Charming Cambridge

Trip Start Aug 19, 2012
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Trip End Ongoing


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Where I stayed
Cousins Joyce and Joel

Flag of United Kingdom  , England,
Friday, January 4, 2013

I finally got to meet Adrian's cousin (Joyce) and her husband (Joel) in Cambridge.  Even with their busy schedules, they made the time to take us punting (no, we didn't get drop-kicked) along the River Cam.  Adrian even took a stab at it and managed to push us along for a large part of the boat ride despite going against the current for a lot of it.  He almost lost the punting pole and there were a few moments I thought he was going to go overboard, but he persevered and we all got back in one piece and relatively dry.

They also had free access to the various colleges of the University of Cambridge and we got to walk through the beautiful historic sites.  I almost felt like Harry Potter.  No, not really.

I can't believe students live in these beautiful colleges.  And no, the colleges are not the same concept as what we have back home.  The UK university system is quite different from the American university system.  From what I gather, each university is made up of colleges (kind of like what we would consider dormitories, but much more complex) that accept students from all disciplines, and applicants apply to specific colleges rather than the university as a whole.  Each college has staff from each discipline to "tutor" its own students and some have their own cathedrals.  If applicants don't get into the specific college, they don't get into the university at all.  

The colleges are as old as 50 years, or over 500 years.  Joyce resided in the former, and Joel, the latter.  And they're all within a 15 min walk from each other.  Fascinating.

Cambridge itself is a beautiful, charming little town overrun with cyclists of all ages and cute shops.  We saw 9 year olds and 90 year olds alike, pedaling down the streets.  Yes, charming.

It was also where I got a little bit of shopping therapy.  In fact, I was overwhelmed with the options and the SALE signs in every single shop.  I couldn't even bring myself to window shop for most of the first day we wandered among the shops.  By the end of our days in Cambridge however, I had managed to wrestle myself into purchasing much needed pants and shoes, and a bonus shirt.  All for the grand total of 23 pounds ($35).  
 
The very best part of Cambridge, however, was spending precious time with our cousins.  Joyce was a sweet, always positive and encouraging presence to be around, and Joel was always up for a great conversation.  They were incredibly generous and we were loathe to say goodbye.  It felt like I had known them for years after the 5 days we spent with them.
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