Cambridge

We’re living now since 9 months in the UK and I think it’s time to write a post about Cambridge. We’re not really living in the city, we’re based in a beautiful little village 7 miles away but I’m almost daily in Cambridge because of swim training, school, shopping or leisure. Cambridge is an university city and the county town of Cambridgeshire, approximately 50 miles north of London. It’s population is about 123,900 including 24,600 students. Cambridge became an important trading centre during the Roman and Viking ages, and there is archaeological evidence of settlement in the area as early as the Bronze Age. The first town charters were granted in the 12th century, although modern city status was not officially conferred until 1951.

World-renowned is the city because of its University founded in 1209. The most common buildings are the King’s College Chapel, the Cavendish Laboratory and the Cambridge University Library, one of the largest legal deposit libraries in the world. The city’s skyline is built out of several collage buildings, some churches and the chimney of the Addenbrooke’s Hospital. Cambridge is also home of of high-tech businesses focusing on software, electronics and biotechnology, many of these businesses have connections with the University or are start-up companies born out of it. The area is now one of the most important technology centers in Europe. And the Cambridge Biomedial Campus is one of the largest biomedical research clusters in the world.

But it’s not all about business and education here in Cambridge even though there’s no way around the latter. The University of Cambridge is one of the world’s oldest universities and a self-governed community of scholars. Cambridge University is comprised of 31 Colleges and over 150 departments, faculties, schools and other institutions. A College is where students live, eat and socialise and where they receive small group teaching sessions, known as supervisions – it plays a far more significant part in an undergraduate’s life than a hall of residence in a non-collegiate university. The College provides a “community of scholars” in which the students live, work and study during their years at Cambridge University and a student must be admitted to a College before he or she can become a member of the University.

There are a lot of stories and anecdotes about rivalry between the different Cambridge College but if the worst comes to the worst they are all University of Cambridge and the biggest rival its the University of Oxford. The rivalry between the Universities of Oxford and Cambridge is a phenomenon going back many centuries. Alone the list of famous  graduates is impressive and let adumbrate the competition between these two. Oxford University: Oscar Wilde, Bill Clinton, C.S. Lewis, Aldous Huxley, Lewis Carol, Tony Blair, Emma Thompson, and J.R.R. Tolkein. Cambridge, on the other hand, has Isaac Newton, Charles Darwin, Alan Turing, Stephen Fry, Ludwig Wittgenstein, Bertrand Russel, and John Cleese. Which roster do you think is more impressive? Perhaps the very heigh of “Oxbridge” competitiveness, the Boat Race, an annual rowing race that takes place on the River Thames in London. By the way Cambridge edges out Oxford by 84 wins to 80 (men) and 44 to 30 (women). Are there any more questions?

The easiest and laziest way to see a lot of the beautiful College buildings is to go Punting. Grab yourself a hot chocolate or bubbles and relax while floating down the river Cam. For me Cambridge is not really a shopping paradise, okay all the mainstream shops are around but nothing really special or extraordinary however not that bad because London is only an hour away. Therefore unfortunately Cambridge can be really crowded because of the uncountable day tourist and sometimes you have to fight your way through the flooded city center. And don’t talk about the bicycle. That chance to get hit by a bike is many times higher than by a car. But let’s talk about the nice things again: Cambridge has a vibrant restaurant and pub scene, from Chelsea buns at Fitzwilliam to fancy sushi at Sticks’n’Sushi, from milkshake and burger at Honest Burger to a proper Sunday roast at the Clarenden Arm and not to mention the delicious Indian food at Athiti. And there’s nothing better than a walk up the river Cam, passing the Cambridge house boats scene, observe the rowers and stop for a drink at The Plough in Fen Ditton.

And like everywhere in England football is as well here more than essential and Cambridge played a unique role in the invention of modern football. The game’s first set of rules were drawn up by members of the University in 1848 and first played on Parker’s Piece a park in the middle of the city. Nowadays their role isn’t as important at the moment, they compete in League Two, the fourth tier of the English football league system. For everyone who’s not familiar with the EFL, let me just say this: it’s a long and hard way from League Two to the Premiere League… Beside football there’s cricket, rugby, rowing, tennis, netball, swimming and parkrun on Saturday mornings. And beside sport there’s theater, all kind of festivals, a variety of museums and music. Pink Floyd are the most notable band with roots in Cambridge. The band’s former songwriter, guitarist and vocalist Syd Barrett was born and lived in the city, and he and another founding member, Roger Waters went to school together. By the way do you remember the musical film Grease with John Travolta? His film partner Olivia Newton-John is born in Cambridge. I didn’t know that she has sold since then an estimated 100 million records worldwide, making her one of the world’s best-selling artist of all time. She’s living now in Florida and I can understand this in some way.

Oh and because Cambridge is in the UK we have to talk about the weather. The weather is surprisingly nice in this area, I run around 800 miles since we’re here and only a couple while it was raining. It’s a good life here in Cambridge, an even better in our picturesque village, if only we could get rid of this bloody wind!

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