Week 1: 6/9/19-6/15/19
This first week has been more than I could have expected. I have realized that time is so precious, even more so when I am in such a beautiful place. I feel that if I am sitting in my bed room for more than an hour I am wasting precious daylight (which is a pun because in the UK the sun is actually up from 4am-10pm so there is plenty of daylight to go around). However, I know there is SO much to discover in this small town in such a short amount of time–there really is no time to spare.
The first of our adventures, as a gift from the Cambridge Schools Experience, we took a tour down the River Cam on Punting boats–a Cambridge “must do.” The best way to enjoy punting is on a sunny day (ha, good luck getting hold of one of those, we were just lucky!) with lots of yummy snacks, a refreshing drink and good company. We shared this boat ride with everyone from our program, coaches and director included, so we shared lots of laughs and good conversations getting to know our peers before diving into the experience.
Along the boat ride, we saw the heart of Cambridge University which is made up of 31 separate colleges and passed under beautiful bridges. King’s College is my favorite sight to see thus far. All of these pictures are taken from its back side, but the front is just as breath taking. From our first view of it at the river, pictured bottom left, we were in awe as the chapel towered over us. I can tell you that the view is even MORE breathtaking when you are being escorted on a secret tour of the campus at dusk (pictured right–can’t share our secrets, but it’s all about the adventures!).
Another new experience I had during this first week was attending my very first Pride. Pride is a celebration of love for ALL people that is usually celebrated in the month of June in cities all over the world. While Tampa, Orlando, and Miami are all known for having extravagant Pride festivals, I had never been to one. I was even more excited when I heard that this was Cambridge’s first Pride, as well! The grounds was full of fun food trucks, cute vintage pop-up shops, thrifted book stalls, information tents, and entertainment by the hour! My favorite was the local musicians playing personal, original music–definitely brought tears to many eyes in the audience. I also picked up this awesome poster from the National Education Union which will be an excellent edition to my classroom someday. 🙂
The last “P” honors a very important part of British culture–the pubs. Pubs can be found literally all over the U.K. They’re a place to grab a quick drink, or a few, catch up with some friends, watch some sports, and you are always guaranteed a fantastic traditional meal. My favorite pub-food has to be any kind of beef-pie. They usually have a hint of wine (or more than a hint) in the gravy and it just melts in your mouth. I am learning quickly that while pubs are definitely part of the culture and you should try your best to soak in as much as you can–pubs can be pricy! You’re paying for the experience! So, my advice from this post would be to “pick and choose your battles with pounds” (more p’s, I’m on a roll!). Eating out every night is guaranteed to get expensive, so you may want to skip the drink with dinner some nights and go for the tap water.
Another Cambridge must see– the most famous pub in Cambridge, The Eagle. It was a meeting place for generals during World War II and it was also the place where the discovery of DNA was announced. The ceiling in the back room is covered with writings from two air forces of World War II that were written by candle, lighter, and lipstick. Don’t forget to read the walls that are signed by Veteran’s who have visited over the years. We sat next to a gentleman wearing an Ohio State sweatshirt who was basking in the sights of this historic room, when he finally got up and wrote his name and years of service on the wall. Very cool (and slightly pricey) experience, but it was totally worth it.
Cheers to week 1, you’ve been enchanting. Cheers to week 2–may you be filled with twice as many adventures!