The beautiful, inspiring, peaceful, and scintillating Cambridge

If I could start my education again, I would want to go to Cambridge.  Everything about Cambridge was awe-inspiring to me.  From their beautiful old buildings, sense of tradition, deep rooted history in science, cobblestone streets, the winding river Cam, and of course, their small schools, one-on-one advisors, and dedication to breaking the mould of what hoop-jumping education can look like.  I was all ready to sign up for my next degree – in anything – right there and then.

And I saw the apple tree.  The tree grown from the one in Newton’s orchard.  The tree that helped Newton articulate his law of gravity.  One piece of what makes him the greatest physicist to date.  The tree was right there.

And the offices, and grounds, and buildings, and books, and churches, and microscopes, and instruments.  The smell of old University buildings reminds me of the history they hold.  Oh the people who walked those halls.  Newton.  Rutherford.  Bohr.  Hawking.  I felt inspired.  I just wanted to sit there and take it in.

Cambridge University is made up of 31 colleges.  They don’t specialize in any one thing, and you don’t apply to any one degree program.  You just apply to ONE of the 31 colleges.  You can’t apply to more than one.  The biggest of them has a total of 1300 students – undergrads and grads combined.  That is, the BIGGEST of the Cambridge colleges is smaller than Sullivan Heights.  With old classic buildings, history and amazing professors, the possibilities are endless.  We visited two of these 31 colleges – Trinity (home to Isaac Newton) and King’s College.  Both were beautiful and awe-inspiring.  David, our amazing guide, took us through the details of the school and its history, and really brought it all to life for us.

After our tour and a quick lunch, we sought after a bus station to take us west out to the famous Cavendish Laboratory, that I talked about in my post here.  We had tickets to attend a lecture on modern Physics, but due to the long walks, trying to figure out the bus system, and the struggle for 17 people to eat lunch in under 30 minutes, we missed it and had to settle for wandering through the building and checking out the general Physics demonstrations in the building at the Cambridge Science Festival.  This didn’t turn out to be too bad though – because upstairs there were cabinets and displays full of items that you would normally find in a museum.  Tons of artifacts from the early days of Chemistry, the original electron microscope (cut in half so you could see the inside) and much more.  I wandered through the Physics labs and wondered what it must have been like to get a Physics education HERE.  Honestly, I felt intimidated.  And inspired.

Following our time at Cavendish, we took a 30 minute stroll through the country along the back paths towards another of Cambridge’s MANY buildings – the Sir Isaac Newton Institute of Mathematics.  Here we had tickets for a lecture by Professor Ian Stewart on the Mathematical Patterns that caused animal markings (such as leopard’s spots or zebra’s stripes).  Biology and Physics – perfect for me, right?  WRONG.  You see – as much as I was excited and wanted to set a good example – I had been up since 6am (and it was not 3:45pm) and already logged 12 km of walking, and then was placed in a room that was SUPER hot.  So instead of really “hearing” him, I was just focused on staying awake.  And I wasn’t doing a very good job.  Then again, neither were many of the students.  So as much as we were hoping for an amazing, jaw-dropping, one-of-a-kind, Cambridge lecture, this experience fell a little flat.

But all in all, Cambridge was amazing.  I wish that we would have had more time there, more time with our guide David, who was outstanding, more time to see more of the colleges, the Wren library, and more of the history of this great place.  But there is always next time.

On the train at Kings Cross, ready to go to Cambridge
Trinity College, including Newton’s apple tree, and our group
Kings College, Trinity college Chapel, and the Cambridge Senate Buildings
Kings College Chapel
Cavendish Lab
Sir Isaac Newton Institute of Mathematics

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