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Punting by Cambridge

Punting is a really relaxing and nice way to spend the afternoon if you’re not the punter.

My name is Lucy and I’m a junior studying civil engineering. I’m participating in the Cambridge-MIT Exchange Program for the 2007-2008 academic year along with 24 other MIT students. It’s been a week since we came and classes are starting tomorrow. The really great thing about coming to Cambridge is that we’re invited to all the Fresher’s (that’s what they call Freshmen here) Week activities, like this BBQ:

I went punting today with freshers from Gonville and Caius College (one of the 31 colleges at Cambridge University). The term “punting’ in MIT lingo means to relax, chill, and avoid pseting (the opposite of punting is tooling). But here in the other Cambridge, it’s an actual activity where you’re on a river, in a boat, moving along through the use of a big stick. The punter stands at the end of the boat, drops this stick down to the river bottom, and pushes the boat forward with the stick (see picture below). Sounds easy, looks easy, but is actually extremely difficult. I was terrified to be standing up at the end of the boat. My knees were shaking! Between trying to stay on the boat, trying to find the bottom with my stick, and ducking past bridges, I don’t think I accomplished much. None of the other freshers on my boat had ever punted before so our boat zigzagged along the river bumping into walls and other boats. Luckily no one fell off although someone came really close.

And yes, what Mirat said about Harry Potter is true. I now own a wizard’s robe and have been dining in a big hall with 4 long tables where I am served a three course meal by waiters and waitresses. But I bet Harry Potter didn’t dine with Stephen Hawkings! Yeah, he was at dinner the other day! It was so amazing to see him in person. He is a fellow at Gonville and Caius College (where I’m staying) and dines here regularly. He’s in this picture!!!

The really pretty panoramic picture you see on top of this page is of King’s College. I walk pass this several times a day and it is definitely very pretty. But what I find most interesting about this college is their cows:

12 responses to “Punting”

  1. Edgar says:

    I’ve read his books; they were the cause of me falling in love with physics at an early age!
    Edgar: “Wow, this book was wonderful; it would be fantastic to attend one of his lectures and meeting in person.”
    MIT Student: “Yeah, I just had dinner with a major figure in contemporary science; he dines where I dine…regularly!”

  2. Anonymous says:

    Don’t mean to be a nuissance but his name is Stephen Hawking (without the s at the end)

  3. Anonymous says:

    I’m so jealous. Stephen Hawking . . . wow.

  4. Anonymous says:

    lol I love the Harry Potter similarities. And the fact that punting now has a double meaning for you. =) Stephen Hawking is amazing, but I sometimes wish people didn’t confuse my last name with his…

  5. Hawkins says:

    Oops, that last anon was me. =)

  6. Hunter '11 says:

    Ahh, I want to study abroad in Cambridge! I’m hoping to do that my junior year, though I don’t know how well that goes with Course 20/9.

    Stephen Hawking is fascinating. Unfortunately, though, physics hurts my head.

    Harry Potter pwns.

  7. Zaira '11 says:

    I can’t wait until my junior year!!!

  8. Nihar says:

    WOW!..Stephen Hawking!!!…the real one?;)
    I agree with Edgar, MIT has a knack for making dreams come true! How ironical that MIT itself is a dream for most….its like ur dreaming for ur dreams to come true.

  9. Ginger says:

    Wow….that’s really awesome! Punting sounds really fun, Harry Potter is awesome, and Stephen Hawking is just amazing!

  10. Reg says:

    I was gonna apply to Cambridge, and now I know what I’m missing out on :(

  11. Ahmed says:

    We use ‘tooling’ here in high school, but punting sounds really cool.