Oxbridge Academy and Cambridge University are pleased to announce the fifth year of the Oxbridge Cambridge Scholars program for juniors. Cambridge University, founded in 1208 and acclaimed as one of the greatest universities in the world, partners with Oxbridge each year to offer a two-week interdisciplinary program of study at the university in Cambridge, England. Students work with Cambridge University faculty and Oxbridge advisors and chaperones during this unique two-week program.
- March 18: Madingley & More - Mai-Brie Conklin
- March 19: We're Not in Kansas Anymore - Joseph Rubsamen
- March 20: Cambridge Lectures - Lucy Ream
- March 21: Lectures & the Cambridge Library - Ashley D'Andrea
- March 22: Monarchs & Parliament - Kate Maloney
- March 23: Death in Cambridge - Blake Weger
- March 24: Churchill College - Nancy Sluggett
- March 25: Last Day at Cambridge - Sarah Garelick
- March 26: Off to London - Mrs. Amy Jurskis
- March 27: Shakespeare's Roots - Quinn McKenna
- March 28: A Day in London - Billie Wyler
- March 29: Punting Down the River Cam - Olivia Przysinda
- March 30: Hampton Court Palace - Sarah Sadati
- March 31: Sidney Sussex College - Lara Carter
- March 31: The 26-Hour End to Our Trip - Jen Secrest
March 18, 2018
Greetings from Cambridge! After a long 10 hours of flying, we finally arrived in London and took a bus to Madingley Hall, where we stay for a week. We were treated with a lovely sandwich and cheese lunch after we checked into our rooms. Despite the jet lag, we were sent off on a walking tour of the town with Dr. Andrew Lacey right when we arrived.
Still half asleep and running solely on two cups of coffee, we went to King’s College, which was founded by King Henry VI. We were taken to the King’s College Chapel, started by Henry VI and continued by Henry VI and VII. The Chapel was built in the 1400s and took over 100 years to build due to the English civil war between the Duke of Lancaster and the Duke of York. With the Duke of Lancaster’s symbol being a red rose, and the Duke of Lancaster’s being a white rose, the war was deemed the War of Roses. When King Henry VII, a Lancaster, married Elizabeth of York, the two houses were united and reconciled. Imagery of red and white roses are seen throughout the stained glass windows in addition to the story of the Virgin Mary and Christ.
We then continued on to tour some of the other Cambridge colleges. We were taken into a small, crooked library, in fact the oldest library that still serves as a library. It holds one of the first published dictionaries, John Milton’s Paradise Lost, and countless other books aging back to the 1500s. Many of the colleges sit along a river where the students relax and row on gondolas.
We were given some free time to walk around the town of Cambridge before heading back to Madingley Hall. It all makes
sense why Harry Potter was set in England. Walking around Cambridge for the first time felt like a real life Harry Potter World. It really seems like a different world, from college students running around covered in paint from a paint war in the park celebrating the end of term to the flower memorial of Stephen Hawking.
After finally returning to Madingley, we were treated to a lovely three course dinner. After a long day, it was no problem falling asleep the minute we got back to our dorms.
After long travels, a sunny and beautiful day exploring Cambridge, and what seemed to be the best sleep of my life, we woke to snow flurries and a white blanket covering the lush green landscape. Waking through the chill and snow was a first for some of us and was a realization that “we’re not in Kansas (Florida) anymore.” For breakfast, there was a wide variety of food ranging from eggs and bacon to fruit. After breakfast, we departed from Madingley Hall and drove via coach to Sidney Sussex College: the location of our three lectures for the day. While in Sidney Sussex, our group had the opportunity to explore this section of Cambridge, get a sneak peak of our home next week, and experience intriguing lectures given by University of Cambridge professors and experts in their fields.
As per the topic of this year’s Oxbridge Academy Cambridge Scholars Program:“The Crown in Crisis,” our lectures began with Queen Elizabeth I. The first two lectures “The Spanish Armada” and “The Essex Rebellion” had a focus on Queen Elizabeth I and the crises during her reign. The first lecture dealt with Queen Elizabeth I’s relationship with King Phillip II of Spain, the Pope, and Catholicism. With the Catholic Church supported by King Phillip II of Spain and the Anglican Church supported by Queen Elizabeth I of England, religion and its role in Europe was heavily under question, Furthermore, the war turned focus from the continent to the forefront of the island, as the Irish and English religious conflict was exacerbated by Spanish conflict with England. While the crisis finally ended, the idea of the reformation and the influence of the church on its subjects was inscribed into society.
Following the morning lectures, our group paused for lunch and free time until our third and final lecture of the day, “Milton and Politics.” This lecture focused on John Milton’s opinion of the Anglican Church and its influence on the English people. Through Milton’s political propaganda, the English Civil War, the reformation of the church, and the return of the Monarchy, Milton paralleled social and political crises and progression with the fall of mankind in his 11,000 line epic poem Paradise Lost. After three wonderful lectures, our group had the opportunity to explore Cambridge, get a spot of tea, shop, or sightsee for an hour and a half. After our afternoon's adventures, we returned to Madingley Hall and prepared for a delicious three course meal in the dining hall. While eating, the students reflected on the day’s lectures, adventures, and chilly weather. After dinner, we explored Madingley Hall, talked, and returned to our rooms to continue our papers and prepare for the next day’s lectures and new experiences.
Today we were lucky to wake up to the sight of snow on the ground, which was an exciting experience for us Floridians. Unfortunately, snow comes along with brutally cold weather. The weather for the day stayed consistently freezing at about 32 degrees! Luckily for us, our day was spent mostly inside at Madingley participating in the most intriguing lectures.
We started our day off with a delicious breakfast in the Dining Hall and then ventured to our first lecture with plenty of hot chocolate, tea, and coffee in hand. During our two morning lectures we had the privilege to discuss the novel Great Expectations with professor Ulrike Horstmann-Guthrie. In our first lecture, we analyzed and defined who and what a gentleman is through the eyes of Great Expectations. Throughout the lecture we also discussed other prevalent themes such a corruption, success, and morality. In our second lecture of the day, we continued to look at Great Expectations and explored Dickens and the Angel in the House. We all greatly appreciated our morning spent with Ulrike.
After our morning lectures, we were privileged to have the ability to discusses our essays with our Cambridge supervisors, Ulrike Horstmann-Guthrie and Dr Jenny Bavidge, in a quick half an hour brief evaluation. Our supervisors went over specific things they were looking for in our essays, for example the importance of close readings, which we have been practicing back in English class at home. Overall, the brief evaluation was extremely helpful to us because it allowed us to clarify any confusion we had with our essays.
Next we had a quick lunch break that consisted of a variety of sandwiches, fresh fruit, and a cheese and cracker plater. So far we haven’t been disappointed in the food, and we have all been eager to try new things.
Following our lunch was two afternoon lectures on the novel Jude the Obscure led by Dr Jenny Bavidge. In the first lecture, we started off by discussing Hardy’s life and finding parallels between his own life and his novel, Jude the Obscure. Later in our lecture we analyzed class, labor, and ownership in the novel. In the last lecture of the day, Dr Jenny Bavidge kept our attention by transitioning to evaluating critical responses to Jude the Obscure. We also participated in an exercise she planned, which was a fun hands on activity to switch things up.
Once our lectures for the day concluded we had some free time. Some of us braved the freezing temperatures and explored the beautiful gardens and pathways Madingley has to offer. Other relaxed indoors with friends, never venturing far from the hot chocolate machines and cookies. Similarly, to yesterday we ended the day with a warm and comforting three course meal.
Every morning we have been in Madingley Hall so far we have woken up to snow covering the ground, but this morning was very different. All the snow has melted, and the landscape is crisp and green. The entire day, the sky was picturesque blue (very abnormal weather for England especially the day after it snowed). Just as every morning since we have been at Madingley Hall, we ate our English breakfast, then we attended two lectures led by Dr. David Smith, a historian specializing in Early Modern British history. We were all intrigued, learning the history about King Charles I and King Charles II. Dating back to the early to mid 1600’s, King Charles I had an extraordinarily controversial reign of religious crises, war instigation, as well as a financial issue caused by his desire of many expensive self-portraits. He was put on trial and publiclyexecuted, allowing Charles II to take the throne. We learned that, unlike his father, King Charles II was more tolerant of religion and was quite the realist. Each lecture lasts an hour and a half, just like our typical Oxbridge classes; however, we have a 30-minute break in between each one for coffee, tea, and hot chocolate. I’ve definitely had more hot chocolate in the last three days than in the last three years.
