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Blog by: Sidra

Newham, East London. Studying Medicine. Read more



So a belated post about graduating from Cambridge (even though I still have another three years to go before I become a doctor- wahey for two graduations!).

The ceremony itself was steeped in tradition and it was quite amazing that we were following in the footsteps of hundreds of years worth of graduates before us. It was quite an emotional day, especially as everyone had family members or friends with them. It’s hard to believe that three years flew by so quickly!

University in general is a life-changing experience. I’ve found my time in Cambridge has really helped to shape the person I am today. The societies on offer cater to a wide range of interests and help form social networks aside from those built up in college.

So whether you’re debating about which university to apply to or whether university is the right place to go to at all- if you enjoy what you’re studying, and you’d like to learn more, whilst gaining so many “transferable skills” (that employers love!), I would thoroughly recommend it!

And Cambridge is the perfect place to put you through your academic paces, meet incredibly intelligent professors/superviors/students and enjoy all the glorious things that such a historic city and university have to offer! (And it’s pretty!)

I could probably ramble for a lot longer about how great Cambridge is, but if you’re undecided, you should come and see for yourself! :)



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End of my last set of Cambridge exams!

So I guess this is quite a surreal moment- mainly because there were times when I thought I’d never make it through! It has been a struggle in some ways, but overall, I think I have been amazed by how much I have learnt over the past three years.

I can honestly say that the experience of being at Cambridge, or university in general, is life-changing. I have had so many great experiences and made some amazing friends, who I am sure I will be keeping in touch with for years to come!

Cambridge pushes your time-management and your academic ability to the limit, but if I’d never had that challenge, I would never have known that I could rise to it.

Currently feeling quite nostalgic about it all and I know I’ll really miss it when I’m gone. But in the meantime, I have plenty of garden parties and events to keep me busy/entertained in the month before my graduation!!


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This time of year is generally a stressful one. Everyone is locked away in their rooms or the library, trying to make up for all the lectures they slept through or forgot about completely…

It’s a lot more intense than A-level revision, and the questions test understanding rather than just superficial knowledge, which makes it quite difficult to adjust at first. After a while, the revision becomes fairly routine, and you see friends in the library- or at the college canteen (caff).

Despite the stress, there is still a lot going on, as colleges provide various welfare initiatives, from extra study areas to cooked breakfasts every morning, and mass welfare doughnut sessions (they’re freeee!!)

And once the exams are over, we have May Week to look forward to, which is not actually in May. After weeks of exam prep and hours of writing essays, we enjoy a week filled with garden parties and May balls. Cambridge is so pretty in the summer, and when there is no work to do!

So good luck for all offer-holders out there currently revising for your A-levels. The standard revision tips: eat well, sleep well, take lots of breaks, work efficiently using methods that work for you.



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End of term reflections…


So yet another Cambridge term has flown by.

I’ve really been enjoying doing part II psychology, and as stressful as clinical schools applications are, I’m glad mine is now (almost) completely done and dusted and ready to send off.

I think tiredness is the summary of my current state- I can’t wait to get home and watch bad TV and sleep a lot more than I am right now. But I love the way that I end up doing so much in a Cambridge day…

Cambridge trains you to take advantage of every waking moment. You can wake up in the morning, and by the end of the day, you will have achieved something. I imagine it’s this shift in attitude that sets apart a graduate from a sixth former. A readiness to work hard for what you want, but also work differently and flexibly.

I don’t think my time here so far has been all work, and I have had so many opportunities to learn more about myself and try new things. Most of all, meeting new people, even as a third year, is something I’ll never get tired of!


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Busy (in a good way!)


So I have been doing my natural sciences part II this year, and I’ve chosen to do experimental psychology. It’s a very interesting course, and such a nice break from the intensity of the fact-cramming that is an unavoidable part of the medicine course.

I’ve had time to enjoy being at Cambridge a lot more and take on a few new and interesting extra-curricular activities. So, I’ve started learning Arabic at the university language centre. It’s great because it’s only two hours per week, and I feel like I’ve been making good progress!

I’m also currently in the process of deciding where to go for clinical school. Cambridge medics have to decide whether they would like to stay in Cambridge for their final three years or venture out to London or Oxford. I’m still a little undecided and the idea of having to go through another interview seems a little daunting. Unfortunately, Cambridge only keeps about half of their students- so there is no guarantee that you can stay (unless you’ve done amazingly well in the last two years!).

