Yesterday, in an effort to inspire the youth to aim higher and motivate them to take their studies more seriously, my class was taken on a school trip to see Cambridge University. Our lack of initial enthusiasm was evident; the coach journey was two hours long (I slept both hours) and we all just really wanted to go home as we had just completed a science exam that morning.
Cambridge University is always regarded as one of the most prestigious educational institutions, inaccessible to many. However, upon seeing it, my classmates were sorely disappointed and it was nothing like they had expected it to be. When asked, they had envisaged the university to be one ginormous ancient castle resembling Hogwarts. What we did not know was that the university is actually comprised of thirty-one smaller colleges scattered about the town, some fairly modern in comparison to the older buildings of much more impressive architecture.
The town is small and old-fashioned, with cobbled streets and narrow alleyways, and the main mode of transport is clearly cycling. Parked bicycles littered the pavements and there were very few cars. I suppose for university students who have little money to spare, bicycles are convenient and practical with everything being within a small distance.
We saw no cloaks and nobody walked around with a pile of books but you could feel the brains working as soon as you exited the coach. Even their pubs have an intellectual touch; one was named The Sir Isaac Newton! So affected was my friend that she started speaking in a ‘posh accent’ at the top of her voice, attracting stares by everyone that passed by.
They must really love Sir Isaac Newton in Cambridge because his mathematical bridge was pointed out to me by a rather enthusiastic student. It is a curious looking bridge and the story goes that Newton built it without the use of any screws, nails or bolts. It was taken down, however, when they tried to rebuild it the same way, they were unable to and had to fix the wood together with nails. Even Cambridge myths have an intellectual theme to them.
Newton's Mathematical Bridge
We were given a talk about the university and the application process and it was informative and frightening at the same time. I don’t feel completely discouraged, just a little nervous about the future. I learned that they don’t really care what you wear to an interview and that they will never ask you to define a banana. At least that’s what they want you to believe….they could just want to catch you off guard.
The admissions man was hilarious and told as that Oxford, their rivals, are a university whose existence they ignore; they are there but we do not talk about them. He labelled them the Voldemort of Cambridge University. I asked a student and she replied “what’s Oxford university?” Apparently, the main cause of this split is competition between sporting teams, particularly rowing and they feel extremely sore about their consecutive losses to their rivals.
I doubt I will ever apply to Cambridge University; my Daddy will miss me too much and there are plenty of universities here in the capital. I wouldn’t mind though, in fact, I think I would quite enjoy living on a campus and attending lectures. If I study medicine, my time at university will be much prolonged… I can’t wait!