1825 mid-October
Eager that Darwin should not "go astray" his father decided that his son will pursue a medical career as he and his grandfather did before him. Darwin was sent to the University of Edinburgh in Scotland, known as having one of the best medical schools in all of Europe. Once there he joined his brother, Erasmus, having finished most of his medical studies at Cambridge. They took lodgings together in 11 Lothian Street, right across from the University. Darwin did not particularly take a liking to medical studies - the fear of the sight of blood being a major hindrance, but the primary reason for his aversion appears to be that he found the study of medicine incredibly boring.

His first year at Edinburgh was somewhat uneventful, about the only part of medical school that sparked Darwin's interest were the chemistry lectures given by professor Thomas Hope.

1826 February - April
John Edmonstone, a freed black slave from Guyana, South America, taught Darwin taxidermy. The two of them often sat together for conversation, and John would fill Darwin's head with vivid pictures of the tropical rain forests of South America. These pleasant conversations with John may have later inspired Darwin to dream about exploring the tropics. In any event, the taxidermy skills Darwin learned from him were indispensable during his voyage aboard H.M.S. Beagle in 1831.

1826 Summer
Darwin finished his first year of medical school and spent the summer hiking in the Welsh hills near his home in Shrewsbury. During this time Darwin read Revd. Gilbert White's, "The Natural History of Selborne" and he came away from this book with a much greater appreciation for wildlife. Darwin started making detailed observations of birds and kept a notebook of their habits.

1826 November 6
Darwin began his second year of medical school at Edinburgh, but now he was alone; his brother, Erasmus, having left Edinburgh for London to study anatomy. Darwin spent a lot of time at the university museum, taking notes on the plants and animals on display there. He also joined the Plinian Society during this time and often attended their scientific debates. These debates were perhaps his first exposure to anti-Christian sentiments. The topics of these debates centered upon the merits of scientific investigation stemming from a an examination of natural causes rather than divine intervention. Darwin also attended Professor Robert Jameson's lectures on Geology, and ironically he found himself dreadfully bored with the subject, and vowed never to read or study geology again.

1827 Winter - Spring
Robert Grant, a Scottish zoologist, became a very close friend of Darwin. They would often go out on long walks together at the Firth of Forth, an estuary just north of Edinburgh, discussing marine life and collecting specimens. On these walks Grant filled Darwin's head with evolutionary ideas, especially those of Lamarck, whom Grant admired a great deal.

1827 March 27
Darwin gave his first scientific speech at a meeting of the Plinian Society. The subject was his discovery that the larva of sea-mats can swim, and that the tiny black specks inside old oyster shells were skate leech eggs. Not the most earth shattering discovery, but it was a start for Darwin.

1827 April
Darwin quit medical school for good.

1827 May
He visited London for the first time, then went with his Uncle, Josiah Wedgwood II, for a tour of Paris.

By this time Darwin's father was rather displeased with his son, fearing he will amount to nothing but an "idle gentleman." Plans were made for Darwin to study for the clergy, and his father arranged for him to attend Christ's College at Cambridge University.

1827 Summer
Darwin started to take an interest in one of his sisters best friends, Fanny Owen; daughter of William Owen of Woodhouse. They spent much time riding horses together, shooting birds, playing billiards, and engaging in mild flirtations.

1827 October
Darwin was accepted into Christ's College at Cambridge, but did not start until winter term because he needed to catch up on some of his studies.

1827 December
Darwin began studying for the clergy at Christ's College. His brother, Erasmus, joined him at Cambridge where he would be studying for his medical exams.

1828 Winter Term
Once again Darwin did not take his studies very seriously, spending much of his free time collecting beetles, reading Shakespeare, and having dinner parties with his friends.

William Darwin Fox, Darwin's cousin, introduced him to Revd. John Stevens Henslow, Professor of Botany at Cambridge. Darwin started attending Henslow's lectures and was very soon addicted to natural history. By spring term Darwin saw a natural science career in his future.

1828 Summer
Darwin spent the first part of summer at home in Shrewsbury. In June he went to the Welsh coast at Cardigan Bay, taking a math tutor with him so he could bone up on algebra, a subject he found very difficult to grasp. The tutoring only lasted a few weeks, at which time Darwin got back to serious business - collected beetles and fly fishing. He also went on a reading tour at Barmouth with his Cambridge friends, John Herbert and Thomas Butler. During this tour Darwin confided with Herbert that he had serious doubts about entering the clergy. Towards the end of summer he spent some time with Fanny Owen at her father's estate.

1828 October 31
He returned to Christ's College, and took up residence in Revd. William Paley's former rooms.

1828 December
During winter break Darwin visited London where his brother showed him around to the Royal Institution, Linnean Society, and Zoological Gardens. These visits further ignited Darwin's interest in natural history. Afterwards Darwin visited Woodhouse to see his girlfriend, Fanny Owen.

