Joe Myers – (Modern & Medieval Languages, 2nd Year)
SCHOOL SUBJECTS: French, Spanish, Italian, Maths
From an early age I was fascinated by foreign languages and I have always loved reading. Spanish was always my favourite subject at school and I had really enjoyed reading Spanish literature over the last few years so I knew that I would definitely study that at university. Cambridge requires you to study two languages, and rather than do French or Italian I wanted to pick up a new language as I wanted to learn as many languages as I could and I knew Cambridge would give me an amazing platform to study another language. I had heard Portuguese spoken around London and was surprised by how different it sounded to Spanish. I then tried to read some basic Portuguese and discovered that I could, with some help, understand a large quantity of what I was reading thanks to my Romance Language background. I then went away and read some famous Portuguese and Brazilian novels and discovered that I really enjoyed the texts, despite not having been able to name a single Portuguese-speaking author before I had started looking.
What advice would you give prospective students?
Be open, and be open-minded. Cambridge is a vast network of amazing things so take the time to try things out! Term is a very intense time and the university can be a tense environment at times, but it should be enjoyable as well. You will meet people from all sorts of background and with all sorts of opinions, and you will almost certainly make friends for life with quite a few of them. Don’t overwork yourself either – there is, in my experience, a wide support network you can use if the going gets tough, and it has been excellent for me. Your main support group though, will be your friends and your circle of fellow students. Do not get disheartened by the marks or the difficulty of the work – it’s meant to be difficult! At the start it can be impossible to gauge your level of ability compared to your peers or even what Cambridge wants of you. Unlike in school, a mark in the 60s, particularly at the start of the year, is really very good! Finally, get used to the fact that supervisors will likely be less forthcoming with outright praise – again don’t let it get you down!
Any specific interview advice?
If you can’t answer a question, that’s fine, expected almost. Just be honest and don’t try to hide it with rapidly thought-up and jumbled mumblings. You will be stretched and forced to consider things that you think yourself an expert on in new lights. Each interviewer is different and just because they are mean and harsh on you does not mean it has gone badly! Many people I have spoken to at Cambridge have interview horror stories aplenty.
Has Trinity Hall lived up to your expectations?
Definitely! The college has been an incredibly friendly and cohesive environment, and the years are very tight-knit. I have made amazing friends and the college facilities are all I could ask for. A central location is a great bonus too, and don’t be disheartened by the idea of living slightly further out after first year – you get used to it!
What do you do when you’re not working?
I play football for the college men’s team, and also play badminton and tennis recreationally with friends from college. I try and go to events at the Union when I can, but my free time is spent mainly socialising with my group of core friends which I made in first year.
What’s your favourite thing about Trinity Hall/Cambridge?
My favourite thing about college is that it is small: tourists and large groups of people in general are a rare sight on college grounds which makes for a much more insular, private and cosy collegiate atmosphere. My favourite thing about Cambridge is the vast number of resources available to students, both curricular and extracurricular.