Ayomide is from New Cross in South-East London, and wrote this at the end of his first year studying Law here at Christ's College, Cambridge. He took A-Levels in Maths, Economics and English Literature.
What attracted you to Law at Cambridge?
Studying Law aligned well with my skillset (writing, arguing and reading), and it's a course that gives me a lot of freedom of choice on what path to take after university. Law is also a broad course that touches on a lot of areas in society, which allows me explore different angles of the law, depending on the problems it aims to address. Finally, as it is such a current subject that affects our everyday lives, it is changing all the time. Seeing how the law develops over time makes it an interesting subject to study: I've seen real-world legislation change in the duration of my study.
I chose Cambridge over Oxford for a couple of reasons. Firstly, at the time I applied the assessment style was different: Cambridge tests you at the end of each year whereas Oxford made you take an assessment at the end of your course on everything you have learned over the last three years (this might have changed since, but it's what I was informed of at the time). Secondly, I liked the vibe of Cambridge as a city and university more, it seemed more modern to me, and I felt I would meet more people like me here.
Were there any course things you were nervous about?
I was nervous about the amount of reading and the work this would entail, especially as I feared that I wouldn’t be able to have a healthy work-life balance. Now, I am much less worried about the reading as I know that managing my time wisely is the key to getting through my work. Furthermore, I have picked up some key skills in first year that have allowed me to be able to work through my reading at a faster pace, such as how to pick out only the key information I need from a text.
Why did you apply to Christ's?
I looked at a lot of photos online, and thought that Christ's looked nice. I was happy with the accommodation too, and it seemed like a good all-round choice.
Has Christ's lived up to your expectations?
Christ's has exceeded my expectations! I didn't know how great the location was until I arrived - Christ's being a central college means that everything is near and there is a direct route to pretty much every part of Cambridge. This has made life so much easier, and I haven't had a single bad experience with any student from Christ's.
I like the collegiate system in general: it makes the University much more interesting as each college has a different vibe and feel, meaning you never get bored and there's always more to explore and experience. Each college has its own facilities, such as the library, common rooms (such as the JCR), and in Christ’s case, a pool! This means you can enjoy a variety of different facilities as long as you know people in other colleges.
How was the application process?
The application process was daunting at first, especially due to the concept of multiple interviews as well as the personal statement and test (the test is now the LNAT for new applicants). However, it was an overall smooth process, the interviewers and staff were nice, and I found it straightforward.
For Law students, the main thing I would emphasise for your personal statement is showing your interest in law through your super-curricular exploration of the subject. Show how you initially became interested in the subject and how you explore this through books, podcasts, talks you attended or gave and more. Furthermore, always be critical and analytical, stating whether or not you agreed with a certain author or opinion, and why.
The Covid-19 pandemic meant that the first time I visited college in person was after I had an offer and met my grades. For me, this was on the Bridging Course, a two-week programme that some students are invited on as part of their offer conditions. It also meant that a lot of the application process took place virtually, such as the interview and test. While this might have reduced some of the pressure as I was able to undertake them in a more familiar environment, I lost out on the experience of visiting Cambridge and meeting potential fellow students. It also meant that my interviews were all online, which made for a different experience from previous years.
How did you prepare for your interview and admissions assessment?
For my interview, I went through all the things I wrote on my personal statement and reminded myself of any books or talks I had mentioned. I also knew a few students who were already at Cambridge, who were able to give me some practice interviews. This allowed me to get a feel of the interview style and get used to discussing new, difficult concepts.
A good way to prepare is to get used to talking with other people about legal topics. A great way to do this is to engage in debating clubs or to get involved with any law club/society at your sixth form/college (if it doesn't have one, could you form one?) – this will allow you to get used to articulating your opinions and making an argument. Furthermore, having mock interviews will help you enormously in getting used to answering such questions – for this get in contact with Cambridge or other university law students through family and friends, or anyone with relevant legal knowledge to help you practice these skills.Finally, make sure you go over the things you have put in your personal statement; any books or other material that you have engaged with as this could potentially come up in your interview, so it would be helpful to refresh yourselves, so you are ready to discuss them if they do come up.
For my admissions assessment, I simply practiced similar-styled questions (which are freely available online).
Was the interview what you expected it to be?
