Name: Tess Garrud
Subject: Natural Sciences
A-Level subjects/equivalent: Maths, Chemistry, Physics and Biology
I live in a small village in the countryside in Derbyshire and I went to a local state comprehensive school. My sixth form was really tiny, and only a couple of us applied for Oxbridge.
To be honest because I didn’t really know what subject I wanted to do! The Natural Sciences course at Cambridge lets you take multiple subjects in first year and then specialise as you go through your degree. I liked the idea of being able to do both Chemistry and Biology in first year, whilst still having lots of different options open to me in second year. I was more attracted to the great course structure than Cambridge itself.
As I said I live in a really small village, so to me going to a large university was a scary prospect. I chose Peterhouse because it is the smallest college and has a really friendly welcoming atmosphere in which you’re likely to know pretty much everyone in your year. I also entered the Kelvin Science Essay Prize and got to come to Peterhouse for a visit. Everyone was really friendly and welcoming (the professors I met were lovely) and it gave me a really good impression of the college.
A bit confusing as there are lots of forms you must fill in and things to send off if you get invited to go to an interview. But whenever I was in doubt the Admissions Office were really helpful and pointed me in the right direction.
The interviews were a lot friendlier than I was expecting; I was pretty nervous beforehand but all of my interviewers were really nice. I had a biology interview and a chemistry interview.
I found it a bit difficult at first. It was a bit of a weird culture shock to start going to fancy dinners in gowns, and to have supervisions (one-on-one teaching) in extravagant rooms with massive sofas. It was also pretty hard to fully make use of all my time, and work out how to work in a way that suited me best.
I normally have lectures between 9am and 11am, 6 days a week (yes Saturdays!). I have 3 supervisions a week, and also 4 practical sessions in a laboratory (which generally take around 2 hours each). I also have to spend time doing work I have been set (generally essays), but I still have plenty of free time to do fun things as well.
I find that practical work in biology is generally really fun. In terms of challenges, there is a lot of information to take in and sometimes it can seem a bit overwhelming.
I get a student loan and I find that that is more than enough to pay for everything (with my parents paying for my room rent). Accommodation here is really cheap so that helps.
Watching TV, doing sports, sleeping…
Read around your subject. There are plenty of ways to find out interesting things about science, for example I’m a big fan of the magazine Scientific American which has tons of really cool articles written in an easy to understand way.