By Mia Wallace
June 8, 2016
The day started off walking through the streets of Cambridge in the footsteps of some of the most important and influential people to ever existence. Passing by Isaac Newton’s old room at Trinity College, then eating a quick meal at the table where James Watson and Francis Crick announced they “discovered the secret of life” with the structure of DNA, and taking a stroll over to Cavendish Laboratory where James Chadwick discovered the neutron. Cambridge is such an important place in academic history as well as being breathtakingly beautiful. Old cobblestone streets, hundred-year-old buildings, and a colorful history lined every nook and cranny the university and city had to offer.
While we learned all about the scientific and academic achievements that took place on the campus, we also learned about all the goofy and wacky things that went on with the student population as well. Cambridge students have a funny inclination to put odd objects, like cars or bicycles, on some of the important and historical buildings around the campus. For example, one that really made me laugh was a story about how a secret club called the Night Climbers of Cambridge somehow got a bicycle on top of a spire on one of the towers of the King’s College Chapel. Then, the college has to hire a building company to build a scaffold up the cathedral to try and get this bike down. Well, they get 3/4 of the way done on the first day but have to finish the rest the next day. The next day comes around and where do you suppose that bike is? On a spire all the way on the opposite side of the Chapel. The best part is that there are multiple stories just like this one of students pulling pranks on these old buildings in clever, comical ways. The local news is always sure to pick up on the next funny or clever prank the student body decides to pull next. For example, in 2009 Santa hats appeared on all the spires on King’s College Chapel and was thoroughly covered by multiple newspapers like The Telegraph, The Sun, Metro and many others.
Well, now onto the story of my dreadful experience with punting. What is punting? Well, it’s basically navigating a giant, more confusing gondola with a giant 16-foot pole that weighs a ton down a tiny, shallow canal. You have at the end of the boat the “punter” who is basically in charge of propelling the boat with this scary, giant pole and has to leave it up to their balancing skills and pure luck that they don’t get knocked into the water by another boat. If you couldn’t tell by my utter disdain for this experience…I was the punter. Imagine this, a weak soul (me) with the upper arm strength of a grandma navigating a 10-foot-long boat with a pole nearly double the length through disgusting green and brown colored water all the while accidentally bumping into multiple other boats while simultaneously spinning in circles and trying not to fall into cholera infected water. Not to mention that the highly skilled and trained punters that were giving tour guides in the other boats that we were slamming into kept yelling at us to go away even though we were fervently trying to punt away and find a nice quiet place to float but couldn’t because of our utter lack of skill. Click here to see what these dreadful, evil boats are like.
Cambridge taught me a lot of interesting things today about their history, student life, and the many academic achievements that took place on their campus. But what it taught me most was that punting is never ever a good idea.