No it’s not an aftermath of a zombie vending machine raid, but it always seem to be the case here every weekend in school, particularly those staying within the college dorms. The college generally serves 3 meals a day- breakfast, lunch and supper (aka dinner) everyday, with the exception on Saturdays with only brunch served and lunch on Sundays. So this leaves our weekend dinners open which usually result in very interesting findings- It’s not uncommon to see 2 fully loaded adjacent vending machine selling drinks and sweets full and the one dispensing meals completely wiped out on weekends, so as I discover when passing by the college vending area on few occasions. It seems that this whole place runs off vending sandwiches on the weekends, otherwise it’s takeouts, microwaved meals or pizza.
Generally lets face it, not many people like to cook even if you do it will be most probably be worth while cooking for a group or so, which seem to be the case for myself. My group of about 5-6 Singaporeans friends will usually get together on weekends for a cookout where 7-9 pounds can easily feed 4-5 people for dinner.
In a typical bachelor pad setting, our cooking is not really what we call “restaurant standard”, but rather good enough for tasting eating. We tried cooking pasta with beef and meat sauce which turned out like a minced meat contraption with not much tomato. And there was one weekend where we had fried rice which was actually too wet, we ended up passing it off as claypot rice! and I don’t think I would want to talk about the chicken rice weekend!
Cooking at home is not exactly that “cheap” either, though yes the material cost is low, but the time and effort going into actually preparing the food and actually cooking it muddles the justification of the cost (took about 1 hour for our first try). When you though that is it, then there’s the amount of grocery planning and shopping beforehand for the ingredients.
I kinda miss the ease of ready made-food anytime of the day back in Singapore. Not that I actually miss the food but rather the convenience of obtaining them, let be how ridiculously cheap our food is back home compared to here. Chinese food here is expensive, bout $12 SGD for a plate of Singapore fried rice, which is far more expensive than that you get in London as well (maybe due to fewer Chinese stores here).
In a typical English setting here, there are no hawker centers here, only restaurant and eateries which will set you back at least 7 pounds for any dinner. There are no diners here either. Nevertheless, with each passing week with new discoveries town, there are always few popular cheap spots to eat around town, such as pubfood (about 4 pounds for a burger, fries set with drink) or there’s always the sub of the day!
Enrollment in the university of Cambridge is like a ritual in this traditional university. It’s like almost going back into time as well, with all the formal matriculation processes, the setting, formal dress robes and formals to go through to welcome the new cohort. As exclaimed by the seniors, it’s like a “rite of passage, with my great things to come”. I am now officially enrolled and warmly welcomed into Cambridge as a fellow student. All university matriculation are done by the college Praelector, in my case was Dr Brian Cox. His primary role is to matriculate all new undergrad and post grad members of the College. As stated on the student welcome pack: This is a traditional formal registration of the student as a member of the University and the College.
In addition, all students are welcomed into the college with a matriculation formal hosted by the president of the college himself. This is done by department and usually begins with a drinks reception in the President’s lodge before heading to the formal dining hall for the 5 course meal served on the long table. Very much like what you see in traditional English dining halls or in relation, like the dinner Harry Potter had in Hogwarts. The dinner is interesting, I got to meet many different people from all walks of life, not to mention learning about their country, cultures and food alike. A very sociable atmosphere indeed which I am liking in stark contrast to the lifestyles back in Singapore. People are more open, friendly and approachable here.
One college formal done! With 31 different colleges in Cambridge itself, it will be a feat, not to mention an achievement if you are able to conquer all the formals in all the colleges before graduation. 30 more to go!
There are quite alot happening around college, chill out sessions, welcome parties, ice-breaker sessions, speed meeting sessions, performances, talks you name it. And that is not just limited to events here but around town as well. The freshers events are the highlight for this time of the year, with the seniors getting to know all the juniors as well. There is just plenty to go around, sometimes you do not know what you are signing yourself up for as well!
