How did you come to choose Natural Sciences at Christ's?
Christ's fitted all the criteria I wanted in a College - central, pretty and old, not too big or too small, plus there was a pool.
In terms of my course, I knew I didn’t want to pick a single science: I enjoyed all three of them at A-level, and I didn’t want to have to pick just one as a degree subject. Cambridge Natural Sciences was the only course where you could choose any combination of options, and the only course where you could do all three sciences. All other Natural Sciences courses I looked at were more of a 'joint honours' than the Cambridge course, and none had the same reputation.
"Cambridge Natural Sciences was [...] the only course where you could do all three sciences."
How did you find the application process?
The process itself was fine, obviously a bit stressful with academic interviews, but generally fine.
I'd advise prospective students not to feel pressure to read specific books if you don’t want to, as there are a variety of ways to explore science. When I was applying, everyone read Why Chemical Reactions Happen by Peter Wothers. It felt like I therefore needed to read it too, but I never really enjoyed reading so I didn’t. Instead, I found other things that I enjoyed more to put in my personal statement. As all schools will tell you, you need to do things to show you do enjoy science, but don’t just do something you don’t enjoy because everyone else is doing it.
What papers have you studied so far?
In my first year I took:
- Materials Science
In my second year I then studied:
- Chemistry A
- Chemistry B
- Materials Science
I choose my second-year options as they were the ones I was best at and enjoyed most in first year. At every other university I applied for Physics, but I found that I really struggled with Physics in first year, so I appreciated being able to change my mind about my specialism going into second year.
My physics supervisor in first year was very understanding with how much I struggled.
What was your timetable like this year?
I had one supervision per option per week (four per week in first year and three per week in second year). I had nine lectures a week in second year (three per option per week). I also had labs: there was a separate lab session for each option per week, each session lasting about three hours.
There was no real change compared to first year apart from the fact that I was more prepared for what was coming in second year, and therefore I dealt with it better. The workload and difficulty compared to A-levels was a bit of a shock in first year.
I mainly work in my room as I found the library distracting. However, College puts on extra work rooms in exam term, and I found the Function Room the best place to work – it was a quiet space with other people, but without the stress associated with the library.
"I had one supervision per option per week (four per week in first year and three per week in second year)."
What do you do when you’re not working?
During term, I do trampolining with the University Trampoline Club.
I have always had quite a lot of work during the short vacations, both set work and revision. However, I have been on the Varsity Ski trip for the last two years in December and had a great week both times.
In the long summer vacation we are set no work at all, so this is a really nice four month break. This summer I am travelling to India with four other Christ’s students, as well as doing some work experience with a Patent Attorney and earning some money for next year by working in a local hotel.
Where have you lived this year?
This year I lived in Jesus Lane, one of College’s external properties close to the main site. It wasn’t the nicest house in the world, but it was nice to be living outside of College for a while. I enjoyed it.
What are you most looking forward to in the coming years?
I will be taking pure Chemistry next year, however I’m not yet sure which options I will choose within Chemistry. Again, I’m choosing Chemistry as it’s what I’ve enjoyed most in second year.
After Cambridge, I would like to become a Patent Attorney.
"I’m choosing Chemistry as it’s what I’ve enjoyed most in second year. "
Back to Student profiles page / Natural Sciences at Christ's / Next: Shadab's profile