An outstanding former Burnley College Sixth Form Centre A Level student is enjoying life as an undergraduate at the University Cambridge. In this diary piece, Chloe Bond reflects on her first term at one of the world's leading universities.
Chloe Bond (18), from Colne, is a former Colne Primet Academy pupil. She is reading Education at the University of Cambridge, this course is the only one offered in the UK which encompasses the study of social sciences. This will enable her to focus her studies and specialise in her pioneering career in education on graduation. The Student Governor and member of the Honours Society achieved A*,A*, A,A,A grades in her A Levels.
Chloe's Diary ....
What a whirlwind of a term! It only feels like yesterday since I arrived at Homerton - an eager Fresher ready to take on the challenge that is Cambridge, yet so much happened this term that two months away has somehow felt like two years!
First, there was the exciting experience of Fresher’s Week. Besides moving to a brand-new city, getting to know all of the lovely people I now live with, and trying to figure out this whole ‘adulting’ thing (i.e. there was a small tear-filled incident in which trying to make hot chocolate failed quite spectacularly!), there were also a few quirky Cambridge traditions to wrap my head around. Matriculation Dinner summarises this quite nicely; after putting on our freshly-purchased gowns and taking part in the obligatory photograph to cement our place as Homertonians, us Freshers we were treated to a three-course formal meal in the Great Hall. Eating in the hall is one of my favourite parts of university life (especially because it involves food!) – it still blows my mind that I can tuck in to fish and chips on a Friday in a stunning Victorian Gothic hall. One of the stranger parts of the Matriculation Dinner was the Homerton Horn; it’s a tradition that the Principal welcomes Freshers by drinking from a ceremonial horn and then greeting them in Anglo-Saxon English – a surreal moment, but quintessentially Cambridge!
Another highlight from Fresher’s Week was spending quality time with my new friends; after an exhausting day of academic inductions, the ‘chefs’ of our corridor whipped up some delicious tomato pasta for everyone – it turns out that eating whilst dancing to the Hamilton soundtrack in your kitchen is universal! I rounded out a successful first week at university with a trip to the Fitzwilliam Museum (my personal favourite!) – one of the many impressive cultural spaces I get to explore outside of my studies.
Once Fresher’s Week was over, term started and so did the workload – time to get stuck into my degree! Studying Education, I typically have about four lectures a week, alongside one or two supervisions and lots of independent study time. Some of my highlights this term include getting to grips with lots of new material and concepts as my degree covers a variety of subject areas including philosophy, psychology and sociology. This opportunity to study things I’ve never encountered before is one of the most interesting parts of the course in my opinion. Topics I’ve enjoyed include: looking at how children acquire language, discussing the impact that use of specific languages in education has on children, and engaging with big critical questions like what do we even count as knowledge? Towards the end of term, we visited a local primary school to carry out some fieldwork– the chance to connect the theories I’d read about with real-life practice, and hopefully make a difference to how children experience education, was a really unique and special opportunity.
Writing weekly essays, though intense, has also been a great chance to delve deeper into the subjects I love. Halfway through term I was given the opportunity to write about any piece of literature I wanted and so I chose to write a comparative piece on Tony Harrison’s poetry after falling in love with his work during one of my lectures. The freedom to produce work on topics you’re genuinely passionate about and then discuss them in supervisions with a world-class academic is definitely one of the best things about university, and the Cambridge experience in particular. I’ve had some thought-provoking, and sometimes bizarre, conversations over the last two months – including a complex debate on whether The Hunger Games counts as literature in the same way that Shakespeare does?! It hasn’t been easy, and it really took some time to feel academically confident again but studying here is absolutely worth it and so, so rewarding.
Outside of academics, Cambridge as a city has so much to offer. Just in this term I’ve seen countless theatre shows and music concerts – including the famous Cambridge Greek Play (Oedipus at Colonus in its original Greek!) and Mary Stuart performed in the historic Round Church. I unwind from my studies with a weekly ballet class at the local sports centre and I’ve been trying to learn a new skill too by going to classes in British Sign Language (I can now successfully sign the lyrics to All I Want for Christmas Is You!). I also tutor with School’s Connect in my free time – running revision workshops for high school students - another rewarding extracurricular experience which allows me to make a small but hopefully positive difference to local education.
After a busy day of studying and extra-curriculars, coming home to Homerton is my favourite way to relax. My college family are always there if I need a friendly face to talk to or some guidance on how to navigate the craziness of Cambridge and having friends from all around the world means creating some new Christmas traditions. We celebrate Christmas a month early in Cambridge, affectionately known as Bridgemas, which meant secret Santa, another formal dinner (involving lots of elderflower cordial) and my first experience of Thanksgiving. Two of my American friends decided to host an all-out ‘Friendsgiving’ which didn’t quite go to plan… a grocery mix-up, eight hobs, three pans’ worth of macaroni and cheese, and a whole chicken later – we managed to eat just before midnight.
The chaos of Thanksgiving did bring us all closer together and honestly was the perfect end to sum up what had been a hectic but wonderful Michaelmas term!
Chloe B. (Michaelmas Term 2019 – 8/10/19 to 6/12/19)