A Travellerspoint blog

Take a walk with me......

Home, school, and everywhere in between.

sunny 48 °F

One of the best things I love about London is walking. When the sun's out, you really got to take advantage of it and go out and soak up some vitamin D. The amazing architecture that is all around makes walking a most pleasurable activity. The Waterloo campus is situated on South bank, right along the river while the Strand campus is across the Waterloo bridge, next door to the Somerset House. Therefore, when I'm just walking to class, I feel like I'm on vacation :)

So join me as I make my way from my dorm to class, and let me show you what goes on during a typical school day. After all, it's called "study" abroad!

Let the tour begin! (Hint, hint, click on the picture below)
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Make sure you look at the photographs in order, and read the captions because there's always a story. After all, there's nothing "typical" about my life in London, even if it's a school day!

Well, as many of you might know, the Great Fire of London in 1666 consumed 13,200 houses, 87 parish churches, St. Paul's Cathedral, and most of the buildings of the City authorities. It is estimated that it destroyed the homes of 70,000 of the 80,000 inhabitants, although the death toll was only six.

Lucky for me, the day I went on this documentary photo tour, London decided to do an re-enactment of 1666 by lighting the Immigration and Appeal Commission building on fire. See, this is what happens when you deny immigrants their green card. They turn red and light things on fire. Green is better color.

The immigration building is right next to the Maughan Library, where I was going to study. The raging fire blazed fiercely as I made my way up Chancery Lane, where billows of smoke rose into the air:

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A woman was running away from the library, and stopped to talk to me.

Lady: "Hey, you shouldn't head up there, a building is on fire."

Me: "Is it the library?"

Lady: "No, I think it's another building, but it's dangerous."

Me: "Well, I have to go and do homework."

Lady stares at me incredulously as I continue heading towards the fire. What? I'm a nerd, you cannot kill what already has no life!

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Posted by CuriousCaseOf 17:52 Archived in United Kingdom Tagged living_abroad Comments (0)

Monsters v.s. Aliens Movie Premiere!

Just because I can't afford Prada does not mean I look like a hobo, or do I?

rain 48 °F

I guess I'm into my celebrities as much as the next person. I read the London tabloids on the bus. From them, I learned new words like Prada and that Dolce & Gabbana is a brand, kinda like Ben & Jerry's :) Thus, I was quite excited to be attending a movie premiere at Leicester Square.
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I was quite excited to see the stars walk the red carpet, or in this case the blue carpet. The paparazzi were crazy as you would see on TV. I don't understand how the stars don't get blinded when they pose for photographs. There was lots of screaming, and yes, everyone turned into little fan girls, including the boys. I was there quite early, so I got the front row. Apparently the rule is if you're in the front row, you are in charge of screaming at the stars to come over. I'm sure screaming would be unnecessary because they'll simply be drawn over by my hobo good looks (Just keep reading...........)

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The main reason I was there because Reese Witherspoon was coming. Everyone knows her from Legally Blond, but she's been famous since she was like 15, starring in The Man on the Moon, and in one of my favorite movies, Pleasantville.

The arrivals were mostly unknown to me. Guess they're not famous enough if I don't know them. There was a granny in a pink dress who kept walking around, and someone said she was the Queen. Seriously, I doubt the Queen would show up for the premiere to Monsters v.s. Aliens, or would she? :)
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The first big name to show up was Kiefer Sutherland. He's the guy in 24. Kiefer is also the son of Donald Sutherland, who was Mr. Bennett in Pride and Prejudice with Keira Knightley. Kiefer was so nice and signed autographs for everyone. Then came Reese. She was mobbed by the press and was hustled directly to the paparazzi pit by her agent. Fans literally got a one second glance of her, but oh well, I'll let the pics do the talking :)
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She was sparkling in her Prada dress, while apparently I was quite dashing as well in my Gap jacket. In fact, I was so dashing that I was mistaken for a hobo.

