Wednesday, October 18, 2006


So life has been going on in its nice slow pace here. I'm going to lecture, doing some problem sets, and generally wasting time the rest of the time. I read and knit and wander around. Cambridge is wonderful for wandering, except that I have to remember to stay out of the center of town. (In the center of town they have cobblestones instead of paving and they're horrible on the feet. It's unfortunate, because Cambridge is really really beautiful (and I promise I'll take pictures of it at some point), but walking for too long in town makes my feet hurt a lot.) But I walk around the different colleges and gardens on my side of Cambridge and generally enjoy the scenery. Almost every college has its own gardens around it, and most of the colleges are old and very beautiful. They look like castles, except for the "drafty dirty stone" aspects. =)

Looking for food here has become an exercise in thinking sideways. Most of the things I want I've found already, but some others continue to stump me. It took me forever to find zuccini a few days ago because I couldn't remember the British word for it (it's corgette, in case anyone is interested) and they don't sell individual zuccini in the local store. I finally found them right next to the dill and mint and such, sold only in packages of three. Cream cheese was another thing that took forever to find. It's not next to the butter, and it's not in the cheese section, but right under the yogurt. (Why?) And the butter! Half of an aisle is just for butter here! This is in a store where bread only takes up a couple of shelves, that only has a quarter of an aisle of cereal, and which only sells one brand of many things... half an aisle of butter! Real butter, four kinds of margarine, in huge tubs and tiny ones. (And they put butter on everything! I was having a sandwich with brie and grapes and there was butter on it... it's like mayonaise in the US.)

Last Saturday I went on a boat cruise on the Thames that the Gates was sponsoring. They got buses from Cambridge to London (which was a two hour ride, but we didn't seem to be driving that quickly), and then we were on the boat from 7 to 11 pm, and then they took us back. They'd advertized it as a "dinner boat cruise" but this ended up being kind of a lie: they had a very very small buffet with different finger foods and nothing else. Everyone ended up very hungry. =) The boat went between two bridges (and don't ask me which they were, I have no idea) back and forth for the whole time. It was actually very pretty and interesting to watch the scenery going by. We could go up onto the roof of the boat, and it was very quiet and pretty there... but unfortunately very cold. I only went up once, and then stayed downstairs and talked to people.

And I actually talked to people that I didn't know, and I had a good time doing it. =) I think it helped that there was another Gates girl from Trinity there that I stayed with the whole time, and she was there to talk to people when I couldn't think of anything to say. So even when I would have been completely useless it all turned out ok. I was really glad that she was there, because the people on the cruise were interesting enough that just standing around and listening to them talk was interesting. (Actually, the only downside was that it was VERY loud there, and they also started playing music so that people could dance and it ended up being difficult to talk.) But I still met a lot of cool people.

First, there was Joanna (the girl from Trinity). She's also from Harvard (and originally from Singapore), and she's doing an MPhil (like a masters) in international relations. She's focusing on preferential trade agreements and how countries decide whether to sign them or not. I met a couple of engineers, doing various engineery things =), one from Emmanuel and one from St. Johns (two other colleges at Cambridge; Emmanuel is the college that David is at). We spent a bunch of time talking to a couple of Ph.D. students (one in education, one in paleontology) about differences between the UK and the places we were from (US, Singapore, and Colombia). There was a cool guy from Ghana who is doing a Ph.D. in criminology, in particular looking at contributing factors to juvenile delinquency. (I really wanted to talk to him and get him to talk about his work in more detail, but I never got the chance.) Joanna kept doing this thing where she'd see a couple of people sitting at a table and say "let's go sit with them!" and intrude on whatever conversation the people were having to ask them about themselves. I'm not sure whether they appreciated this, but it definitely helped for meeting people. We met a couple of Ph.D. students in sociology this way, which was pretty cool because one of them was studying preferential trade agreements (which was interesting for Joanna) and one was comparing the way the media in England and the US discuss scientific questions (which I'm interested in). So we had a really nice double conversation. =)

The person I talked for the longest to was one of the engineers (from St. Johns), named Larry, who is studying the way that engine shape affects fuel combustion. We talked a bunch (it helped that we were sitting together on the bus ride back)and I think I'm going to get him over here for tea at some point; I think it'd be fun to talk to him more.

One of the most amusing things here was that everyone I talked to agreed on two things: prices are WAAY too high and the weather is schitzo. It's cloudy, and then 10 minutes later it's sunny, and 10 minutes later it's raining... it turns out that I'm not the only person who ends up turning lights on and off every 15 minutes and opening and closing my curtains all the time.

Other than that there isn't that much news. I spent a bunch of time on Sunday and Monday doing homework, slept a bunch yesterday, and am planning on doing some (math) reading today.


Anonymous mama said...

I really enjoyed it :)

Can't wait for the pictures of the gradens!


11:11 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I hope you are really as relaxed as it sounds from your essays!

I lost track from your previous letter - how many different math classes are you taking?


9:14 AM  

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