Day 7: Arriving at the Cavendish

A week since I first arrived in Cambridge and I was still running errands for most of the day. After breakfast, I took the half hour walk to the West Cambridge site, home of the Cavendish Laboratory. At the reception, I was met by Charlotte Jenkins, the administrator of the HEP group at the Cavendish. I was shown around, through the lecture theatres, museum and canteen in the Bragg building. I was also given a brief tour of the Rutherford building, through a bridge to the north of the Bragg building, where the HEP group is based. In particular, I was shown the corridor of everybody’s offices, the tea room, and most importantly, my future office, where I could select my desk for the next few years. There is space for four PhD students in the office, each with desks facing towards each other with barriers in between, forming a pinwheel shape. Amusingly, my name had already been posted on the door, making me feel most welcome.

Having received the keys, I returned out of the Cavendish and walked back into central Cambridge. Now was time for some more errands. Firstly, I perused the numerous phone providers to work out who I should set up a SIM card with. Unconvinced by my options I returned to my room to check which providers had the best coverage. Curiously the best value plan from 3 had the worst coverage: patchy at best, non-existent at worst, at least in the Cambridge area. In any case, I needed to have my bank account open before I bought any plan. So naturally, I went to Barclays to see how much progress had been made. It seemed I was not the only Gates scholar with this question; barely a couple of sentences into my query the kind lady from the bank immediately identified me as a Gates scholar, and insisted they would be “ready by tomorrow” and I would “receive notice in the post”.

Unperturbed, I continued to conduct my errands. Next was John Lewis, a department store much like Myer back in Australia, where I picked up some fresh towels, bathmats and hand towels, in a deep scarlet colour. I also bought some fresh sheets, the ones that I was given from the college were a very thin synthetic material which was fine for the short term, but I wanted something which would last. I stood at the shelf for a very long time, trying to find a duvet cover of size single. Walking out of the store through the Grand Arcade, I stopped by the Apple store to pick up a British wall plug for my phone. Seeing as I’ll be here for three years, I don’t want to have to keep using an international adaptor. Finally, I stopped by the pharmacy to collect some mundane items I didn’t feel a need to haul across continents: things like shaving cream or nail clippers. Returning home, I unpacked all of my new purchases and set about finding homes for them around my room.

At about 6, I made my way to the college dining hall where I had some grilled duck for dinner. I met up with Ryan and went across to the Gates Scholar room in the University Centre for the yard sale by 7. It was first come first served, so most of the good items went in the first 5 minutes, but I managed to pick up some much needed coathangers, some books and some scissors. Later that evening I went to the DarBar to try and meet some fellow new Darwinians. I had mixed success; meeting people in a bar isn’t something I am quite adept at. Finally, I hit the pillow at around 10:30, and slept very soundly through the night.

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