So, it’s been like two whole weeks in a whole new country and I have so much to write about, literally! Firstly, of course, I must apologise to my ardent fans and faithful stalkers who always turn up to read my freshly typed out posts for such an inordinate delay between blog posts. I hear some of them were eating out their livers in anticipation. Some of them even deactivated their facebook profiles as protest! Nevertheless, I’ve picked up my quill again (or the keyboard perhaps?), so you can heave a sigh of relief! No more organ eating. Phew!
So let’s begin at the very beginning! The day was shiny with the sun up and glowing and then I stepped out of my flight. It has been raining since. If someone tells you that British weather is bad, don’t believe him. It’s not bad:it’s a marriage of horrible and what the f***? I’ve already caught a sneeze and am sustaining myself on paracetamol. One morning, you might feel like: “Wow! The weather’s so awesome! Let’s hold a party for such a rare event as being able to see the sun”. And then,the British clouds would be all like: “Haha, let’s drown his party, just for fun!”. Some of my English friends helpfully informed me that it’s even worse in the north near Scotland, where it apparently rains throughout the year. Haha. Nice joke. I honestly don’t see how that is possible considering the fact that rains in Cambridge twice a day seven days a week!
Actually, the journey was pretty cool (no, it wasn’t) as well, so let’s not skip that. Alone in a flight for 13.5 hours might be a romantic experience for most authors I read. But when reality splashes on your face, you realise that there is nothing so awesome about it at all. Yes, the flight was a Dreamliner with a stopover at Doha. I was offered on flight wine for the first time, walked into immigration myself, caught a bus from Heathrow to Cambridge all alone. But the end of the 20-hour ordeal, I just wanted a bed to sleep for the next 20 days. (No, that’s not what I’ve been doing since my arrival at Cambridge! Sigh!)
Culture shocks is what most people write about. So I’ll touch upon it as well without being much of an iconoclast. For a change, roads are clean. Cars don’t blare their horns at all. People are in general more polite and more obedient to the rules which exist. There is hardly any pollution. Cap that with some amazing Jacobean era architecture which Cambridge boasts and you get a splendid living standard (without mentioning of course, how extraordinarily expensive the UK is even with the post-Brexit exchange rate to maintain that living standard). But all this is drab compared to the shock which I faced in my room.
So, I live in a college house with 2 other guys and girls. Now, unlike our rooms in India, none of the rooms have fans. Instead, they have radiators with a central heating which breaks down every other day. The kitchen ovens are electric with no gas supply! (BTW, food is so expensive around here, I have been forced to learn rudimentary cooking to save my fast dwindling supply of Sterling). But the greatest shock I faced was in their toilets! These Europeans are extremely weird. They use toilet paper with no tap around the commode at all! Absolutely horrifying experience on my first day. For the uninitiated Westerner reading this, we Indians use water (jets or other sources) to clean *that* area after the smelly deed has been done. I couldn’t tolerate this initially. But now, I take a shower after the call I answer to mother Nature. It’s kind of a compromise, but at least I feel more comfortable! Phew!
I guess I left out quite a lot of stuff already because I’ve been on quite a few excursions with some *pals*, been to a few ‘bops’ and gotten really drunk. But that’s the usual stuff and I’ll come back to it later if I am depressed enough to talk about it. But I’ll come to the main point: education standard. Is it difficult? How hard is it?
BTW, here is where I literally study: Centre of Mathematical Sciences
Well, it’s terribly hard. And even more so because they tend to squish their course into 8 week modules. Imagine learning a whole lot of General Relativity, Cosmology, Quantum Field Theory in under 8 weeks. Don’t try. It’s unimaginable. I seriously feel the course needs a relook. The lecturers barely teach than race to complete the course. The studying of course is left to poor souls like us: ostensibly called study groups,but I do that mainly by myself. Part III Maths is perhaps the hardest course possible and most of my classmates arrive at Cambridge with a 4 year undergrad degree, job experience or masters under their belt and intending to slay the course as “another revision”, while I’m perhaps dealing with these modules for the first time after my 3 year undergrad degree. So, yeah. That’s what I’ve been mainly trying to do over the last couple of weeks. Getting myself at par with the “other extraordinary people Cambridge admitted alongside me”! (Sly smile)
But, you’ll be glad to learn that I’ve made some significant progress. However, I cannot assure you people that I’ll continue a steady flow posts, I guess.