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Return to Cambridge

After graduating last June, I vowed that I wouldn't be one of those grads who sneak back on a regular basis and basically never leave. And although homesickness - uni-sickness? - did set in around October as idyllic punting and college snaps returned in force to my various social media feeds, I somehow managed to put off my own triumphant return until this month. (We're not going to mention that afternoon back in February when I caved and went back to see my friends for tea and cake in between various freak-outs in the Careers Service Library. Shh.)

One of my very first ventures on this blog was a post about my college's annual formal to mark International Women's Day - a particularly special event as we're a women's college. When the invite for this year's formal landed in my inbox, I didn't need much persuading. And neither did my best friends.

Roxy and I arrived back in the 'Bridge just as the sun was beginning to set, casting a golden glow over King's Parade and Market Square. This is the thing about Cambridge. Even on a rainy day it's stunningly pretty, and an unsuspecting visitor would never associate it with the agonies its students go through (I'll just put it out there: two essays a week and at least five or six 3-hour exams in one week at the end of each year.) I actually felt my chest start to hurt as we arrived in town, which I'm going to chalk down to residual stress palpitations (!)

I'll probably never get over how gorgeous King's College is. I mean, look at it. Ridiculous.

On your left, ladies and gentlemen: Senate House, the scene of my graduation last June. Time and its tendency to fly really does scare me sometimes!

Although when we gathered for formal in the Dome, it felt as if no time had passed at all.

Murray Edwards has stepped up its formal game. And I'm not complaining. (Free alumnae dining rights, y'all.)

Photo courtesy of Clare Cotterill

To start...a salad of purple potatoes, sprouting broccoli and polenta with an avocado dressing.

And for our main, sweet grilled red mullet with chakalaka. I personally thought chakalaka was the part of the egg Norman from the Great British Bake Off advocated removing, but apparently it's an African spiced bean and pepper compote. Yum.

The day before International Women's Day also happened to be Japan Day. Our college is partnered with Tokyo's Kaetsu University and has a Japanese cultural centre attached to it, so we were treated to a brief interlude of Japanese hip-hop dance while we waited for dessert. The dancing definitely brought out my inner East Asian fangirl, nurtured during my Oriental Society days at school and something of a secret since then...

And finally, dessert! Continuing the Land of the Rising Sun theme, we were served honey Castella Cake, a type of Japanese sponge, with mango and passion fruit sorbet, coconut cream and grilled mango slices. This one knocked it out of the park. Easily one of the best desserts I've had at Murray Edwards formal (or any other college formal), the flavour combinations were right up my street. It reminded me a little of a refined version of Thai khao niao mamuang, minus the glutinous rice.

No trip to Murray Edwards is complete without a visit to see the resident college beetles.

In first year Imarin and I got in a tiny bit of trouble for running down here after dinner and taking selfies astride the beetles (endless hijinks with the college art were had through our years at college, I tell you) - totally unaware that there was a CCTV camera fixed on us.

Photo courtesy of Clare Cotterill
We're obviously waaaaay more mature five years down the line...

Photo courtesy of Ran Huo

Cambridge, it's been fun. Let's do it again soon? 

Thank you to Murray Edwards College for providing a delicious New Hall Society formal! It was so lovely to have an excuse to see some of the ladies from my matriculation year group and run around college like an undergrad again. I'm already looking forward to next year! 

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