Punting for Prosperity: Economics Adventures in Cambridge with Jason Lin ‘25

15 October 2023

On the 13th of June, 2023, I left for the United Kingdom from the United States. I have never traveled to Europe before, so this was quite the opportunity for me. The flight was nothing too exciting, but on the morning of the 14th, we landed in London! After retrieving our bags, we checked into the St. Giles Hotel on Tottenham Court. We were so excited for our adventure to begin.  

The very next day, we took the Tube to the River Thames to attend a river cruise. It was a lot of fun, and the captains of the boat were very funny and kept us entertained throughout the entire trip. We also got a chance to ride the London Eye! London itself was an incredibly dense city, so we managed to see a lot of different sights in a short period. We had Oyster Cards at our disposal, so we could ride the Underground Tubes as much as we liked. The Tubes in London were an excellent way to travel from place to place.

Tower Bride by River Thames
The Tower Bridge while on the River Thames, featuring a contemplative Professor Hemesath.
students inside London Eye
Inside one of the capsules of the London Eye.
students pose by Big Ben
Gavyn and Me by the Elizabeth Tower! (A.K.A. Big Ben)
Red paper lanterns in Chinatown
Red paper lanterns in Chinatown (10/10 Boba & Peking Duck).

We also took a quick excursion to see Stonehenge and the Salisbury Cathedral during our first week. Did you know that the Salisbury Magna Carta is the best preserved out of the surviving four examples? It can be viewed publicly in the Chapter House!

Quick Excursion to Stonehenge during our first week.
students inside Salisbury Cathedral
Professor Hemesath, Sam, Eugene, Allison and Ovin enjoying their time inside the Salisbury Cathedral.

Of course, we also had to visit the infamous British Museum during our time in London. It was very vast and expansive. I could spend a whole week straight in the museum and not even come close to exploring everything. Admission was free, so we went back a couple of times in order to get a more cohesive experience of one of the most impressive museums in the world.

chess board in British Museum of London
Ancient chess board with chess pieces in the British Museum of London.
House of English philosopher Betrand Russel
The location where famous English Philosopher Betrand Russell lived (inventor of the famous Russell’s Teapot analogy).

The other Carleton students and I also had a lot of free time of our own to explore the beautiful city of London. We eventually stumbled across the Hippodrome, a massive theater/casino located just a few blocks from our hotel. It was a lot of fun hanging out there. The aura of the Hippodrome was simply electric, charged with tension and excitement, filling the air constantly. After our first visit, most of us were extremely happy that we went. There were both many positive experiences and positive externalities after that night. Amidst the chaos, most of us felt as if we came out as winners in the end.

students pose at the Hippodrome
Us at the Hippodrome! (From left to right: Chuck, Me, David, Gene, Mouch, Gavyn)

We also got an opportunity to meet John Winter (‘85), a Carleton Alum that has a house in London. He graciously invited all of us over to have dinner. We all dressed up for the occasion, and the food and drinks did not disappoint!

students wait on sidewalk for their formal dinner
A few minutes before our formal dinner.

After some time in London, on Sunday, June 25th, we headed out to Belgium. Brussels was a lot of fun! We got a chance to go inside the European Parliament building. Gavyn and I also decided to check out the Atomium! It was super cool to ride the elevator up to get a view from high up of the city. There was also a small alley in Ghent full of Graffiti! All in all, Belgium was a very quaint country that had very delicious fries, chocolate, and waffles.

students pose inside EU
Inside the EU.
students pose outside of Atomium
Selfie at the Atomium!
graffitied alley in Ghent, Belgium
Graffiti Alley in Ghent, Belgium
students prepare for bike ride to Netherlands
Quick bike ride to the Netherlands.

