Cambridge, where it all started.

             Ever since I was a little girl, I had this strange obsession with England. My parents and friends could never understand where my love for the country came from as I was born and raised in the US but they certainly could not get me to shut up about my plans to go there one day. Growing up, I was a major book worm. I was a shy, only child and I lived in a neighborhood where there weren't many other children around me. I constantly read and most of what I read tended to be written by British authors and set in England. Whether it was the Harry Potter books, Jane Eyre, or my favorite Jane Austen novels, I pictured England as a gloomy paradise where I could stroll down cobblestone streets in quaint towns surround by rows of small shops and tea houses. My room was decorated with pictures of Kate Middleton, cutouts from travel magazines, posters of the Union Jack and of course the iconic "Keep Calm and Carry On" print. When I was applying to college, one of the things that attracted me to Smith the most was their study abroad program, particularly their exchange with Oxford and Cambridge. I knew that if I worked hard enough during my first and second year of college, there was a chance that I could not only go to England for 6 months, but study at the most prestigious and historic institutions in the world. Alhamdulilah (thank God) I was accepted into both programs and decided on Cambridge. During my junior year of college, I spent my spring semester (January-June) at Cambridge and even through it was an incredibly challenging time for me, I am so happy that I got the opportunity to do it.
              The first thing I learned when I got to England was that its important to set realistic expectations for any place you go. I had always imagined England as a perfect country but when I got there, I saw that it was a regular (albeit, beautiful) country just like any other. While the castles at Cambridge took my breath away, there were also lots of unglamorous parts of the country that hadn't even crossed my mind. Cambridge was not an isolated country hamlet like I had always pictured it, it was very much a small city with traffic, litter, and aesthetically unpleasing buildings. Even though I had always thought there would be very few differences between living in the UK and the US, there were definitely some major differences. The set up of the university was a complete departure from Smith. I was expected to work much more independently at Cambridge, I was also expected to prepare my own meals as opposed to the full meal plan I had at Smith. It was the first time I had ever lived so far away from my family and I had a whole new understanding of how difficult it must have been for my international friends to leave their loved ones behind and come to Smith. It was certainly difficult for me to adjust but now when I look back on my time at Cambridge I am so grateful that I had the opportunity to go at all. Not only did I get to cross of "live in England" and "study at Oxbridge" from my bucket list, I came back with beautiful memories, some of which even surpassed the expectations I had. It also taught me the importance of documenting memories. Prior to going to England I was never much of a photographer but I knew that living and studying at Cambridge was a once in a lifetime experience and that I needed to take pictures to remember it. Below are a few of the photographs that I hold most special from my time abroad.

 Kings College is one of the oldest and most prestigious colleges at Cambridge.
I came across this beautiful bunch of wisteria's on a particularly sunny and beautiful spring day.

Pembroke Library is where I did the bulk of my studying.
 The Bridge of Sighs is one of the most beautiful and well known landmarks at Cambridge.
 I took this picture right outside of Kings around golden hour. The sky was the most majestic shade of turquoise blue.

These winding roads would be filled with bicycles during the mornings and afternoons. 



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