Annie Bananie en Europe

A blog about travel, life, and everyday tidbits

Tag Archives: campus

St John’s College, University of Cambridge

In highschool, my dream university was Oxford, without good reason other than its prestige. I had seriously contemplated applying to Oxford before nanotechnology at Waterloo won me over…whaaaa? Perhaps the whole “going to Oxford” thought was just a constant mindset in a clueless highschool student (who was doing relatively well academically and regarded as “smart”) who thought she’d aim for the best of the best. Why I chose Waterloo (with no regrets)…is a long story for a sunnier day.

Having been in the UK for almost 3/4 of a year, I still haven’t paid a visit to my ex-dream school. Instead I visited its biggest rival – yep, Cambridge. Perhaps I really should have considered Cambridge in the first place since it’s much more renowned for science and engineering while Oxford is for the politically and humanities-oriented minds. Anyway, the reason why I went to Cambridge was simple – it was convenient. From Stansted airport, at least, which was where I arrived from Glasgow. If I wanted to get to Oxford, I’d first have to head to central London and take a train from there, which would take way longer than if I just went to Cambridge from Stansted in a less-than-one-hour train ride. Oxford, I’ll get to you eventually.

Cambridge felt more like a tourist attraction than an academic institution, but let’s be fair – I was only there for a day and a half. To visit the various famous colleges, there’s an entrance fee to be paid – £8 for King’s College, £7.50 for St John’s College, £3 for Queens College, £2 for Trinity College, etc. I understand the high entrance fee for King’s College as it is the most well-known landmark of Cambridge, but apparently the entrance fee for St John spiked because some scenes from the movie “The Theory of Everything” were filmed there. Great. And that was the one I wanted to see. So let’s go inside for a quick look.

The entire reason why I wanted to visit St John’s College and chose it out of the many college with entrance fees was to see the “Bridge of Sighs”, which I’ll get to later. Only the name itself got me curious and costed me £7.50. Oh well. Here’s a frontal view of the New Court at St. John’s College, a photo made possible by my handy-dandy phone which has a panoramic mode (I still suck at taking panoramic photos though). Sorry, Mr.Nikon, you lose this time.

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University of Toronto – the magical St. George Campus

I’ve always wondered about the University of Toronto (U of T, from here on). Almost a decade ago, I turned down offers from both the St. George campus and the Scarborough campus to pursue undergraduate studies at the University of Waterloo instead, and the list of reasons is too long to name. Still, Toronto is my city, and with the campuses within easy access, I felt like I should take the chance, before leaving Toronto again, to go see what I missed by turning down U of T all those years ago. After all, it was just another stroll in the park…literally.

The buildings of the U of T St. George campus are scattered all around the core of downtown Toronto, so anyone can be walking around the campus and not even be aware of it. It is often the case for me when I visit downtown. I knew the boundaries of the university, passing by buildings here and there that I knew were part of the campus, yet I never took time to explore the inner campus itself. Then one day, after lunch with a friend in downtown, I was left with an entire free afternoon to myself. I could go home and call it a day, I thought, or…I could take this excellent opportunity to finally SEE the U of T St. George campus. Since I was there anyway, why not? Little did I know that I was about to step into quite a magical place…(click here to see the entire collection of U of T photos.)

My starting point was an old building that I later found out to be Trinity College. I opened a set of doors, entered an empty hall, and pushed another set of doors at the other end of the hall to enter a grand courtyard. All was quiet, and the sight before me baffled me, to say the least. “Is this in Toronto?” I thought, as I stared at the uncharacteristically sophisticated and beautiful architecture that surrounded me all all sides, cloistering the quadrangle in which I stood alone. Somewhere hidden in the busy urban center was this enclosure that seemed like something I would only see in a medieval town, or in a Harry Potter movie. All of a sudden, “Toronto”, a city I thought I knew so well, became more of a mystery to me than ever before.

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Streets of Louvain-la-Neuve

I’ve been back in Bordeaux for three weeks and while it is nice to be back in the city I love, I’ve gotta admit that I kinda miss Louvain-la-Neuve.

Hmm, how did this happen? Louvain-la-Neuve, not just a campus, but barely a real city. I didn’t like it much when I first stepped into Louvain-la-Neuve, that much was certain. The place felt more like a trap than a comfortable place to live.

It took a while to discover the charm hidden within, a process that required living there for a few months at a time and frequent absence. Gradually I found myself starting to like Louvain-la-Neuve more and more as I found ways to enjoy the “city”, as I took delight in the small, unique things that surprise me.

