out thousands of lives, there was a huge shortage of doctors and lawyers. Therefore, one of the colleges was turned into a college of law and medicine to quickly educate people in these areas to make up for the lack of people in these professions. I'm not too sure how much I would have liked to have been treated by somebody who had barely been trained in this field but I guess it would have to be better than nothing!

I went on a punt down the River Cam and it was so relaxing - despite the rain! Our punter, Tim, was very entertaining and was quite informative about the different colleges that are along the river. He managed to lose our punting stick which would have been awful had there not been lots of boats also floating along the river, so some nice person in another boat picked up our stick and handed it back over to us. Tim told us that the River Cam has varying depths from 20cm to 3.5m. Quite a big difference. He said that many people fall in the river because they are like gondoliers in Venice and stand at the end of the punt to row and sometimes lose their balance.

I'm really glad that I made the effort to come to Cambridge because it has been fun and really nice to get out of London!

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