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Cambridge, a whirlwind tour

June 27, 2016

Cambridge was easily the most impressive college campus I’d ever been on. This is an unfair competition, given they have nearly a millennia on anyone else. Highlights of Cambridge included:

  • Kings College, where Jack is pursuing his PhD in philosophy, has a campus that makes Harvard look like Disney Land. I learned about the rigid landscape hierarchy—that only full professors are allowed to walk on the grass in Kings Cottage, while the rest of the students and teachers (not to mention tourists) must keep to the stone paths that border them.

Jack and Ida in Emma College


  • The chapel at Kings College, built by the Catholic Henry VI but now used as an Anglican Church. We sat in on a mass that appeared to be a first communion for a group of besuited children.
  • St. Johns College, similar in style to Kings College, boasts a few notable architectural gems like the Bridge of Sighs and, according to Jack, some of the more arrogant Cambridgers in the university. For those unfamiliar with Cambridge, each college is part of Cambridge University as a whole and share the same majors, departments, etc—the colleges themselves are social and residential units where you spend much of your time, but educationally it’s largely a distinction without a difference.


St. Johns

  • Kings College dining hall, more of an atmospheric curiosity than a culinary draw, had cheap cafeteria food lavishly accompanied by a dining area with the tallest ceilings and lushest tapestries I’ve ever seen in a school cafeteria.
  • Walking around the River Cam – Jack, a rower, regaled me with some good anecdotes about the annual rowing event which the town goes nuts over, rowing being their top local sport. There is one particularly ill-mannered swan who perches himself along one stretch of the river and is a particular bane to the coxswain of any given boat that passes too close by it.

The River Cam and the Bridge of Sighs

  • Emmanuel College – ‘Emma’ for short, this beautiful Cambridge college incongruously boasted a bounce house in the middle of 16th century building, set up to help undergraduates to relax in the midst of tripos, the final examinations that qualify students to receive their degrees.



The Emma College bounce house


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