A day in the life of a Natural Sciences student

Johanna Winder, Natural Sciences (Biological)

Mornings: I’m a morning person, so I like to get up early (5:30-6 am) to do my work, especially in Easter term, for exam revision. If you don’t like breakfast/mornings, you can probably get up as late as 8:50 and still make it to your 9am lecture (most 1A NatScis have one of these every day Mon-Sat). Peterhouse is in a fantastic locations for biologists - the Chemistry department is a 3 minute walk away, and the Downing/New Museums sites are about a 6 minute walk/ very short cycle away. Chemistry lectures are recorded, so if you would rather sleep in and catch up later, that is entirely possible.

A typical long day involves two morning lectures each lasting 1 hour, a practical, from 11-5 (with an hour for lunch) and maybe (if it’s a really long day) a supervision from 5-6.

How long my practicals are depends on the day. For me, Biology of Cells has weekly 11-5 practicals, while Chemistry has fortnightly 11-5 practicals, and Physiology of Organisms has fortnightly 12-5 practicals, except in Lent term, where they are weekly. Mathematical Biology has a weekly 1 hour practical which involved learning to use the program ‘R’.

I have four 1 hour supervisions a week, 1 for each subject. These are generally really interesting and help consolidate information from lectures.

Once the contact hours of the day are over, I might have some coursework (essays and problem sets) to do, but I try to make time to go out for a meal with some friends, watch a film in someone’s room, go rock climbing or anything else.We also go clubbing maybe once a week, depending on how busy I am.

There are also some fantastic museums in Cambridge that are free and really enjoyable if that’s your thing, such as the Museum of Zoology, or the Sedgwick Museum of Earth Sciences, the Fitzwilliam (right next to Peterhouse), or the Botanical Gardens (not technically a museum, but still amazing). Some of these also have really great study spaces, to make revision less repetitive.

Some people do a lot more extracurriculars than I’ve listed here. In the end, it boils down to how well you can manage your time, and how passionate you are about the activities you’re doing. 1A NatSci is tiring but fulfilling, and it’s really important to try and make time for things other than your studies!

I’m generally in bed by midnight, but this differs based on workload and what I’m doing in the evening.

[Updated: 20/09/2018]