I know, I know. I'm a bit behind on my Thirty Pieces of My Thirty Years series. I intended to write while we were visiting my in-laws this weekend, but somehow hamburgers, mass, ice cream, shopping, and Settlers of Catan made three days fly by too quickly. So I'll be catching up on my posts over the next few days. My first post today is about my time studying abroad in Cambridge, England.
Four years today, you would have found me in Cambridge, England, enjoying a daily routine that went something like this:
Wake up in tiny St. Catherine's College dorm room, tired thanks to drunken Italians celebrating their World Cup victory outside my window the previous night (Italia! Italia!) and already sweating thanks to the absence of air-conditioning and record-breaking heat.
Enjoy breakfast in the already sweltry St. Catherine's dining wall. Pass over baked beans and stewed tomatoes. Choose a chocolate croissant and a steaming cappuccino (remind myself that the Italians do have their merits after all). Choose a seat at long dining hall table; imagine that I am in a Harry Potter film. Share essay writing progress with Heidi, Kellie, Kimberly, and or/Kevin, my new friends who are also from George Mason and studying here this summer.
Walk down Trumpington Street and across the River Cam to morning Jane Austen class. Admire Alexander Lindsay's ability to quote from memory long passages of Pride and Prejudice and his passion for Austen's "moral compass."
Grab a mid-morning snack and engage in Austen debrief with Kellie and Kimberly. Attend plenary lecture on tragicomedy and wonder if I could ever present such brilliance in a one hour span.
Enjoy leisurely walk back to St. Catherine's for mid-afternoon break. Eat peanut butter and apples in my dorm room. Read sonnets in preparation for afternoon class. Send a few e-mails. Return to classroom area for afternoon Shakespeare class. Wonder why none of my high school teachers ever bothered to tell me that many of Shakespeare's sonnets appear to have been written to a "fair youth."
Wander downtown after class. Explore Magdalene College, where C.S. Lewis once lived and worked. Sit on a bench and feel inspired. Dream of writing my own book someday.
Join the GMU gang for dinner in the now almost unbearably sweltering dining hall. Share funny stories from the day and plan for the night's adventures. Eat a three-course meal served by waiters and marvel once again at how different the British university is from the American college. Try to enjoy the meat and potatoes and dream of guacamole and air conditioning.
Spend the night out with GMU friends: a performance of Hamlet on the lawn or a round or two of Strongbow at the pub. Laughter. Deep conversation. A taste of a slower, more relational culture that is a far cry from the fast-paced Northern Virginia world we call home.
I only spent three weeks in Cambridge, but they are three weeks that have left a lasting impact, not only in the four good friends I met there, but also in the form of a lasting desire for a simple, quiet, rich life.