As an international student in the AIFS (American Institute for Foreign Study), I was able to take a day trip to Cambridge and walk a guided tour of the city and university. My program directors described the English city as the following: “Cambridge is the home of the famous University, carols in King’s College Chapel and punting on the river Cam. Cambridge is a compact cosmopolitan city with outstanding architecture old and new. The beauty of its ancient centre is preserved with its walkable medieval streets, college courts, gardens, and bridges.” With the colorful description and free entrance, I couldn’t pass it up! So we all woke up early Sunday morning, got our coffee, and drove nearly two hours to see what all of the buzz was about.
Unfortunately, our tour guide made the mistake of peaking a bit too early because our first stop on the walking tour showed us the most beautiful view of the colleges across the river Cam. Regardless, we trusted that he would make the duration of the trip enjoyable.
Along with walking along the cobblestone streets, searching for brilliant men to fall in love with us, and freezing ourselves because we somehow forgot that we were in the middle of January and should have dressed accordingly, we followed our guide as he led us through the university and gave us a Cambridge quality history lesson. Cambridge holds the highest concentration of perfectly preserved historic buildings in all on England, much of which is centered in the 31 colleges that make up Cambridge University; some of the colleges include the oldest college in Cambridge, Peterhouse, which was founded in 1284, King’s College, which is home to King’s College Chapel which is world renowned for its perpendicular style of gothic architecture, and Trinity Hall whose notable alumni include Stephen Hawking and Nicholas Hytner. The University was founded in the mid-13th century and continues to be one of England’s best known universities. While touring Cambridge, you have the options to either walk the streets or punting on the river Cam, which runs 40 miles long through the heart of the city, but it seemed that most people chose to bike; it was not until about an hour after getting dodged and yelled at by bikers that we found that Cambridge is often referred to as “the city of cycling”. The rest of our day was filled with a visit to the university markets, Corpus Christi College’s famous pub “The Eagle”, and views of the most beautiful college campuses I’ve seen in my entire life. Needless to say, I’ve already put in my applications.
Cambridge University has the ability to take you to another world due to its medieval architecture, brilliant views, and royal history. But there was one particular part of the day that stood out among the rest, where the prestige of the universities was apparent. At this point in the day, I had gotten separated from my tour because I was taking pictures. After walking around a bit, I saw the group and tour guide from across the grass along the river Cam. Now if you know me, you will know that The Princess Diaries is one of my all time favorite movies. If you have seen the movie, you will remember the scene where Princess Mia is about to walk into tea with her grandmother, and is scolded for walking on the grass. If you know this scene, you can probably guess where I’m going with this. That scene in The Princess Diaries is the only reason I know not to walk on someones grass because I know it would disappoint Julie Andrews, so I have not a clue as to why this was the one time I decided to risk that. What happened next went something like this: 1) I saw my group, 2) My group was leaving, 3) I ran across the grass to catch up, 4) All hell broke loose. Before I even got two feet on the grass, two giant men in black bowler hats were running after me and yelling to get off of the grass immediately. I feel that I should point out the fact that there were signs all over to keep off the grass, and had I seen them like everyone else apparently did, I wouldn’t have 1) established a new nightmare of being chased by Charlie Chaplin, or 2) felt just like Princess Mia on my study abroad.