This past weekend I moved back to Cambridge, UK. I love this town. Watching the snow fall out the window as I write this, I am filled with a sense of gratitude to be back.
I first came to Cambridge for an MPhil in Anglo-Saxon, Norse and Celtic. Never having been to the UK, much less to Cambridge, it was an exhilarating and humbling experience to come and study at one of the oldest and the best university in the world (note use of def article and singular â€” yes, I am that biased). After an amazing year, I took up my PhD program at Cornell, but returned to Cambridge for another year of research and writing, effectively writing my doctoral dissertation here.
I've been back several times since then as a "proper adult" (no longer a student), and have found that the town and university have a different, but equally bountiful, set of opportunities to offer its alumni. Though many of my friends have moved away and fresh crops of students arrive every year, there are a few things that don't change.
First, is the calibre of the people. Some of the world's most brilliant people live and work here, and that has a profound effect on the general atmosphere. The people you meet at the local pubs are often brilliant scholars or scientists. Socializing among such a crowd, it's very easy to learn a lot in a short amount of time.
Second, are the resources. The University Library (UL) is one of my favorite places in the world. As many of you reading this probably know, I likes me a good linguistic grammar. But you can't just walk into your local bookshop and grab a 19th century grammar of Blackfoot off the shelf. You probably can in the Cambridge University Library. The UL is a goldmine for scholars, and there is something almost magical about the space. Like the stone worn smooth by centuries of footsteps, the library is worn smooth by the brilliant minds who work there day in and day out. The atmosphere is so conducive to working that I often find myself shocked by my productivity when working in the UL.
It's good to get out to see the rest of the world; but it sure is good to be back!