A Morning in Cambridge

Janelle D'Avignon Cambridge, England


August 5, 2022

Welcome to the University of  Cambridge! I’ll be studying here for their amazing six-week summer program at Pembroke College, taking Economics of Inequality and Discrimination, Political Economy of Natural Resource Management, and Reading Jane Austen. These are just a few examples of the 32 courses offered during the program; there’s something for everyone! If you weren’t aware, the University of Cambridge is made up of 31 individual colleges. Fortunately for us, Pembroke is perfectly situated for easy access to the city center’s shopping and restaurants, a stroll by River Cam and through the fens, and a quick walk to the train station. 

As for my own experience, I could not have been more eager to get abroad! My only anxieties were about the international travel, but besides that, I was ready for anything. Despite this, there have been plenty of unforseen adjustments! Unlike most places in the United States, air conditioned buildings in England are few and far between. I’ll admit this was a lot to adapt to, even with an average high of just 85℉, but imagine our surprise as we arrived only a week before the two-day heatwave! Needless to say, climatic and cultural assimilation can make it difficult to focus on academics. 

Now that we’re two and a half weeks in, I’ve had some time to adapt and begin to discover the never ending joys of this city. I don’t know about you all, but in times of stress, I have to find a way to escape the crowds. This is why Cambridge is perfect: it has the excitement and variety of a popular city, an undeniably rich and focused academic atmosphere, all while offering ample opportunity to reconnect and recharge in beautiful nature. I’d love to share a look into my favorite spot so far: the fens and fields by River Cam! 

The fens in the middle of July present an endless wave of wildflowers and willow trees. The paths and clearings offer a customizable experience: wander to clear your mind, meet some friends for a peaceful picnic, or set out on a mission to spot the local wildlife. During my first visit to the fens, I came across foxes, sheep, swans, doves, and cows! These cows are well-accustomed to the comings and goings of people. The youngest of the herd joined in on the morning grazing while I roamed around their space. Did you know cow grazing actually benefits the ecosystem? It provides opportunities for different species of plants to sprout, increasing the diversity of living organisms! 

The morning atmosphere is often filled with the doves’ chatter and the cool breeze filtering in through the open windows. Watching this fox hunt for its breakfast along the stream made me grateful for the abundance of cafes around us! I must admit I’d rather offer up £ 2.50 for a croissant than stalk around the fields for two hours in search of a free one.

These environments are the perfect place to remember that everything serves a purpose. An ecosystem needs growth and decay in order to sustain its inhabitants. For ourselves, moments of stress and overwhelm can help us realize when we need to take a break and when we need to make a change. No one from my home university was partaking in this Cambridge summer program, but thankfully they partnered with Arcadia Abroad! I was able to meet a few people from across the U.S. who were attending, and it helped me find a supportive group of friends for the highs and lows. 

There are so many places left to explore here; stay tuned!


England Summer