The Cambridge adventure began this week when I managed to get lost on the walk from the bus station to St Catherine's college where I will be staying for the next two weeks! Although I struggled around the narrow cobblestone streets and avoid the multitudes of cyclists, it was a beautiful way to begin to see the city! I very quickly met another student who had also managed to get lost, and together we began the very painful journey of dragging our suitcases up four very long flights of stairs! Over the course of the week, we have thankfully managed to find our way around the college a little better, and have figured out how to use the lifts.
The first afternoon was a whirlwind of information and meeting people from all over the world studying a variety of programs. In the evening, we had our first dinner at college and were introduced to typical British foods such as Yorkshire pudding whilst discussing the different places that we have all travelled from. There are students from over 50 countries on the program and I have met a lot of Australians as well as others from America and throughout Europe. It is a fantastic chance to share cultural traditions and norms and to teach all of the non-Australians how to 'speak Aussie'.
Over the week, we participated in three lectures per day including two courses which we had chosen, and a morning plenary lecture delivered by a Cambridge researcher. These plenary lectures have been focused around a different topic every day, including infectious diseases, chemistry, forest conservation and physics. They have been a fantastic opportunity to hear about topics that we ordinarily wouldn't get to experience in our degrees and have been very eye-opening. The two courses that I have been studying this week were related to genetics and memory. Through these, I have learnt about a variety of interesting topics including cellular processes in DNA replication, and problems with memory recollection, including false memories. It is a fantastic experience to get to hear from experts in their fields and to ask questions about their experiences and knowledge.
We have also had the opportunity to participate in a variety of social activities organised by the university including welcome drinks and a garden party. On Wednesday evening, we also went to a traditional Gaelic dance called ceilidh. This was a really fun experience and we learnt a lot of traditional dances (which we weren't very good at!) and laughed a lot!
Apart from the University organised activities, we have done a lot of exploring around the city visiting places such as Mathematical bridge, the pub where Watson and Crick were thought to discover DNA, and Newton's apple tree. Punting on the river was another fantastic experience that we tried and we got to learn a bit of history from our guide. It is amazing how many boats are on the river at once filled with people relaxing and enjoying the scenery.
A highlight of the time so far has definitely been the food! In addition to the meals at college, there are plenty of shops around as well as a street market in the city where all of the food is amazing! From Greek gyros to sushi to German sausages, and of course plenty of ice cream we have definitely indulged this week. Walking back to class from the street market on Tuesday we were treated to a special surprise when we got to see the Queen driving past! This was a very exciting experience for a lot of us who had never got to see her before!
The past week has gone by so quickly and a lot of us still can't believe that we are in Cambridge. It is a lot like I imagined, except for the large amounts of tourists wandering around both the city and inside the colleges. I am excited to see what new adventures are in store for the next week!
My name is Montana and I live on the sunny Gold Coast in Queensland! I am in my final year of a dual degree studying biomedical science and psychology at UQ and am fascinated by neuroscience. I love exploring new places and am grateful for any opportunity to travel! When not studying or working I enjoy attempting to cook and going out with friends for fun experiences like axe-throwing!