After the lectures, we had a sandwich lunch along with a variety of cheeses and crackers. Once we regained some energy, we took a quick bus ride to the Faculty of English Library. We took a tour of the very modern library full of antique books, then we had several hours to find prime source material and write our essays. There were many rooms that we could sit in, several nooks and crannies of the library to develop our ideas for our essays, and an incredible amount of bookshelves to begin our intellectual explorations. While I can’t speak on behalf of everyone, I know that today was a perfect day to get a lot of progress done on our very rough drafts for our essays, which are due on Friday.
Today we attended three lectures and then had study time to work on our essays. Dr. Sean Lang gave two lectures in the morning discussing two significant monarchs: King George III and Queen Victoria. After lunch, Dr. Graham McCann gave a lecture about the evolving relationship between monarchy and Parliament.
In the first lecture of the day, Dr. Lang started by discussing the origins of monarchy. I was interested to learn that the divine right and the power of monarchs dates back to Biblical times in Israel. The belief holds that one must be chosen by God and after coronation, they have special powers that distinguish them as sovereign. The popular belief at the time was that all men are not created equal; Dr. Lang explained to us that this is the reason it was necessary for the Declaration of Independence to begin with the phrase “All men are created equal”. As time went on, politics in Great Britain evolved, and in 1688, Parliament falsely declared that James II had abdicated the throne; this was significant since it went against the idea of a monarch’s divine right. Parliament was now able to determine when a monarch was unfit to rule.
George III inherited the throne during an extremely prosperous and constrained time in England. As well all know well, strict parenting results in rebellious children, and the same goes for citizens living under a strict government. Citizen rebellion was shown through Issue no. 45 of John Wilkes’s satirical newspaper the North Briton. Various citizens spoke out against the monarchy and were later arrested; the article became a symbol for standing up to tyranny. This rebellious behavior was seen again when colonists who ventured to the New World ultimately cut ties with the crown after John Dunning declared, “the power of the crown has increased, is increasing, and ought to be diminished”.
As we see, the belief that having a divine ruler, or monarch, diminished with the times, but when we think back to the true meaning of a monarch, there are essential questions that must be addressed: Why have a republic? Where is the idea of a republic in the Bible? Is that what God wants?
In the second lecture, Dr. Lang continued the discussion about monarchy. We first addressed the importance of a modern monarchy. As modern monarchies in England have lost most of their political power, we determined that modern monarchies stood as a symbol and role model for the people, upheld traditions and social values, and also played minor role in military, politics, and foreign relations. We took the principle of tradition and analyzed the significance of it with reference to British monarchs, specifically Queen Victoria. First, Dr. Lang made the simple notion that the people of Britain have always had a monarch and wouldn’t want to change that. Various English traditions, such as this, were introduced in India by Queen Victoria to rival the suppressive traditions and values of the society; the British referred to the suppressive ideas as “native prejudices”. Queen Victoria became the empress of India in 1876, and she was seen as a sort of mother figure for civilians. Because of the Parliament in England, the Queen ironically had more political power in India. In the final lecture of the day, Dr. Graham McCann educated us on the evolving relationship between monarchy and Parliament.
We ended our day by having free time to study, rest, and explore. I went with some friends for a walk around the gardens of Madingley for the first time since we arrived. Later at dinner, we feasted like kings eating lamb and vegetables for the main course and a strawberry roulade for dessert.
Hey there blog readers, I would first like to let you all know I am taking away very valuable time to write this for you, because today is the 21st and I am quickly running out of time for this essay. Also, don’t freak out about the title I just wanted to grab your attention, everyone is fine, you will realize later what I mean. And finally, through this I will be counting the number of hot chocolates I consumed, just warning it is more than you would imagine. Any who, the morning started with the sound of little birds chirping as they danced outside my window. I sat up and rubbed my eyes, and gave a great big yawn; I reached over to my nightstand, and of course since we are in England there is always a cup of tea within an arm’s reach, took a sip and looked out my window. I saw the lusciously green sculpted trees, and winding rock paths that lead into the forest with the sun shining through creating beams of light and shadows on the vivid grass below. “Madingley Hall”, I whispered to myself.
(Not exactly accurate, I woke up to a very loud alarm and due to not being completely caught up with the time change was extremely tired and I actually don’t think I even realized where I was until half way through the first lecture. But I’m pretty sure that’s how the morning went for my fellow scholars.)
Breakfast was a scrumptious buffet that has been graciously supplied for us. I am assuming past bloggers have described what this consists of so I will not dwell on the known. Add 2 hot chocolates to start the count.
The lecture schedule was two in the morning, and one after lunch. We had the privilege to meet two new faces and see for the second time Urlike Horstmann-Guthrie. The first class started at the uniform 9:00 a.m. with Dr. Jessica Sharkey, where we discussed the Tudors and Hampton court Palace. In this wonderful lecture we learned of the true founder and origin of the palace, Thomas Wolsey, and everything having to do with his role in Henry VIII reign. Also how Hampton Court became associated with the monarchy, and how it and the Tudors are being used today. After this we had the energetic Simone Brown, who gave us a fantastic introduction to Macbeth, which we will have the pleasure of seeing the 24th! We went into detail on the characters of Macbeth and their purposes, as well as Shakespeare’s writing styles and public opinion. Add 4 hot chocolates, two during the break between lectures, and one for each lecture… come on that’s fair.
Now comes lunch time, now although the food served was identical to that served other days, we got a very special surprise. Usually our lunch is held in the Terrace Bar, although this is a bar no need to worry, the chaperones said we are legal in England. I’m not sure just ask them, but today oh man today we dined upstairs! I took a picture of the crazy moment as you can see. We also had an hour and a half for lunch, so we took this time to work, all around the gorgeous Madingley Hall. Oh by the way 3 more hot chocolates… hey cut me some slack I need something to wash down all the starch and my hands got cold.
Final lecture for the day began at 2:00 p.m. and we were taught about Jane Eyre, and all about woman rights, roles, characters in the book all about woman. Add one hot chocolate, I brought it from lunch.
Free time woo wooo, the majority of us took a trip to the Cambridge American Cemetery, it was about a two mile walk from our warm rooms in Madingley but very worth the experience. The cemetery is absolutely gorgeous and at least personally was, not to be cliché, an eye-opening experience for foreign relations and of course the strength and heroism shown by our men. Most of us took the rest of our free time to work on essays, except I do know a group of girls went out for a nice photoshoot around the grounds at Madingley. Ok I spent my study time in the Terrace Bar and the Terrace Bar (aka the café) is where the coffee/hot chocolate machines are so just imagine the temptation before you judge me on how many I drank… 5 more hot cocoas. THEY ARE SO GOOD!
Dinner was beef and potatoes, we had an appetizer of French Onion soup, and dessert was chocolate mousse. Delish. The dinner conversations are always quite splendid and I don’t want to give away any secrets, but dinner can definitely be described as our time to let off the high prestige we have been carrying all day and let our loopy brain dead emotions arise. For the two hours we have after dinner I downed 2 more hot chocolates, if you have been doing the math this whole time, shout out Mrs. Mills, I drank a grand total of 14 hot cocoas on the day, which is average. Going to be hard to leave this place, watch out parents you may find yourself investing in early birthday gift of a multifaceted coffee maker soon.
That ends my recollection of March 21st at the beautiful Madingley Hall, and I hope you all can survive without us cherubs for just a tad longer.
Today we woke up to beautiful 50 degree weather, similar to Florida in the winter just way better! Along with the beautiful weather we ate our delicious complimentary breakfast. For the rest of the day we spent the majority of our time at Madingley listening in on three lectures, except for one interesting lecture held at Churchill College.
After our lecture, we had a short break and then were off in our coach to Churchill College. When arriving at the college dedicated to the infamous Winston Churchill we had a brief tour and a lecture on Churchill’s three Spheres. On the tour, we explored the dining hall containing intricate designs, sat in King Edward the Vlll chair, and looked at official documents regarding Churchill. Once our tour concluded we sat down and Professor Mark Goldie informed us on Churchill’s duties as prime minister and his close relationships with other government leaders. It was intriguing to know that Churchill believed that if need be Britain would have fought against Hitler alone.
After our morning lectures, we took the coach back to Madingley and enjoyed a sandwich lunch. Especially the cheese, for some reason it tastes way better here than back home. Following our lunch was two afternoon lectures, pertaining to the poets John Donne, Wordsworth and Keats. In the first lecture, Elizabeth Rawlinson-Mills, started off by discussing Donne’s life and finding parallels between his own life and his poetry. Later on in the lecture we analyzed a couple of Donne’s poems and noticed the clever language and innuendos he used throughout his work. In the last lecture of the day, Mrs. Rawlinson-Mills informed us on Wordsworth and Keats writing. We also participated in an exercise she planned, which was to analyze a poem and explain to the rest of the class what the poet was trying to convey. An important quote we took from the lecture was that “All good poetry is the spontaneous overflow of powerful feeling” –Wordsworth.
