Hannah wrote this at the end of her second year studying Land Economy at Christ's College, Cambridge. She is from Southampton (South-East England), where she did A-levels in Maths, Further Maths, Economics and Politics, as well as an Extended Project Qualification.
Why Land Economy at Cambridge?
I studied Economics and Politics at A Level and absolutely loved them, but when I started looking at Economics degrees I found them to be quite theoretical, and a lot of those theories don’t hold in real life.
Land Economy takes economic theories and applies them to real world problems, from segregation, to pollution, to traffic congestion! As well as that, you also get to study different types of law – the whole degree is so broad, you’re bound to find something you love.
My reason for applying to Cambridge over other universities was simple: other universities don't offer Land Economy! There are similar courses that incorporate economics and politics, but there isn’t really anything so broad that covers so much.
Was there anything you were nervous about?
I’d heard that Land Economy has a reputation for being the ‘easy’ course, or full of people whose parents paid for them to be there. I was nervous that I wouldn’t fit in, or that others wouldn’t see me as a ‘real’ Cambridge student!
I didn't need to worry about not feeling like a 'real' student at all - and everyone at Cambridge is super friendly, I've made some great friends on the course!
What was it like being pooled to Christ's?
I applied to Clare College, but I'd visited Christ's on the open day so roughly knew what it was like when I got my offer. I know everyone says it but I can’t imagine myself anywhere else now – I absolutely love the community at Christ’s, and we’re so lucky to have the Fellows' Garden and the Pool to relax in. I didn’t know loads about it going in, but it’s so friendly and there genuinely is a little community at Christ’s, its lovely. Plus, we have kittens, which have already brought me joy through a window; next term they will be allowed to play outside!
What is your favourite place in college?
Either Third Court or the Fellows' Garden with it's swimming pool at the back – it’s so nice to watch the ducks go for a swim with their ducklings, and I’m always seeing squirrels running about. It’s just a serene place where you can relax and not think about work for a bit!
What do you think of the collegiate system?
It really gives you a sense of community – you end up knowing most of the people in your College from a broad range of courses and it’s nice to have that feeling of home!
To those struggling to choose a college, I’d say genuinely pick your College based on how at home you think you’d feel there – if you get to visit the Colleges in person that’s even better. It’s definitely important, being the place you’ll live, but even if you do end up at a College you don’t love (which is unlikely!), you can choose to spend your time elsewhere – it’s super easy to make friends at other Colleges you can hang out with.
Was the interview what you expected it to be?
I was terrified once I had my invitation to interview! I'd heard some scary stories about interview experiences, and I definitely had some questions thrown at me that confused me, but in general the interviewers were much friendlier than I thought they’d be – they’re not trying to trip you up!
I prepared by keeping up with current news and making sure I was well informed, as well as by looking over my A Level content. I’d just say that the most important thing is thinking out loud, giving questions a go is sometimes enough. Just be yourself and try to stay calm in the interview. Think out loud: nothing is too stupid or silly a thought!
How did you find settling into college?
I was really excited to start something new, and get to know my College, but I was worried that everyone would be super into their studying and not very social, or that I wouldn’t make friends.
Settling in is a lot easier than you think! Everyone is in the same boat and everyone wants to make new friends, so it’s quite easy to get to know people. Definitely introduce yourself to the rest of your staircase as soon as possible – it makes things a lot less awkward in the kitchen!
What was freshers' week like?
Freshers' week mainly consisted of hanging around in the JCR (undergraduate common room) and at home, as because of the pandemic there wasn’t much to do in-person!
Luckily my staircase got on really well and we watched all the online talks together and played some good games together. My favourite memories are honestly just exploring a new, independent life outside of home and our late-night walks around Cambridge!
How did you find starting the course?