I had come to Leicester Square directly after class, which ended at 1pm. The premiere didn't start until 5:30pm, but people were already queuing up. I immediately grabbed a spot, right in front of the theater. I figured if I stood in front of the theater, the stars will at least pose for a few minutes before heading in. Thus, I sat down on the ground, and used my computer science notebook as a cushion. With a few hours to go, I pulled out my Distributed Systems textbook and began reading. Anyway, it was windy out, so I put on my black Gap jacket that I bought especially for this trip to London because I wanted to look decent in my photos. I even went with the popped collar look because my neck was cold. Because of the wind, a lot debris was blowing around and a Styrofoam cup blew right into me. By then, I had gotten quite cozy sitting on the ground and didn't want to get up to throw the cup away, so I put it close to me, to prevent it from flying away.

Well, I suppose when you have the right props and costume, you get:

Styrofoam cup + my popped collar Gap jacket = I'm freezing = Can you spare some change, sir? = I should have a starring role in Oliver Twist The Musical, currently playing in London (Anyone casting starving children from China?)

because while I was engrossed in my reading, I suddenly heard a soft jingle in front of me. I looked up and caught a glimpse of a passerby giving me a kind smile before walking away. I was bemused by his expression, but paid no attention. However, as I returned to reading my book, my eyes passed over the Styrofoam cup.........and saw that he had thrown in a couple of pennies!!!

Sigh...... Thanks Gap for making me look so good! First I looked like a giant neon light bulb in my Nautica winter jacket, and now this!?! I'm seriously running out of wardrobe options people! Plus, just because the cover of my Distributed Systems textbook looks glossy does not mean I'm sitting there trying to sell the Big Issue!

As my friends would say on this occasion, "it's not the jacket, it's you!"

I remember going shopping with friends once where I had picked out another really nice jacket and everyone urged me to try it on. I rushed into the dressing room before coming out to ask for their opinions. They surveyed me carefully, making me turn around for them to get the full view.

"It's not the jacket.......,"they said slowly, as if they couldn't quite put their fingers on the problem.
Then suddenly, as if a collective light bulb went off, a chorus of "it's you!" burst out upon their dawning comprehension.

Now what!?! Are you saying I made the jacket look ugly?!?

I give up! Next time, I'll just wear this to the premiere. You happy now?
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P.S Click here to see the rest of my pictures from the movie premiere!

Posted by CuriousCaseOf 18:56 Archived in United Kingdom Tagged living_abroad Comments (0)

le Café

Pour bien commencer ma petite journée et me réveiller moi je pris un café.

sunny 59 °F

For those who have been following my adventures in London, you know it has enough drama to become an Oscar nominated film, or at least a video on Youtube. So after reading my coffee blog (i.e "I don't do drugs, I swear"), my friend showed me my life on screen/Youtube. Thanks Vanessa, this video is awesome!

Pour bien commencer
ma petite journée
et me réveiller moi
je pris un café

Un arabica
noir et bien corsé
j'enfile ma parca
sa y'est je peux y'aller

"Où est-ce que tu vas"
me cri mon aimée
"prenons un kawa je viens de me lever"
étant en avance
et un peu forcé
je change de sens et reprend un café

A huit heure moins le quart
Faut bien avouer
les bureaux sont vides on pourrait s'ennuyer

Mais je reste calme
je sais m'adapter
l'temps qu'ils arrivent
j'ai le temps pour un café

Posted by CuriousCaseOf 00:21 Archived in United Kingdom Tagged food Comments (0)

I don't do drugs, I swear!

The natural way to get high

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I love Starbucks, especially the ones in London. I love sitting in Starbucks, and just watching people on the streets, or staring at the amazing architecture that is all around on the Strand. Every time I go, I sit in one for at least four hours, studying, daydreaming, sipping on a mocha or a hot chocolate.

