Sunday, October 12, 2008
Britisher and Britisher
Fresher's week has come and gone, it was a whirlwind with an activity planned out literally every night. I still haven't had a single "night in" since the very first night I was here. I noticed a distinct trend through the week of increasing Britishness, and me being less and less surprised by cultural changes:
Monday, curry night: Curry is the UK's most popular food according to somebody. Interestingly it is an entire cuisine here, they'll plan to "go out for curry" like we would for pizza.
Tuesday, pub trivia night: Trivia is also quite popular, they love history especially. The new grad students also got a private tour of the Churchill archives, which include not only all of Churcill's papers (like a presidential library), but also Margaret Thatcher and 400 other famous people, including 10 Nobel laureates. Conveniently located at Churchill college 100 metres from my building.
Wednesday, pub crawl: Needless to say pubs are popular. A bit different atmosphere, as last call is usually 11pm. People seem to go out almost every night but don't drink quite as much or stay out as late, less of a binge thing and more of a routine.
Thursday, debate at Cambridge Union: The world's oldest debate society, debating if a "new sexual revolution" is needed. It's a beautiful building with some interesting traditions, and some lively moments of audience participation, but lasted three hours and was amazingly dull given the topic. Still, doesn't get much more British.
Friday, Super hall at Churchill: They have three formal dinners a week, two "formal halls" and "super hall." Dressing up in a suit and eating a fancy three-course meal is pretty much the most popular thing to do here. Churchill is considered an informal college because academic gowns aren't required in the formal halls. They still make a pretty big deal of things, as seen above in the photo.
So I'm getting into the swing of British culture a bit. I'm using metres and kilogrammes without thinking to much about it. 24 hour time is a snap. Celsius is still a struggle.
Biking on the left side of the road is still pretty hair-raising. It's a beautiful campus for biking but it already has everything going wrong for it in terms of bike safety: tons of old bikes with shoddy brakes, narrow one-way streets, impatient drivers, tons of pedestrians, cobblestones, speed bumps (sleeping policemen)... Throwing in traffic on the left side of the road is just crazy.
Anyway hoping for life to slow down a bit after this week... Saturday was a bit more relaxed and Sunday cooked dinner in as a group with 6 new friends in Churchill, and it was a blast.