Supervisions, which are small-group classes with only one or two students and an academic, were definitely scary at first, I was surprised by how they didn’t necessarily have to stick to the questions assigned – if something was interesting we could move away from the schedule and discuss it in depth. It also took some time adjusting to the University lecture format – it’s a bit different to A Level in that there’s a lot of extra information given in lectures that isn’t necessarily vital or important. During A-Levels (or at least for me!), subjects often had booklet handouts and the lessons included only the information that you would be assessed on. University lectures include extra reading you can look into yourself and Land Economy doesn’t have handouts, so finding a way of taking notes efficiently and effectively for you is super important.
How does your work now compare to school?
It's so much more independent – no one is going to force you to do your readings (but doing them really does pay off when you get to the supervisions!). It also feels easier to do the work as it’s something you’re really interested in!
What are the best and hardest things about Land Economy?
The best part is the diversity of the course. The course itself is so incredibly broad and you can explore so much, and the people on the course come from all kinds of backgrounds too! No one is judgemental if you get things wrong in supervisions – it’s just a lovely environment. The course is even better than I expected when I applied! The people been so friendly and that’s really improved my enjoyment of the course.
I’d say the hardest part is that so much of how well you do is up to you – you could theoretically not do the reading, and no one is going to force you to.
What has been your favourite supervision from this year and why?
Supervisions in Land Economy are done across the course, instead of being College-based as the course is too small. This means you end up having supervisions with a lot of different people - my favourite supervisions have been the ones with my friends in – they end up being really funny and relaxed whilst also staying informative.
What's the timetable like?
In your first year you have eight hours of lectures a week and in your second this moves up to ten hours (two hours per module).
On top of that, you probably have around three supervisions a week, but the timing of these can vary depending on your supervisors. I’d say I’ve had weeks with one supervision, and weeks with five!
How do you manage your workload?
Make sure you know your deadlines and you can plan in advance – it makes things a lot easier. I’ve been involved in some other things outside of work and it’s definitely manageable – I’d say I find you can have two relatively high-commitment roles alongside work and still have time for a social life.
What are your favourite and least favourite things about the college?
I love the community and how friendly everyone is – basically everyone knows everyone. I’d say my least favourite thing is the lack of communal spaces within staircases themselves (I’ve gotten a little too used to eating dinner on a friend’s bedroom floor). I've loved seeing the whole College come back to life after Covid – it was very quiet over my first year but it's much more lively now.
What do you do when you're not working?
I’m the Events Officer for Christ's JCR (the College's student union), Co-Head of Publicity at the Cambridge Union! I’ve also been the Editor-in-Chief at the Tab (a University-wide online newspaper), and am in other societies like CamWIB (for Women in Business), Raising And Giving, ABACUS (Association of British and Chinese University Students) and the Fitzwilliam Museum Society, it’s definitely nice to keep busy and make the most of your university experience.
Other than that, I spend my time napping, walking to/from Jack’s Gelato (an ice-cream shop with two branches within 5 minutes' walk of Christ's) or deciding what to wear on a night out.
Where have you lived this year?
I lived in Jesus Lane, college-owned housing a four-minute-walk away from Christ's. I absolutely loved it. It’s so nice having your own space away from College but also staying so close to all your friends.
Next year, I'm living in the 'typewriter' building in New Court. My room has a skylight, so I'll be doing lots of lying in bed and staring through that.
How do you spend your holidays?
Either at home catching up on sleep, or relaxing and seeing friends.
As I’ve just finished second year, I had an internship over the long vacation. If the industry you want to work in offers some kind of experience over the holidays I’d definitely take it – it’s super eye opening! I interned at Legal and General Investment Management in the City of London! It was eight weeks and paid (music to my student ears), and I really enjoyed it. I worked within Real Assets and my team in particular worked across the floor, so it was really interesting being able to talk to so many different people. I’d really recommend finding work experience during your time at Uni if you can - I think it definitely helps give (some) idea of what you want to do after you graduate.
Please be aware if you're considering an application that our student writers describe their experiences. Although the majority of the information stays the same, some details may change from year to year. Do read the student profiles in combination with our undergraduate admissions pages for full information.