Saturday, July 11, 2009

I love Ice and the Gap!

** Here is a letter that I sent to my family on Day Six in England. I am still too tired to rewrite updates:)


Dear Family,

It is 6:00 am here in England and as I turn on my computer, it reminds me that it is just now midnight in Florida. The sun rises at 4:30 am making it very difficult to sleep in - especially considering the curtains that don't quite cover my dorm room window and the songs of the birds in the garden outside. I figured that I could use my time this morning sending you another update on my trip to Cambridge yesterday.

Cambridge is the "other school" - as there is a great rivalry between Oxford and Cambridge. Apparently, when Oxford was first started, there was great animosity between the the townsfolk and the scholars. These debates were between the "town and the gown" they would say. After a major riot in some year that I can't remember because I woke up at 4:30 am, several of the scholars decided to look for a safer place to live and settled in Cambridge.


As our country celebrates 250 years in existence, King's College at Cambridge is celebrating its 800th anniversary. It truly puts things into perspective. The streets of Cambridge were quite crowded today with young people and many tourists. Several "salespeople" line the streets asking you if you are interested in a punting tour. If you will remember, I did go punting here 10 years ago when I was a summer missionary. Since I had already had the experience, I decided that it wasn't worth the 45 pounds (or $78.75) that it would cost for our group to go again. The exchange rate right now is 1.75 US dollars for every pound.

It is very hot - almost Texas hot - here in England right now. We look for shaded spots and stand in the shadows of the buildings to try to escape some of the heat. The difference between England and Texas, however, is that very few of the stores (and none of the public transportation) has air conditioning. Several of us have finally received fans from Regent's Park College for our dorm rooms. I have my room set up with a large chair and fan sitting right next to my bed.


As we walked from shade to shade, we found a cute market in the middle of town. They were selling trinkets, books, and beautiful fruit and vegetables. Right next to the Market, a group from Zimbabwe was singing Acapella on the street corner. Their voices were unbelievable. I got a short video of them singing "In the Jungle" - that I might try to upload or send later.


A group of five of us decided to try to find a park for lunch. Everyday, the college has been packing us sacked lunches - they call them packed lunches - to take on our outings. This has saved us dramatically in the expenses for the trip. The packed lunches include a sandwich of our choice, crisps (we call them chips), a dessert (like a brownie), and a piece of fruit. We are also allowed one bottle of water, but only one (this is not a buffet, one of our professors reminded us). So, most of my money is being spent on bottled water during the long, hot days:)

The coke here does not taste like my beloved coke back home, and ice is a rare commodity - when you do ask for ice, they believe that two pieces floating in the top of your coke will do! They have apparently not experienced the blessing that I refer to as Sonic! Since I obviously have a caffeine addiction, I have reverted to taking a few sips of coffee in the morning at breakfast... however, I digress and don't know how I started this ode to caffeine!

We found a park and sat down under the shade trees to eat our lunch. We discussed leadership and our plans for the future. We discussed the advantages and disadvantages of a PhD in leadership and received advice from the wiser members of our group. It was a good, but deep discussion for a hot day in the park, so I told Margo that I thought we needed a shopping break!

Since she was tired of looking at old churches (and I honestly felt the same way), we ditched the plan for the day and spent our time exploring Cambridge shops - which I am happy to say also included the GAP. We had a funny discussion about fanny packs, and Margo decided that it was time to "upgrade" to the world of sling backpacks. We went into a sports shop and found her one for only 2 pounds! It was marked 70% off. Since she wasn't quite prepared for our accomodations, we also needed to buy her a pair of shower shoes!

I wanted to pick up the soundtrack for Wicked to listen to on the plane ride back home, and found a large record/ dvd store. The lady who checked me out was from Orlando, FL. :) We also picked up a few shirts from the gap to help us complete our wardrobe for the week - the days are so hot that I cannot re-wear any of my shirts as I had planned, and I am apprehensive to do laundry after the "laundry debalacle of 2009" that turned all of our clothes navy blue! :0)

My final purchase of the day was a wonderful book of classic English stories with beautiful illustrations for Austin from a second hand bookstore.

Tired from the shopping and the sun, Margo and I sat down at Annie's - a quaint bakery - for some tea. One of our professors, Dr. Sandra Reid, joined us for an afternoon break. I ordered a scoop of ice cream with strawberry topping and a coke. While the coke was disappointing with one small piece of ice (I had specifically asked for ice) stranded alone in the glass of otherwise very warm "fizzy" (they call coke, fizzy), the ice cream was wonderful! The perfect pick-me-up for the middle of the day "sinking feeling."

Dr. Reid mentioned a wonderful museum that we should walk into before we met the bus at 4:00 pm. Our search for restrooms however, outweighed our desire to see ancient Greek helmets and we never made it to the museum. We sat on a park bench and waited for our bus and began our journey home.

We were rerouted due to a closed road, and our trip of 2 hours turned into almost 3. We made it back in just enough time to run upstairs, drop off our packages, wash our hands, and return to the dining hall for a dinner of ham and potatoes.

After dinner, we took a walk around Oxford and several of us stopped at a pub for drinks and fellowship. (I am pleased to say that the pub understands my need for a full class of ice with my coke!)

I came home, met mom on facebook chat, and then went to bed.

I know that you don't normally receive such a detailed account of my day, but this is what happens when you wake up at 4:30 am craving ice.

Love you all,


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