Name: Ling Li
A-Levels taken: Biology, Chemistry, Maths, Physics, English Literature AS
What does your working week/day entail?
A typical Monday to Friday week contains around 10 hours of lectures, 10 hours of practical classes and 2 supervisions (and perhaps the odd Saturday supervision). Essays are set in these supervisions and our supervisors also help our understanding of the course material. Subjects this year are human reproduction, neuroscience, pathology and pharmacology (anatomy, biochemistry and physiology are covered in the first year).
The day I’ve outlined is what I fondly refer to as “Frantic Friday”, our busiest day of the week (compared to our least busy day, which only consists of one lecture and one practical)!
8:00-9:00: get up, have breakfast, skim over notes, walk to lecture theatre (which is a wonderful 5 minutes away, owing to Christ’s handy geographical location in the centre of Cambridge).
9:00-13:00: four lectures, three consecutive ones in the same lecture theatre (buy coffee from café in the foyer).
13:00-14:00: walk back to College, have lunch at Christ’s with the medics, walk to pharmacology department.
14:00-17:00: practical class.
17:00-18:00: supervision or read through the day’s lecture notes and possibly let the college cat into room for a nap.
18:00-18:30: dinner at Christ’s, catching up with friends.
18:30-19:15: practise violin.
19:15-21:30: make notes on lecture material and do reading/plans for essays.
22:00-22:30: more lecture note reading.
22:30-23:00: read some non-medical literature and then bed.
How do you fit extracurricular/social activities around your working week?
This year, I’m playing the violin in the University of Cambridge Philharmonic Orchestra as well as singing in Christ’s Voices (the College’s fun-filled non-audition choir). I’m also one of Christ’s RAG representatives, which means I help to organise and publicise fundraising events as part of the Cambridge Raise and Give society.
Socially, it depends what’s going on that week! Often there’ll be someone’s birthday, so we’ll probably have dinner in Formal Hall, hang out for a while in the Buttery (our College bar) and decide on going out. Other weeks, there might be a swap planned; medics are quite a sociable bunch, so we’ll organise a trip to another College’s Formal Hall with their medics. College also holds start and end of term bops/discos – these are often themed fancy dress and pretty good fun! There’s also always time to be made for visiting friends, chatting and mugs of tea.
What was the interview like and do you have any tips?
I had two interviews: an academic interview and a general interview. My academic interview lasted for around 15 minutes (although somehow I think it went a lot faster than that!) and I was asked a few questions by each interviewer (both of whom are now my supervisors). Tips for the academic interview would be to take your time to think before answering each question and then proceed to explain your thought processes (out loud!) behind your answer. Seeing as many of the answers I gave were a bit ridiculous in retrospect, I think that the interviewers are probably more interested in getting to know how you think, rather than the correct answers per se. If after your academic interview you feel like you didn’t do as well as you could have (I know I certainly did), don’t worry. I have to say I was quite surprised to find an acceptance letter through the post six weeks later!
My general interview was a much more relaxed affair, more akin to a chat! Most of the interview revolved around what I’d written in my personal statement as well as aspects of my SAQ (the extra questionnaire Cambridge want you to fill in after submitting your UCAS form), so my tip for the general interview would be to relax and make sure you can talk about what you’ve written in your personal statement.