Once our lectures for the day ended we had some free time before our yummy three course meals. Some of us regrouped with our friends in the Terrace bar after the long day we endured while others devoted their time to edit their essays. After our free time, we had our tasty dinner and then went upstairs to work on our essays with the company of Mrs. Mills’ wonderful piano playing.
This morning, we all awoke to a (relatively) warm day, with temperatures projected to be in the 50s. Everyone made sure to pack their bags before coming downstairs for breakfast. After we ate, there was an air of anxiety and urgency as everyone made their final edits to their essays. Of course, this was done in a British fashion, with a book and a cup of tea at hand. Finally, at 12:00, all of the essays were submitted! We collectively breathed a sigh of relief and went out into the Orchard on this beautiful day to eat our lunches and enjoy the spring flowers.
After going to the Orchard, we took the coach to Sidney Sussex, where we will be staying for the next week. All of us were excited to be back in town—and get new food besides the Madingley meat and potatoes! When we got there, we toured the college grounds, learning about the famous figures (such as Oliver Cromwell) who attended the College. Then, we had the afternoon to explore the town of Cambridge before many of us stopped for a dinner of burgers and shakes at Byron’s.
Afterwards, we walked a bit more before returning to our rooms to settle in for the night with the promise of a late start the next day and a much deserved rest for all of us.
Cheerio everyone! This morning I woke up with a huge grin on my face, for I couldn’t help but feel a sense of relief after submitting my essay the day before. Yesterday was our final day at Madingley Hall, and although it was sad to leave, we were excited for a change in scenery. Last night was our first at Sydney-Sussex College, so this morning was slightly different from those at Madingley. Through my window, I could hear the people on the streets opening shop, and I could smell the distinct scent of newly fallen rain on pavement coming in through my open window.
I promptly got out of bed, threw on my bright blue rain boots, and rushed downstairs to meet my friends, for we had priorly made a pact that whoever found the coolest café would get the window seat on the bus. After exploring town for a good fifteen minutes, we came across Abantu, a quirky organic, and cozy breakfast place that served locally produced cuisine. We took our seats on plush, magenta cushions, and ordered three yogurt-berry parfaits and one order of "farmer's eggs", which consisted of a mountain of scrambled eggs, spinach, and mushrooms piled high on top of two pieces of multigrain toast. We also ordered coffee, and my latte was absolutely delicious! We ate quickly, for we had to get back to the college right at 11:15, or the coach would leave without us. After running back to the college, we boarded the coach and embarked on a two-hour journey that pretty much consisted of pretzels and sleep.
Once we arrived to Stratford upon Avon, the first thing we did was visit the church where Shakespeare and numerous family members are buried. On his grave, the words, “Good friend, for Jesus' sake forebear, To dig the dust enclosed hear, Blessed be the man that spares these stones, And cursed be he that moves my bones”.
Next, we explored the town and encountered an adorable tea shop. The outdoor tea room was vacant, so around ten of us crammed to fit in two tiny tables, and all ordered “cream tea”, which was a wonderful scone pared with tea and clotted cream (which is basically butter but better). We all sat and chatted for a while, but then left and sightsaw around the town, meeting some interesting historical figures such as the ghost of William Shakespeare and a king knight in shining armor!
Later, we decided that we wanted to feed the swans in the river, so we purchased some swan food and gathered near the bank, watching them with deer-eyed fascination. It was amazing to watch how they crowded around one another and fought for food. I had never truly recognized what beautiful creatures swans are, and after today, I gained a newfound respect and wonder for them.
Afterwards, we ate an amazing dinner at Nandos and then got gelato, which is way better than ice-cream (it’s amazing how everything’s better in Europe!!). We then rushed to arrive at the Royal Shakespeare Theatre to watch a production of Macbeth, and it was an incredibly interesting, spine-chilling, and uniquely amazing production. As a prerequisite to come on this trip, we all had to read the play, so we had an understanding of what was happening. In this adaptation of Macbeth, the witches were played by young children, which added a sort of eeriness. The lighting and stage effects were spectacular, and the play went by rapidly. The actors were absolutely phenomenal, and I actually teared up at Macbeth’s final soliloquy. Afterwards, we got back on the bus and all slept soundly, for it was already 10:30 at night. When we arrived back to Sydney-Sussex, everyone immediately returned to their room and got a good night’s rest in order to prepare for the (Cambridge typical) amazing day we had instore.
Today was one of the days we were really looking forward to on the Cambridge trip: it was the day trip in to London! We got a pretty early start to the morning, and got on the bus at 8 a.m. for the two-hour journey in to London. Our first stop in the city was the London tower. Upon arriving at the London Tower, we went as a group to look at the crown jewels. Not only were the crowns of former monarchs displayed, but we also got to see coronation rings, magnificent gold kitchenware, clothing, swords, and more items previously belonging to British royalty. After looking at the crown jewels we had free time to explore the London Tower and the surrounding area. We continued to explore the London Tower for a while, and got to see things like former torture chambers for prisoners, as well as actual engravings the prisoners being held carved in to the walls of the tower. It was really fascinating and historic to see such an iconic place in person!
After we were done exploring the Tower, we explored the surrounding city area. There was a gift shop, many authentic food stands, coffee shops, restaurants, and more. We decided to take pictures with the amazing view of the London Bridge in the background and had a delicious lunch on the side of the River Thames. The group met up again at 2:15 and headed back to the bus to go to our next stop, St. Paul’s Cathedral.
We took the short ride to St. Paul’s and were in awe when we arrived. The Cathedral was way bigger and grander than we ever imagined. It was beautiful on the outside, but the inside was also very magnificent, full of detail and stained class. We had a few hours to explore the Cathedral in groups, and decided we would climb the hundreds and hundreds of stairs to make it to the very top, where we would have an amazing view of the city. Although it was a little claustrophobic, and probably not ideal if for those afraid of heights, it was worth it! The view of the city from the top was incredible, we could even see Big Ben and The London Eye from up there. We made our way back down, and met up with entire group again before heading back to Cambridge. Once we had everyone back together, we took the two-hour bus ride back to the college.
When we got back to the college around 6:30, we were all pretty tired after such a long, fun day. We regrouped and then were free to go get our own dinner. We decided to try out an Asian place right near the college, and were glad we did because it was great. After eating, we all just relaxed and hung out until curfew at 10 o’clock.
After listening to everyone’s words of “The trip is absolutely life-changing,” the saying has clearly proved itself of being true. As each day spent here is exceptionally exciting and unique, the day we have all been awaiting for finally arrived… supervision time!! As the clock ticked, starting from nine in the morning to two-thirty in the afternoon, each student spent thirty minutes with their designated instructor in hopes to perfect their essay. But, before I go into further detail, I’ll bring myself and the people reading to the beginning of the day. As our time to wake up is usually around eight, I gained myself a couple hours of sleep as I woke up at eleven, not having any tasks that needed to be done in the morning. Missing breakfast, a group of us decided to stop at Harriets Café and Tearoom across the street. Even though I told myself my stomach couldn’t handle any more sandwiches, I ended up a ordering a tasty tuna fish cucumber on rye in the end, with a side of chips(fries). As the hands of the clock moved closer and closer to one forty-five, my specific supervision time, I made my way to the Knox-Shaw Room and waited my turn. Within each step I took, my nerves lifted off my shoulder as I walked closer to Professor Ulrike Horstmann-Guthrie, who greeted me with a warming smile. The thirty minutes went by abnormally quick as I acquired all this useful information dealing with Great Expectations and my essay, and I wished that it never had to end.
But when in Cambridge, it’s not like there isn’t another exciting event waiting in line. From jotting down sloppy notes to maneuvering our way down the stream with a pole, we took a trip down The River Cam to enjoy some punting. From personal experience (it’s pretty awesome I can say that now) punting is more difficult than it looks. Trying to avoid bumping into the old concrete walls that surrounded us and of course not falling into the muddy waters ourselves, we each took a turn on captaining the punt; besides some little crashes here and there, I would say we all did an excellent job and now have yet another story to share. In dealing with the scenery and history on the river and the churches, the experience was, no surprise, breathtaking. Our tour guide presented us with some interesting background information, such as the location of the first Harry Potter film and the different bridges’ stories we passed under, for instance, “The Mathematician Bridge,” which was constructed by fellow Cambridge students. As our punting time came to an end, we ventured back to Sidney Sussex in which we ended the night with a delicious dinner at the College Hall. Overall, the day of March 27th was spectacular, just like every other day has been on this true life-changing trip.
