Friday, July 2, 2010

Cambridge + Punting + Wet, wet laundry

I really need to get out of the old listing-what-I-have-done-today-for-a-title habit, but for today it will suffice.

This afternoon our little group had the privilege of visiting Cambridge University under the direction of a BYU professor, Brother Kerry. We were able to visit Pembroke and Kings Colleges as well as the chapels inside. I had not realized how akin Hogwarts is to universities like Cambridge and Oxford. All are composed of multiple, completely separate colleges. Each college participates in "rituals" that are very symbolic - like dining together in the Great Hall, the changing of robes during matriculation/graduation, etc... What is interesting about the colleges is that each student would probably be in small classes that consist of maybe one or two other students. This makes the student very responsible for their homework and learning because they have no other classmates to "hide" behind. Also, the students do not receive grades until they take a week of tests three years after they begin their schooling, so if the student does not do well, much blame can be put upon the professor for not teaching them what they are supposed to know for the test. Students are encouraged to have free time to think and have fun so that they can enjoy a fulfilling life that includes education.
I love BYU, but this university sounds amazing to me!

One of the graduate students, Brady, took twelve of us girls punting after our tour of the colleges. This was a very new experience for me. It consists of about three to five people sitting in a narrow, wooden raft with mats for seats. The punter stands on one end of the raft (usually the back) with a long stick that will help pull the boat forward and in the right direction. A paddle is also in the back in case the passengers need to help steer the raft. During our ride we saw many swans and little ducks. I wanted to touch one, but I was scared it would nip at me like a chicken did yesterday. They're just so cute! At one point during the ride, there were seven rafts across the river leaving about an inch of room between each one. I cannot believe we didn't capsize. Along the river were many bridges a little higher than the taller punters. While going under one of these bridges a punter from another boat lost his stick. Apparently he had kept the stick straight up while going under the bridge and it was taller than the bridge, so he lost his grip and left it there standing straight up and leaning on the bridge. Don't worry, we saved the raft by propelling ourselves over to the stick, holding it on one side of the boat like a whaler, and safely returning it to its owner. Job well done, ladies.

When we finally returned home from our little adventure, I decided to do my laundry in the sink and stand-up shower. This is quite an event. I first plug the sink, put some detergent in it and fill it half-way with warm water. Then I stuff some clothes into it, let more water run in, and rotate the clothes for about two minutes. I then rub any areas that could become especially dirty (bottom of pants, armpits of shirts, etc). After, I smush the clothes around a little more and lay them in the stand up shower. Next, I drain the sink and refill it, but let them soak while I rinse the clothes in the shower with the extendable showerhead. This process goes on for quite awhile and is sometimes stopped as I wring out clothes and find somewhere to lay them to dry. As you can imagine, the strength in my arms is not quite as strong as the centripetal force that spins the clothes down in the washer. At this moment, I have ten shirts and three jeans and various underclothes dripping excess water on the carpet in my room. Every so often I have tried to squeeze out the drops with a towel beneath.

It isn't the lack of a washer and dryer that I decided to do my laundry this way. Part of the excuse is that it saves money -- about 5 pounds worth. I think I also like the idea of washing my clothes in a more primitive way (minus the tub and washboard). I feel like Snow White!

For exercise today, I decided against running outside. At this time of the day the streets are full of smokers and pollution. Actually at most times of the day the streets are full of smokers and pollution. Instead of risking a disease from secondhand smoke, I did a wee bit of crunches and push-ups, calves and hams up the stairs, quads and hams down the stairs and then ran up the stairs (91 steps). I bet I lost like... 30 calories. That's a third of the cookie I ate just beforehand. Insignificant it may seem, but I have been walking around all day.


P.S. Went to King's Cross and visited Platform 9 3/4. Got a good picture. Whoo!

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