Thursday, October 1, 2009

Adventures in Cambridge or "There's no such place as CAHMbridge, it's CAYMbridge."

First of all, I would like to apologize for the butt pictures I was unnecessarily tagged in. Please remember I live in a freshmen dorm and those shenanigans that we found funny back in 2007 are still fresh to the blokes in my hall. Well, except for Vampie. We all know she laughed hysterically. The duct tape? I think it speaks for itself.

It's very hard for me to not have a positive outlook on life when Lady luck follows me around for an entire day - such as October 1st, 2009. I always remember and appreciate all of my good fortune because when it runs out, at least it didn't run out at a less convenient time.

For instance:
-Type-A Elisabeth, as she heads to the bus stop, notes the cloudy weather, slight drizzle and her sniffling nose and realizes she didn't even bother checking the weather for that day in Cambridge or bring in an umbrella. Result: weather clears up, it's sunny all day.

-Brilliant Elisabeth, as she was throwing her belongings in a bag, realizes she forgot her railcard AFTER purchasing round trip tickets to Cambridge under it. Result: conductor doesn't ask for it. Twice.

-Wary Elisabeth, as she is about to cross the street to check out Emmanuel college, forgets in her zeal that she needs to look the other way and OMGSOCLOSE almost gets nailed by a bus. Result: Doesn't.

-Sneaky Elisabeth, as she is trying to trespass into the Clare college, gets stopped and is asked if she is a student. Result: A man mistakes the question directed to him and announces that "they" (his small posse of adults) are with "him". Elisabeth somehow is blanketed under this general "them" and manages to mosey in without further questioning.

-Clever Elisabeth, as she is hanging out in the Clare common room reading Mysteries of Udolpho, is bombarded with questions from a pushy, newly moved-in grad student about what she's studying and where she is staying. She is unable to think quick on her feet and replies in vague, terse answers. Result: Grad student translates these responses as "turn downs" and leaves her be. This is also considered another episode of Elisabeth being incredibly socially awkward.

The list goes on, but it would've been consistent of what could have gone wrong; AKA a mother's list: "You could have been kidnapped, bound, gagged and thrown in the river walking at night by yourself!"

Cambridge is a magnificent place - I had spent the first few hours just ambling the streets, exploring colleges open to tourists, poking my head into churches, and browsing malls and street vendors alike. The malls and students there are just as wonderful. After I had managed to sneak in Clare, I came across Rudi, an American grad student who was impressed by my smooth methods of breaching campuses. He was studying European history (among other subjects), very eloquent, and was kind enough to invite me to go "punting" with his friends. We waited with Tobias, a German math student, and Rachel, an American music theory student, for Aiden, an Englishman, to change his shoes. I apologize, Aiden, for not remembering what you were studying. If you read this, please let me know.

"[Cricket] is 3D, five-day chess. Like baseball, but better." - Aiden

The four of them were able to reserve a punting boat (for free) and all we had to do was carry the punting rod (pole?) and seat cushions to the dock by the bridge with stone spheres. Aiden punted most of the way and on the way back, we all took turns trying it out. Rudi insists I was doing just fine until I gave up after introducing the front of the boat to the wall. (By the way, I learned that "punting from the Cambridge end" is a euphemism). Tobias, the most reluctant of us to try punting, was the best at it (of course) and afterwords we retired to the common room to sit, read and relax. Insert pushy grad student moment here:

PGS: So what are you studying here?
Myself: History.
PGS: Anything specific?
Myself: Nope, just general History.
PGS: Ah.
Myself: I'm a very boring and vague person.
Rudi: What else to expect from Connecticut.

PGS: So are you living on this campus or elsewhere?
Myself: Pardon?
PGS: Where are you living?
Myself: ...
PGS: ...
Myself: Here.

Watching myself being socially awkward must have been exhausting because after a brief trip to Sainsbury's, we gathered at Rachel's residence for a home-cooked meal of tortellini, chicken and radishes. It was surrealistic what fortune my day had brought me to result a great meal with intelligent, interesting people. Cambridge is absolutely grand and I hope to return soon during my time in England.

Special thanks to NG for insisting that I should stop waiting for someone to go with me on my travels and just go. It would not have been the same.

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