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Blog by: Florence

Hong Kong. Studying Law. Read more

Why I love studying in Cambridge

It’s nearly the end of term, and I thought I’d give a little more insight on what it is like studying at Cambridge. I’m going to list a few reasons why I love studying in Cambridge, . Considering this is my third year at university, I’m still amazed everyday at the great things Cambridge has to offer.

  1. Academics are challenging but intellectually stimulating- the best part about Cambridge is that I can be lectured on by people who actually wrote the textbooks of my subject. I am still amazed that I can learn from people who are world-famous leaders of their field. In fact, the college system means that students actually have supervisions with the very people that write all of the textbooks and leading articles of their area.
  2. Socials- there’s something going on every night of the week. Whether this is a formal networking event, or simply a social event hosted by a particular society, there is really something for everyone. At the end of the day, the motto work hard play hard really rings true in Cambridge.
  3. Large support system- once a student becomes part of a college, he or she is automatically assigned to a tutor and a director of studies, whom take care of their academic and non-academic wellbeing. Students are also assigned college parents and families, which means that there will always be someone there to give advice and mentorship when needed. The support system also extends to people outside your college- and everyone is happy to help if you need it.
  4. Excellent sporting facilities- the West Cambridge site is a great resource and arguably one of Cambridge’s biggest hidden gem. It contains a large, brand-new sports centre which has a number of sporting facilities including badminton courts, basketball courts, a multi-gym and much more others, and students get a discounted membership price. There are also many paths around Cambridge for students to go for a run outdoors. Lastly, who would forget the River Cam, which offers students the chance to row for their college as a sport.

There is so much to do in Cambridge, but there is definitely something suitable for everyone. I’m still enjoying my third year as much as ever.

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Summer holiday plans

So it’s finally the end of yet another year of Cambridge. This year, I’m going back to my hometown Hong Kong in late July, which is quite a while from now. I’ve got a month to travel, meet up with my family and also catch up on some much needed rest. This year has been good, and I learned a lot of new things. In the social context, I did not go out as much as I did during freshers’ year because of the sheer amount of work I had to do this year compared to last year, which took a bit of time to get used to.

This summer, I plan on preparing for my dissertation. Dissertations are 10,000 word long extended pieces of writing, which every student has to complete in my course. Other courses may not offer dissertations because students have exams instead, but usually in arts subjects you would have to write a long piece of work on a topic of your choice. My topic is about the politics of Hong Kong, but I think I may have to change some of the research questions in my plan.

Apart from working on my dissertation, I plan to also take a look at some of the books on my reading list for next year. It should be another long year, and final year students have the heaviest workload out of all three years of Cambridge. The final exams are very important as usually, they are the grades that you would count as your university grades. I hope next year goes smoothly!

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Queens May Ball Review

I really enjoyed going to my final may ball this year, the Queens’ College May Ball. The college itself was well decorated and had a lovely atmosphere, very cozy and friendly, and carefully decorated with themed items such as mushrooms, statues and flowers. I also felt that the ball was a very good size and was just about right, because the committee used up all the spaces in college to create a great atmosphere.

The food was excellent. There were exotic foods ranging from Indian wraps to Chilean Tacos, and I’ve never experienced a ball with food that varied so widely. The entertainments were also excellent, with an imitation Simon and Garfunkel band, a one-storey high jump on an air cushion, bumper cars, talk shows and great live music that played throughout the night.

There was never a dull moment in this may ball, something which I felt was very impressive. I’m absolutely thrilled to have experienced the Queens’ May Ball and I’d definitely recommend it in the future for all to-be Cambridge students!

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Preparing for May Week and May Balls

My first may ball of the year is the Emmanuel College May ball. It’s going to be held on the night of June 14th 2015, and I’m looking forward to it.

What students usually do beforehand is prepare for the ball. Usually girls go dress shopping with their friends, but this year I chose to buy my gown online through retail outlets, which offer much more choice. The guys usually go into town and shop for suits and shoes. In fact, today the town was packed full of students on the hunt for the perfect bow tie!

