London has been our home for the past week and we were all sad to be leaving this beautiful city. However, in just over an hour on the train, we arrived in the University town of Cambridge. After dropping our bags off at the youth hostel, we toured the town on a hop-on hop-off tour bus. This allowed us to see many of the University’s buildings and Cambridge’s main sights, including one of the four remaining round churches in the world, The Church of the Holy Sepulchre. We learned from commentary on the tour that Cambridge University consists of 32 different Colleges, where students can live and receive tutoring and supervision from Professors.
In the afternoon, we wandered the streets of Cambridge before lining up for one of the most anticipated Church Services to take place this year, involving a performance of the boy’s choirs from St John’s College and Kings College. Although we were seated towards the back of the Church due to the huge amount of members of the public and University Fellows in attendance, we were still able to appreciate the grand architecture and the mesmerising sounds of the choirs and organ. It is something we will never forget.
We started off our day with a punting tour on the River Cam. The guides steering our punts regaled us with the history of the surrounding University Colleges and the amazing bridges we passed under. Despite the heat, it was interesting to hear just how old many of the Colleges were, and about some of their traditions, including the extravagant “May Ball” held each year to mark the end of the academic year.
We then took a tour of St John’s College and Trinity College. At both, we were able to get a better understanding of the College lifestyle and the various types of accommodation and courses offered. A misconception that many of us had was also clarified on this tour – Colleges were not simply a place of residence. The University of Cambridge Colleges are different to Universities in Melbourne in the sense that students are required to have extra sessions with Professors at the Colleges and are required to study at designated hours. We spoke with a recent graduate from Trinity College who spoke very highly of the College and explained that she often saw Australians on campus. This made some of our students more hopeful about their prospects! While at Trinity, we also visited the Wren Library, which houses early drafts of a Winnie the Pooh book and many other treasured works.
After lunch, we walked along the River Cam to the Orchard Tea Rooms (near Grantchester) where we enjoyed tea and scones. They were delicious! Towards the end of the day, we returned to central Cambridge to further explore the streets and Colleges. Many of us were also keen to purchase Cambridge University merchandise for friends and family. Our next stop is Oxford…