The online format of my interview made it very different to what I was used to or would have previously expected. However, it was better than I thought it would be, taking the form of an informal discussion on legal topics, along with questions on my personal statement. The online nature meant that connection issues were a potential risk, but staff seemed very understanding of this and were willing to accommodate when my connection did briefly freeze. There were no trick questions and I was able to pause and verbally work through my answers with the interviewers.
Before you came, what were you looking forward to and what were you most worried about?
I was looking forward to the opportunity to grow as a person and explore so many new experiences and opportunities, through living in a new city, meeting new people and trying new things. I was most worried about not finding my ‘people’ and not being able to fit in within the Cambridge space – I didn’t want to compromise any part of myself.
I found it relatively easy to settle in in the end! This was in part due to the Bridging Course, because it allowed me to meet people and make friends before term had started. Furthermore, the University African & Caribbean Society (ACS) helped me establish a community where I felt welcomed straight away. Christ's pastoral support system and the people in College that I met within the first week also allowed me to feel settled in.
What was Fresher's week like?
My fresher’s week consisted of the matriculation ceremony, which is an interesting and new experience involving taking a year group picture with my newly purchased gown, something that made me feel very much immersed into the Cambridge experience. We also had our first formal meal, which was another staple of the Cambridge experience, and allowed me to meet more freshers. Fresher’s week also included the signing of your name into a book which officially made you a member of the college, something that is quite unique to Cambridge! There was also a variety of inductions, both in the Law faculty and in college, but it also included a lot of fun activities, including the Fresher’s Fair, where all societies were on display.
One of my best memories during Fresher’s week was the ACS Meet and Greet at Revs (a bar near Christ's), where I was able to meet a lot of the people I had interacted with over the summer and was able to have my first proper experience of the Afro-Caribbean community within Cambridge. I was pleasantly surprised to find that, although there is still progress to be made, the community is larger than I initially thought, and there are people from all backgrounds and with many different journeys, making the community much richer than I could have imagined.
How did you find starting lectures and supervisions?
Lectures were initially all online and I found it was hard to take notes efficiently, but this was something I learnt over time. Supervisions, which are the very small group teaching offered by Cambridge, proved to be very useful in deepening my understanding of topics, as they allowed me to ask questions based on material I had gone through beforehand. Having supervisions means I get a more tailored learning towards my needs to ensure I fully understand key concepts.
How is your work now different, compared to what you did at school?
At university, your work is very self-driven, and you determine the level of progress. You determine whether you will go to lectures (or when you will watch them online), how much you prepare for supervisions and the level of effort you put into essays. Although people will encourage you, no one will force you to put effort into what you do and it is up to you to try your best. At school, work is very much structured for you but at university you determine how you work and this can have positives and negatives depending on how you use this freedom.
What are the best and the hardest things about your course?
My course is very interesting and stimulating, and it is one that develops all the time, meaning I never get bored of it and it keeps me on my toes. The hardest thing about my course is finding out how to read effectively and ensuring that you don’t make long unnecessary notes, something that is very easy to fall into, because of the amount of information we are presented with.
Is the course what you expected it to be when you applied?
It is mostly what I expected so far, learning about the way different areas of law work, through both case law and statute. I also did not expect to find such interesting and wide-ranging cases, with some of the most bizarre situations arising! An iconic case for example, that laid the foundation for the modern law of negligence within tort, is Donoghue v Stevenson, which involves the decomposed remains of a dead snail being found in a ginger beer bottle!
I didn’t expect constitutional law to relate so heavily to the political climate, and it was one of my favourite modules as it was one of the more political ones, relating heavily to Brexit, devolution, and the balance between different branches of government. It tackled the idea of trying to balance power between Parliament and the Courts and the ways that seemingly unrelated cases were used to determine principles relating to this power balance. It also tackled issues regarding devolution and the complicated nature of the UK having an unwritten constitution, and this made it all the more interesting.
Looking back over the year, what do you feel you have got out of it?
I feel I have been able to develop my ability to read efficiently and have learnt how to balance my workload with my wellbeing – something that can be difficult to find at first. I have been able to learn that having a clear routine, including waking up at an early time, is the best way to get the most out of myself, ensuring that I have time for rest later on in the day. Throughout the year, I have continuously learned more about what I require to prepare for exams; this has meant I can tailor notes to what I will need for exam season.
How does your teaching work?
We had 1 hour, recorded lectures (often split into two parts) for the majority of the year (although lectures started moving into more in-person style as the year progressed), with at least one per day, and around 10 per week. Regarding supervisions, we had one supervision (1 hour) every two weeks for each paper we took, which equated to 2 supervisions per week. There were also occasionally classes on certain topics that people found difficult, and I found that these sessions could also help deepen my understanding.
