Saturday, May 3, 2008

Chameleonic Cambridge

Cambridge, England is known the world over for its medieval city center, the centerpiece of which is the legendary University of Cambridge. This leads many people to accept the theory that Cambridge is a picturesque, somewhat sleepy college town. But whilst this isn't Durham, North Carolina, it is painfully obvious that a boozy transformation occurs on weekend evenings.
Whilst England's smartest party it up in their respective JCRs and bars, the low-cut dresses with fat drooping out are all the rage on Cambridge's main drag. Just a half-mile from the world-renowned King's College Chapel, WKD bottles litter the gutter. The quality of English spoken on Regent Street has more in common with the East End than King's Parade. And that's not a bad thing.
See, Cambridge was first and foremost an agricultural town, not exactly the land of milk and honey from a fiscal point of view. However, food was always plentiful and the climate one of the most amiable in the UK. The region has been a national knowledge base since the days of Isaac Newton, and has also hosted several important religious institutions such as Ely Cathedral. Intellectual mixture is nothing new, but it is more established than ever before. Hi-tech companies have been setting up shop since the 1990s, so for a "city" of its size, Cambridge has a remarkably high proportion of tertiary sector workers. However, this has served to draw many EU citizens, such as Poles and Slovakians, to Cambridge in search of a better life. This attitude of endeavor has led to less British workers in the primary sector, but Cambridge has become ever more multi-national and multi-cultural.
Not only do Chinese and Americans affiliated with the University walk the streets, Poles, Turks and Lebanese go about their jobs as well. The result of this multi-directional development is a town of 130,000 which has just about something for everyone . Everyone one from the most simple-minded of farmhands to the theory-stretching college nerds can find their niche in Cambridge. Heck, different parts of the city even reflect this sentiment. All I know is that you can make of Cambridge what you want.

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