I'm a Natural Sciences student specialising in Chemistry – I originally applied for Physical Natural Sciences (thinking I would specialise in Physics) but discovered a new love of Biology during first year. This is one of the huge benefits of the Natural Sciences degree – I was able to take biological modules in second year and could have continued down that route if I had wished. In the end, I have settled on Chemistry as my subject for the last two years of my course.
Life at Medwards
I came to Cambridge from a standard UK state school and didn't really know what to expect here. On the Open Day I'd had the opportunity to visit Murray Edwards and fell in love with it's modern architecture and atmosphere – quite unlike the older colleges in town. We also have the benefits of being off the main tourist routes and close to Aldi! Once I settled into the college I realised what a great decision I had made to come here – we have the most beautiful gardens (which we can trample all over and help ourselves to flowers/ veg), great social and academic opportunities, and everyone here has been so welcoming. My Director of Studies (DoS), Tutor and Senior Tutor have all gone beyond that required in helping me both academically and personally, and the students here share a drive to succeed together. If you're stuck on some supervision work, you can ask a friend to explain the problem rather than us all competing against each other. If you're feeling a bit low, your tutor is there with tea and biscuits. When I realised I'd picked a module I hated last year, my DoS helped me switch courses despite it being late in the term.
The Gateway programme is unique to Murray Edwards and offers students a structured series of workshops on a variety of topics. I found particularly useful those on internship applications and practice interviews, as well as the more academically focussed sessions such as exam preparation. Gateway workshops frequently come with free cake and if you gain a certain number of 'credits' for attending workshops, you can apply for generous travel grants. This enabled me to travel to China last summer for a business and language course.
For me, the Gateway programme really highlights how Murray Edwards as a college is genuinely interested in preparing students for life beyond university. The college has also linked up with many companies and alumnae worldwide to offer exclusive internship opportunities which provide that essential work experience needed to get on the career ladder.
One of the great benefits of the collegiate system at Cambridge is that each college offers societies for its members to join – so if you want to play a sport less competitively or simply don't want to hike all the way across town for tennis, then you can join the college club. I had never rowed before coming to Cambridge, but signed up for the Murray Edwards Boat Club in freshers week and found myself coxing for two years! On a university level I am also in the Cambridge Yacht Racing Team – again something I was fairly new to at the time, having only sailed in dingies, giving me the opportunity to race against other universities across the country (and in fact worldwide – we qualified for the world championships this year!). Murray Edwards offers reasonably generous sports bursaries to students taking part in university sport at a high level, something I have been very fortunate to benefit from.
As well as sports societies, there are also all kinds of other clubs to get involved in – for example subject groups (e.g. the Franklin Society – our popular science society, which organises weekly cake and biscuits 'study' sessions, talks and social events). There are also drama societies, music societies, and if you can't find the perfect society for you it's easy to set one up yourself!
There are also loads of opportunities to improve your CV outside your degree – for example through volunteering in the community, taking language classes at the language centre (I took French this year) and being elected to a position on a society committee.
Just watch out you don't sign up for too much! It's tempting during freshers week to put your name on every mailing list, but unfortunately there's only so much you can fit in – personally I found it good to sign up to several things of interest, try them out a few times then focus on those you really enjoyed.