I’ve had an absolutely amazing first term (or rather ‘michaelmas term’ – for some reason they give them weird names…) here at Cambridge – very busy but very fun!
I spent the first couple of weeks settling in and getting to know all the other students on my corridor. I joined some great societies such as the Orchestra on the Hill, college rowing and the Chocolate Society – and I would definitely recommend taking advantage of all the awesome extracurricular activities Cambridge offers to students! We have a lot of work, but I find that allocating time off to have some fun helps me find a good balance.
Another fantastic opportunity I have taken full advantage of was the chance to go on the Varsity Ski Trip – a week long incredibly cheap ski holiday for Oxbridge students. I have just returned from an amazing week in Tignes – amazing snow, blue skies all week, empty pistes and awesome evening parties! I definitely plan to return again next year!
One of my major initial concerns about Cambridge was the amount of work we would be expected to do. However, although the workload at Cambridge is high, the supervision system really helps you to keep on top of it all and by cramming in the work into 8 week terms we get longer holidays to recover! Admittedly the 9am Saturday maths lectures are not my favourite, but at least they get me up at the weekend!
Another worry many freshers have is how well they would fit in. As a state school student, I was concerned that other, privately educated, students would somehow look down on me and have an advantage academically due to their familiarity with the Oxbridge system and possible greater subject knowledge. However, I was relieved to find that Cambridge is not at all full of rich students but that many students are in a similar position to myself – and even those from more privileged backgrounds are friendly and of a similar ability. In fact, I sometimes feel that I have the academic advantage due to having the ability to motivate myself having not been pushed as hard at school.
One of the most well known advantages of a Cambridge degree is the enhanced career prospects and potential to earn a high salary after graduation. This is not just because of the ‘Oxbridge’ reputation, but also because of the excellent careers support Cambridge offers. In just my first term here I have attended a series of ‘Gateway’ workshops organised by my college, talked to potential future employers at a Science and Technology Careers day, had my CV thoroughly reviewed and taken advantage of several extracurricular activities which are not only good fun but can demonstrate key transferable skills. Becoming aware of the importance of internships and how to best fill in applications so early in my degree will hopefully give me a headstart on the competition from other universities, and is clearly a factor in the high employability of Oxbridge graduates.
My term ended with some fantastic ‘Bridgemas’ celebrations – Christmas tree decorating, formal dinners and many fun parties (often accompanied by free cake )!
My first term here has taught me that Cambridge really isn’t just for ‘posh’ public schoolboys, but that everyone is welcomed and supported. There are so many amazing opportunities not just to support our studies and career plans but also to relax and have fun!