We all woke up to the calming sound of rain splashing against or windows here at Sidney Sussex. We were up bright and early, ready to take on the day. At 7:50 we picked up our packaged breakfast from the dining hall and met the coach at the end of the street. The Cambridge streets were desert and quiet in the morning. Our coach arrived promptly at 8:00 a.m., and we were all ready for our two hour trip to visit Hampton Court.
Just for some background information, about a week before we had learned about Hampton Court through an intriguing lecture by Dr. Jessica Sharkey. We learned that the founder of the palace was Thomas Wolsey and that Henry VII took Wolsey’s original home and converted into the Tudor palace. It is no longer where the English monarchy live, but there are private apartments still in use today by English citizens.
We arrived at the Hampton Court Palace at around 10:30 a.m. Once we were given our tickets, we all headed out to explore the grounds. Mai-Brie, Quinn, Nancy, and I were taken aback by the sheer beauty of the palace. It looked straight out of a fairytale. Once we were in, we decided to look at the apartments of the king on the second floor first. The rooms were majestically decorated with lavish paintings hung up all over. Next, we came back downstairs and visited King Henry VIII’s kitchen, the largest of Europe in his time. The kitchen was very large and dark. Finally, we decided to visit the gorgeous gardens. We were mesmerized by the elaborate design of the garden and decided to walk, as best we could with the rain, through the garden. After approximately two hours of exploring, we decided to eat. We ended up at the Tiltyard Café. We ran through the cold rain into the café and sat on comfortable couches. The café was very beautiful and cozy looking. We all ordered soup and pasta. For dessert, we decided to try something new and go for an English specialty: Victorian sponge cake. It was delicious! It is now one of my all-time favorite types of cake. After getting warm enough, we decided to head back towards the palace and visit the art gallery. The art gallery featured paintings depicting religion, war, and monarchy. It was very interesting to look at and we were lucky enough to be able to take pictures! Before we knew it, our time had run out at Hampton Court and we were heading back to Cambridge.
We arrived at Cambridge at around 7:00 p.m. Some of us decided to try an Italian restaurant called Don Pasquale. Most of us ordered margherita pizza and cannolis. The food was amazing and we all hoped that we could come back at some point. At around 9:00 p.m. a couple of people decided to go to mass at King’s chapel while others decided to rest at Sydney Sussex. By 10:00 p.m. everyone was back in their rooms, preparing for our last day of lectures and the closing dinner.
For our last full day at Sidney Sussex College, we started the day off with a quick breakfast in the dining hall. This was followed by our last two Cambridge lectures ever. The first, about the abdication crisis, laid the foundation for us to understand the modern monarchy. The second lecture of the day, and final lecture of the trip, taught us all about the reign of Elizabeth II. We learned about her role and style as a monarch as well as her history. Appropriately, we ended our lecture series with the most modern monarch and a much more informed view on the British Monarchy.
After the lectures, we had a few hours for free time to enjoy our favorite parts of the city or explore new ones. About half of us visited the historic Eagle pub and spent the time remembering the favorite parts of our trip. Once we finished our steak pies, fish and chips, burgers, and mac and cheese, many of us ordered the highly recommended brownie with mint chocolate chip ice cream. Then we split up for the last couple hours of free time in Sidney Sussex. I spent the rest of this time getting ready for the dinner. The students also used a bit of this free time to write a thank you note to a person in Cambridge who contributed to making this trip possible for us. Professors, tour guides, program organizers, etc., all made this wonderful experience possible and we wanted to make sure they know how appreciated they are. All of these people have made Cambridge our home for the past two weeks and make leaving so much harder.
Once we turned in our thank you notes and were dressed, we got on the bus to our last dinner of the Cambridge program at Madingley Hall. This was one of the best dinners of the entire trip, not only because of the food, but also because all of us were able to get together one last time with a few of the people who made this trip possible. During dinner, we talked about what we loved about the program (everything) and what we thought needed to be changed (basically nothing). We were served chicken with mashed potatoes, tiramisu with ice cream, and a cheese course at the very end. Meals finished, and truly stuffed, all of us went upstairs to the saloon at Madingley for coffee and tea as well as to receive our certificates and take a group photo. While we had a little bit of time to relax before getting on the bus back to Sindey Sussex College, many of us used the time to take pictures with each other and to thank the professors and program organizers who came to dinner.
Back at Sidney Sussex awaited the most nerve-racking part of the trip – receiving our essay grades. After returning to our rooms and beginning to pack, our teachers came to us one by one to notify us of our combined essay and supervision grades. The wait was awful, but the result was great. I think that all of the students on this trip should be proud of our performance, not only on the essay but in the program as a whole. Receiving these grades left one more task for our trip – packing to go home. So, we packed for the flight, hoping that our bags didn’t exceed the 50-pound limit after all of the souvenirs we bought, and got as ready to return home as possible.
This morning started out quite eventful, with both Mai-Brie and me sleeping through our alarms. Quinn came to wake us up as the bus was leaving and helped us get downstairs within five minutes. We just made the bus, and our day officially started at 6 as we left for the airport. We all spent last night anxiously waiting at our doors for one of the teachers to knock and tell us our essay scores. Overall, we were extremely pleased! Everyone is exhausted, but I know I can speak for everyone when I say that we’re so sad to have to leave this wonderful place. This has truly been the experience of a lifetime. First of all, coming to one of the most prestigious universities in the world is an amazing opportunity in itself. However, with the additional sightseeing and lectures, this trip is something I’m sure none of us have ever experienced before. It was wonderful to see the culture of England and visit the different towns and cities: Cambridge, Stratford-upon-Avon, and London. Life is so different here, from the food to driving on the other side of the road, and it was great to be exposed to something other than the lifestyle we’re used to. Also, the lectures not only gave us deep insight into the subjects, but it taught us about learning itself. We were exposed to many different teaching styles and the amount of information and details given to us over the past two weeks have truly expanded my mind and made me appreciate the topic of “The Crown and Crisis” even more. We also had a few lectures that tied to the activities that we were doing. For example, we had a lecture about Hampton Court before going there to see it ourselves, and we had a lecture about Macbethbefore seeing the play. It was amazing to see how the lectures connected to the things that we were seeing outside of the classroom.
After talking to many of my fellow classmates, I can say that one of the favorite activities of the trip was definitely seeing the play Macbeth. The significant role of the Porter definitely surprised us and he ended up being the favorite (favourite in England) character of many people, including me. Another highlight of the trip was ascending the 528 steps to the top of St. Paul’s Cathedral, where we had a magnificent view of London. I don’t think I’ll ever forget running down the 528 steps in four minutes so we weren’t late for the bus. It was also amazing to see the Tower of London, King’s Church, Hampton Court, etc. Lastly, the supervision was an incredible opportunity to learn about our strengths and weaknesses in writing and to hear the perspective of a Cambridge college professor!
We are now on a flight from Dallas to home. It was a long first flight, but we all spent it watching movies and working (of course)! In Texas, we scoured the terminal for great food places, and between the fifteen of us ate at California Pizza Kitchen, Einstein Bagels, Chick-Fil-A, and Dunkin Donuts. However, our five-hour layover turned into seven hours. We boarded the plane on time, but when pulling out to the runway, the plane turned around and stopped at a different gate because of two reasons. First of all, there was an intoxicated lady that was causing a disturbance and therefore had to be taken off the plane. After she was removed, the rest of us then had to get off and board another plane because one of the windows “couldn’t sustain the icy conditions off of the coast of Florida.” The picture of everyone standing and sitting in front of gate C8 was while we were “patiently” waiting to get on the second plane. Over two hours after our original departure time, we finally pulled onto the runway and took off. Mostly everyone has spent this flight sleeping. We will return home around 2:00 AM (7:00 AM in England)—resulting in over 24 hours of traveling. I cannot be sadder that this trip is coming to an end (however, I am grateful that this travel day is finally almost over). I feel like the saying “sad it’s over but glad it happened” perfectly describes this trip. I wish we could all stay at Cambridge to study and explore, but I am truly thankful and honored that I’ve had the opportunity to experience everything this tremendous program has offered us. On behalf of all the students who attended, I would like to give a HUGE thank you to Mr. Klemme, Mrs. Jurskis, Mrs. Mills, Sarah, Emma, and all of our wonderful professors who made this unbelievable adventure possible!
Overall, as I’m sure you have seen by all of the previous blogs, this has been a SPLENDIFEROUS trip!!