Actually, I'm such an experienced coffee drinker that I have been inside a Starbucks a total of four times, two of which occurred in London. So to me, a coffee = a mocha = a cappuccino = a latte = an espresso = a coffee. It's called the transitive property (for those who know maths). Just add sugar and cream and they all end up pretty much the same.

Well, today, I had Distributed Systems, my graduate level computer science class (which I didn't know it was a grad school class until the Prof said it in passing when someone asked him about the grading.....but that's another story). So all I know is it is hard, and it's on a Friday, for three straight hours, from 2-5pm.

Understandably, it's quite easy for students to get sleepy and space out, especially when my prof speaks in rapid fire about topics such as distributed logical clock stability and its optimization or asks me to explain the mechanisms of time stamping and optimistic concurrency control. But I'm a good student, who is determined to attend all lectures and learn the material, and stay awake....... though sometimes I need a little help.

Thus, this is where all my experience from going to Starbucks come in. I know that coffee has caffeine in it, and that an espresso is a coffee based on the transitive property above. Thus, during the ten minute break in class today, I ran up to the Somerset Cafe on the second floor of the Strand building to get a coffee. I grabbed one of those regular sized paper coffee cups and pressed the button on the coffee machine that was labeled espresso.

The machine whirled and out came the espresso. Only problem is that it barely filled 1/6 of my coffee cup.

"This can't be it," I exclaimed loudly.

All the while, I'm thinking angrily to myself: "There must be something wrong with this stupid machine. I'm holding the same sized coffee cup as the person before me, and his was filled all the way to the top. I'm paying for this damn espresso and I am going to get my money's worth. Hmmmmmmph!"

Upon hearing my indignant outburst, the guy behind me in the queue explained to me that people usually use the shot glass sized coffee cup when getting an espresso.

"But if you want more, just press the button again," he suggested kindly.

So I did. Six more times, till it filled my cup.

I paid my money, went back to class, and drank it all. I stayed awake for the rest of the class, and will now probably stay awake for the next two weeks as well.

Again, for those who are smart like myself, and know maths:

An espresso is a coffee, but 1 coffee != 1 espresso because 1 espresso has 3x the amount of caffeine as a regular cup of coffee. So, when you press the button once, you are essentially getting 3 cups of coffee. Since I'm such a genius, and pressed the button 7 times, you get:

7 espressos x 3 cups of coffee / espresso = 21 cups of coffee = I will never need to sleep again!

Yay me!

P.S. Notice how I used dimensional analysis. I swear I have brain cells, just not about coffee. Sigh.

P.S.S Don't do drugs, just say NO!

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Posted by CuriousCaseOf 18:41 Archived in United Kingdom Tagged food Comments (0)

Everything is Harry Potter

Even the Brits think so!

overcast 50 °F

When I posted my First Impressions blog, I had a snippet that said the following:

Screw King's College, Hogwarts here I come!

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Yes, besides going to King's Cross station and platform 9 3/4, I have another similarity with Harry. Harry used to live in a cupboard underneath the stairs. I will be studying in a cupboard underneath the stairs because that's where the computer science department is located in a crammed London where schools can't afford more room. I will take a photo to prove my point soon :)

Well, I still haven't taken a photo yet, but I did get the following email from the computer science department:

Door to HP staircase
kcl - dcs-pgsec [dcs-pgsec@kcl.ac.uk]
Sent: 12 March 2009 17:17
Attachments:
Dear All,

This is just to inform you that the door to the Harry Potter staircase (that is the small staircase along the Computer Science 4th Lower corridor), is closed until further notice.

Apologies for the inconvenience.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Claudia Mazzoncini
Graduate Secretary, Department of Computer Science
King's College London
Room K4L.25, Strand Campus
Strand
London WC2R 2LS
Tel. 0044 (0)20 7848 2588 Fax 0044 (0) 20 7848 2851
Office opening hours: 10am – 1pm and 3pm – 5pm, closes at 1pm on Wednesdays
DCS web site: http://www.kcl.ac.uk/dcs

So it's official, I am like Harry! Or maybe they read my blog ;)

Posted by CuriousCaseOf 18:30 Archived in United Kingdom Tagged educational Comments (0)

The Jane Austen Book Club Trip to Bath

If adventure will not befall a young man in his own country, he must seek them abroad.

