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Exploring London and Oxford

Exploring London and Oxford

The past few weeks have been full of travel, and the past few days nearing our mid-term break have been no exception. On August 1, we made a trip to Oxford to see original Ada Lovelace documents through the Oxford University Archives. This included seeing letters written by Ada to her mother detailing her studies at about 10 years of age, letters from her mother to other female scientists of Ada’s time, and of course, letters from Charles Babbage and letters from Ada about (complaining of) Babbage.  It was fascinating to read letters from Ada’s younger years, as it really humanized her–a difficult task for people so idolized in history. Additionally, in Oxford, we were able to go on the rooftop of the library where we visited the documents and witnessed a truly spectacular view of the city. Three others and I also consumed delicious Chinese food; I got lotus seed bao/bun, so I was a happy gal. It was great to see the other top university in the country and compare and contrast the two college towns (according to me and many others on this program, Cambridge is better, but we are probably biased).

View of Oxford from the rooftop of the library
Happy rooftop dwellers. Photo Credits: Ephraim Benson

On August 2, we were tasked with a scavenger hunt! Honestly, I enjoyed this quite a lot. While scheduled days are fun and all, I love having the freedom to explore and choose what I do in a day. I went with 3 others to see the plaques in place for Charles Babbage, outside where he lived, and the plaque for Ada Lovelace. We then went to the National Gallery and got to see paintings from as early as the 1300s! Yes, this wasn’t exactly computer science-related, but it definitely was a cultural experience. Plus, there is no charge for visiting the National Gallery. After that, we were free to do as we wanted. A friend and I walked around a bunch (I got 36,000 steps in this day), saw the London Eye i.e. the big ferris wheel, watched a street performer put his legs behind his head and get lifted in a bowl by other guys, window shop at Gucci and Dover Street Market, and obviously, made a trip to the Lego store. Safe to say it was a busy yet splendid day before midterm break.

Babbage Plaque!
we found a big baby at Dover Street Market
the London Eye

August 3rd was our first day of midterm break. I am staying in London with my friend from Carleton who flew out, so after checking out of the hotel all of us were staying, I moved into an airbnb. Luckily, it wasn’t too far away and I only had to haul my large-as-me suitcase for about 30 minutes (pack light, kids). Since the past few weeks have been packed with activities, I took the day to chill out, eat Lebanese food, drank bubble tea, watch a movie, and eat Italian food (I like food, and using parentheticals). While I still have to finish two assignments, I am happy to have a short refresh and then hop back into cryptography studies back in Cambridge.

Cheers!

Nicole