- March 18: Anticipation - Kaitlyn Campbell
- March 19: Geeking Out in Madingley Hall - Jack Maloney
- March 20: Satan & Shakespeare - Aaron Simons
- March 21: Reading Woolf & Hardy in Cambridge - Martina Cavard
- March 22: Statues, Moths, and Kittens – Oh My! - Morgan McClure
- March 23: A Room with a View - Miranda Boodheshwar
- March 24: Lectures & Essays - Faith Maniti
- March 25: New Keys for Caius - Alyson Brusie
- March 26: A Visit to the Bard's Hometown - Robbie Linck
- March 27: Waffles and Punting - Alexa Kaszak
- March 28: Frankenstein & Churchill College - Patricia Bigos
- March 29: London - Emily Winkler
- March 30: Learning from the Best -Nickolas Chen
- March 31: Ely & Exploration - Max McGould
- April 1: Cheerio, Cambridge - Tara O'Brien
March 17, 2017
Alright readers, I'm just going to be honest with you: this morning was probably the most anxious I've ever been. This trip, three months-no, three years-in the making, was finally happening. Not only would I be leaving my family and my friends in Florida, but I would also be required to write an academic paper for some of the world's most elite professors. The whole idea seemed surreal. I checked and double checked my bags to make sure I had everything. Finally, arriving at school and seeing all my classmates just as anxious and excited as I was made me feel just the slightest bit better.
Mrs. Jurskis did some final checks and all of us hugged and kissed our parents goodbye. Upon loading the bus we made sure we had everyone and waved our final goodbyes out the window. The two hour bus ride with filled with anxious conversation and the sound ofFinding Dory playing in the background.
At the airport we did all the usual things: check in, security, and finding the gate. While our chaperones watched the bags all of us ventured off in search of one last American meal together until we met back at the gate before boarding at 9:15 pm. Patricia, Morgan, Faith, and I were a bit early to the gate, and collapsed on the floor to enjoy a gummy pizza Faith had bought at a snack shop. We must have looked very odd to passersby, but to us this was just one of the many steps of our travel process.
At 9:30 we were boarding the plane. Alyson Brusie, Miranda Boodheshwar, and I found our seats next to each other and settled in for the long 8 and a half hour flight ahead of us. Mostly the flight consisted of attempts at sleep and watching movies. By the time we all were fully coherent, the flight attendants were announcing our descent into London. Thirty minutes later, all sixteen of us had deplaned and stood in front of a large window at the end of the jetway. We all became very aware of the fact that we had finally made it to England.
Greetings from England! Yes, after nearly 24 hours of travel we have actually arrived at our final destination of Madingley Hall at Cambridge in England. Upon waking on a plane with the sunrise and viewing the green landscapes outside, we all had sort of a "Toto, I don't think we're in Kansas anymore" moment realizing that we were now in a foreign country. From there, we exited our plane and took a quick coffee stop before boarding our coach to travel another 2 hours by bus to reach Madingley Hall. As we pulled up to Madingley Hall I felt overwhelmed by a sense of magic since I felt that Madingley Hall bore an uncanny resemblance to Malfoy Manor from the Harry Potter franchise (see comparison picture). At that point, more than a few of us regretted not bringing our souvenir wands and Hogwarts house scarves. After geeking out for more than a few minutes, we all gathered in the Stuart Room, which was to be our classroom for the next few days, and were welcomed by some of the staff at Madingley. Following introductions, we ate a delicious sandwich and cheese lunch at the Terrace Bar with a view of the gardens and sculpted hedges.
With full tummies, we reboarded the buses and headed over to central Cambridge to tour some of the beautiful colleges and cathedrals there. If you thought Harry Potter References were over, you thought wrong. As we walked through the town, I could not help but point out to all my peers that Cambridge seemed to bear a resemblance to Diagon Alley. I immediately took out my phone and began playing John William's Diagon Alley score as we walked through central Cambridge. Throughout the afternoon, we visited various beautiful cathedrals and saw more than one choir performing and practicing church hymns. Sorry, we did not see choirs we saw angels ACTUAL ANGELS (they weren't angels they were just amazing). Our afternoon ended with a return to Madingley and a fantastic three-course meal for dinner. Following dinner, we all returned to our rooms Jet lagged and found that it only took resting our heads down on a pillow to fall directly into a deep sleep.
After a day of touring to get us settled in, we jumped right into the notorious Cambridge lectures…
Our first night at Cambridge a success; we all arrived to breakfast with curious interest – just what would an English breakfast at Madingley Hall look like? We were pleasantly surprised with scrambled eggs, seasoned bacon, savory sausages, crunchy croissants, and a full coffee and juice bar to satiate any spots of our stomachs that had not been filled. With our tummies full of authentic British food, we gathered our notebooks and texts and went to the Stuart Room to begin our first lecture.
Our first sequence of lectures (two of them, split up by 30 minutes of a coffee-and-tea break) was aboutParadise Lost. We discussed the prospects of good and bad, justice and fate, and so much more. Dr. Fred Parker, our lecturer for the three hours, was fantastic to listen to. Paradise Lost is already such a rich text, but Dr. Parker was definitely able to enhance the poem for all of us. We discussed the history of the poem as well, tying back to our theme of rhetoric and social change, and how the poem was so greatly influenced by the political climate surrounding it.
I would also like to add that I, for one, completely support this schooling schedule: 90-minute lectures broken up by 30-minute snack breaks.
After a short sandwich lunch in the Terrace Bar, we headed back to discuss Hamlet. Elizabeth Rawlinson-Mills explored the play with us in an engaging and thought-provoking way. We discussed the use of rhetoric and persuasion in the text, but then, to examine the concept of change in Hamlet, Ms. Rawlinson-Mills described the process of obtaining a Shakespearean play. We travelled through the First Quarto, the Second Quarto, and the Folio editions – only to learn that none of them are really a perfectly accurate transcription of what Shakespeare wrote. It frustrated me – specifically, as an actor – to learn that there are so many different versions of Hamlet, and it is impossible to know if you are performing (or studying) the “right” one.
Next, we were allotted three hours to explore Madingley Hall. While I opted to stay in my room and work on my essay, I did open my window and allow the spring-like sounds and smell of Cambridge to fill my room while I outlined Thomas Hardy’s Tess of the D’Urbervilles.
We concluded the day with a wonderful three-course dinner (the entrée: beef stew, carrots, spinach, and mashed potatoes). We then returned to our rooms to continue our essays and prepare for the next day of lectures.
Greetings from Cambridge! The last two days have been filled with lectures, exploring, and amazingly good food. Today held all the same elements, but a closer essay deadline and a trip to the library.
We started off our day with a delicious continental breakfast (the continent is Europe!!!) in the dining room to fuel ourselves for the textually packed day that awaited us. After breakfast, we gathered our materials and sat down in the Stuart Room, eagerly waiting for the lectures on the texts we’ll be writing about. What set today’s lectures apart from the other ones is that we finally got a chance to meet with the professors that will be evaluating our essays. We had already met Professor UlrikeHorstmann-Guthrie from when she visited Oxbridge in the winter, and Professor Elizabeth Rawlinson-Mills had given us a lecture on Hamlet the day before. However, today was special. Today, we had the opportunity to talk to the professors about our essays: what they expected from us, what to avoid when writing, formatting and length, and other general guidelines.
Ms. Horstmann-Guthrie began the day with a two-part lecture on Virginia Woolf’s extended essay, A Room of One’s Own. We discussed the rhetorical devices Woolf used to develop her thesis and her ideas regarding “women and fiction.” We focused particularly on her tone, self-effacement, use of literary devices (e.g. repetition, characterization, and symbolism), and criticism of other female writers. It was SO interesting to explicate and contextualize Woolf’s writing in such great detail with Professor Guthrie. She offered us new perspectives on moments that seemed to be clear and straightforward, which I found to be the most interesting elements to consider.
Following this, we had our group evaluation meeting where we discussed the do's and don'ts of our essays, and then we had a sandwich lunch on the Terrace Bar. After our lunch, we went to our last lecture of the day: Tess of D’Urbervilles with Professor Rawlinson-Mills. This lecture was especially interesting because we examined Thomas Hardy’s attitude towards “change” through specific moments in the text. This included, but was not limited to, change in characters, technology, religion, social-class, and historical landscape. What I loved about this lecture was the group discussion; Hardy’s intentional ambiguity allowed for a variety of different interpretations, and we all had the opportunity to share and examine them as a group.
After our lectures, we took a coach to the Faculty of English Library, where we had 90 minutes to work and look for any additional readings or material that we’d like to incorporate into our essays.
When we made it back to Madingley Hall, we were told to meet at 6:30 for a tour of the hall. We were subsequently given a tour (which included a secret passage used by Prince Albert while he lived there) alongside explanations of its rich history. After this, we had, yet again, a DELICIOUS three-course dinner followed by free time to explore or work on our essays. Then we went to bed and prepared for the next day of lectures.
