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Softball's Brown Checks In From Abroad

Rachel Brown of the Harvard softball team is spending her summer studying abroad in England and wrote a blog about her experiences overseas:

Hello! (Or to those of you familiar with the Beverly Hillbillies, “Faversham!”). This last Sunday marked my three week stay in Cambridge, England, leaving me with just about five more weeks to go, (June 28-August 21). While in Cambridge, I am enrolled in three classes through Pembroke and King’s College, both universities within Cambridge University. For the first four weeks, I am taking “Drugs and the Brain: The Neuroscience of Addiction” and “Sprit and Matter: An Introduction to Drawing and Painting.” During the second four weeks, I will be taking “The British and their Sports” and continue in my art studio course. Hopefully at the end of this program, my “Drugs and the Brain” class will give me credit for my concentration, (Social and Cognitive Neuroscience), and I will also be able to get credit for one of my other classes. These extra credits from these summer classes would give me the option of taking three classes during a semester at Harvard instead of taking the usual load of four classes. Whether or not I decide to use these classes for that purpose, it will be nice to have that option.

The program that I am taking part in, “Pembroke-King’s Summer Program,” has just about three hundred students enrolled. Most students come from UCLA or UC Berkeley, although the Ivy League also has a pretty sizeable numerical representation. One of the things that I have most enjoyed about the program is getting the opportunity to meet other students and learn about what life is like in other colleges and what people enjoy most about their universities. The people are all very friendly, and it definitely reminded me of my first week of freshman year having to meet new people and make new friends. I am really enjoying being in England, and my friends and I have taken to learning British phrases and attempting to pick up British accents, although I’ll be the first to admit that my accent is pretty bad.

Already, I feel as if I’ve been here for three months because of how action packed the days have been! In just these three weeks, I have already been punting, (leisurely riding in a flat boat on the river Cam), played croquet, visited Scotland, done a day trip to the seaside town of Brighton and many other activities, all while attending lectures and seminars for my classes. I don’t plan on slowing down any time soon, but rather picking up the activity level slightly with my plans to travel to London, Dublin, Paris and Berlin, each for a whole weekend. Luckily I knew a group of Harvard students who were excited to travel during our stay, so we organized our trips and we are really looking forward to them!

Although my pitching coach told me to leave my glove at home, I decided I couldn’t completely cut myself off from my sport, so I brought just a softball to work on some spins. Last Sunday, the program organized a sports day with a soccer tournament, and although my scrappy team, “The Mighty Ducks,” lost in our first round game, it was definitely a gallant effort. I quickly learned that my athletic skills come not in the form of kicking a soccer ball, but in the form of throwing when I got to join in on a game of American football. It is definitely a challenge to get my summer workouts completed because I don’t have the luxury of using the Palmer Dixon gym or the physical presence of my motivational teammates, but despite our separation, my teammates are sending out encouraging e-mails, and we’re already excited to be reunited in the fall. As a way to work out, I had to get a summer membership at a Cambridge gym that is about a fifteen minute walk away. Running has also provided me with a way to tour the city and complete some workouts.

Overall, I have absolutely loved my experience here so far. The students on the program are intelligent and interesting, the classes are intellectually stimulating, and the activities set up by the program assistants are entertaining and fun, (my favorite activity: Scottish dancing!) I am enjoying every day here in Cambridge, and I know that these next five weeks will fly by because of everything that I am having the opportunity to do. 

I am excited for the rest of the summer, and I am also excited to get back to Cambridge, Massachusetts and share my stories with Harvard Softball! Go Crimson!