Holly Welsby has had an exciting year since she progressed from Burnley College Sixth Form Centre with A*A*A* in her A Levels, becoming one of our most familiar Alumni faces. Now studying Psychology at Churchill College, Cambridge University, she’s enjoying her course and living life to the fullest, throwing herself into all the positive experiences on offer.
We caught up with Holly to find out how her first year at one of the world’s most famous and prestigious universities has treated her – as well as finding out more about her exciting interview in the respected national scientific magazine and journal, The Psychologist.
What did you expect when you arrived at Cambridge University?
Before I arrived I had no idea what to expect other than hard work! My first few lessons were really telling of how the rest of the year would go. First, the lectures are extremely fast paced – we covered topics which took weeks in college within a couple of hours, because we are expected to read about the subject in more depth individually.
In my lectures, students are always interested and engaged and it surprised me at first how much participation from the students there was. I think this is something really important for students to practice from an earlier age; actively getting involved with lessons by being curious and asking questions. This will help to ensure that you gain a fuller understanding of whichever topic is at hand, and will also help to guide your personal research.
What do you enjoy the most about University?
I enjoy being surrounded by people who are passionate about their studies and who want to work; I enjoy the facilities such as the numerous libraries and work spaces; I enjoy being taught by individuals who are leaders in their fields, and I enjoy the beautiful buildings that I get to work in or walk past every day.
Have you been surprised by anything at Cambridge Uni?
There are many more down to earth people than the rumours would have you believe. There's so much diversity in the type of people who come here - in that respect it's similar to Burnley College Sixth Form Centre. The workload was also a surprise, I knew it would be challenging but I didn't predict the extent to which it would be so. However as long as you're prepared to work really hard, then you can achieve whatever goal you set yourself.
What have been your best memories over your first year?
May Week was probably my favourite time of the whole year, which is the week after exams have finished. There are activities every day and parties or May Balls every night (the May Balls are basically massive parties with unlimited food, drink, games and live music ranging from Scouting for Girls to Big Narstie, to questionable Beyoncé tribute acts).
There are things going on all year though, most Colleges within the university campus have formal meals every week or two (which everyone uses as an excuse to enjoy some wine), and some Colleges have events on every week in their bars which can be fun to go to, to meet people from other areas of the university.
What do you do outside of your studies?
Outside of studies I just do social things with friends. We go on nights out, we go walking through the beautiful central colleges and in the town, or we go punting down the river Cam. I’ve also been taking advantage of my summer break to go travelling.
Tell us more about your travels!
I went to Morocco for a week at the start of the holidays with friends from high school back in Accrington and I’ve just returned from travelling around Europe with some friends from university. I also went to a lot of music festivals and I’m planning a trip to France to see another uni friend... the three month-long summer holiday definitely helps to make up for the intensity of term time.
Have your plans for the future changed since progressing to university?
I still adore psychology and I'll always want to understand the workings of human thought and behaviour. I don't know exactly what I'll go on to do in the future but I know it will involve psychology.
How would you describe your experience so far in three words?
You can find out more about Holly’s experiences at Cambridge University and about her psychology course in more detail in her interview with The Psychologist, the official magazine and journal of The British Psychological Society. https://thepsychologist.bps.org.uk/volume-30/october/one-year-university