Statues, Moths, and Kittens – Oh My!
Upon awaking, the forefront thought in my mind was ‘this isn’t my bed’. Everyone has moments like these on vacations, and for me it took a few seconds to remember that I was in fact in Cambridge, England, and would soon be seated in the Stuart Room we were all growing so rapidly accustomed to, to listen to some of the leading professors in their subjects. I opened my curtains to look out over the courtyard above which my room was positioned and was greeted by the stoic face of the statue that resides in the room directly across from mine. At first, I had been wary of this stony figure, but I have already grown familiar with seeing its face whenever I want to take a peek outside. After getting ready, I was quick to make my way downstairs and meet my peers for our Hogwarts-style breakfast.
We started our day off with a lecture from Ms. Elizabeth Rawlinson-Mills on Tess of the D’Urbervilles; one of the two novels students could chose to write their essay on. After a captivating lecture, we broke for tea and biscuits, a growing favorite among students. Upon reconvening in the Stuart Room we were greeted by Dr. David Smith, who would be lecturing us for a total of three hours on the Protestant Reformation and the English Civil War, with a break in between for sandwich lunch. These would be our first lectures that did not pertain to reading we had done in class, and I was excited to learn more on the history of England. Dr. Smith proved to be an entrancing lecturer, and I left the lectures feeling a great deal more knowledgeable on the subjects presented. We had a second tea break, sans biscuits, before our final lecture of the day on the abolition of slavery. I believe I speak for everyone on the Cambridge trip when I say we were blown away by the prowess and skill our last lecturer, Dr. Graham McCann, had on his subject. It was a privilege to have such proficient presenters in our midst.
We wrapped our day up with a delicious dinner, the highlight being the toffee sauce glazed brownie and raspberry sherbet that was served for dessert. Afterwards, I made my way to the Terrace Bar for some hot chocolate, and was lucky enough to get a first hand account of the infamous Luna moth story, as told by Mrs. Jurskis. In the time left before room check I settled in for a not-so-friendly game of Exploding Kittens with some of my peers, Mr. Childree, and Mrs. Mills. After a final close round, we all retreated to our rooms for the night to prepare for the coming day.
Good day to everyone back home in Florida (or wherever you are reading this from)!
It’s t-minus one night until essays are due and everyone is working, working, working! But before that, we had a series of four equally amazing lectures.
The first two lectures were taught by Dr. Lang on the topics of British Imperialism and the Indian Independence. Dr. Lang is a particularly wonderful and engaging lecturer. He structured his lectures as to build suspense, for example, in the revelation of the United States’ role in Pakistan’s creation. He had a diverse mix of media, constantly keeping us on our toes. He introduced the first topic of British Imperialism by asking us to analyze and imagine the story behind a scan of an old packaging of Bootlaces. By just this, we reached the conclusion of the package’s importance: propagating British expansion by it’s (common) target of adventurers and soldiers. We learned that everything (and even those that aren’t there) is important to the power of advertisement and persuasion and is often done on purpose as to portray a message.
The third lecture was taught by Ms. Elizabeth Rawlinson-Mills on the topic of War Poetry. This was particularly exciting because everyone had their own favorite poem and perspective towards war. We analyzed different poets, often soldiers of war, and how their perspectives differed—from patriotism to hatred and disgust. I loved this lecture because it combined both literature and rhetoric beautifully and in an interesting way.
The fourth and final lecture was taught by Dr. Lacey, who spoke about the difference, if any, between propaganda and information and their importance in London’s sanity during the second World War. Not only were the old advertisements awesome, ranging from cooking books on rations to warning of “careless talking”, but the video he showed us at the end, showing how the people of London prepared for German aerial bombings at night. The most amazing thing, I felt, was, despite the uselessness of the guns London citizens used at night to shoot the planes (due to their lack of range and obscure light), citizens in their shelters felt safe when they heard their nation’s gunshots. This was interesting because I realized that propaganda can be both good and bad.
With the lectures over, everyone is buzzing with anxiety (both good and bad) on their essays. Some are out on their last walks, taking in the beautiful scenery. Some are in the Terrace Bar, several cups of caffeine surrounding each one, all the way until the last minutes before curfew. While it can be nerve-wracking, we’re all excited on what we’ve learned so far and what’s to come!
See you all soon!
Every day I’ve woken up in the morning since we’ve arrived, I have been thrilled that I am here at Cambridge University and surprised that I’m across the Atlantic Ocean from everything I’ve ever known. Today was no exception, as today was the day we were to turn in our infamous Cambridge essays to our supervisors: Ms. Elizabeth Rawlinson-Mills for everyone completing essays on Tess of the D’Urbervilles by Thomas Hardy or Ms. Ulrike Horstmann-Guthrie for everyone completing essays on A Room of One’s Own by Virginia Woolf. As my essay for A Room of One’s Own was mostly completed on Tuesday night, Friday morning was my time to make some last minute edits before finally turning it in.
After packing up all of my belongings, I had to say goodbye to room 62 and my roommate, Martina Cavard, as the next place we would call our temporary home, Gonville and Caius, only had single occupancy dorms.
Because of the fact that I was mostly done with my essay, I had some time to spare before the 1:00 pm deadline. For those of us that were farther along in the writing process, Ms. Jurskis offered if anyone wanted to go to the Cambridge American Cemetery. I decided to go with Ms. Jurskis, Ms. Mills, and Morgan McClure to the cemetery. The cemetery was a little ways away, but the walk was lovely with the small tree farm and journey past Madingley Hall, along with seeing a bit of wildlife along the way. We finally arrived to the ominous but beautiful looking white stone sign adorned with a bald eagle carving.
Once we walked up a set of stone stairs, we saw of all the white crosses, symbolizing all of the bodies of Americans who died in World War II in Europe, were aligned in neat rows in a seemingly semicircular pattern. The crosses seemed to stretch on for what seemed like miles. It really put into perspective for me the amount of people that died for our country during World War II. After this humbling view, we went into the chapel on site. Upon entering the chapel, the first thing I noticed was the massive mosaic along the ceiling and ending at the floor of the eastern facing wall of planes with angels flying alongside them. As I continued to look around, every other window on the wall nearest to me and the southern facing wall was adorned with a state seal. The northern wall was covered with a map of the world with golden colored rods fanning out across the map with little planes following a golden flight route and little ships dotting the ocean on the map.
Upon walking out of the chapel, we saw an American flag flying high behind several pools of water (like the Washington monument in Washington DC). We passed a wall filled with thousands of names of soldiers whose bodies were never recovered stretching across the northern end of the cemetery. We then walked to the visitors center which contained a lot of history, so much that you could probably spend a whole day taking everything in. But in the realization that it was approaching 1pm, we had to bid farewell to the final resting place of thousands of young patriotic individuals that died protecting our freedom.
As the time to submit our essays was getting closer, I made my final revisions to my paper and submitted it. The pressure was finally off to get the essay done! I believe I can speak for everyone that we all here at Cambridge all felt relieved after we submitted our papers. After
everyone submitted their essays, we bid a final farewell to Madingley Hall and went to The Orchard Tea Garden, where we had afternoon tea and some assortment of pastries. It was further humbling to know that seemingly legions of famous authors and people also had afternoon tea at the same garden in the past, including Virginia Woolf, the author of the book that I wrote my essay on.
After tea, we went over to near the center of town to meet the building where we were staying and having lectures: Gonville and Caius (FYI: Caius is pronounced “keys” for those of you that may have been confused). We then had a tour of Gonville and Caius from the president of the college, Dr. Michael Wood (and he let us walk on the grass!). Dr. Wood told us the story of the rich history of the college, from its founding and how it became Gonville and Caius to even the minor details about the college that you don’t see at first glance, like the “Cambridge Leap.”
Once the tour had concluded, we thanked Dr. Wood for the tour and took up all of our belongings to our rooms. As we were now free to arrange dinner because we were in the city, I joined Emily Winkler, Aaron Simons, and Miranda Boodheshwar for dinner and a bit of exploring before returning back to our rooms to get a goodnight’s sleep before the next day.
Like all days here, today was unique in the “Cambridge Experience.” We’d spent our first night of many at Gonville and Caius College and woke up rejuvenated from our change in scenery. We used our morning free time for a bit of exploring and to grab a bite to eat, many of us at Cambridge’s Crêpeaffaire where the “I’ll Have What She’s Having” quickly became the crêpe of choice. We made our way back through the quintessentially English town, and, after a quick headcount, were loaded onto the bus. Destination Stratford-upon-Avon, home to the one and only, William Shakespeare!
