Monday, August 1, 2011

The American South v. Great Britain

I have taken a liking to the Cambridge way of life (or as the English would say, I have come to fancy). Due to my obsession with my current atmosphere, I started to question my lifestyle back home. While doing so, I realized there are many similarities with the Southern lifestyle and the English.

1. Tea! I don't consider someone Southern unless they like their tea cold and sweetened. To be honest, my biggest worry about coming to Britain was the break in my Sweet Tea routine: a glass every 3 hours. It wasn't that hard to switch to the English way of hot tea with milk. 

It's addictive!

This, too, is something I crave numerous times a day!

2. Hospitality! I have always prided myself on the classic notion of Southern hospitality and friendly behavior. I was worried that I would be coldly welcomed to the UK due to my nationality. Much to my surprise, the English I have encountered are almost nicer than my Southern peers. I feel a sincerity in the English that isn't necessarily present in the South. I have yet to hear a Brit say, "Bless her heart..."




3. Eggs! I am less than impressed by most of the English dishes, but they sure know how to prepare eggs. The most common way I have seen them prepare eggs is hard boiled. After they have boiled the egg, they place it on a solitary egg stand for your consumption. I found this very similar to the South's obsession with preparation and display of deviled eggs.

British Hard Boiled Egg


Southern Deviled Eggs



4. Manners! Since I was a child, I have been given books on social graces and have attended numerous etiquette classes. It is almost a requirement for any child from the South. The English put just as much emphasis on the "proper" way to handle yourself in public.




5. Biscuits! Any meal in the South is made better with a fluffy, warm, and buttery biscuit. Biscuits can be made of corn, cheese, or even bacon. The English have scones! I think scones are God's gift to England. They sort of redeem all the other bad food. They come in numerous flavors as well. You can choose from cheese, fruit, chocolate, or plain. And a scone would not be complete without clotted cream and jam.

Southern, buttered biscuits


English Scones

Early Morning Breakfast

This morning Lauren and I decided to go to the early morning breakfast at 7:30am instead of our usual 8:30am breakfast. We were hoping that by doing so, we would have ample time before class to work on our papers.
As we approached the dining hall, we were shocked that we didn't hear any noise coming from within. We were not surprised, however, that the only people who were eating breakfast (quietly) were the summer students over the age of 55.
They questioned us as to why we were up so early and were pleasantly surprised when we told them we had to write papers. Their response insinuated that we were extremely responsible and respectable students. Little did they know that we have procrastinated on our papers for too long and we have one week to finish them.

In other news, last night, we went out for an evening punt on the Cam.
Punting is harder than they make it look!
At Nandos, a place that gives Zaxby's a bad name.
Last, and certainly not least, Team US of A won trivia on Friday night! And to give credit where it is due - Deidre Cochran was the MVP! The last portion of trivia was charades, and if you know Deidre, you know that she really had no competition. Just one more highlight from the night - the winners' speech involved Christina reciting the Pledge of Allegiance.

All in all, it was a marvelous weekend without much paper writing!

Thursday, July 28, 2011

A Glimpse at the Classrooms

One of the greatest things about Cambridge is its architecture. It is like I am walking around in a 17th century themed park. I expect to walk around the side of a building and see 4 x 6 boards holding the facades up. 
Because this environment is so inspiring, I wanted to take a minute to show you where I am studying. 

This is one of my classrooms. This picture was taken from the balcony.

Another of my classrooms. This building is nestled in the Newnham Garden! I very much enjoy the walk to class every day!
 Last night's plenary lecture was held at the Senate House. This was a rare venue to have this lecture because this building is used for ceremonies only. The only other time I would be able to be in it is if I were graduating from the University!
Facade of the Senate House

Interior of the Senate House and Deidre to the right of the picture!
I don't want to say that this is better than Brenau's Owens Student Center or Thurmond-McRae Lecture Hall, but...

Monday, July 25, 2011

As Promised...

Presenting Gus! He is the headmaster's cat and, notably, the college's best pest control.  He isn't friendly to most, but this obviously isn't true for me judging by his proximity to my camera. You can tell Gus is a clever cat because when an unwanted person tries to pet him, he runs into the lawn that only fellows can walk on leaving the unwanted guest stranded in the middle of the walkway.

