Apparently it’s been five weeks since term started. If I hadn’t just counted the weeks in my diary, I would probably have guessed it had been about two. There has been very little time to notice the days pass by in between puzzling over examples sheets, researching PhDs and a fly-by visit to Austria last week (just to demonstrate that it IS possible to take an entire weekend out slap-bang in the middle of term, although I may have taken some lecture notes with me…).
As in the final year for most courses, this year I will be spending a lot of time on an individual research project. I had a stressful couple of weeks at the start of term choosing and applying for various different projects, but it definitely paid off. My project is based around comparing data from the Large Hadron Collider to new theories of how particles interact with each other. I’ve only just started working on it (doing some background reading, learning how to use the software I will need etc), but am already really enjoying it.
Apart from balancing work and a social life, one of the big challenges of this term (for a wimp like me, that is) is that IT IS COLD. It’s not that I wasn’t anticipating that winter would once again be cold, it’s just that as far as I’m concerned I was enjoying summer in Geneva just a month ago (OK, in reality it was two months since I left Geneva and three since the height of summer, but as I mentioned above I’m not great at keeping track of time). Fortunately, Cambridge offers some excellent remedies against the cold:
- I find that hot drinks that come from the kettle improve almost any activity – work, chatting with friends, watching Downton Abbey, recovering from the tragedy of learning that Downton Abbey has finished… In fact, Cambridge even has a tea society, so I’m not alone.
- Formal Hall. This is a peculiar Cambridge tradition in which a group of friends dress up “fancily” (i.e. ties, nice dresses and academic gowns) and goes to eat a (usually) delicious 3 or 4 course meal in their college. Yes, it’s a slightly odd thing to do, but people don’t take it too seriously, and it’s a lot cheaper that eating at a real restaurant. And you get candles on the table.
- Cambridge is at least warmer than Austria.