Our two-hour trip was hastened by the jaw-dropping English countryside, home to its endless hills and seemingly infinite number of sheep. When we arrived at Stratford, Mrs. Jurskis gave us a brief walking tour of the town’s most significant landmarks. We took a walk through Shakespeare’s church, complete with his baptismal font and burial place. We passed by Shakespeare’s grammar school and ventured inside a 14th-century church. After a picture-op with the ghost of Hamlet’s father, who’s a bit more forward than one might have imagined, we were passed the reigns and told we could split up to explore the remaining treasures Stratford had to offer.
The 5 hours allotted for exploration, which had at first seemed extremely generous, were quickly depleted. Marked by a trip to Shakespeare’s home, a walk through the intricacies of fudge making, and an exploration of the town’s antique and rare bookstores, spending time in Stratford soon climbed to the top of many of our lists of England’s must-dos. After an authentic meal of fish and chips and what has since been titled “swan whispering,” we shuffled into the Royal Shakespeare Company’s Theater to see their rendition of Antony and Cleopatra. Their execution was astonishing; the props, the choreography, all exact. While it was the sum of all parts that contributed to our great reviews, most agreed that Cleopatra had completely stolen the show. Filling the shoes of one of Shakespeare’s most emotionally complex characters is an almost insurmountable task, but the RSC’s Cleopatra met and exceeded expectations.
The performance over, we reconvened and after another headcount, were back on the bus, destination: Gonville. We made it back at 1:30 AM, tired from our full day of adventure. Most of us were quick to get to sleep, but despite even that, three were still asleep at our 12 PM check-in the next morning, myself included.
With everyday I wake up in my dorm room overlooking the streets of Gonville and Caius, I am blown away by the immense culture and beautiful scenery of England. After a week long of studying under the most highly acclaimed professors and lecturers at Madingly Hall, today was our day to explore whatever we chose in the town of Gonville and Caius. Our group’s first choice … the infamous Belgian waffles stand on the outskirts of the marketplace. These waffles, amongst many other things in England, are like nothing I have ever seen. “The Princess Charlotte” waffle, adorned with white chocolate syrup, rainbow sprinkles, colored marshmallows, and a scoop of vanilla ice cream was among my favorite, although we ordered four more just to make sure we savored in the full food experience. After a breakfast we’d say fit for kings, we went on a punting tour. Punts are similar to canoes and are operated by tour guides who use the bottom of the river and a long metal pole to propel the punt through the water. It was a nice way to tour the different colleges of Cambridge and see them from a different perspective.
Once back on dry land, the buzzing sounds of the marketplace impelled us to join the comradery. The marketplace is arguably for me the liveliest part of town. Anything from meat and produce to jewelry and soap can be found within an area smaller than one city block. We divulged in the culture and bustle of the marketplace until our wallets were empty, sorry parents, and then settled in a café to tend to the school responsibilities that we hadn’t truly left back at Oxbridge upon our departure: a study session with our very own Mrs. Mills. Among hot chocolate, tea, and cappuccinos we completed our calculus computations and headed out for dinner, a nice Italian restaurant with a bigger group of students. After dinner we scourged the streets in search of macaroons and ice cream, but realizing that most everything closes at 5pm, we settled for the only late night burger restaurant for milkshakes and french-fries, or chips as they call them here. With full stomachs and still 45 minutes left before curfew, all of us students headed to Tree Court, our dorm building’s courtyard, to talk and bring another day to a close. It was a thoroughly enjoyable day, just as every other day has been, but overall I can honestly say this has been one of the most amazing experiences I could’ve ever asked for. This trip has taken us through a myriad of subjects as well as deeper into every text we’ve studied this year in English class, and in some of the coolest accents I’ve ever heard. I have learned more here in this past week and a half than at any other point in my academic life, but also by just being here have learned and experienced a completely different culture and way of life. For example, English people not only drive on the wrong side of the road, but they’ve also reversed the placement of the up and down sides of their escalators, something I learned the hard way.
Overall, it has been an amazing experience that we’ve gotten to spend with incredible professors, our wonderful teachers, and now closest friends. We are incredibly honored to be here and be named Cambridge Scholars.
Now accustomed to my large, empty dorm room, I woke up around 7:30 feeling rather peaceful. The birds outside were singing away, and as I pulled back my curtains, I was greeted with a fantastic view of the Tree Court. Given the thick fog, I could tell it was going to be chilly, so I grabbed my coat and ran downstairs to meet everyone for our breakfast. Just like in Madingley Hall, the food was phenomenal, and everyone seemed in high spirits; today was our first day of lectures here at Gonville and Caius. We ran off into the lecture room: a giant, rather intimidating place compared to the cozy Stuart Room we were accustomed to at Madingley. I was a little bit jumpy, either from the excitement of being in a new lecture hall or from the coffee-- I don’t know. Regardless, we took our seats and got our books out, ready for the lectures to come.
Our first lecture was on Frankenstein, with professor Ulrike Horstmann-Guthrie as our lecturer. Being a big fan of this novel, I was completely intrigued with her analysis of character development and the morality of Victor Frankenstein’s experiments. After the lecture, we were all ushered into a bus heading to Churchill College, the location of our next lecture. We were greeted by an impressive campus, in the middle of which stood our professor and tour guide, Mark Goldie. An expert on both Winston Churchill as well as the college that was created in honor of him, he lead us around, showing us all of the incredibly valuable historical documents and artworks they had archived. Once the tour was finished, we all took our seats for the lecture. Mr. Goldie’s descriptions of Churchill were very engaging and showed just how influential he had been to have a college named after him. Once the lecture was complete, we bid the campus farewell and headed back to the now familiar territory: Gonville and Caius. Given about an hour for lunch, Faith, Morgan, Jack, Tara, Alexa, and I all sprinted to a little-known pizza place down the street. We wolfed down our food and headed back to the lecture hall for our third lecture about rhetoric in the cold war. Dr. Jon Davis explained to us in a very engaging manner the way that Mikhail Gorbachev, Ronald Reagan, and Margaret Thatcher all influenced and interacted with each other in a way that was incredibly new to us. Our fourth and last lecture of the day was with Dr. Graham McCann, regarding women’s suffrage. Though it was a topic a lot of us thought we knew everything about, as always, Dr. McCann was able to teach us all vast amounts in the short hour and a half lecture.
Now somewhat tired of being inside, Faith, Morgan, Miranda and I all took a walk through the city before dinner. We got some snacks and did some other shopping, and then headed back for our first group dinner at Gonville and Caius. Everyone was excited about the long day of exploration we have ahead of us tomorrow in London, as well as the chocolate cake that was on the menu. Now happy that we had eaten and had nothing left on our schedule for the night, almost everyone in the Cambridge group took a walk in search of coffee. Morgan, Nick, Brian and I split off from the coffee-seekers when we saw a restaurant that served boba tea, and spent about an hour there, sipping our drinks and chatting about the memorable days to come as our trip slowly begins wrapping up.
Today, day 12, we went to London! We started the morning off early by picking up a nice boxed breakfast before departing on a 2-hour bus ride to St. Paul’s Cathedral in London. The breakfast boxes contained an interesting variety, including a croissant, orange juice, cookies, and a chocolate bar!
Upon arriving to St. Paul’s Cathedral around 10:30, we were given free time to explore the church and even visit the Whispering Gallery. In order to get to the Whispering Gallery, you have to walk up 200+ steep stairs. The Whispering Gallery is located on the edge of the famous dome that is inside the St. Paul’s cathedral. The view down inside the church is beautiful, but the height of the gallery can be a bit scary.
After leaving St. Paul’s, we were given an hour to get lunch right around the church. My friends and I went to a burger bar and enjoyed handcrafted burgers, shakes, and fries.
Next, we went to the famous Globe Theatre for a tour and a workshop. Being inside this highly regarded and historical theatre was a once in a life- time experience. The beauty of the theatre and the stage cannot even be captured in pictures. After a brief tour, we were given a master class on the play Othello. Many of us on this trip do theatre, but even those who do not enjoyed this class a great deal! The teacher had us perform select lines from the play in a way that had us recognize the iambic- pentameter that Shakespeare so famously utilized. After this, we watched a stage combat demonstration in the Globe museum next door.
Next, we went to the Tate Museum. The whole entire museum was covered in art. The rooms even had sound and moving pieces that were art displays. Some of the rooms contained photograph displays, paintings, and sculptures.
After leaving the Tate around 5, we went to a dinner at Bill’s near Cambridge, courtesy of Oxbridge. The food was fantastic and the dessert was better.
Day 12 was definetly one of the best days of the trip!