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  • Written in style of Austen, modeled upon her work of Northanger Abbey, which we read before going on this trip. For those who have read it, you'll know parts of Northanger Abbey takes place in Bath.

No one who had ever seen Ben in his infancy, would have supposed him born to be adventurous. His situation in life, the character of his father and mother, his own person and disposition, were all equally against him. The family of three were in general very plain, and Ben, for many years of his life, as plain as any. He had a thin awkward figure, sallow skin, dark hair, and unremarkable features. He was fond of quiet play, and greatly preferred reading to any adventurous activity and such were his propensities. At twenty two, however, appearances were mending; he began to gel his hair and longed to travel. He had now the pleasure of sometimes hearing his friends remark on his personal improvement. "Ben looks almost photogenic today," were words which caught his ears now and then; and how welcome were the sounds. To look almost photogenic, is an acquisition of higher delight to a boy who has been looking plain the first twenty two years of his life, than to a prince charming from his cradle can ever receive.

Ben, who by nature had nothing adventurous about him, had no objection to books at all. From eighteen to twenty-two, he read all works as all adventurers must read to supply their memories with those quotations which are so serviceable and so soothing in the vicissitudes of their eventful lives.

From Austen, he learnt

"When a young man is to be adventurous, the perverseness of his surroundings cannot prevent him. Something must and will happen to throw adventure in his way".

Arcadia, who organized a trip to Bath for the benefit of its study abroad students;- and his friend, a good humored Columbia student, and one who probably was aware that if adventure will not befall a young man in his own country, he must seek them abroad, decided to along with him. Arcadia was all compliance, and Ben all happiness.

For the reader's more certain information, lest the following pages should otherwise fail of giving any idea of what Ben's character is meant to be; that his heart was affectionate, his disposition cheerful and open, without conceit or affection of any kind-his manners just removed from the awkwardness and shyness of a boy; his person pleasing, and when dressed probably, appears somewhat soothing to the beholder's eyes, and his life was as uninteresting as his surrounding allowed it to be.

Ben had previously attended a play at The National Theatre and did not reach bed until quarter past three in the morning. Under these unpromising auspices, the parting took place and the journey began. It was performed with suitable quietness and uneventful safety. Neither robbers nor tempests befriended them, nor one lucky overturn, to introduce him to adventure.

They arrived in Bath. Ben was all eager delight;-his eyes were here, there, every where, as they approached its fine and striking environments, and afterward drove through those streets which conducted them to the youth hostel. They were soon settled in comfortable lodgings in Walcot Street.

It is now expedient to give some description of Ben's friend Jake, that the reader may be able to judge, in what manner his actions hereafter tend to promote the meeting of adventure, and contribute material to Ben's blog. Jake was one of that numerous class of people who had an unassuming air and a disposition of openness to new experiences. His affable countenance made for an enjoyable travel companion and the lads were eager to explore together.

As they had traveled to other places earlier in the day, they did not enter to explore Bath till late. The season was chilly, and some of the streets were light and others were dark. With more care for seeing as much as they can before the sun went down than for their tiredness, Ben and Jake made their way through the throng of people near the alleyways and in front of bars.

Their exploration through Bath took them to the Bath Abbey:

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and then to the Roman Baths:

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and to the Circus

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and the Royal Crescent

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and up and down Pulteney Street

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When they had at last felt the weariness in their feet too great to bear, they arrived at a lovely Japanese restaurant called Wagamama. They were obliged to sit down at the end of the table, at which a large party had already placed, without having any thing to do there except order a feast of food.

