Friday, January 6, 2012

Stepping out-London/Cambridge

I sit here in front of my trusty Dell laptop for two reasons. One because I just came back from England(tired) and secondly because I sprained my ankle (I will mention how I did this later), no where else to go.I have not been updating my blog for sometime now. Hopefully this posting will be at least of some substance.

I wasn't heading back for Malaysia this winter because I wanted to explore the countries in Europe. Where better to start with than the neighbouring England. My brother studies at Cambridge so I was definitely heading there. London was a MUST especially during the Christmas period where I heard the boxing days sales were like crazy.

First things first, I had to settle my Christmas exam. I've got to admit, the exams were the most mentally torturous exams I've ever sat for. Not because the actual paper was tough, but because as a first year medical student, I didn't know what to expect, what to prepare, so many facts to memorise in such a short time span. Having said that, I wasn't quite used to the examination system here. Besides the written paper, practicals were counted in the exams. Malaysian students in general are brought up via passive learning methods, so I think we are more inclined towards swallowing and spitting out important notes. We only open our mouths when 'provoked'. The Irish on the other hand, are very outspoken... and words come out of their mouths like bullet trains. I hope that soon enough, I will polish up my speaking skills and be more like them.

So among my Malaysian Trinity classmates, three of them headed back home to Malaysia. The rest either stayed back or went holiday-ing around Europe. Masing-masing got their own gangs and cliques. Lucky for me, a group of friends from Edinburgh were coming down to London as well, so I decided to join them. Honestly speaking, I didn't know all of them, just a few from Sunway.

Exams ended on the 16th. I left Dublin on the 18th because the flight tickets were cheaper. The return ticket (Ryan Air) was 50 Euro, not too bad. On the 18th, I left Trinity Hall in the morning because I wanted to be on time and not miss the flight on my first solo expedition. While most other students will opt for the Aircoach or Dublin bus 747 services to the airport from the city centre, I dared myself to used the normal town bus all the way to the airport. Because I used the Dublin bus pass, which allowed for unlimited travel within a single day, I did not have to pay extra for the bus fee. I took me around 1 hour to reach the airport. It was my first time traveling alone so I had to be extra alert, make sure no sneaky drug dealer places weed into my suitcase. For Ryan air, non-EU passengers are required to get their boarding passes stamped before boarding the plane. All passengers are entitled to bring a small luggage along with them into the plane cabin. I kept worrying my luggage would not fit into the dimensions given, those bags who are larger than allowed will be counted as normal luggage and the passenger fined 40 Euros. Fortunately, I passed and no extra charge was brought forth.

The Dublin-Stanstead journey took 1 hour and by 4pm I was already in the Stanstead airport arrivals lounge. I waited for my elder brother  and we both took the cross country train to Cambridge. The train was fast and efficient, not to mention clean! Worlds apart from the Malaysian KTM.

 When we arrived, the sun had already set. I could not see much of Cambridge except that it was a small town. We walked from the train station to my brothers living quarters. That night itself, my brother had to shift from his college residence to some other place located nearby. Reason was that during the holiday season, most students leave college, very few stay back and his college wanted to save heating and electricity costs. I had a chance to try his college cafeteria food. The food served was decent for the kind of price we paid. Meal for 2 costs 5 pounds. That's cheap compared to Dublin.

So for the next few days, I toured around Cambridge, visited several colleges including the magnificent Kings Chapel which looked like a scene from Harry Potter.Cambridge town itself consists of 31 colleges located at close proximity to each other. The consortium of colleges make up the University of Cambridge. Colleges take care of the welfare of students where else  the university awards the students with their final degree.

Cambridge is really peaceful and quiet. The streets are relatively clean and people here are very civilized. You kinda feel stupid amongst all the Cambridge geniuses. Those of you who cant stand the quietness of the country, do not think of coming to Cambridge. It's a place f people who want peace, HIPPIES!!!!

 Stairwells in the accommodation.

 Cambridge University Press where all our Cambridge A-level books are published.
 Kings college grass, supposedly on of the nicest patches of grass in Cambridge
 Mathematical bridge, the river Cam below...students punt(boat) here during their free time.
 A 3D map of the town centre...
Kings College Chapel, AWEsomeness.

And so I stayed with my brother for a couple of days before heading to London. Cambridge is located on the north-eastern side of London about two hours away by bus. I was to meet my friends at the youth hostel in Belgrave Road, London.The national coach ticket was bought online with the help of my brother. The bus stop was located just in front of where I stayed so it was quite convenient. The trip was rather straightforward with a few stops here and there.

I reached the London Victoria coach station at around 10:45am and walked towards the youth hostel. The hostel is called Astor Victoria, don't ask me why but it is supposedly  a chain of hostels catered to youth. On the front door of the hostel it says only  for guests aged 18-35. Wow, youthful indeed. We I arrived, the rest weren't there yet. I rested at the hostel lobby while checking out the brochures available on student travel. One brochure that caught my eye was this travel scheme in which you get to travel to several European countries in a caravan. You spend the day exploring and the night sleeping while the caravan travels. Interesting!
The rest of the gang arrived soon after. We were only allowed to check in at 2pm so we decided to head for lunch. I was starving because I skipped breakfast. The nearest landmark near Belgrave would be the Victoria Rail station. There are many shops and restaurants around the area. There is even a Sainsbury's Market nearby. I ended up getting a 14 inch freshly made pizza from Sainsbury's. Two for 6.50 pounds.

 So after lunch, we took the took the London underground and headed towards Baker's street.

To be continued...(I have a very low concentration level)

1 comment:

pikee said...

love your pictures! haha :)