1829 Early Year
Darwin began to have more doubts regarding pursuing a religious career. His studies were not going very well, and he was spending too much time out in the countryside collecting beetles.

1829 February 21
He spent part of his spring break in London where he met with the famous entomologist, Revd. Frederick Hope. They spent many days talking about insects, and Hope gave him over one-hundred new species for his collection.

1829 Summer
Darwin spent the summer at home, visiting Fanny at Woodhouse, and hunting pheasants at Maer Hall (the estate of his uncle, Josiah Wedgwood II). During this time his brother, Erasmus, decided not to pursue a medical practice and his father put him up with a generous pension.

1829 early October
Darwin attended the Birmingham Music Festival with the Wedgwood family.

1829 October 15
Now back at Cambridge, Darwin spent all of his time studying for the preliminary exams coming up in March.

1830 February
Darwin's relationship with Fanny was beginning to diminish. The reasons for this are not entirely clear, but evidently Darwin had developed too much of a relationship with entomology (he had not visited her the previous winter break, having stayed in Cambridge to hunt beetles), and Fanny was being pursued by more attentive suitors. Just after he passed his "little go" exam they broke up.

1830 March 24
Darwin passed his "little go" exam at Cambridge. He was tested on translating Greek and Latin text (barely squeaked by), questions on the gospels (did fairly well with this), and on Paley's Evidences of Christianity (he shined here, having a great fondness for Paley's logic and simple elegance).

1830 Spring term
Most of the term was spent attending botany lectures from Professor Henslow. By this time Henslow had marked Darwin out as a gifted student with great promise. They often went on long walks together, discussing botany and going on plant collecting outings. Henslow also had Darwin over to his house for his Friday night dinner parties. It was during this time in his life that Darwin clearly saw his future; he would become country clergyman/naturalist like Henslow.

1830 August 11
Darwin went on holiday to Barmouth, in Wales. He spent sunny days collecting beetles, and rainy days fly fishing at the mountain lakes. When he was young Darwin was an avid hiker and during this holiday he explored the Capel Curig region and climbed Mt. Snowdon, the highest peak in Wales.

1830 September 10
Upon returning home at Shrewsbury he received a letter from Fanny that she was engaged to be married. This upset Darwin a great deal.

1830 October 7
Darwin returned to Cambridge for the fall term. He shifted his focus away from beetle collecting and exerted a huge burst of energy towards studying for his final exam. During this time Revd. Henslow became his private tutor.

1831 January 22
He took his final exam and passed with very good scores! The exam covered such topics as Homer, Virgil, Paley's Moral and Political Philosophy (good scores here), Locke's Essay concerning Human Understanding (did well here, too), mathematics (did not do so well), physics and astronomy (also, not very good). He came in 10th place out of 178 students who passed the exam.

1831 March/April
Darwin started thinking about settling down in a nice countryside parish as a clergyman with ample time to ramble about the countryside collecting bugs and plants. He read Paley's "Natural Theology," Sir John Herschel's book, "Preliminary Discourse on the Study of Natural Philosophy" and gained a burning zeal for science. Another book he read had a strong influence on his life; it was Alexander von Humboldt's 7-vol. "Personal Narrative" of his South America adventures. Now Darwin began dreaming about the glorious tropical rain forests. Revd. Henslow suggested that he should go off and explore in the tropics for a short time.

1831 April
Inspired by Henslow's advice, Darwin planned out a ocean voyage to explore Tenerife at the Canary Islands. He tried to get Revd. Henslow to go along with him but he could not go (his wife just had a baby). Darwin's father tentatively approved the trip, wanting him to first work out the logistics and expenses.

1831 April 26
Darwin returned to Cambridge for graduation and studied for his trip. Seeing that Darwin would benefit from knowing a little something about geology, Henslow introduced him to Professor Adam Sedgwick, professor of Geology at Cambridge. Darwin was invited to attend Sedgwick's geology lectures which oddly enough he enjoyed a great deal (this is ironic, as he found Jameson's geology lectures at Edinburgh to be very boring).

1831 Spring
Not wanting to explore the tropics alone, Darwin convinced his friend, Marmaduke Ramsay, a tutor at Jesus College, to travel with him to the Canary Islands

1831 August 4 - 18
Darwin returned to Shrewsbury for summer vacation. Professor Sedgwick came by the house on 4 August loaded down with hiking gear and geology tools. He and Darwin went off to Northern Wales where Sedgwick gave him a crash course in field geology. Within a week Darwin was addicted to the subject. He only spent a week with Sedgwick, then went off to visit with friends at Barmouth, geologizing along the way.

1831 mid-August
Darwin's Tenerife Island plans were crushed when found out that his friend, Ramsay, had died on 31 July. Months of preparation were wasted and Darwin was now very despondent.