The University of Cambridge is an internationally recognised school held with great esteem. Globally, it is ranked 7 for schools offering a physical science degree, like physics, according to Times World University Ranking. This is on top of being one of the top ranked university in the world to offer an undergraduate degree in medicine.
The university’s strong reputation as a leading institution in the education circle has made it the school of choice for many.
On the internet now, there are many information about the university and the courses they offer. However, not many cover what a student’s life really looks like when they are enrolled in Cambridge.
With that in mind, we approached one of our mentors who graduated from the University of Cambridge with a Masters in Physics to let us in on what things are like as a Cambridge university student.
What subjects did you do at high school (e.g:IB/A Level/AP etc)and what did you score?
I did my A-levels in the UK and scored 5A*s.
What were your CCAs and Leadership positions in high school?
Head of Physics and Engineering Societies
How does the workload of university compare with A Levels?
The number of formal “contact hours” are lower in university, but more time is spent on exercises and revision as the material is harder.
How did you decide on your final university? Did you get offers elsewhere?
I got offers from Imperial, UCL and Durham, but at the end was deciding between Imperial and Cambridge: I chose Cambridge because I preferred the town over London.
How large is the cohort for your courses? How many Singaporeans are there?
The cohort is about 200 students per year, and you can expect around 5-10 Singaporeans per year.
Are people very competitive academically? How many exams are there in a year? What happens if one fails the year?
People do tend to be competitive academically, there is one large exam at the end of the year. Failure is extremely unlikely, so I’m afraid I’m not too sure of the details as I haven’t heard of anyone who has failed.
How would you describe the school culture?
Culture depends on what group of people you mix with; it can range from being very academically oriented to being very social oriented.
Is there an established Singaporean presence at your university? How many Singaporeans are there per batch?
There is a Singaporean Society (CUMSA), and around 20 Singaporeans per year.
Is your school “cliquey”? Do people tend to hang among people of their own major, social class, race, or nationality only, or is there a high degree of integration?
It is not necessarily, there are usually social groups formed among same nationalities as they tend to be familiar with each other but there is no stigma between mixing with whoever you want to.
How would you describe the following “scenes” in your college and its surroundings: shopping, drinking, clubbing, fine arts, and sports?
Drinking and clubbing are especially prevalent, sports and fine arts are also to an extent. Shopping is not very extensive.
How’s the accommodation? Do most people stay in college dorms or halls, or independently? How should one look for accommodation?
Colleges will provide on-site dorms for students, so this is settled by the college and should not need to be worried about.
How is the transport like? Does one need a car? If so, how should one go about getting a car?
Transport is very convenient, walking is enough to reach most locations and a bike is all you need to get anywhere.
Is Asian food readily available? If one is to cook, where can we get the Asian food from?
Asian food is available, but there are not too many Asian restaurants around town. There are also Asian supermarkets in the town.
Do most people cook, eat at a catered facility or cafeteria, or eat out? How’s the catered food?
Catered food is dependent on the college, and depending on their college people will either cook or eat in hall (where the college provides food).
What are the laundry arrangements like?
Most colleges will have laundry machines available for rent, and can be either free or a few pence depending on college.
What’s the best experience you’ve had so far in college?
Getting together with friends in their dorm and talking until 5am.
We’ve heard that you went on to do a postgraduate degree. What did you do and where did you do it at?
I did my Masters at University of Cambridge.
How did you decide on your postgrad course of choice?
I was enrolled on a four year course so this was a natural progression.
Was there anything you did to prepare for your postgrad application?
No- I automatically progressed after finishing my Bachelors.
Any final things you’d like to tell juniors about your school?
It’s tough here, but it can be fun.
Want to hear more from our mentors? Check out the last interview we had with our medicine mentor from Monash University.