A Very English Weekend


When Thursday rolled around, I knew I wanted only one thing out of my weekend - to live the way the English do. So Laura and I started off our weekend by spending the day in Ely. We first stopped at the Ely Cathedral, which definitely stands out from the quaint town it is placed.

The facade of Ely Cathedral. This picture was taken from about 300 yards away so it doesn't give the size of the cathedral justice...





The nave. It was truly breathtaking.
Laura and I on a balcony overlooking the entrance.
I lit a prayer candle with Hebrews 13:3 in mind, "Continue to remember... those who are mistreated as if you yourselves were suffering."

After we finished the tour of the Cathedral, we trailed up winding staircases, that were clearly built hundreds of years ago, and then we finally made it to the Stained Glass Museum. There were stained glass windows dating from 1100 ADE up to today. Here are some of the pieces I found interesting (notice the shift in subject and design as time progressed).

1200 ADE
1915 ADE
1980 ADE





The moment we exited the Cathedral, we saw a street sign pointing out numerous locations. One of the signs stated, "Oliver Cromwell's Home, 400 yards." I bet you can guess what Laura and I did next!

Yes, those are medieval mannequins welcoming us to Cromwell's house.
We made a brief stop at Cromwell's house then we wandered down High Street in search of the Peacock Tea Room (it is the best tea in the UK and the sole purpose of our trip to Ely). Before we reached the Peacock, we stumbled upon Ely's beaderie. We were warmly welcomed by an Argentine woman who eagerly helped us. After picking out beads, string and clasps, we assembled our jewelry right in the store! It was such a fun activity and it was amazingly inexpensive!
Assembling our necklaces. We decided to pick beads that represented our time in England. Mine were gold and soft blue and Laura's were brown and green. 
A few hundred yards further we found the Peacock Tea Room! We had the chocolate platter. This included chocolate scones, chocolate fudge, chocolate bars, and chocolate tea. I almost forgot, all these deserts were made better with clotted cream! Even if we hadn't had tea or scones, the atmosphere of this charming tea room would be enough for me to give it the best ranking!

Laura in a window seat looking out into an English garden.

When we arrived back in Cambridge, Dr. Dobkins met us at the door ready for Shakespeare in the Garden! We packed a picnic, blankets, and our walking shoes and headed out to Downing College Gardens to see "The Winter's Tale." The performance was impeccable and the scenery was unparalleled.

At "The Winter's Tale."



Friday, July 22, 2011

Selwyn

The University of Cambridge has a different set-up than most universities in the States. There are 31 colleges under the University of Cambridge umbrella. The college I was accepted to is Selwyn College. It is known for producing many clergymen. Just to give you a visual of my life right now, I took pictures of the quarter I am staying. 

This is the building where my dorm is housed. My room is on the right side. 

This is the view from my dorm. It is the college chapel and Head Master's house.

This is our dining hall and pub. 


The Head Master has a cat named Gus. We have become friends and I wanted to include him in this blog post, but it is raining outside so I couldn't find him to take a picture. But don't fret! The next time I see him I will snap a shot to share with you!

This evening after dinner we went out for ice cream. The ice cream is to die for! It is a custard based desert and comes in a plethora of flavors!

There are representatives from Canada, Michigan, Utah, and Virginia in this group!
Tomorrow Laura, Dr. Dobkins, and I are going to Illy (a medieval town) and to Shakespeare in the Gardens! So excited! 

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Procrastination

Laura and I have been slaving away all week on papers. And I use the word "slaving" very loosely. However, we found it necessary to reward ourselves with some gelato! In reality, we wanted to find anything we could do to avoid working on these papers. 

(I am continuing the procrastination by writing this blog)

That is neither here nor there. This blog entry is about the time warp we experienced while taking our trip to the Gelateria. As we were marching up King's Parade, we heard the faint sound of a piper and accordion. These muses drew us in closer and closer until we finally saw the group of street performers doing some sort of English Folk Dance. They were performing in front of Great St. Mary's, which is University of Cambridge's official church. 

video

Just thought I'd share another quirk about the town of Cambridge! Back to the paper!