Orient Expression

20 February, 2009

So yeah, Cambridge.

Filed under: Cambridge — pyrotyger @ 3:22 pm
Tags: , , ,

Everybody knows now, which makes it hard to motivate myself to write this entry. Still, it’s important and worth me recording publicly.

My original application was to Wolfson College (one of the two “mature student only” colleges to take undergraduates) under the advisement of the Chair of Japanese Studies. He felt that I might be happier there than at a more teen-dominated college, given my advanced years(!)

And finally the letter came, one Friday in January. “Sorry, but we don’t want to offer you a place this year.”

Dammit!

But what’s this…? “We have submitted your application to the Winter Pool…” Should another college decide they like your ugly face, they may fish you out of the pool and offer you a place instead.

Well, a quick look at the statistics gave me little cause for hope: I was among the lucky one-in-five to be pooled, but of those only one-in-five get offered a place elsewhere. It’s a mechanism usually employed as a safety-net not for students, but for faculties, providing them with an opportunity to make up any shortfalls in numbers if their selection process has left them with too many empty seats. Good if you’re looking at a high-volume course like Medicine or Natural Science, less hopeful for a “we’ll take who we damned-well want” minor language course like Japanese – any given year for which might have as few as three students.
My heart sank; I swallowed hard and got on with deciding where my life would go next. Time to get used to nothing much happening, I guess.

Two weeks later…

Another letter from Cambridge? But surely it’s too late now. “On the basis of your academic record, we would like to offer you a place at St. Edmund’s College” on the condition that you can prove you can damned-well afford it.

Good lord.

But I’d started making plans!

Oh my.

I’m going to Cambridge. The other college for mature undergraduates decided to take pity! I can’t express what a profound surprise that was. Given that the Japanese course was much more geared towards research than undergrads, I really didn’t think I had much hope.

How to explain this bizarre coincidence? Perhaps the course-representative of the interview panel liked me while the college-rep didn’t, so he decided to recommend me elsewhere. Perhaps I just got lucky. All I know is that my life, for the foreseeable future, will be significantly different than it might otherwise have been.

It’s been a hairy, skin-of-the-teeth affair right from the start (and arranging for funding is going to be just as troublesome), but it looks like I’m in. I’d better get cracking with those studies, and the pre-course reading list

Oh look, they have a good boat club, too 🙂

I really should stop posting these things when I’m at work…

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2 February, 2009

Ups and downs

Filed under: Uncategorized — pyrotyger @ 11:33 am
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If life is a roller-coaster, mine has been one of those really scary ones that rattles with worrying harmonics every time you crest a peak, subjects you to enormous g-forces at every bend, goes so fast that you can’t anticipate the next twist, and generally leaves you clinging onto the harness for dear life despite the fact that it’s pressing uncomfortably into your bladder.

I guess it was worth waiting in the queue for the last few years though!

I should probably start where I left off: my best friend’s wedding. Ben is a very likeable chap, with a disarmingly harmless air and a likeable cheekiness that makes him very easy to be around. His wife (as of December), Holly, is a bright, outgoing lass with a tendency to cope with stress by getting aggressive, which makes their relationship both energetic and amusing, from a distance…
The day went absolutely perfectly. Nothing really went wrong, everybody got on well, good times had by all, and both bride and groom really looked the part. It was a struggle to get Ben through The Night Before without getting too drunk (there were some agents of chaos out that night, working towards such a messy end), but he spruced up rather well the next morning, and managed not to fluff any of his lines.
I have to say, I was pleased at the low-key nature of the event. Not cheap or tacky, but relaxed and down-to-earth enough for everyone to just enjoy themselves, without the headache of everything being just so. A testament to Holly’s practical and unassuming nature, I think.

The speech went down a storm, having been impressively preceded by Holly’s dad. I was repeatedly approached and congratulated on my delivery, which of course gave me a great big glow but also left me feeling a little uncomfortable – it wasn’t “my day”, after all!

Still, the couple were very pleased, and that’s what counts. They recently presented me with a fantastically thoughtful thank-you gift of a fancy Parker pen, and a fetching sake serving-set (a tokkuri and four choko). Who knew being Best Man would be such a blast?

They had a fantastic honeymoon (well, honey-week) on a riverboat cruising the Nile, and they’re still together a month later. I guess that’s a good start…

This all served as a good distraction, helping me not to fret over my Cambridge application so much. So… What happened about Cambridge??

If the gifts from Ben & Hol haven’t given it away, stay tuned for the next instalment!

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