Getting social here is not very much like what we do at home. Pubs and drinking is a way of life here, as synonymous as a gathering in a hawker center or a coffee shop for starters. Wanna meet? Pub! Watch soccer? Pub! Moreover, clubbing here is more open in nature and have better atmosphere and mixes compared to that I know that the clubs back in Singapore, even by local DJs around town. The club culture back home is almost nothing compared to that here and I still have yet to experience the best clubs in the Country.
Few of my favorites regular show segments here will have to be the stand up comedy, Wolfson howler. It’s usually pure crude humor delivered in a way you least expect it, it makes you laugh without questioning much of of Morales anyway, a show worth catching on their regular tours round Cambridge and is usually a full house whenever there is a show.
With the weather getting colder now, things are still very much heating up not only on the fun side but the in classes as well- everything is starting to go full steam, but at least there is still time for games and play as well!
With some time to spare, let me talk about the engineering department along Trumpington street where all freshers will have to go through as a rite of passage here in the university of Cambridge before specializing in their various fields of chosen expertise here or out of the department at West Cambridge.
Built around 1875, this department is about 130 years old, but it still retains much of the old red bricked structure which is typical of the architecture of that time. Even walking through it, particularly some corridors does make you feel that you’ve gone back in time. Much of the old the layout of the building still largely intact, not to mention the old weather wooden doors and oak lecture room seats which are literally give you the sore bums ar some time of sitting. They even kept the building “trademark” smoke furnace smoke stack which can be seen sticking out of the engineering buildings despite it not being used for decades.
The interesting fact is that all these old parts goes hand-in-hand with the various improvements and modern additions seen all around- There are also many various enhancements made to the existing structure, such as modern ceilings, lighting and toilets. It’s quite unreal walking down an ancient corridor only to enter a bright tiled room with lots of modern facilities, typical a Frankenstein contraption of old and new. Moreover, the
Being an old building, there are many instances of the old building which I always attend lectures in. Almost all lectures and talks are all conducted here for undergraduates- First year lectures are usually common and held in the larger lecture theaters where you will spend more of your senior years in small lecture rooms when you choose to specialize in the third year. The department is also a place for post grad research as well, with 5/5 start ratings for research and laboratories.
I am really liking the myriad of societies and groups available at university level, far more than what I thought SP had oftered was “large”, but it’s still a far cry from the type of CCAs offered in JCs. Signing up for track and field was a no-brainer for me, but sign-ups are usually in for competitive level, let be representing the college at university level. Since I am recovering from a leg injury, I guess I have to put that on hold until maybe next term where I get my fitness backup with training schedules of my own.
The engineering prep course was held over the course of last week, it was organised by the university department as an introductory course for all fresher engineers starting their first year in Cambridge university. There were talks on various engineering topics such as reducing airplane noise and introductory electronics by various speakers and industry partners, such as ARM, BP, etc. The highlight of the course for most students, would be having to get onto building and programming a robot to play soccer autonomously after an hour lecture on robotics. The robot was to be built using parts from the Lego Mindstorms set, something I was familiar with having owned a set myself back at home, only that the one used by the university is a new version (1.5) with the USB infrared tower (mines the version 1.0 serial tower) and they have quite an array of third party sensors to use, such as Infra-red sensors!
I guess to anybody, to build a robot from virtually zero knowledge in 2 days was quite a bit of a feat. We were split into 12 teams which were formed during the ice-breaker dinner sessions on the first day of the prep course. I was rather niffy with building robots out of Lego, so I offered to design and build the robot based on the team’s requirements. In the end we settled for a single IR sensor with 2 pairs of touch and light sensors, all that’s left was programming which were delegated to the rest of the team of 6 to plan and code. Programming turned out to be rather more of a feat than we thought, but we did turn out with a working robot which actually looked rather cool.
The matches are hilarious, some team’s robots were just moving around blindly bumping into walls while some are just sitting stoned while the teams cheered on the “tortoises” to play soccer. We didn’t win in the end through the process of elimination where one team gets some small prizes, but I guess the new friendships made and the experience gained was more invaluable than anything.
Term will actually start next week, there are much to get around and registering with the engineering department next week. It will be busy!