Sunday, July 8, 2012

Homerton College -- Week 1 in Cambridge (June 25th-July 1st)

Homerton College

After arriving to Cambridge June 25th (a Monday) from our two-week long trip around Europe, we were able to stay in a semi-permanent home at Homerton College. To clear up some confusion, let me explain how Cambridge University works. Cambridge University is one of the oldest universities in the world and over time, Cambridge began to run out of space for its students so there is not a single campus (like Carleton) that is known as Cambridge University. This is a common theme in England. Instead, Cambridge University is made up of different colleges (such as Homerton, Kings, Trinity, etc.). Each of these colleges has their own colors and apparel, similar to the houses of Hogwarts in the Harry Potter series. These colleges are basically just separated by dormitories and include a mix of students studying different disciplines. So, when I say that we stayed at Homerton College, or we are taking classes at Hughes Hall, we are still using Cambridge University's facilities it's just not in a single location.

Homerton College, our home last week
On Tuesday, we began class at Hughes Hall. On a typical class day (Monday, Tuesday and Thursday) we will have one class from 9:00-10:30am, then have a short break followed by another class from 11ish-12:45pm. Over the course of the term, we will take four courses.

ECON 224: Economics of Multinational Enterprises is the main course we are taking notes from lectures right now. Since Mike is teaching this class, and he has another job waiting for him at St. John's University, we are taking spending most of our class days on this subject and will have a final July 16th (a week from Monday). So far, the class is very interesting because a lot of the alumni we have visited have been involved in multinational corporations, which is a nice reference point in our discussions. When Steve Strand arrives to Cambridge on Tuesday night, he will be teaching ECON 222: The Industrial Revolution in Britain. Our brief trip to Shrewsbury in a couple of weeks will coincide with material discussed in class. There is also a reading course that we have already started that leads to discussions about famed economist's John Maynard Keynes' life. Carleton has also employed Cambridge Univeristy fellow Solomos Solomou to teach a course about Contemporary British Economy.
Our classroom in the Hughes Hall Pavilion Room. My excuse for being in the back row and using my phone during class is so you, the family and friends, have a better blog to read. 

Normally, we will have excursions to places around England to visit a site relating to class discussion on Wednesdays. However, during our first week at Homerton College we took our excursion to London on Friday, where we visited John Winter at Barclay's and Mark Williams at the Shell Center. In order to be on time for our meeting with Mr. Winter (who was particularly busy last week if you read a newspaper recently) we had to catch the earliest train out of Cambridge to London at 6am. However, Mr. Winter was still able to lend his valuable time and gave us some great advice on how to make an impression at work or an internship. This advice included some harsh realities. Mr. Winter suggested we lose the TV, stay in shape, and arrive before your boss every day for work. Currently, my skills are more aligned with watching TV, eating pizza, and sleeping in, however there is always room for improvement. Later that afternoon we were escorted to the top floor of the Shell Center which sits right behind the famed "London Eye." At the top floor, we were able to get an amazing view of London and could pinpoint all of the major sites and attractions we saw during our three-day stay in London when we first started the program. Mr. Williams and his associate then took us through the basics of the oil market and fielded questions afterwards.

Awaiting John Winter's arrival at Barclay's. The complimentary food and coffee helped us shake off the early train ride into London.

On the top floor of the Shell Center overlooking London before the meeting with Mark Williams. 
After travelling for the past couple of weeks, none of us left England and instead took advantage of our long weekend to get to know the city a little bit better. Earlier in the week, two lovely ladies that have been associated with the program for years gave us a walking tour of Cambridge and pointed out possible sites and historical points of interest. On Saturday, some students went on a day-trip to visit Stonehenge. Another group of us went to Wimbledon after the Friday excursion into London and watched the evening matches. In the end, it was finally nice to have a place to call home, even if we only stayed in Homerton College for a week.
Bowling on Sunday afternoon before the Euro2012 championship. Once the game came on, we quickly lost interest in bowling.

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