"How lovely Bath is," said Ben.
"Yes," replied Jake with perfect serenity

After some time, they requested an offer of green tea before the arrival of their dinner. Dinner consisted of two great plates of Udon noodles, which helped to quell the hunger in their stomaches after a whole day of walking. After dinner, the lads wandered the streets in search of entertainment. They asked for directions to the Odeon Theatre, in hopes of catching a show. When they arrived at the Odeon Theatre, they found all the films were to their distaste, and inquired of the existence of another theatre. A friendly gentlemen suggested an independent theatre nearer to town centre and the two friends made swiftly towards it.

The theatre was situated in an alleyway, and was only spotted by the keen eyes of Ben. They agreed upon watching Vicky Cristina Barcelona, but the show did not start until quarter past nine. Thus, Jake was of the opinion that they should find a pub nearby to pass the time. Ben obliged and the two found struggled their way past a throng of men standing in the doorway. When they proceeded inside, they found that by no means were they able to disengage themselves from the crowd. However, they laboriously squeezed their way to the counter, and order a pint of the recommended drink and made their way to the Upper rooms.

Tis widely known that one must take the waters in Bath. It is said the Bath is famous for the curative properties of its waters, and now apparently it is also able to cure lack of adventure:

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Ben took the waters in Bath, and thus engaged in the tradition of all Austen characters to dance. Though it was not the famed Pump rooms where Catherine Morland first danced with Mr. Tilney, it is no less momentous. The pub is merely the Pump rooms of today, and a ball must be held, even if it on the tabletops:

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I leave it to be settled by whomsoever it may concern, whether the tendency of this work be altogether to cause parental anger and shock for friends, or reward adventure :)

To see the result of the albums, click HERE and HERE

Posted by CuriousCaseOf 23:13 Archived in United Kingdom Tagged tourist_sites Comments (0)

It's Official: God Hates Me (Part II)

I got locked out of my room, but the key in my hand....................

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Forget Murphy's Law, Ben's law says: When God hates you, even things that can't go wrong, will go wrong!"

Usually week days are uneventful. Classes, reading, homework, Youtube, yawn.....

Well, when you're me, everyday is an adventure, just ask my friend Viral....he'll testify.

So Monday was supposed to be like any other weekday. I went to class, came home, ate dinner, did homework, and I decided to take a shower before bed as usual. The day was winding down, what could possibly go wrong, right?

Well, once upon a time, there was a dorm called King's College Hall. It was a pretty little dorm when it was first built by the King's and Queens of London, but as time went on, it became a little old. It's so old in fact that King's is demolishing the place after I leave. So when I say old, everything is a little old, including the door, and the key to which unlocks my door. Everyday I have to acrobatically maneuver my key into my lock, and jiggle it for a few minutes before it clicks into position and unlocks the door. I didn't really complain because I always managed to get into my room before I could get impatient enough for demand a new key. So after a month of tinkering with the key/lock, which sometimes required a little extra force, the key finally bent when I locked my door to go and take a shower. Only problem was I didn't notice anything until after I finished my shower and tried to get back into my room.

So there I was, holding my bathroom stuff, looking like an incompetent idiot who couldn't operate a door. I'll leave it to your imaginations to picture what I was (or not) wearing. And of course everyone chooses to pass by the hallway at the same time while giving me weird looks. I could only stare back sheepishly and tomato red.

When I saw that the key had finally bent, I figured that if I could bend it back, it would be OK. Thus, with a stroke of inspiration, I rushed into the common kitchen area, and tried to use a pot as a hammer. As I was banging away at my key like I was trying to forge a freaking sword from the medieval times, my next neighbor walks into the kitchen to make some food. The only words we've ever said to each other so far were: "Can you turn the music down please?" I'm proud to say we've added the following words to our exchange: "What the hell are you doing? And why aren't you wearing any clothes?" I'm so happy to be making so many friends here in London.

