Spring has arrived in Cambridge, and Cambridge’s famous cows have returned to the city commons from their winter barns. Cows have been grazing on Cambridge’s public parks, or “Commons” since the 12th century, and there is no doubt who’s in charge when they cross your path as you walk or cycle to a class. Watch where you step!
As I begin my eighth month in this unique educational environment, here are some of the academic differences I’ve experienced. First, the undergraduate experience here varies between three and six years depending on one’s area of study. Students apply to a specific area of study like Natural Sciences, History or Law, and they only take courses in that subject. This means you need to know what you want to focus on before you apply.
Another difference is that we take only three courses for the entire academic year, and they run Monday to Saturday. Each course in my area (Biochemistry) includes three lectures, a lab, and two small group “supervisions” with three other students led by a professor, graduate student, or professional. My Pathology supervisor is a graduate medical student, Cell Biology is a Professor, and my Physiology Supervisor is a senior equine veterinarian from London. We submit one paper per week per course, and there are no exams except for final exams at the end of May into early June. Yes, that’s right – the only tests I take the entire year are my final exams. The tradeoff is having to write about 24 papers per term. My ability to write a scientific paper faster has definitely improved because I can’t procrastinate. It’s been a unique experience, and now I am going to prepare for finals! Congratulations to all of my friends in Pitt’s Class of 2022!
A few weeks ago, the Cambridge women’s football team played our annual Varsity match against Oxford University! Unfortunately, we were defeated in penalty kicks, but it was wonderful to play in front of friends and family. Next year, I’m positive the Blues will triumph!