A punt a day is in the DNA

Reagan Villet 6/8/16

“Touch as many things as you can. Lots of super smart (and rich) people there. Osmosis and all…”

The above words are taken from a text my dad sent to me when I told him that our plans for the day included touring the University of Cambridge. Visiting a school where 92 Nobel Prize winners have graduated from is absolutely amazing, and I am not ashamed to say that I touched every possible surface that one of their hands may have grazed, in the hopes that maybe just a molecule of their genius would rub off on to me.

We started our tour off at “The Eagle“, a pub (which claims to be Cambridge’s oldest) frequented by many students. Two students who very routinely visited the pub were James Watson and Francis Crick, who is this very pub, announced that they had discovered the “secret of life”; that discovery being DNA. I was actually lucky enough to have lunch at the very table where the announcement was made (I feel smarter already!).

The Eagle’s special “DNA Brew” in front of the DNA discovery plaque (6/8/16)

Next stop was the lowest area of land in Cambridge, which happens to be a church and tiny cemetery. The area has been fixed up and is really beautiful, with flowers and vines making the church look like a picturesque puzzle.  However, our tour guide told us that back in the day, the area (because of it’s low land) was used as a water supply. Unfortunately, the water went through the cemetery, so the entire water supply was contaminated with the bodies buried there. (However, this lead to an increase in pubs in the area so that people could drink beer instead of the water, so was it really such a bad thing?).

The picturesque church (6/8/16)

Going in to my third year at MSU, I have grown accustomed to a campus separate from town. Michigan State is it’s own little “town”, separated from the rest of East Lansing by Grand River. The University of Cambridge has a completely different set-up, as there are 31 separate colleges within the University, so the campus and the town are one. Seeing the many parts of Cambridge was bewildering. The buildings have held up for decades, with beautiful architecture and landscaping. I love my beautiful campus at MSU, but Cambridge was an entirely different experience that is hard to compare to anything else.

Kings College, Cambridge (6/8/16)
Beautiful landscaping at Cambridge (don’t step on the grass!) (6/8/16)
Ivy covered halls (They may have MSU’s beaten!) (6/8/16)

We also stopped at the Ely Cathedral, a beautiful church on the campus. The building is immaculate, and absolutely beautifully constructed. There are stained glass windows lining the walls, depicting stories from the New and Old Testament, and the ceilings are designed with spirals and pillars like I have never seen before. Although I am not religious, this is the second cathedral that has blown me away (the other being the Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris that I wrote about here!).

The face of the Ely Cathedral (6/8/16)
Stained glass windows in the Ely Cathedral (6/8/16)

The final portion of our trip was a punt ride down the river Cam, and under it’s bridges (yes, Cambridge was named after Cam’s bridges!). Punting is basically rowing a small boat, but instead of a paddle, the punter stands at the back of the boat and rows with a giant stick that reaches the ground, so that the punter is able to “push off” and direct the boat. Aron was our punt boy, and might I say that he was the best punt boy in all of the land. I had a wonderful time floating down the river, and the weather was surprisingly perfect. Overall, it was the perfect ending to the day.

A bridge over the river Cam (6/8/16)
Our wonderful punt boy, Aron (6/8/16)
Just two girls enjoying amazing weather on a beautiful river (6/8/16)

I love MSU, and I will always be a Spartan, but Cambridge really drew me in. Not only is the town and campus absolutely stunning, but the genius that has come out of one university is overwhelming. To be in the same place that Alan Turning (please see The Imitation Game if you don’t know who he is!), Isaac Newton, Charles Darwin, and numerous other recognized geniuses have walked is insurmountable, and I will never forget this trip.

Grad school? Only time will tell.


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