I am really looking forward to starting clinical school. It will be the first step towards becoming an actual doctor (exciting!) and gaining some independence. College life is great for bridging the gap between the comforts of home and the strangeness of being all alone in the big bad world!


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Hi everyone,

So my summer has been incredibly chaotic this year, but also very fun!

I’ve been carrying out a summer research placement in London, which was funded by the Wellcome Trust. This was great for learning about clinical research methods, and also as preparation for next year, where I will be doing a project as part of my final pre-clinical year.

I have also been volunteering at the paralympics, which has been amazing! I’ve been able to see a lot of sport, such as the sitting volleyball and powerlifting, and I’d never seen these before! It’s also a great opportunity to meet new people and I’ve made some really good friends during my time at the Excel.

I’ve still got lots going on before heading back to Cambridge, I possibly should have scheduled in a break somewhere! But I’m very excited about going back for my third year, and I’m sure all those of you starting university this year must be too!

I’ll write another blog post once the holidays are over, and post the picture of when I got to hold a paralympic gold medal!



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May Balls and Garden Parties!

So having worked incredibly hard for an entire year, Cambridge sure know how to make the end of the year amazing. Some call the May Balls over-priced, but they are a whole night (until the next morning!) of fun, food, entertainment etc.

I was lucky enough to go to my own college may ball, which was a great night and I got to spend time with my friends. I also worked at two other colleges’ may balls, which was a really sensible way to afford the expense of May Week, as well as experiencing two balls which were completely different to the one at my college.

There are also lots of garden parties by various university and college societies. Good food and company are usually guaranteed, but the same can’t be said for the weather!

Even down time in Cambridge is fairly full-on, and May Week usually requires a lot of planning in order to make the most on the wide range of events on offer! It’s a good feeling of busy, and it makes a huge change from the stresses of exams.

I’m now at home, enjoying time with my family and friends here. We get really long three month holidays, which as a medic are something I’ll definitely miss once I start clinical school!

I’m also working at the Cambridge Open Day this thursday- Thursday and Friday are two days where many colleges, departments and other buildings in the university are opening their doors to prospective students, so if you’re in your first year of A-levels, and contemplating applying to Cambridge, it is well worth a visit!



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As I approach my exams this term, the stress is starting to hit me.

It’s quite hard to know when you’ve done enough preparation sometimes, and for all offer-holders, I’m sure this true for you too. But the best advice to give you, and myself, is that you should try your best and there isn’t much else that can be done really.

Unnecessary stress will only hinder your performance, and I read an article recently discussing how we only¬†under-perform¬†in pressure situations because we start to focus on sub-conscious actions and processes too much. So it’s best not to think too much.

And as much as the periods building up to exams are hard work and sometimes feel endless, education is about more than just the grades you get. It’s a chance to learn about things you find interesting, or things that may be very useful in the future. And if not, then just take comfort in knowing that it will be over soon!




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It’s not all work!

So last weekend, I got tickets to see Marina and The Diamonds at The Junction.

It was really great fun, and a lovely way to unwind after a very busy few weeks!

It’s a small enough venue to actually see them properly, which makes a change from any concerts I’ve been to in London, where if it wasn’t for the screen, I wouldn’t see a thing!

And I’m now listening to their songs on repeat whilst attempting to work- possibly a bad idea!

It is important to bear in mind that there is so much going on at Cambridge outside of just academic work. There are lots of really good bands playing and students are always putting on various shows and plays, so there is always something to do in the evening.

I’ve also recently become a CAMbassador, and I’ve been helping out at the subject specific masterclasses. The university run various events for AS level students who are considering applying, and they seem to be incredibly popular and useful. It was lovely to meet people and answer their questions.

It is definitely worth coming to have a look if you are considering applying. It really isn’t as intimidating as it may seem!

Also, feel free to comment with any questions you have related to applying to Cambridge, or medicine in general. I’d be happy to write a post in response :)




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Another term begins


To all of you who got offers, well done! I wish I could say that was the hard bit over, but then again, you probably signed up to the academic challenge that Cambridge offers!

I’ve got the endless joy of mocks this week. I wish I could motivate myself to revise more, but I seem to be doing anything to avoid revision… Not sure if I’m ready for another very work filled term, but I’m sure it’ll be fine!

We get to choose options for the end of this term- so basically study certain topics in depth, which are only assessed by essays and don’t count towards the actual pass/fail medicine aspect of the course (the second MB). Quite excited about this, because it’ll be quite self directed I imagine, which will be a good insight into what third year will be like.

It’s crazy that the bulk of pre-clinical medicine has now been taught to me!


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