Cambridge, England

After going to Oxford, it seemed only right that we should go to Cambridge too, as people often compare and contrast the two university towns. A lot of people I spoke to seemed to prefer Cambridge and its more compact town centre and its closeness to nature, but as it turned out they were much of a muchness… Cambridge was just as charming as its long-standing rival, Oxford, with its abundance of beautiful rivers, colleges and churches.

The Sheila-sized door makes me look like a hobbit in this photo!

Cambridge’s biggest tourist drawcard is King’s College Chapel, which is a really fine example of 16th century gothic architecture. It has elaborate stained glass windows that tell the story of the Old and New Testaments. While we did pay to go in and sight-see in the morning, a much better idea is to come back later on for Evensong (which, incidentally, is free). It felt a little surreal to attend a dimly-lit service in an eerie Anglican cathedral in the confines of a five hundred year old university. It also felt quite surreal to read out passages that say things like ‘take pity on us miserable sinners, oh Lord’. The choral responses were truly amazing though, and its world-famous reputation is justly deserved.

One thing which did seem a bit different between Oxford and Cambridge is that the latter seems to be a much stricter university. We caught up with a friend we knew who is doing a PhD attached to Corpus Christi College (which is, funnily enough, secular despite its ultra-religious name). According to her, there is an obscene amount of rules and regulations that have to be adhered to, especially if you are an undergraduate. On the other hand, Cambridge students get to party really hard once their exams are over. During May, all the colleges have May Balls which are all about fun and indulgence – a bit like the land of ‘ Do-As-You-Please’ or ‘Take-What-You-Want’ at the top of the Faraway Tree. So perhaps not having a picnic on the college lawn is not such a big price to pay at all, if you get rewarded at the end of the year with a wonderland complete with champagne fountain and sushi buffet!

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