It appears I never quite got to explaining the real reason why I traveled so extensively back in summer of my third year in university. To be honest, there really was no better
excuse reason to travel so much on a student budget other than summer school.
In 2014, I went to Humboldt University in Berlin, and in 2015, I found my way to the University of Cambridge.
(Yes, the same dreaded place where they set our ‘O’ and ‘A’ Levels.)
But dreaded a place Cambridge was not.
I took a 2-week summer school course at University of Cambridge, and stayed at Newnham College! Their college is something like a “hall” in local terms, but I couldn’t quite figure out why some (i.e. King’s College or Trinity College) were more prominent than others even though they all belonged to Uni of Cam.
Not that I regret the choice – Newnham is a beautiful place. With red brick walls and tall lush greenery… this place is gorgeous beyond imagination. Why hasn’t anyone filmed a movie or something there yet??
At Cambridge, their summer school programme consisted of you taking a few modules of your choice, plus some combined morning seminars and evening lectures. While a certain percentage of attendance was made compulsory, the content of these seminars and lectures were pretty intriguing themselves. I remember we spent a good hour watching an episode from some British sitcom, and in another session we giggled at how ridiculous certain regional British accents sounded (ahem Scouse).
For the classes, you could pick and choose from a list, as long as it all fell under the same list. So for example, if you took the Literature course, you had to choose modules from the Literature list, and if you took Science, then you had to look at the Science modules. We went for the Interdisciplinary course, so we had a mix of classes including Shakespearian Literature, History of the UK pre-WWII and Animal Behaviour.
It was all super engaging – I remember how intense my Literature teacher could be; her name was Sîan (pronounced Shane!) and she lectured passionately about the changing attitudes towards witchcraft and magic back in the Shakespearian days, all the while looking quite like a beautiful, intelligent witch herself. My history teacher was a rather quiet man but whose brain was imprinted with every single date and name and detail that happened in Britain during the Churchill-era. In animal behaviour, my teacher not only spoke really fast but also sweat quite a bit (hahaha) and loved to liken his newborn son to a dog HAHA. I also touched snakes and giant worms and creepy bugs and…a fluffy assistance dog :’)
It was a super, super interesting. I have nothing but praise for the summer school content. Although module-mapping between Cambridge and NUS was quite a bitch (ugh) and the essays we had to write to obtain grades were by no means easy at all (had to read 2 Shakespearian books in 2 weeks and gain enough understanding to dissect them for a compare/contrast essay…), I would absolutely recommend the programme to knowledge-thirsty folk (there were many old people in the programme haha!), keen to learn and be wowed by how little we all really know.
And also those who don’t need to write the essays to get modular credits.
The grounds of the Sidwick site (where my classes were held) were in stark contrast to the lush green and warm red of Newnham, but there really is something about it that makes you grow fond of it rather quickly.
Would I go back to Cambridge Summer School? Absolutely.
But definitely not to get modular credits this time hehe.