So, after having written about the streets of Bordeaux, I feel that it is only fair to dedicate a post to the streets of Louvain-la-Neuve 😉

On an unsuspecting Saturday afternoon, if I am not out and about travelling to nearby cities, I like to take slow strolls around Louvain-la-Neuve. Although the area of the place itself is not big, there are so many hidden corners that I seem to have missed during my walks that I slowly discover one by one. It’s always fun to get lost, then find my way again.

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Waterloo: Five years in a day

On Friday, September 21st, 2012, I went back to the University of Waterloo for the opening ceremony of the new Quantum Nano Centre. It was in Waterloo that I spent five years doing my undergrad studies in nanotechnology engineering, and since my convocation in June 2010, I haven’t been back. Within the past two years, I was told that much has changed, so I took this opportunity to revisit my alma mater, on the day before my departure for Europe, ending my 3-week vacation in Canada.

I took the 7:15am Greyhound bus from downtown Toronto, but getting to the bus terminal was an adventure on its own. First of all, I assumed that at 6am, Finch buses would be pretty much empty, but I was severely wrong as the bus I hopped on to was full of sleepy people trying going to work. Then at Finch station, I took the subway southbound and made the mistake of getting off at Bloor because I thought the bus terminal was at Bay and Bloor. I asked some guy at Starbucks and was told that it was at Bay and Dundas, three major blocks down the road. Oops. Having a relatively good idea of the distance scale of downtown Toronto, I knew how far away that was, and with 15 minutes left, was I going to run for it and hope I make it, or just try to catch the next bus instead? I dashed forward down Bay but after 5 minutes realized that there was no way I’d make it. About to give up, I reached for the nearest TTC bus stop and saw on the schedule that a Bay bus was supposed to arrive in 2 minutes, so I crossed my fingers and waited for that 7:09am TTC bus. YES, IT CAME ON TIME. Even though I had to pay an extra token to get on, I arrived at the Dundas terminal at 7:11am and made it for the Greyhound bus. Yahoo!

So, note to self – make sure you know where you’re going BEFORE you actually go (has it been THAT long that I had forgotten where things are in downtown?) and don’t hate on TTC…the bus COULD actually come on time!

Alright, the bus got me to Waterloo at 8:50am, in time for the opening ceremony at 10am. Of course, aside from this ceremony itself, a greater purpose of this visit was to see my campus again and relive the best five years of my life in one day, in 2012. Here we go.

About this QNC, the construction started in 2008, if I remember correctly. Of course, it being completed in 2012 meant that three nano classes that have graduated already (including mine, which was the first ever batch) never got to use any part of it. I vaguely remember the administration telling us that the building would be done before we graduated, but I know better now than believing the words of administration. So, the appearance of the QNC is supposed to resemble that of a carbon nanotube, which I guess is depicted by those hexagonal shapes on the right. To be honest I was a little disappointed. I was actually expecting something like a cylindrical structure, that would have been cool. Unfortunately I didn’t get to tour the inside of the building; I left right after all the speeches were done at the opening ceremony to join my friend for lunch.

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Autumn in Louvain-la-Neuve

Autumn is a magical season. It’s the inevitable transition between extreme warmth and extreme cold, the time of the year where you can wear a light comfortable jacket without feeling sweaty or shivery. Last time I was in Louvain-la-Neuve, it was during springtime, just the opposite transition. This time, I saw the temperature slide slowly from 20 degrees Celsius to 10 degrees Celsius. I’m ready to welcome winter, but not before saving some autumn memories.

Now, I say autumn is magical because it is filled with the colours of warmth and passion. As I wade through fields of yellow and red and orange leaves, I can’t help but feel that my whole surrounding is embraced by the moving flow of life. The leaves, they quietly fly away from the branches they have been hanging onto, and gently wave goodbye to the year, joining their companions on the ground in a sea of heterogeneous radiance. It’s as if the trees were shedding their hair, only to wait for fresh ones to come back next year.

It’s the first time ever that I feel like I’m in love with autumn. Such a short spam of time for the switch from summer to winter, but so calm, so beautiful.

Let’s start with some good ol’ LLN. Then we’ll see what autumn has that got me so amazed and in love.

I always find this sight amusing when I pass by, shoes hanging randomly from a string. Till this day I do not know the significance of them, if there is one.

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