Deer park in Peterhouse, which has no deer.
Been talking to a few people, and yes, I guess the first term is always the most tiring and the hardest, because there are so many things to get used to. The academic system, the new environment, new people, new country etc. On top of the academic workload and other random things I do, as well as attempting to make friends and socialise.
Overall though, despite all the complaints and occasional negative thoughts that cross my mind, I'm infinitely glad I'm here in Cambridge because it just buzzes with opportunities for learning and making a difference, and I'm very grateful to the Jardine Foundation for that.
Studying here is rather different from other universities.
1. Supervision system. Probably one of the most well-known facts about Cambridge, that we have supervisions and not tutorials. Meeting your supervisor with just 1/2 other people definitely keeps you on task with your work.
2. College system. Colleges are legally separate entities from the University. But that's not the point here. With a Director of Studies (DoS) who looks after your academic stuff (supervisions and tripos, which is a fancy word for exams), and a Tutor who makes sure you're not dying under the workload etc, there's probably a lot more support for undergrads here than in other unis.
3. Teaching here can be pretty old-school-style still. Use of chalkboards, Over Head Projectors (OHP) and a long cane, instead of whiteboards, visualisers and laser pointers are not uncommon. But still, when they keep telling you about Nobel prize winners and other famous people who studied/taught here, you can't help but feel awed and somewhat inspired. That perhaps, one day, you'd be one of them.
Nope, no laser pointers here.
Life here is quite different as well.
1. Our main social is formal dinners. Colleges hold formal halls (frequency varies with college, but Peterhouse has it daily), and it's just a 2 hour long meal where you wear your gown (and usually something nicer than shirt and jeans), have a 3 course meal served and drink wine.
2. Also, lots of formal events which involve wine consumption. I feel like there's a lot more opportunity to drink socially (not in clubs) here than in other places.
No photos of me drinking (not that I don't drink), so a photo of Peterhouse hall will have to suffice.
Amongst others, I'm sure, but I can't think of them at the moment.
And I guess essentially it's just that you have close to complete freedom and control over your life. You plan how you spend your time. Do you want to sleep in, or do your laundry, or study, or go for talks and plays or go out and party?
I've gone for at least 19 talks this term. Talks ranging from biology (eugenics, molecular basis of behaviour, GM rice plants to increase production, & animal intelligence), to international development (voluntourism, education, & poverty), to conservation (effectiveness of citizen science, methods for monitoring biodiversity, rewards for ecosystem services, habitat restoration, REDD+, bioregional economy, & reducing extinctions), to political stuffs (future challenges of Singapore, & Thaksin's work in Thailand). And plenty more that I couldn't go for due to timetable clashes. And there's an International Development Conference that I'm going for this Sat.
Oh yeah, and I met Sir David Attenborough! ^^ :D
I've managed to get out of Cambridge a few times, to Peak district with the Hill Walking Club and Mountaineering Club, to Oxford for Oxbridge Games, & to London for breakfast and lunch (xD). I've managed to climb once a week at the indoor bouldering gym, and some rowing. And played a few games of football for my college (which we're quite crap at). I've managed to gather a bunch of people who are enthusiastic enough to join me in setting up a Nature Society (:
Climbing at Peak district.
So although I've not managed to make any close friends (no really, good, close friends are increasingly more difficult to make the older you are), and I've not managed to really keep on top of all my work (I've not read my lecture notes for a number of topics in physiology now, and one of my supervisor says my essay structure is terrible), I think overall it's been a rather decent term. Could have been worse.
I can't wait to see my friends again, in London, and my awesome family, in New York! And to all my friends in Singapore (and various other parts of the world), I do miss all of you. Don't know when I'll be going back to Singapore still, but there are times when I'm on Facebook and it just feels like I'm in Singapore :P
No durians here :( no family either :(
Plenty of work to do during the holidays, with mock exams to look forward to when I come back. Meanwhile, happy holidays people (:
Christmas tree in Peterhouse Junior Common Room (JCR)