Apparently the key is made out of anamantium (so only Wolverine can shape it with his claws), my pot hammer banging did nothing except annoy everyone on my floor, who banged back on the walls in protest. I was shivering, and I really didn't want to go down to reception to ask for a new key because it meant I had to walk outside. Even if I went down to reception and gotten a new key, I would need someone with a card to swipe me back in through the doors. Finally, my efforts to forge the new key were futile and I gave up all dignity and banged on my CA's door late at night, wearing nothing but a smile. He was kind enough to take me to reception, where the security guards had the nerve to give me a five minute lecture on how to operate the key/lock.

God, I know you're up there somewhere on your couch, laughing your arse off. Well, I'm don't think you're funny anymore so please go pick on someone else :)

Posted by CuriousCaseOf 19:33 Archived in United Kingdom Tagged living_abroad Comments (0)

It's official: God hates me (Part I)

I'm too hot to handle......

semi-overcast 48 °F

Murphy's law says: Anything that can go wrong will go wrong.

I'll just start you off with some appetizers:

When I was boarding the plane at Minneapolis/St. Paul airport, the ticket agent gave me a quizzical look as he scanned my ticket.

"The system says you've already boarded the plane," he said with a furrowed brow. I stared at him blankly.

"Well, obviously I'm not aboard the plane," I said in a puzzled voice. He shrugged and let me on anyway. As I wheeled my luggage down the cabin, I arrived at seat 27E. Only problem was that a man was already sitting in it. I doubled checked my ticket before tapping him on the shoulder.

"Excuse me sir, I think you are in my seat," I said as I pointed to the seat number on my ticket.
"No, I have the correct seat," he said indignantly as he pulled out his ticket. It said seat 27E as well. I grabbed a flight attendant who took my ticket and tried to get find me another seat. Only problem was this flight was already overbooked, and they were announcing on the PA that if any passengers were willing to delay their flight in return for a free flight voucher. Considering I had already arranged my friend to meet me at Heathrow, I was NOT getting off this flight. After much discussion by the flight attendant and the booking agent, they found me a spot elsewhere in the plane. Forget first class, I was just happy that I didn't have to stand. If I had taken a boat, luck would have found some way to ensure I would have had to swim to London instead.

Well, I still made it, so I just shrugged it off as nothing more than a one time thing. Some of you have might have heard my tale of how it took me nearly two months to get my classes at King's to get approved by Carlson. It took me a month and a half to get syllabuses. This only happened because I emailed every freaking professor at the management department and the computer science department. After a mountain of paperwork, I was ready to start classes at King's. Well, the fabulous thing is when I showed up at the department meeting and they passed around our registration, I was not signed up for ANY of my classes. So after numerous trips to the department office, the poor office secretary shudders at the sight of me.

There were also some other subtle signs from God. For instance, the Strand building had a fire while I was in my computer science class here at King's. Ziggy knows that somehow I have a knack for attracting fire alarms and fire engines. Carlson tried to burn down twice ever since I enrolled, and then Yudof apartments had another two fire alarms, including one at 3 am when I lived there. Lets not forget the fire alarm at The Thistle Hotel, where I was staying for London orientation either. However, the best experience was over the weekend. I was invited to badminton by my friend. I love badminton, and had even brought my racket from the US. She said to meet at Canada Water tube station around 11am. I got up early for breakfast on Sunday. When I got back to my room, and turned on my phone, I got a text saying it was supposed to be 10am, and I was already late. Thus, I ran helter skelter to the train station. I made it London Bridge station in good time, and was thankful to see the Jubilee line tube was going to be there in a couple minutes. When it got to one minute before its arrival, the PA went on:

"We have an emergency, please evacuate the station immediately. I repeat, please evacuate the station immediately!"

I stood stupidly at the East Bound direction, wondering if I should leave or wait for the train that was coming in just one more minute. Before I could decide, everyone was ushered out into the streets. As I stood outside London Bridge Station, a total of 5 fire engines came, accompanied by 7 police cars. Usually London tube has some of the most amusing reasons for delays and such, including one that says:

"The Jubilee line is experiencing severe delays due to person under the train. We have a good service on all other London underground lines."

