The holidays are over but they were absolutely lovely.
My christmas break started with a bang as a group of friends traveled down to London for the historic Cambridge vs Oxford Varsity Rugby Match, held at Twickenham Stadium, the professional rugby stadium. In a very exciting match, Cambridge won for the first time in 6 years(!!!!!!) defeating Oxford’s winning streak. As an active participant in college sports in California I had equated the match to our “Big Game,” The American football rivalry game between UC Berkeley (my alma mater) and Stanford, our dreaded opponents. When Berkeley won my sophomore year of college, every student in attendance rushed the field. There were parades in the streets and we still talk about how great we felt. So as the final whistle blew at Twickenham in December, my American friends were ready with whooping and hollering. But we were met with a polite clap and hesitation from British fans who then looked away and hurried out of the stadium. We were shocked! College sports are not quite the drama and pomp and circumstance that they are in America, and evidently Rugby is a gentleman’s sport in which rushing the field or berating one’s opponent is not tolerated. So, we had to bottle our enthusiasm for the train ride home.
I then spent the next few weeks traveling and visiting friends. First I roamed London with friends from Cambridge. London at Christmas was full of lights, tourists, buskers and exciting energy. Absolutely enthralling. My favorite day comprised a morning walk through Hyde Park, stumbling upon a gingerbread house competition at the London School of Architecture, shopping for British preserves at Fortnum and Mason’s famous food hall and a quick stint in the Natural History museum for National Geographic’s Wildlife Photography Exhibit of the Year. I also managed to sneak in a week-night performance of Kinky Boots (the musical) in the West End and a fun trip to Mr. Fogg’s Residence, a classic restaurant/gin parlor designed after the famous Jules Vern tale “Around the World in 80 Days”.
I also had the chance to visit a sorority sister (go Chi Omega!) in Oxford, she’s studying for a DPhil in Archaeology and showed me a brilliant time exploring “The Other Place” as Cambridge students call it.
For Christmas I went up north to a small village outside Leeds for a quintessentially English Christmas. We had a lovely time singing carols in a local church, built long before the Declaration of Independence, and a christmas dinner with all the trimmings! Who knew England did Thanksgiving on Christmas?! A big Turkey, stuffing, bread pudding, sausage rolls and more, finished off with Christmas pudding lit on fire (via brandy). Christmas crackers are poppers placed at everyone’s table setting which contain trinkets and a paper crown. I’m definitely going to bring Christmas crackers to America!! But the funniest difference between British and American christmas I found, was that on the night of Christmas eve, children leave out a glass of Whiskey and mince pies for Santa, rather than Milk and Cookies!! We hope Santa visits England last, otherwise he’d definitely be at risk for an FUI (flying under the influence).
I also got to celebrate my first Boxing Day! Why don’t we have Boxing Day?! It’s a day of leftovers, long walks and relaxation. We headed to the Yorkshire dales for more merry company and a walk in the countryside. Lots of sheep. It was lovely.
For New Years I was lucky enough to head south to Barcelona with friends from Cambridge. It was 60 degrees, which felt like heaven. We stripped off our winter coats and sat in the sun on the beach. Devouring tapas and cava, it was a treat. I studied abroad in Barcelona during college, so it was especially exciting to travel back and re-explore one of my favorite cities.
But now I’m back in Cambridge. The term is off to a great start. I’ve been back on the water rowing and have my first soccer match tomorrow. This term I will be writing a meta-analysis, using biostatistic skills i’ve learned in the last term to synthesize data from many sources and come up with a new weighted average. Still exploring different topics so stay tuned!
I’ve also had two exciting Rotary events in the last week. My incredible co-host Vic Starkey, of the Cambridge Sawston Rotary Club, graciously offered to drive me to both events, despite the distance. We traveled an hour and a half each way, but it was a great time to hear his stories of the towns we passed and catch up on the ongoings of my host Rotary club. I feel lucky to have such a warm and supportive host club.
The first was a trip to the District 1080 District Council Meeting with all of the global scholars. We introduced ourselves to the district as a whole, and were fed a lovely dinner. I had ham and apricot pie, followed by an apple crumble.
The next night we headed out in rain and sleet storm to Watton, a small village in Norfolk. Watton is near to numerous American Air Force Bases and my host, Vic, had served in the Royal Air Force, as had many of the men of Watton’s all-male Rotary Club. It was great to hear their stories and see a new part of England. We were hosted in a cute old english pub and served a delicious dinner of fish pie and cheesecake. It’s fun seeing how Rotary clubs all over England (and America) are similar and different. A common bond in service, but slightly different personalities and meeting styles. It could be an anthropological study!!
See below for pictures from the various adventures! Now back to hard work!