I’m also going to the Murray Edwards garden party tomorrow. Garden parties are events held on the gardens of a college, where drinks and food is served. Usually there are also bouncy castles, entertainment and music, and it goes on for most of the afternoon. It should be a fun event, and it’s one of my first garden parties this year so I’m really excited!

It’s time to get ready and enjoy May week for the second time.

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My exam experience

I’m going to write a bit about my experience with the exam this year. I had quite a tough time this year as I had four exams and over eight topics to revise for, just so that I could answer the essay questions adequately. For the Geography tripos, we had to answer two essays in each exam, making it a total of eight essays in the whole of the exam duration. For my first one I found that it wasn’t as good as I thought as the questions didn’t come up before! It’s always a shock to see some new questions that has not been asked in the past questions, or if it’s something that you haven’t quite revised for!

Also, I found that I was coping with stress better than last year. I spent more time going through my notes but in a more productive way. I think I also managed to spend a bit of time doing extra reading which is really important in essay writing. It’s definitely not as bad as I thought it would be, though this is me telling you in hindsight!

Apart from that, the exam period was rather quiet. The library was full everyday, but as soon as everyone was done, it was all over. I’m enjoying the Cambridge sunshine right now, and the weather’s lovely. Time for a punt!

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Exams in cambridge

Exam term just ended and I found it quite hectic. Second year is always the hardest year because of the sheer amount of work you have to do in order to keep up, plus there’s the dissertation coming up in the summer so my summer holidays are fully occupied! I found these few tips useful for coping with exam stress, so hope it is useful!

  1. Eat well- definitely get breakfast and lots of protein, which helps your body stay awake and energised. I always eat a nice yogurt and banana before exams which helps a lot!
  2. Try to calm down- trust me, I always have sleeping problems before exams but I’ve learned to calm down and drink some tea before bed to keep myself relaxed. It’s important to get at least 7 hours of sleep before each exam, especially if they’re in the morning!
  3. Motivate yourself- whether it is by thinking about the holidays, or by writing post-it notes on your wall, it is important to keep reminding yourself that you can do it.
  4. Revise early- a month in advance is usually a good idea, especially if you have more than 2-3 topics to revise for in detail! Remember it is better to be safe than sorry!


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Cambridge Union Bicentenary Ball

Let me introduce you to an aspect of Cambridge that’s definitely one of my highlights of my two years here. Cambridge has a lot to offer in terms of activities outside of work, and this is one of them. Founded in 1815, the Cambridge Union is the oldest debating society in the world, and the most famous society at the University of Cambridge. I joined as a member and do not regret it at all. Many famous speakers such as Stephen Fry, Quentin Blake and other political figures have visited the union at some point and given a speech. It is a fantastic society that provides lots of food for thought for those interested in current affairs, political matters, debates and more.

The union also hosts a series of events and entertainments for students during term time. For their 200th anniversary, the Union hosted a bicentenary ball on February of 2015. I’m going to talk a little about my experience as an avid ball-goer of the event!

Firstly, this is not your usual party in that it is a formal, black-tie event. Guests were required to dress up in formal ball gowns and bow ties, which meant that this special ball was quite glamorous and fancy. The Union was also lit up and fully utilised, unlike its previous balls where only 2 or 3 rooms were used. This time, all of the historical union building was open to use, which meant that the ball covered enough to keep everyone busy throughout the night.

The food was decent- doughnuts, sweets, fudge, meringues, burgers, you name it, you got it. It was more decadent than the usual food from May Balls, because this was a special event after all. The music was good, although the ball was interrupted by an unexpected fire alarm somewhere between the main acts.

Overall, I enjoyed the evening a lot. It was a historical night, after all, it’s only once that the Union gets to be 200 years old!

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Artistic events at Cambridge University

I’m a huge fan of art and the creative scene, and Cambridge University offers students a variety of art-related events that occur throughout the year. Two events marked the highlight of the term- one was the ‘Love art after dark’ event held by Cambridge’s Fitzwilliam museum, and the second one was Arcsoc’s Cabaret event at the Cambridge Union building. I’m going to talk about Arcsoc Cabaret in this post so I can share some interesting details about the wonderfully unique event.

