Day 15 – 20: Week 1 at Cambridge

Since Cambridge is a lot quieter than Contiki or Hampshire were, I decided to combine it into a weeklong post so it’s more interesting to read!

On Sunday we headed into Winchester for some final sightseeing adventures before driving to Cambridge. We saw King Arthur’s round table, the Wolvesey Castle ruins and the outside of the Cathedral.

The Round Table!
The Round Table!

We left Winchester around 12pm to head to Cambridge, about a 3 hour drive. I was pretty excited to get there, because it’s the next stage of my trip and I was looking forward to a little bit of downtime!

On the first afternoon, I checked into Newnham College, which fortunately turned out to be right across from the Sidgwick teaching site. Other colleges may have ensuites and kitchens, but I don’t have to leave until ten minutes before class starts! We had a welcome talk in Lady Mitchell Hall, before being turned out to get ready for our first dinner in College.

Home for the next two weeks
Home for the next two weeks

We had dinner and all that sort of thing, then most people went back to their rooms to deal with jetlag (or in my case residual tiredness from Contiki!). On Monday we had our first day of classes. The days are pretty long but class is interesting so that makes it okay!

A typical day is:

8.00: Breakfast in the dining hall at Newnham

9.00: Class A (Russia in the 20th Century)

10.30: Plenary lecture

11.45: Class B (The Romantics and Jane Austen)

1.00: Lunch

2.00: Class C (Crises in World Politics Since 1945)

3.15: Free time until dinner

6.30: Dinner in the dining hall at Newnham

8.00: Evening lecture

Classes for the Interdisciplinary Summer School start at 9am, earlier than all of the other summer schools. On the upside, we also finish earlier which means we get more time to explore in the afternoons. I was surprised upon walking in to my first class to find that there was only 6 students in it! We were from a range of countries – Australia, America, Romania, Sweden and China.

Having made some friends in the morning plenary lecture (the theme of which is Influence and Illumination – it’ll be interesting to see which kinds of topics we get lectured on!), we headed out to explore the town in the afternoon break. It’s quite a distance from our college, nearly a fifteen minute walk! But it’s a beautiful walk across the river and up through the back of King’s College. We found the Sainsbury’s in town, where the guys stocked up on food. Everyone was amazed that supermarkets back in Australia don’t sell alcohol – I was amazed that they do everywhere else in the world!

Finally we made it back to College for dinner, which was a buffet style meal. The food here at Newnham is really good, although they seem to love serving potato – we’ve had potato six different ways since arriving. Personally I’m interested to see if they can keep it up and make thirteen different types of potato.

Newnham College, Cambridge
Newnham College, Cambridge

Being uni students, on Friday night we decided to go and check out the nightlife in Cambridge. One of my friends, Sam, found out there was a festival in the town centre, about 20 minutes from Newnham, so we decided to go and watch the fireworks. We found the festival but then discovered that they weren’t selling alcohol – as we were midway to Sainsbury’s the fireworks display started! So we watched the fireworks display through a tree from the street. Then we headed out to a couple of clubs in the area, guided by Josh who lives in London and knows a little bit about Cambridge.

View from my room in Newnham
View from my room in Newnham

So far it’s been a great week, though a very different pace to Contiki! Tomorrow I’m going to see Othello in Stratford-upon-Avon performed by the Royal Shakespeare Company and then on Sunday I’m heading into London to see the Tower and the Harry Potter Studio Tour which’ll be awesome.

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