But this station was London Bridge, which had barriers so people couldn't jump onto the tracks. I have no idea what happened, I just know wherever I go, fire engines follow. I know I'm too hot to handle......

Posted by CuriousCaseOf 18:33 Archived in United Kingdom Tagged living_abroad Comments (0)

University of Cambridge

I should have gone to Kings College at Cambridge! No matter, I vow to study at Cambridge on my next study abroad experience :)

sunny

Honestly, at this point, I'm running out of words and adjectives to describe the beauty that I got to see at Cambridge. When I set foot on the grounds of Cambridge, it didn't even feel like I was going to visit a college campus. It was more like visiting a sprawling palace that just happens to be University of Cambridge.

University of Cambridge is comprised of 31 different colleges, with over 150 departments of study. Each college is where students live, eat and socialize. It is also the place where students receive small group teaching sessions, known as supervisions.

Each college is an independent institution with its own property and income. The colleges appoint their own staff and are responsible for selecting students, in accordance with University regulations. The teaching of students is shared between the Colleges and University departments. Degrees are awarded by the University.

The best (and richest) colleges at Cambridge are Kings College and Trinity College. The Kings College Chapel is just breathtaking:

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The interior design of the buttress is on par with the design of St. George's Chapel at Windsor Castle. I was so glad that I was allowed to take pictures inside. Once you step inside, you can't help but feel in awe of the architect who designed the Chapel. The painstaking detail of every stone, every piece of wood, are all immaculately designed to perfection. Not only do they offer structural support for the Chapel, but they adorn it with incredible beauty. I managed to take over a hundred pictures in just one day :)

It had also just snowed that very weekend, so everything was wearing a pristine coat of snow. In fact, the last time it snowed that much at Cambridge was 1980, and postcards were made to commemorate the event. I guess I can just sell my pictures at the local gift shop instead :)

I'll quit blabbing and just let you see for yourself:

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I stayed at my friend's place and was spoiled with good Chinese food. I also got to meet her brother for the very first time and he was super cute :) Haha, well, I guess he won't like me calling him cute, but he's at the age where he'll soon turn into a surly teenager who will think he's quite grown up at age 13 so I just sneak that in before it's too late.

All I can say is I wish I was studying at Cambridge too. I love being in London, because everything is so convenient to get to on the tube, bus or train with lots of places to see, and things to do. But I also wouldn't mind just sitting my dorm on the Cambridge campus and just stare out the window and just take in beauty at its finest.......

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Posted by CuriousCaseOf 20:40 Archived in United Kingdom Tagged tourist_sites Comments (0)

Snow Day

Two inches of snow, and NO SCHOOL. How AWESOME is that!?!

snow

We interrupt this broadcast to bring you breaking news: Snow has fallen in London.

OK, you might be thinking that I'm exaggerating things, but it's the truth. The headlines on Feb 2 and 3 were as such. In fact, it was the only news. Forget the economic bailout, London needed a snow bailout. Apparently, on Feb 2, about 2-3 inches of snow fell on London. Then suddenly the entire city was paralyzed. It actually started snowing Sunday night on the 1st, but I was huddled next to my radiator in my room so I didn't notice anything. Apparently, as soon as snow fell on the ground, the entire transportation in London was suspended. This includes all buses, tubes, and trains. I was perplexed as to why the tube had to stop, considering it was supposedly underground, but it did. That night (Feb 1) was also Superbowl night, and quite a few of my American friends were at the Waterfront pub on campus catching the game. The game was played at 11:30pm here in London, and while they celebrated the Steelers win, they were unknowingly being avalanched in by 2 inches of snow. When the game finished, and my friends were ready to go home, they didn't realize everything had stopped working. Some waited for hours at bus stops, while others found the entrance to the tube station locked. Eventually, at 4 am, my poor friends straggled home, in their drunken hazes, by following giant billboards as road signs to get them home. Some thanked the "Paris Hilton's British Best Friend" billboard as their savior as they made their trek through the biggest storm to hit London in 18 years back to King's College Hall.

