I did not know much about Cambridge, England before arriving here this past Sunday. What I am discovering is a quite lovely, little town with 31 colleges that compromise Cambridge University. I am studying and staying at Clare College, founded in 1722, for the weeklong Gilder-Lehrman civil rights seminar I am attending with my friend Elana. As we walked through campus into town, I made mention that I felt like we were walking on the Harry Potter movie lot. I am expecting to see wizards at any point now.
The Eagle pub has been in existence since the 1600s and has a great history. Crick and Watson, researchers of DNA which led to their Nobel Prizes, celebrated here upon their findings. I can only imagine that party: keep the Pimms flowing please! We stopped in for a pint on the first night in town to experience the local pub culture. It’s very relaxed and a lot less expensive than London. We also enjoyed talking with the other participants of the seminar, one of which is from England. We shared stories about our careers as a teachers, the university systems in England and the United States, and he filled me in on local pub culture. It is very grounding to hear international experiences that so closely mirror your own. It really puts the entire concept of human existence, globalization, and citizenship into perspective.
Outside of Cambridge University and the pubs, Cambridge is very well known for punting on the Cam. I thought our group was in for a nice, local game on the greens of Clare College. Wrong. As we boarded the boat in the River Cam for our sunset cruise through the colleges and backs of town, our tour guide began telling us about the different colleges built along the water. King’s College was built by King Henry VI. Not to be outdone, King Henry VIII built Trinity College once in power. It is the largest school in town with just over 1,000 students and an endowment of $3,000,000,000. Yes, you read it correctly. The Wren Library on Trinity’s campus houses AA Milne’s original Winnie the Pooh book.
As I am looking for Stephen Hawking this week, he’s a professor here, I will also be making sure to continue to enjoy the learning more about the immense history of this “quite lovely” town.