Monday, May 9, 2011
Fresher’s week, matriculation dinner, porters, math lectures, formal halls, pennying, Lion’s Yard shopping, bops and the college bar, Sainsbury’s food, Soul Tree and Cindy’s and cheese music, punting, revisions and final exams, May balls…
These are the things in Cambridge I remember off the top of my head, and even then I had to rethink several times and strain to remember the names of Sainsbury, Lion’s Yard… There are other places and things around Cambridge whose names escape me right now – like that small place (begins with a G?) we eat at in middle of the night, or the food trucks nearby (Trailer of Life and what else?)… what else am I missing?
A sad description of life in Cambridge, I know. Maybe I have an especially bad memory, but the vividness of Cambridge has faded. Unguarded, those memories waned while I was busy readjusting to the States and busy graduating MIT and busy starting full-time in NYC. Before I noticed, two years had passed. And now, I will try to not forget, try to resurrect the memories of my Cambridge days, both the beautiful and the ugly.
As this next school year comes to a close, I look back as an alum and wish one thing – that I had done more. Taken more pictures, made more (closer) friends, joined more societies, explored around more, talked more, listened more, learned more, written more, remembered more.. and stayed in touch more.
To this year’s exchange students and university seniors, I tell you: soak it all up now while you can, because once you leave Cam – never again.
Friday, December 24, 2010
in shades of black and grey
tangled heartstrings and bits
how heavy thy burdens weigh
what sadness on the soul
tears upon tears upon no more tears
eyes glow a bright black hole
vast reflecting pools of sorrows fears
this expanse of sadness runs
once clear waters icy dark
endless horizons with no suns
a blood-red moon burns black and stark
such sadness heavy sits
lost and bereft thou pray
for new light mercy permits
how heavy thy burdens weigh
Thursday, September 16, 2010
I’ve given out a lot of advice and answers about preparing for MIT CME, so I thought I would amass my emails and post it in case anyone else finds it useful. I didn’t try to retype out all the information about Cam, the colleges, formal halls, etc. -- this is just for packing (advice mostly for girls haha ^^), and financial preparations basically ~
- Cam is colder for a longer period of time than Boston, but it never gets as heavy snow
- In June May Ball, it's still too cold at night outside to just wear an evening dress, even with a guy’s jacket I'm still so cold. so basically don’t bring too many summer clothes at all, I don't think I ever got to really walk around in tank top + shorts. In June, I can wear dresses around the day, but evening, the temperature drop is bigger than Boston so I need a sweater.
- 1 or 2 long dresses for May Ball (depending on how many you plan to go to) and ~6 semi-formal dresses should be sufficient
- There’s at least one Chinese association formal ball that you can wear a qipao to if you want
- Having a winter overcoat is nice -- the wool type, long or short, with double buttons or something -because 1) it's pretty and people will be seeing you wear it a lot 2) it's the norm for Brits to wear -- you won’t see people walking around in big puffy jackets, or Northfaces, etc.
- That said, one wool coat is all you really need, unless you want to change styles like me haha: one short, one long, one black, one white/light. one rainy day jacket. one sweater type jacket can wear under a thinner outercoat. one casual whatever jacket I don’t care about.
- If you're gonna go skiing/snowboarding or other sports, remember gear for that.
- Most of the streets are cobblestone type so don’t walk around in stiletto heels haha.
- Flats are good, I usually always wore those, although with too thin/flat shoe bottoms, you can really feel the stones on the street.
- Obviously more comfy sneakers, converse-types, etc are all fine too
- Boots are super super popular because they’re warm, comfy, and trendy looking. All the girls I know ended up buying several pairs of boots at Cam, both high and ankle length ones. Boots with heels are also easy to walk in if you want height. You will end up wearing boots for a good period of the time.
- Layering is good because indoors can get really hot with heaters (and also really dry!). Maybe like a short sleeve, a thinner jacket/sweater, and an outside overcoat + scarf. Depends on how much you like the cold, not me =(
- Scarves for both guys and girls -- I bought my Cambridge college one!
- Warm leggings/tights for dresses and boots
- Also have shoes you don’t mind walking in the rain with, and at least one umbrella, you’ll be using it a lot more often that at MIT
- Stuff for going out clubbing wear
- I didn’t ship anything to UK, but I brought on the allocated 2 suitcases of 50lbs each plus my carry-on.
- Virgin Atlantic at Logan Airport, when we went, was super stringent and weighed all the carry-ons, limit was like 13lbs so people had to reshuffle stuff last minute. My carry-on was like 30lbs haha so thank god my friend only had one suitcase and check mine in for me. But many times I’ve flown without my carry-on being weighed, so I don’t know =/
- Coming back to US, a lot of people shipped stuff, or had visiting family/friends bring back stuff for them. If you visit US on holiday, bring back as much as possible. I don’t know what other people used, but I basically looked around online at air costs and called for prices. I think I used Heathrow's baggage services actually, for like ~$250 I shipped a check-in size maybe 30lb suitcase to Singapore. I brought everything else back on the airplane with me.
- Some airlines have student excess weight allowance for if you’re going to college or graduating and going home -- both of which we fall under. We have "matriculation" letters and you can also get a "completed studies, will not be returning next year" etc letter. I got my allowance through Singapore Airlines, +5-10lbs, but some American airlines do it too. It's not well known, you might need to call and ask, and at check in time, have the college letters as proof.
- If you have Bank of America debit, withdrawal from Barclays in UK is free, as well as other banks in the Global Alliance Program, look it up. The exchange rate is quite good. You need to call/visit Bank of America before you go to make a note on your account that you will be abroad in XYZ countries so that you can gain access and they don't freeze your account on questions of identify theft or charge you for withdrawal fees. Make sure you tell them several times….
- I had a US HSBC account (it's free) so that i can open a UK one for free (normally not free), but you can also open a Lloyds one for free with no min.
- Capital One is the only credit card that I researched back then (~1.5 years ago) that did not have international usage fees, saving you ~1-2%.
- If your college allows you to use debit or credit cards directly, great.
- Else, for debit with BoA, you can just withdraw GBP from Barclays ATM and pay your college in GBP cash. There's a daily limit of ~US$750 so be careful not to exceed that in GBP withdrawal.
- If something in your college needs a cheque payment and you don't have a UK account, just get a friend who does to write one for you and pay him
- People text a lot in UK because calling is free for incoming, but very expensive for outgoing (prepaid pay as you go plans)
- If your cell phone is unlocked, any pre-paid SIM will work
- I used Orange, I think it's the cheapest, with a bonus plan like top up 10gbp and you get 500 free text or something like that
- A lot of people use Vodaphone too, they have plans like Stop the Clock where you pay only for first three minutes and free for next 57 minutes of a call
- O2 is best for calling international, but you should be using Skype for that anyway
- If you call often and you get a bank account early, you can sign 6-month contracts that are pretty good deals, including free Skype phone, etc. Look around the phone shops.
- If there’s a few people you always call, everyone should get a Vodafone family plan
Things to sign up for
- Student Rail card for UK rail, esp Cam-London
- National Coach card for bus travel, esp Cam-Heathrow
- studentbeans.co.uk for Cam restaurant offers