Cambridge Square Mile

The porters nod their heads in acknowledgement as you walk out of the gateway of Gonville and Caius. As soon as you take one step onto the sidewalk, the calm atmosphere of the college is wiped away, and replaced by a chaotic, noisy, crowded city centre. To the right you can see the smallest sliver of the marble white Senate building, The University bookshop with window boxes full of fuchsias, and the tall tower of Great Saint Mary’s church. To the left, you can see the old, beautiful brown stonework of the shop buildings, and the intricate carvings of the Michaelhouse Center. You go to step off of the sidewalk, ready for a day of exploration, when something whizzes past you, inches away from your feet. You are thrown back onto the pavement and listen to the ringing of the bicycle bell. Bicycles run Cambridge, and are never conscious of the people around them. Now, looking both ways, you go to cross the street and turn left. You are ready to venture about town, but not without some food before you begin. First stop, Sainsbury’s grocery store.

Even though it is a brisk block away from the college, it is difficult to find, tucked away by the green building near the entrance of the road. You walk down the cobblestones and come right up to the side entrance. You enter, scurry to the sandwiches, and grab the cheapest one you can find. You pay the two pounds at the self-checkout, and are onto your next stop; the market square. The outdoor market is full of brightly colored stands that sell a variety of products; from breads to hats, from records to Belgian waffles. Even though it is beautiful and sunny day today, you need a raincoat. You come straight into the market, and it is bustling as always. Bike bells are ringing, a mess of conversations come from every direction, and footsteps echo on the cobblestones. People are everywhere; buying, selling, bargaining, and sightseeing. You have set your task, and embark on your first mission; finding the pitch in the surrounding sea of people. You walk down every aisle until you finally see a simple, black raincoat hanging on the outer foundation of the pitch. “10 pounds,” the seller tells you. You hand over the cash, amazed at how little the coat cost! Content with your purchase, you decide that you must go down to Heffers and get a couple books. After all, you do have a five hour ride to Stonehenge coming up, you have to be prepared.

You walk down the uneven road and speed past all of the shops. On your way, you are asked two separate times if you want to go punting. The people advertising the punting are everywhere, there is no escape from their persistence. You know you are getting close to the bookshop, because you can now see the intricate carvings and colorful crest of Trinity college. You turn around and there in front of you is the quaint bookshop. You go inside, and get a couple books and some postcards.

You begin your walk back to the college, the smell of fried food wafting down the street the fresh breeze in your face; and you smile to yourself. The square mile of Cambridge is so full of life; it is new and exciting for you. It feels like home, and you never want to leave.

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The London Eye

“Pretty cool,” Rekha answered after being asked about the London Eye experience. “We had gone to so many places in London, it seemed so huge; but once we were at the top, I felt like I had seen everything,” she commented. Rekha’s feelings about the London Eye are shared by many other students at CSP. People loved the view, especially of Big Ben. Everyone was taking pictures- especially selfies- so they could remember the moment forever. Some were scared of heights, others were claustrophobic; yet, despite their fears, they were looking over the edge and enjoying the view with the others. The Eye has powers, it puts a spell on people and helps them overcome their fears, even if it’s only for a short period of time. The view makes people forget all of their worries and stresses, and just let go and enjoy the world around them. It puts things in perspective for them, and teaches them that the world is for us to explore, and the Eye gives them a pretty good start.

Les Mis

With stomachs full of crappy Chinese food, we anxiously shuffled into the Queen’s Theatre. The smell of popcorn tempted us, as our bags were checked by security. The ushers ripped our tickets and we were escorted to our seats. The wooden walls were stained brown, and the seats were bright red; a traditional theatre set-up. We were on the top balcony, giving us a better viewing position. Projected on the screen hanging above the stage was the iconic, blue-grey picture of the ragged, impoverished girl. All of a sudden the drums boomed, sounding like gun-shots, and the orchestra played with vigour and intensity. The lights dimmed, and ‘Les Mis’ began.

Throughout the entire play, the audience was captivated. They laughed, gasped, jumped and cried along with the characters. They sang “Master of the House” in jollity with Monsieur Thénardier, as he jumped around on tables, and creatively stole money from his customers. They sobbed as Jean Valjean passionately sang “Bring Him Home,” praying for the life of one young soldier, Marius, who was in love with his daughter. They smiled faintly through their tears as Valjean asked for death, seeing his late love Fantine while in hysterics. They gasped as shots rang out, the theatre shaking. The actors engaged with the audience, communicating their emotions and stories through alluring melodies and exaggerated facial expressions. When the play ended, the applause was as thunderous as the gunshots. Everyone was on their feet as the actors bowed, soaking up the well-deserved praise. The experience was spell-binding, and resonated with the audience for hours afterwards.

Punting

Punting, a traditional Cambridge pastime, was one of many evening activities at CSP.  While walking to the river, many people were worried about falling off of their punt, and the mentors were trying to reassure everyone that they would be okay. Excitement and tensions were high as we waited for the punts to be set up. We looked around at the new and beautiful scenery; the people with yellow teeth and wrinkled skin smoking, the cyclists pushing through the crowd, and the grey, braided wig left on the stone wall with flies circling around it.

We were all relieved to get in our punts, and just like that, we were off! The scenery drastically changed from nauseating to magnificent as we crept up the river. We saw the back of the colleges, dorms, chapels, and libraries; and to add to the ambiance, there was lush grass and leafy trees by the rivers edge. The ducks and geese swam along side our punts, waiting to be fed. Students began to try steering the punts, and some were better than the mentors! After a hour and a half of fooling around and enjoying the picturesque landscapes, we all made it back to the dock safe, sound, and most importantly dry.