Across the Pond: Arrival


THIS IS NOT A DRILL. I actually got on a plane and flew across the ocean, and here I am in the land of beans on toast and far too many queues.

Settling In

The first order of business was to move in to my college. Well, actually the first order of business was to drop my mom’s things off at her hotel and take a shower because after 6+ hours on a plane you feel pretty gross. I mention this little side trip because the tub in her hotel bathroom was about two/three feet up from the floor, and I slipped getting in, leaving me with a truly spectacular bruise on my knee. Over a week later, it is still very large and very colorful and very visible through my tights. (Luckily it’s cold enough that I’m usually wearing pants).

But anyway, then we went down the road to Pembroke College, which is the best college obviously. But in all serious, it’s astonishingly beautiful. It’s the third oldest college in the university (founded in 1347, which I can hardly conceive of as an actual date associated with things not in a museum, being from the Northeast where everything is like maybe 400 year old max).

I checked in with the porter, who gave me my key and my university card and sent me off to my room, which is nothing supremely special but it is larger than any dorm room I had in undergrad, and better equipped. (More storage space. More furniture. I have my own sink.)

The one negative at the moment is that the heat is still not on, due to some damage in the pipes which they are currently replacing. But they said within the next week or so. This is mostly a problem in the mornings, because my bed is very warm but the rest of the room is very…not. Which greatly reduces my desire to get out of bed and greatly increases my chances of being late for class.

I’m still working out a few kinks – took me an absurdly long time to find any hangers for sale, and I’m still waiting for my appointment to open a bank account – but I’ve mostly got everything sorted.

Fresher’s Week

The first week of the term is just ABSOLUTELY JAM PACKED with events:

  • Inductions. So many inductions. I have been inducted into the College, into my department, into the Archaeology and Anthropology library, and then I still have one more coming up this week to be inducted into the main university library. The word ‘induction’ has lost all meaning for me.
  • Society events. I gather it’s pretty traditional to go to the Fresher’s Fair, sign up for far too many email lists, and get a bunch of email you don’t want for the rest of the year. So I very gamely went and did just that! It’s looking right now like I will join the ballet society and the photography society, and keep an eye on the Pembroke science society for interesting talks (but not officially join). I wanted to try riding but it’s just too expensive 😦
  • Social events. We have a lovely thing called the Graduate Parlour where all the grad students can hang out, and it has its own committee which puts on tons of events. So far I have taken a historic tour, had tea and cake, gone punting on the Cam, and gone to my very first bop, which is apparently what Cambridge students call parties. I should note, though, that these are thoroughly silly parties where everyone dresses up in costume. Saturday’s theme was Noah’s Ark, which means mostly everyone dressed up as an animal (I was a polar bear), barring a few Noahs and some rain.

The only downside to this week of frenetic activity is that, inevitably, when you bring 300 people from all over the world together in a small space where they can all cough on each other, you end up with Fresher’s Flu. Which is why I am currently sitting in my bed with a headache and a sore throat, wearing a fleece jacket and a scarf, and thanking my lucky stars I got my flu shot before I came.

Oh yeah, Classes

I actually am here to do a degree in something, not just run around and have fun. Lectures started last Thursday, and I’m pretty sure I know ‘which modules I will sit’, which is British for ‘which classes I will take’. There are also a lot of interesting talks put on by various departments (‘Faculties’) and societies, which I will keep an eye on. I’ve met with my thesis supervisor, and will soon be starting a project on ancient parasites, so stay tuned for more news on that front.

Until I’m over my cold I think I will stay in my room, but once I’ve recovered it will be time to hit the library…but I’ve missed classes, actually, and as a graduate student my schedule is weighted against homework and toward longer-term projects. If I screw around I’ll be in a lot of trouble at the end of the term, but really I think this year will be a lot of fun.


If you’re friends with me on Facebook I have a running album where I upload all of my snapshots, but here are some of the highlights.

Pembroke College, New Court

Pembroke College, New Court

Looking appropriately scholarly in my gown, post-Matriculation

Looking appropriately scholarly in my gown, post-Matriculation

The Pembroke library from the front

The Pembroke library from the front

Dressed up and ready for the bop

Dressed up and ready for the bop



I even took a turn at punting myself

I even took a turn at punting myself


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