Out of all of the days on this trip, perhaps today was the most important. Although immersing one’s self in the English culture, absorbing the traditions, and indulging in the food are enjoyable aspects of this excursion, the real privilege comes when one is allotted private, one-on-one time with some of the modern masters of the subjects to get an in-depth view of what we are experiencing. Today was likely my favorite day of our Cambridge trip because it was the day I was given the opportunity to both travel to the Wren Library under the guidance of a specialist in mathematics and have an essay supervision session with a skilled professor of English.
After starting the day off strong with a plate of Belgian Waffles, I took some time off to work on strengthening my mathematical understanding with some Calculus homework until noon, where we ventured off with Dr. Piers Bursill-Hall who shattered all of that understanding. Dr. Hall, a lecturer and native to Gonville-Caius College is learned in several subjects including quantum logic, ancient mathematics, and chemistry. He and Brian Reinhart, our local Floridian math hero, discussed extremely advanced mathematical principles, which were far beyond my comprehension. On our journey to the library, which is located in Trinity College across the street from our residence, we came across a regularly passed-by short gate below an old sundial. Dr. Hall explained that this structure’s odd height was the result of the medieval architects miscalculating gate while transitioning it to real scale, clearly demonstrating the stunted mathematical prowess of the time compared to the Renaissance. The actual Wren Library was surrounded by an aura of prestige accentuated by its exclusiveness and security; the library only allowed 15 visitors at a time and prohibited photography of any kind. During our time inside, we were able to view the original or earliest texts authored by prominent historical figures like Newton, Shakespeare, Copernicus, and Milton. Dr. Hall offered many interesting pieces of insight about his personal experiences studying these texts and their authors. For instance, my favorite story was about Galileo’s letters of complaint written about his students’ behavior in his rented-out house.
Around one o’clock, I had to cut off my tour with the mathematicians’ group to prepare for my supervision. As I felt quite anxious about the upcoming discussion, fearing the most brutal cross-examination I would ever experience, I prepared several rebuttal points to any criticism that my supervisor, Professor Elizabeth Rawlinson-Mills, could offer. I was therefore very surprised when Professor Mills asked me to criticize my own work. After several seemingly abstract questions about the subject of my essay, Tess of the D’Urbervilles, I realized that I was being led toward understanding the Professor’s perspective on the text; Prof. Mills was largely questioning me so that I could teach myself what I needed to know to improve my essay. It was when reflecting hours later when I realized the intricacy and utility of supervision in the Cambridge tradition. Not only was I more appreciative of the essay revision process, but I also learned how to apply the strategies previously taught of approaching a passage to analyze it more in-depth. I am a big advocate now of supervisions, especially in the manner in which the supervising professors executed the process. In my experience, Prof. Mills helped me gain confidence about my writing style, while also offering irrefutable critiques that I, myself, affirmed. I walked away feeling good about the conversation while also inquisitive about the future of my writing tenure.
Appropriately, I ended the very intellectual day early after relaxing with my friends and watching Chinese Cartoons. This was the pinnacle of my Cambridge experience.
Today was an extremely fun and interesting day at Ely and in Cambridge. Prior to leaving Cambridge, two more people had supervisions and both said that they went well. While the last two supervisions were going on, everyone was out and about exploring and getting waffles from the Belgium Waffle stand or doing some shopping for friends and family.
At about 11:15 we departed for Ely Cathedral. The drive there was very pretty passing miles of open field. About five minutes before we arrived to the town of Ely off in the distance we could all see Ely Cathedral. Once we arrived into the town everyone was surprised at how massive the cathedral really was and couldn’t wait to go inside. After about an hour and a half break for lunch and exploring the little town we came back to the Cathedral to catch our tour.
Our guide was great and told us the history of the church dating thousands of year’s back and how it came to be. One interesting thing he pointed out about the cathedral was that it was very structurally unstable. He said that when the wind blows the top dome of the cathedral will sway with the wind and added that the roof has collapsed multiple times throughout the years. He also said that the concrete pillars are filled with a very flimsy concrete like material that provided little structural support to the building. At one point or another everyone was worried that the building would collapse while we were inside; nevertheless, after finishing up the tour we split into two groups and the first group proceeded up to the top of the Cathedral. After climbing and crawling through tight spiral stairwells and squeezing through tiny doors we finally made it to the top of the dome.
When we reached the top everyone was a little nervous hearing the wood creek beneath our feet when we stepped out from the stairwell. Our guide opened the wooden panels that would let us see all the way down to the ground. Everyone was in awe at how beautiful the stain glass windows were and the design of the panels surrounding the area. After looking around and taking photos our guide took us up another flight of stairs to the top of the Cathedral that led us outside. Once at the top we could see for miles and miles in all directions and took in the view. After taking some photos and enjoying the view we headed back down. Afterwards we headed to a café and grabbed some coffee and tea while we waited for the other group to come back down from the top of the Cathedral.
Once we arrived back to Gonville and Caius, half of the group went to the Electric Circus Rodeo and the other half went to go get burgers and hear live music at The Portland Arms. After seeing the show we headed back to the college and got ready for bed. Once in our rooms we finished up the supplemental readings for our last day of lectures and got ready for our last day in Cambridge.
Today is our last day. As I headed to our last breakfast together at Gonville & Caius College, I noticed that everyone was moving slower. As we were talking at breakfast, I couldn’t help but realize how sad everyone was that it was our last day. After breakfast, we headed to the auditorium for our final two lectures. These lectures (our twenty-first and twenty-second of the program) were led by Sir Tony Brenton, the former British ambassador to Russia. He was an extremely intelligent and influential lecturer, and we were lucky to have the opportunity to learn from him. His first lecture was Ending War: Woodrow Wilson and the Fourteen Points. The second lecture was Bringing Morality to the World. In these lectures, he taught us about historical figures, such as: Marcus Tullius Cicero, Nicco Machiavelli, Phillip De Commynes, Woodrow Wilson, Otto Von Bismarck, and William Randolph Hearst. We learned about these influential speakers, but more specifically, we analyzed their differing social and political views and their influence on British social change.
After we finished our lectures, we all decided to go into town one last time for lunch together. We all ate at Bill’s and reminisced about the good times we had on the trip. We all agreed that we could honestly say this was the best experience of our lives and we were not ready to leave. After lunch, I headed back to my dorm. I looked out the window at my gorgeous view one last time and then started packing. After I finished packing, I wrote my thank you note to Professor Ulrike Horstmann-Guthrie. She had given us lectures on A Room of One’s Own and Frankenstein and, more importantly, administered the incredible supervision for my essay. She truly taught us what close reading and deep analysis was in her lectures and really helped me highlight my strengths and weaknesses as a writer during my supervision. She was amazing and I was extremely lucky to secure the chance to work with her.
At six o’clock, we were all dressed and ready to get on the coach to return to Madingley Hall for our final dinner. Sarah and Emma, as well as Dr. Smith, Professor Mills, and Professor Guthrie all joined us for this special dinner. They had the entire dinner set up in the Stuart Room, where we had all of our lectures the first week. The lecturers sat among us, so we could talk to them during this dinner. After dinner, we headed upstairs to the saloon and all sat for some final words. We thanked everyone and Mrs. Jurskis gave them some Oxbridge gear as a thank you. We all received beautiful certificates and Cambridge notebooks. Some of us were tearing up as this dinner came to a conclusion. On the way out, Alexa and I told Mrs. Jurskis that this was the best experience of our life and asked if we could come back next year. Many of us are looking into future programs at Cambridge, and I know a few of us are heavily considering applying to attend school here for college.
I, and many of my classmates, can genuinely say that this was the best experience of our lives. In these past two weeks, we have learned so much about reading, analysis, and writing, but more importantly, we grew as students. We have been lectured by highly-renowned professors, authors, knights, and ambassadors. This is an opportunity that not many sixteen-year-olds receive. The independence and high standards showed the true and impressive maturity level of us sixteen Oxbridge juniors. What I consider one of the best parts of this trip is the friendships that have been created. I have become extremely close with everyone on this trip and am lucky to have worked with my fifteen classmates and consider them extremely close friends. Also, I have developed stronger relationships with Mrs. Jurskis, Mrs. Mills, and Mr. Childree. Through traveling together, sharing meals, excursions, and many card games, we have developed relationships that are stronger than just in the classroom. While we are upset about leaving this trip, we can look back on it and just think of all the great memories we have. Although we are not ready to leave (and unfortunately none of us developed British accents like we had hoped), I think we are all excited to see our parents. I want to say thank you for everyone who made this trip possible: our parents, Emma, Sarah, all of the lecturers and coordinators, but most importantly – Mrs. Jurskis, Mrs. Mills, and Mr. Childree. Lastly, I want to say thank you to Oxbridge for having us more than adequately prepared for this – both as students, and mature young adults.