I was lucky enough to get tickets for the Architecture society’s Cabaret event for last week. This is an annual fancy-dress music and art party at the Union building, and it went on from 9pm to early in the morning. Architecture students are known for their sense of creativity and style, so I had good expectations for this event. After a short queue, I entered the building and was pleasantly surprised at the decorations that the architecture students have put in place. Balloons and glitter was everywhere, and one room was decorated with foil spread on the floor.

The theme was “Saturate”, which meant that everyone went to the event dressed up as colourful as they can. I went dressed as a cup of lemonade, and all of my friends had a great time.

Highlights include the life drawing, where models posed for students to draw, the dance floor in the union debating chamber which was lit up and colourful, and of course, the fancy-dresses that everyone had on. It’s not always that Cambridge students get to celebrate the end of an essay or supervision with this much colour!


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Fitzwilliam College Winter Ball- Review

REVIEW: It’s always exciting when your own college hosts a large-scaled event like a ball, and Fitzwilliam’s Winter Ball was no exception. My college held it’s biennial winter ball on December 4th on a cold night. Even though the cold was kicking in, the activities on offer kept everyone busy, filled and everyone had lots of fun.

To start off, the entertainments were great. There was a spinning wheel that lit up the college, and provided a dizzy, exhilarating ride where one could see the college in all its glory. The Grove was used for casinos, and there was a silent disco which was enjoyable despite running out of headphones for a while. Other creative entertainments include a piƱata every hour, shisha, massage, henna and a photo-wall for those keen on experiencing it all.

Food was innovative and plentiful- I tried a ‘wild’ Kangaroo burger and had bannoffee pizza, which were two things that I have never tasted before. The Food team made sure that supplies didn’t run out until the early hours of the day, and there were doughnuts, burgers, hotdogs, cupcakes as well as three chocolate fountains on offer. Drinks were plentiful as there was a cocktail bar which served up delicious mixes, and shots were available in various rooms, if you knew where to find them.

The highlights of the evening has to be two things: 1) The Hoosiers headlined the Winter Ball and performed an extra long set in the auditorium, where the crowds went wild. 2) Roller skating rink- I could not have imagined that Fitzwilliam’s dining hall would be transformed into a disco skating rink equipped with funky music and colourful skates. The queues, however, were long for this particular activity so that was a hit and miss in terms of time.

Overall, the college was well lit up, decorated well and I have to say, I’m impressed with the college’s ball which kept us entertained, fed and cheerful until the early hours of the day.

SCORE: 4/5

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5 things you must do during Freshers Week

I’m no longer a fresher! It feels odd typing this sentence out, because I am no longer a wide-eyed, fresh-faced first year student. I’m now a second year, looking forward to starting a brand new term in Cambridge. It’s not as exciting as before, but seeing as I am a year wiser, here are 5 things that incoming students (yes, you!) simply must do during the incredible 4 days of freshers week.

1. Make friends with the person next to you- it goes without saying that Freshers week is the best time to meet new people. Be it the person you’re walking next to, or the student looking lost in college, or the girl sitting next to you in the buttery- everyone’s friendly and open to chatting. So don’t be shy!

2. Go to pub crawls – even if you don’t want to drink, it’s a must to join in your college’s pub crawl during your first few days in Cambridge. You get to meet new friends, chat over a pint, socialise with students from other colleges, and best of all, visit all of the most traditional pubs in Cambridge at once.

3. Go punting- Cambridge isn’t Cambridge without punts, so join in on punting tours that occur during your first few days in town. The International Cambridge Students Union (ICUSU), for example, offers both day and night punting trips for freshers.

4. Tour around Cambridge- enjoy the natural scenery and the picturesque landscape that will be your home for the next 3 or 4 years. Colleges usually have second year students that will show you around town and take you on walking tours to the best spots in Cambridge. So don’t miss out on this chance to do a little sightseeing.

5. Freshers’ Fair -Societies and hobbies are key parts of life in Cambridge. Remember to visit the Freshers Fair, where many societies will be showcasing their term cards, event plans and telling you all about what’s on offer. There’s also many freebies like pizza, pens and chocolate up for grabs, so don’t miss out.

Freshers week is short and sweet, so enjoy the ride and relax!

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