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Blog by: Caitlin

Ballymoney, Northern Ireland. Studying Human, Social, and Political Sciences. Read more

Exams

I delayed writing this post until after results (didn’t want to jinx myself) but I do think it is an important one to write.

Exam term is scary, I won’t lie about that. But this last term has really shown me a thing or two about life at Cambridge, and having successfully come out the other side, more or less in one piece, I will try and describe them to you, my avid readers. Lol.

The intensity of life at Cambridge is one of the best parts of studying here. Everything is done at a fast pace, work, extracurricular activities, your social life, and that makes for very short, very busy terms. During exams, this steps up a notch, and at the height of the exam period it can at times feel overwhelming. Luckily, the colleges provide excellent support and your friends and peers are going through the same experience so it doesn’t feel like you are the only one. My college provided this support in different ways – from free doughnuts, coffee and bananas outside the library every day (EVERY DAY!!) throughout Easter Term, various sessions run by the chaplains and Welfare officers of our JCR committee (our own college’s student union) including yoga, mindfulness and meditiation to fortnightly movie nights in college, with films including Gravity, 10 Things I Hate About You and Frozen, although disappointingly not the singalong version.

Revision is never enjoyable, but I did find revising my course surprisingly satisfying. My exams were all structured the same way, 3 essays in 3 hours. This meant that I could devote my time to the parts of each subject that I was most interested in, whilst trying to make sure I knew enough of enough of the course to be generally well-prepared. I spent most of my time in the college library, reading new material as well as rereading key texts from throughout the year, and compiling and connecting all of the information that had ended up in my brain, or on my laptop over the last year into something that vaguely made sense.

The exams themselves were surprisingly, just exams. This came as a bit of a shock to us freshers, many of whom had expected to be asked to answer ridiculously difficult questions and write countless pages of groundbreakingly original analysis of Marx, Hobbes or whoever it was that we had been studying. Actually, once I had sat one, I realised that they weren’t expecting me to pull off intellectual miracles, but simply show what I had learned this year. And given the vast amount I have learned, that actually turned out to be a manageable task.

 

 

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Happy New Year!

It’s exactly a year since I received my offer to study at Cambridge, although I can still remember the exact feeling of opening that letter. Twelve months later and here I am, getting ready to go back to college, sorting through clothes and panicking about holiday work I haven’t quite got round to finishing/starting yet.

I’m incredibly excited about going back. Even though I loved seeing my family and friends from home at Christmas, after only a few days ‘outside the bubble’, you begin to miss the weird and wacky traditions that make Cambridge what it really is. Trying to explain to your friends from school about supervisions, the College system and why you have a bedder who cleans your room makes you realise that actually, Cambridge isn’t like any other uni. But that’s what makes it so special. A degree from Cambridge gives you access to some of the best teaching and facilities in the world, but it also makes you part of a grand history stretching back hundreds and hundreds of years, and connects you to some of the greatest minds the world has ever seen. No pressure huh!

Last weekend, across the country and the world, hundreds of hopeful applicants will have found out that they have been offered a place to study here. Many of these offers will be conditional on receiving exam results at the end of the year, but for me, the thought of studying at Cambridge was the best motivation to work hard for my A levels. If you are an offer holder, feel free to ask any questions you have about life at Cambridge using the comments section.

I’d better get back to packing!

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First term

Well, it’s been a mental eight weeks, but I have reached the last few days of my first term at Cambridge. It seems bizarre to think that it has only been a year since I visited my College for interviews, but since I arrived at the beginning of October time has absolutely flown past. My aim for this term was just to settle in and find my feet, and I already feel like I have made some friends for life.

Freshers’ Week and the rest of first term has passed by in a blur of swaps, supervisions and everyone’s highlight of the week – brunch! I have to say, I’ve been surprised at how quickly and easily I’ve settled in here, thanks to the help of a number of people. The College family system, where each fresher is assigned a 2nd/3rd year ‘mum and dad’ (or two dads, or two mums, or three mums!), as well as other fresher siblings, really helped me get to know people in older years as well as those in my own. I even have aunts, uncles, cousins and grandparents! On the first night, before Freshers’ Formal, I met up with my College family who answered any questions I had about Cam life so far, as well as teaching me some of the traditions of formals. Your College mum and dad can be really helpful for providing information, but also can help you form friendship groups across the years, something I really like about Cambridge.

The College students’ union has also been great, organising lots of events in the first week and throughout the rest of term, and the Week 5 Welfare chocolate was definitely appreciated! The really nice thing about the College system is that it really helps you feel like part of a community – especially when everyone is in the bar watching the College team on Uni Challenge! I’ve made loads of friends by playing College sports like netball and hockey (watch out for my debut on the ladies’ football team next term, it’s gonna be impressive) and sport is a great way to keep healthy, especially after one too many late night chippies from the Van of Life!

Cambridge has definitely been a welcoming place, and the college systems makes making friends very easy. Of course, there have been downs as well as ups, and the work is certainly intense. However, I am genuinely sad to leave the bubble, which I think says it all.

Merry Bridgemas!

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