After our short time in Belgium, it was time to head to our main destination: Cambridge. We took the train back to the UK, and made our way down south. We soon arrived at Hughes Hall at Cambridge University. We then explored King’s College! It was quite the sight. Surprisingly, it was very different from Carleton’s Campus. I am unsure what I expected. We also went punting! It is so much harder than it looks. However, it was still a lot of fun, albeit the fact that I almost fell in a couple of times.

students haul luggage to their dorms
Austin and Ovin hauling their luggage into our dorm rooms at Hughes Hall.
students pose inside King's College Chapel
Inside the King’s College Chapel.
students ride boat on the River Cam
Punting by Cambridge University in Cambridge on the River Cam, featuring a Cambridge University bridge on the River Cam in Cambridge.

After some weeks of Industrial Revolution and Multinational classes in Cambridge, we got opportunities to go on excursions. One of them was back to London to check out the Bank of England. The Museum was really cool! We got a chance to beat a trivia game to win a prize! We also went to Manchester to check out the Manchester Science and Industry Museum. I loved how interactive everything was at this museum. While in Manchester, we also stopped by Quarry Bank Mill, and a few of us even checked out some of the English football stadiums there!

student poses in the Bank of England
Eugene excited to see some money in the Bank of England.
students in Manchester Science and Industry Museum
Us playing some sort of matching game with the interactive blocks at the Manchester Science and Industry Museum.
students play croquet
David stepping up to bat.
Ironbridge Gorge with the River Stern
The Ironbridge Gorge with the River Severn in Shropshire, England
students learn in textile factory
Quarry Bank Mill in Styal, Cheshire, England – a very well preserved textile factory during the Industrial Revolution.
students nap on bus
A quick nap.

Soon enough, we made it to my personal favorite location the entire trip! Edinburgh! It was a sight to behold. The entire city was up on a hill, so you could see every individual piece of architecture no matter what direction you looked. The boundless bodies of water surrounded us, and the colossal castle towered over the entire city, overlooking the people. The streets are  filled with entertainment and music. Endless stores along every corner, all of them bustling with activity and filled with unique color. It was so pretty. Photos cannot capture the beauty of this city. You will have to climb up Arthur’s seat yourself.

street in Edinburgh, Scotland
A street in Edinburgh, Scotland!
statue of Scottish philosopher David Hume
Statue of Scottish Philosopher David Hume
churchyard of Adam Smith, Scottish economist
The Churchyard of Scottish Economist Adam Smith
students pose in Robert Owen's factory
Working hard at Robert Owen’s Factory.
view from Arthur's Seat in Edinburgh
View from Arthur’s Seat, an ancient volcano and the main peak of the group of hills in Edinburgh.

After Scotland and a quick mid-term break. We were back in Cambridge. We studied hard, attended classes, and read a lot on J.M. Keynes. We got to explore more of the city, and enjoy the local food. We especially enjoyed Nando’s and Wetherspoons. I also found some tennis courts by a river that I frequented. It was a lot of fun hitting with the locals there!

online Zoom class with Cambridge professor
Online Zoom Class with Cambridge University Professor Solomos Solomou.
students play card games
One of our favorite pastimes in the Margaret Wileman Building of Hughes Hall was playing card games almost every single night.
tennis courts of Jesus Green Park in Cambridge
The tennis courts of Jesus Green Park in Cambridge

Quick note: For any car fans, we spotted a 1970s Mercedes-Benz 450SLC 2 Door Coupe! Picture included, of course.

1970s Mercedes-Benz 450SLC
1970s Mercedes-Benz 450SLC

As this study abroad concluded, I want to say that I thoroughly enjoyed my experiences. My philosophy is, and always will be, that it isn’t about the destination, but about the company. Bonding with these Carleton students was a choice, and hanging out with each other outside of class was the true experience of this trip. It is a feeling better than getting dealt pocket Aces. I would for sure come back, and do everything all over again on this OCS if I could (350 times to be exact). I loved my time at Cambridge and the many other places that I visited, and I am extremely grateful to have made so many friends along the way. This is an experience that I will never forget. I will cherish these memories forever. Thank you Carleton!

students pose by John Maynard Keynes' house
Posted up where John Maynard Keynes lived!