There are lectures, which anyone can attend, at any point, anywhere. As one grad student noted yesterday, "They say you can even go to the medical one where they cut up bodies if you want." Of course, I responded. Of course I want to go.
This is Cambridge. Wow. (All the pics included in this post are leeched from google. I didn't take my camera with me running. I have been a touristy failure. FAIL.)
School hasn't even officially started and already I know it will challenge me in entirely new ways. The course structure is unlike anything in America. Instead of sitting in classrooms with 20 other students, I will be sitting in "supervisions" with a peer, a professor and my paper. Wow.
My room is slowly but surely coming to. I found bed sheets and towels between meetings yesterday. Brian took me to buy a phone and showed me the nearby Cambridge Market. "It's not quite a farmer's market," he explained as we walked by fruits, cheeses, vegetables, food stands and soap vendors. "But it is here every day."
Last night I attended the graduate student movie-and-popcorn affair instead of the Cambridge Fresher's Fancy Dress (costume) J for St. John's party and pub crawl. This will undoubtedly surprise those back home, who know I love my ale as much as I love my mathematics. ... and my late nights... and spiders.
Meeting other graduate students instantly humbled me. One was studying Babylonian languages. Another was working on his post-doctorate examination physics. Me? "I'm from Omaha, Nebraska. We have corn."
"Try this. It's kettle corn. It's sweet. Not salty." Yes, I did bring kettle corn to the graduate mixer. And yes, I did force that darn corn on unsuspecting graduate students from all over the world. They ate every last kernel.
After a somewhat rough night of sleep, I forced my cold bones out from under my now-sheeted blanket and pulled on my running shoes, preparing for my very first Cambridge jog. Although the cold temperatures made moving difficult, once I was out running along the river, nothing could stop me.
Rowers out for early morning practice
Cambridge is a beautiful place to run. I gave up on my map immediately, as few of the streets are actually marked and my sense of direction has always been terrible. Instead, I just headed in one constant direction. I passed rowers slipping along the river, their breath rising in the cold morning air. Weeping willows nodded sleepily into the water.
Bridge of Sighs, which is in the middle of St. John's campus
The sun was just rising (because yes, thank god, there is sun) and occasionally I would move through little bubbles of orange-lit warmth. For a while I trailed a couple who had an unleashed scottish terrier trot-trotting perkily alongside.
Scottish Terrier, a la Lady and the Tramp
My run finished at the market, where I bought a bag of farm-fresh apples with the currency of the Queen. I found a cup of black coffee and sipped it as I walked back to St. John's. At 9 a.m., church bells began to till and chime loudly, echoing off buildings and crashing through alleyways until the music came from all around.
This is my home. For two years, this is my home. It may be cold, rainy and heavily-accented, but it is my home.
I am so lucky.
Side notes: I ran by Abbey Road. I think I may pick up rowing. The activities fair is on Tuesday, so I'll know more then. Brrrrr.