The University of Cambridge
The second-oldest university in all English-speaking countries, Cambridge University is nowadays one of the world's leading places of learning, usually ranked in the world’s top five. The city of Cambridge is located 80 km north of London and its name comes from the River Cam, which runs through it.
Famous as it is, the university had rather humble beginnings: it was started by a group of scholars who left Oxford around 1209 after a fight with local people. It officially became a university in 1290 when Pope Nicholas IV called it a studium generale, which was a medieval name for a university. From that point scholars from other European universities started to come to Cambridge to teach and do research there. However, Cambridge remained fairly insignificant until the beginning of the 16th century, when it also became one of the cradles of Protestant Reformation in England, and the Puritan movement was born there.
Over the centuries, many important scientists, writers, politicians and artists as well as members of the Royal Family studied there. Up till now 89 students from Cambridge won a Nobel Prize in all six disciplines including physics, chemistry, peace, literature, physiology, and medicine.
The university’s students include Sir Isaac Newton, who invented his own form of mathematics known as calculus; J.J. Thomson, who discovered the electron; Ernest Rutheford, who split the atom; Charles Darwin, who created the theory of evolution; and Francis Crick and James D. Watson who discovered the structure of DNA. Of course, the list is much longer!
The university is famous for its architecture and gardens and it is also the most popular place for punting. Punting is an activity that has existed in Cambridge for centuries and involves riding a flat boat down the River Cam while someone in the back uses a poll to push against the riverbed and move the punt down the Cam.
Old as it is, the University also has its traditions and legends. One of them is the wooden spoon tradition, where a spoon made of wood was given to the worst mathematics student in the year. There is also a popular story according to which, Lord Byron, the famous English poet, was not allowed to keep a dog in his rooms at Trinity College Cambridge, so instead, he kept a bear. The college had no rules about bears, so there was no legal basis to tell the creative student to get rid of the animal.
The teaching in Cambridge is done through lectures and practical classes. The students are expected to do some homework and then talk about it with a teacher. The model of teaching, known as tutoring, is very personalized and students can ask lots of questions and really understand the subject. In fact, this is probably one of the best things about studying in Cambridge!