All the while, I was sound asleep in bed, and setting my alarm clock for 8 am for Monday, Feb 2. I got up early on Monday because I had revise for my tutorial. So after a quick breakfast of cholesterol raising bacon, beans, sausage, eggs, toast, and tomatoes, I settled down to do some studying. Now, the view from my window looks directly into the courtyard, and everything was pristine with the freshly laid carpet of snow. I took a few minutes to admire the view, and then turned back to my studies.

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However, as the morning got on, it became harder and harder to concentrate as the noise level from the courtyard became louder and louder. It seemed that by then everyone had woken up and decided to enjoy the snow. Loads of students were congregated outside and were having a blast. Barrages of snow balls were being thrown all over the place. Some tried to aim the snow balls to hit the highest window. Luckily mine was spared. Others tried building a snowman or played tag, all the while screaming and laughing and slipping and sliding around in the snow. I didn't know that Londoners could get this excited about snow....maybe I should invite them to Minnesota!

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Anyhow, I smiled to myself and continued reading. I kept a watch on the time, and was all packed and ready to go before a little bulb went off in my head. Wait a minute, why are there so many students in the courtyard? Why aren't these people going to class? Classes can't be canceled because of two inches of snow, could it? Having lived in Minnesota for so long, I've become a cynic. It seemed that no matter how much snow fell in Minnesota, we never got a snow day. President Bruininks at U of M has canceled afternoon classes once in 50 years it seems, after about two feet (not inches) of snow fell in a span of a couple hours. However, by then I was already done with class, and had battled my away back to my dorm in the blizzard. I had no expectations that this could stop classes, but IT DID.

And it was AWESOME! Around eight million people each day enter London, using the buses, trains, and tubes. But with the snow, London suddenly became desolate, as everything stopped. Businesses were halted, and those who made it to work in the snow realized that everyone got the day off anyway. My banker friend actually trudged for 45 minutes in the snow to get to work only to walk back after a couple of hours at because everyone got a snow day. Such dedication, or greed :) I can just imagine what wonders it did to the London economy for two days!

Anyway, with all transportation halted, I enjoyed a blissful day of doing nothing except drink hot chocolate, and watching movies on my bed, and reading.......you gotta love it!

So Monday was fabulous, and I was praying for a second snow day. It didn't snow that night, and when I got up on Tuesday, the transport for London website said buses were resuming. I checked the King's College main website and it said the following:

Please use common sense when making journey plans. If, having considered all the transport options available, you are unable to make your journey to King’s or it would be dangerous for you to do so, please stay at home.

I live probably the furthest away, aside from people on Hampstead Heath, but with no official notice, I left my room extra early because I knew traffic was going to be a nightmare. Surprisingly, traffic was pretty sparse, and it seemed people were still staying off the roads. I had to take the bus because the trains were still suspended, and I got to class about an hour early. I found an empty classroom and did some previewing for class. When one o'clock rolled around, I made my way to my management accounting class only to find the room entirely empty. Apparently there was an email that was sent out saying all management classes were canceled. I never received such email, and had to make another trip to the management office to get added to the list. I've only been there a million times before, considering how they did not sign me up for ANY of my courses (but that's another story.....) And so it seems the never ending story continues.......

P.S

I was in Cambridge over the weekend, and I was listening to the radio in the car. BBC was having a debate over what to call the adverse weather over in London. Some called it a snow storm, others called it a snow event, and there were even some who called it a blizzard!

As a Minnesotan, all I can say is you've seen nothing yet! Thus, I shall declare the snow day in London as nothing more than a sprinkle of fairy dust :)

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Posted by CuriousCaseOf 00:19 Archived in United Kingdom Tagged living_abroad Comments (0)

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