All the Marshall Scholars began their orientation in Washington, D.C., where we met illustrious Marshall alumni. While they came from all walks of life (okay, a bit of an exaggeration – most had gone to law school after their Marshall tenure), they had the same advice for us: travel, travel, and travel some more. Orientation continued in London, where we were given more practical advice on banking and visas. We also toured inside Parliament (left) and a visited to the British museum (right).

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Cambridge turned out to be the storybook town, as promised, with lovely cobble-stoned streets and markets (left, from on top of St. John's Chapel). Trinity college had some of the loveliest courts (center) in the University, and as a scholar I received one of the most spacious accommodations in college (right). The sights were sufficiently fantastic – indeed, when the streets were arrayed with Christmas lights, it was like living in one of those porcelain Christmas villages – that I was only mildly disappointed to discover that St. Sed's college, featured in Douglas Adam's Dirk Gently series, was a fictional Cambridge institution.


I experienced formal hall (left), where everyone dresses up in Harry Potter-like gowns for a fancy dinner, and British tea (right) in an orchard once frequented by Virginia Woolf. A friend and I walked a 20 mile pilgrimage to Ely Cathedral, the largest cathedral in the region and one of the loveliest I've seen. Ely, which used to be an island before the Dutch were brought in to drain the fens, gets its name from the eels that swam around it. The cathedral is massive, rising out of the flatness from miles and miles away.

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Of course, there were challenges—the microwaves work a little bit differently , as I found during my first trial with my microwave rice cooker.


Being a small town, Cambridge also shuts down quite early in the evening, which required some desperation when I discovered that I hadn't packed my can opener.

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My lab here is quite nice. As you can see from the photos below, it's clearly a myth that people in the UK don't work as hard as people in the states! Interestingly enough, the same week we built the icosahedron, I also shook hands with Price Charles (quite a jovial man). More surprising than the opportunity itself – I had largely turned up at the reception for the nibbles – was that he mingled in the crowd with only two body guards who, quite literally, were only making sure he wasn't crushed. Can you imagine that in the States?


In a place oceans away from CSAIL and the Stata Center, some things are strikingly familiar–take the Scottish Parliament building for example, or closer to home, this picture of a hallway in our lab during a shower, which, being Cambridge, happens quite often (it's ridiculous, but I now am thankful for overcast days: at least it isn't raining!).

Last modified: 2012/04/09 11:33
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