How do you manage your workload?
I manage my workload by maintaining regular breaks when I need it and ensuring that I set achievable targets for the day. This allows me to break my work up into manageable chunks and at the same time maintain a good balance. If I’m struggling, I also always make sure to let my DoS (Director of Studies) know so I can get an extension if needed.
Separating my living space from my workspace also helps me maintain a balance between work and other things, so I only occasionally work in my room. I like working in the Squire Law Library, and I also recently discovered the West Hub as a good workspace with food within the building, but it is some distance from most colleges. I also sometimes work in Christ’s or other libraries if I need a change of scenery as well.
What are your favourite and least favourite things about College?
My favourite thing is the people, as everyone is so nice and friendly that you feel very welcomed and at home. Meeting new people and discovering new experiences have been the highlights of my first year at University. My other favourite thing about Christ’s is the location, because it is so central and everything is convenient. My least favourite thing would be the lack of ovens/sitting space in the kitchens near me as it meant I couldn’t use an oven to cook and had to walk up to my room with food every time I wanted to eat something I’d cooked!
What do you do when you're not working?
I hang out with my friends, watch plays and movies, play basketball, go to the gym and just seek fun experiences. The Christ’s basketball team meet (or try to) at least once a week for practice, and we normally have at least one or two matches every 2 weeks against other colleges in Michaelmas (the first term of the year), and at the start of Lent (second term), with a college tournament running for the rest of Lent as well. We normally play in Kelsey Kerridge (a leisure centre very near Christ's with a sports hall) and are currently on the up – hoping to break into league division 3 from our current division (division 4) this year!
I am also the African & Caribbean Society Access Officer and organise initiatives through that for Afro-Caribbean students both at Cambridge and looking to apply to Cambridge. As ACS Access Officer, I have been involved in multiple events – we held an ACS Offer Holder Day, for Afro Caribbean students who had offers to come to Cambridge this October. We also recently held a year 11 summer residential and our annual access conference for year 12 – these were aimed at giving insight into applications and what life is truly like at Cambridge, with the goal to break down stereotypes and encourage more applications, instilling confidence in the students so that they can see themselves potentially thriving in such an environment. ACS will also be running a variety of events during the year, ranging from club nights to formals to a speakers’ conference and more!
For prospective applicants, the main advice I would give would be not to worry about feeling out of place as you will be able to feel at home within the ACS. Also don’t worry about food – Mill Road has almost all the food ingredients you need! I get my Supermalt from Sainsbury’s, hopefully they’ll still be supplying it in October. In regard to hair, there are student barbers and hairstylists in Cambridge – you can find them on Instagram or through asking older students within the ACS!
What did you think of your accommodation this year?
I lived in the Typewriter building (in staircase 2, New Court), and I liked it because I was able to have an ensuite room and it was a modern style room, which was what I really wanted. If you give it a moment to open, you can see a 360 degree picture of a room like mine here.
I was also able to cook occasionally as I had a relatively nice kitchen, so I was very happy with it. My balcony also gave me a pleasant view of sunrise and sunset, so it was a good location all around.
How do you spend your holidays?
Short vacations were mainly spent in London seeing friends and family and catching up on any work I had outstanding. I'm planning to spend the long vacation on working for money (I work for a catering agency at home), meeting friends and catching up with them, travel (straight after exams), working towards career applications and reconnecting with old hobbies such as reading. I'll also be working on ACS access initiatives such as the year 11 residential and access conferences for year 12s.
Do you know which papers you'll be taking next year?
The optional papers I will be taking are Criminology, Sentencing and the Penal system (CSPS), International Law and Human Rights Law as they aligned with my interests and are the best combination of papers to allow me a good work balance during my second year.
What are you most looking forward to next year?
I am most looking forward to perfecting the balance between my work and leisure time, establishing a routine, seeing all my friends in Cambridge again, the experience of living in a college house and welcoming freshers into the university. I will be living in a college house with 6 other people on Jesus Lane, and I’m looking forward to the experience! It will be nice to live with some of my friends and will make it easier to invite friends over and have more freedom with my space. Although it’s a bit further from the centre it’s still quite close (a five minute walk from the main site), and I’m looking forward to not having to move my stuff into storage every term (I lived in one of the rooms where you had to do so).
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.