Greetings and salutations!
The bite of winter has begun to show face here in Cambridge! No frost or snow predictions for a few more weeks, but the chill in the mornings when heading to morning classes or supervisions packs a punch. I’ve just started week 5 out of 10 in Michaelmas term, and while it doesn’t feel like I’m halfway through, the workload is proving me wrong. The sheer amount of information presented to us in lectures is staggering, but I am able to see the practical applications of the material in the laboratory sessions, and when reflecting on previous experiences in the medical field. On another note, I have officially been granted a spot on the Cambridge Women’s Football Team! We had a match against Nottingham Trent last Wednesday (L 3-1) at home, and we’re traveling to Birmingham this Wednesday to play their first team! It’s wonderful to be back out on the field, competing at a high level, and making new friendships through athletics.
The prompt this week is commuting, and from what I’ve discussed with others here, Cambridge and Oxford are some of the few universities in the UK where the vast majority of the students bike to class. This was certainly a shock for me when I was planning and packing for this year as I didn’t have a bike. It somehow makes sense that students bike to class. I can’t explain it, but it’s a part of the academic, athletic, and leisure life. In Pittsburgh, I knew no one who biked to class. The Pittsburgh campus is relatively compact in comparison to Cambridge, and Pitt students live right next to the lecture halls and labs give or take a 5-minute walk. However, if I wanted to walk to lectures in the morning, the buffer time I give myself is 15 minutes. Biking will cut this time to 6 minutes (that extra 9 minutes of sleep is gold). Additionally, the practice fields are sometimes 2-2.5 miles away from campus, so having a bike really cuts down on travel time. There are many different paths along the Cam that are bike friendly, so when it’s a nice day, I’ll go for a ride along the river with cows grazing on either side of the path. The only bone I have to pick with riding along the river is that I always seem to go with the wind on the way out, and against the wind on the way back.
For any future students who plan to participate in this program
- Make sure you know how to fix a bike chain should it fall off the gears (both the back and front gear shifts).
- Always carry a bag of clean tissues or a clean rag in your backpack to wipe the grease off your fingers.
- Even though you can’t practice on the roads in the US, think about riding on the left side of the road. Turning is especially tricky, so if you’re feeling uncomfortable, just ride behind someone and follow their tires.
- Invest in a good bell for your bike. People don’t seem to like to walk on the sidewalks apparently and will dart in front of you.
- Bring gloves for your hands when riding in the winter!
Biking in Cambridge and being a part of the women’s football team has allowed me to see much more of the campus than I had expected. On certain days, our practice fields are in different colleges, and I always seem to ride along the King’s Road, paralleling King’s College. I’m having a wonderful time, and I am excited for the next few weeks when the city is transformed into a winter wonderland! However, don’t worry, I’m ensuring that my house has a proper Thanksgiving dinner on the 25th, which is ironically Bridgemas (the day when the students celebrate Christmas).