Daily Archives: 2011-05-18

Oddities of Cambridge

Long time no see, right? I saw that this long absence cost me about 30% of my usual readership. But I hope to win all of you back, starting with impressions from England and Egypt, and finishing (for now) with interesting political events.

Months ago me and my colleague decided to attend an urban studies conference at Cambridge. The programme promised three interesting panels, one of them on exclusion and inclusion. Fed with hopes (we both are in an urgent need for a kick-start in our PhD studies) and watered with the perceived reputation of Cambridge, we set of to explore the wonderlands of pure academia. As well as catch a glimpse of London on the way back.

Personally, I was also very excited to visit an English-speaking country for the first time. Since perhaps 2005 half of my life is in English, but I had never heard this language used fully cross-generationally and across social classes. As you know, since Cafe Babel is a European platform, I blog in more or less British English, but use American in daily life. To prepare for England, I started reading this language blog.

We stayed at Fenners B&B, which is quite pricey for that type of place where many things do not work, but staff was at least nice enough to solve most of the problems. It is in the railway station area. Having to arrive there at night, we did not feel completely safe walking in not so well-lit streets. No need for that – here’s the first cultural difference for you. In most of Continental Europe, station areas have a bad reputation, typically associated with poverty, prostitution and drugs, sometimes crime as well. As we later learned, this is not the case in the UK. Continue reading