Aisha Wheatley (Modern and Medieval Languages 2018) speaks of her love of the gardens and music events at Fitzwilliam College.
How do you feel about the celebration of 40 years of women at Fitz?
I'm proud of the fact that Fitz has been educating women for 40 years and it is definitely something to be celebrating, but it also shocked me a little that aside from the women's colleges, the university as a whole took so long to realise that women are just as worthy of receiving a great education as men.
Do you have any advice for prospective undergraduate or postgraduate students?
When deciding whether or not to apply, really take time to find out why you enjoy your subject so much. It will be difficult and you might not always be studying your favourite part, but if you keep repeating to yourself what it is you love about your subject, you'll find it easier to stay motivated, not only once you're actually at university, but throughout the lengthy (and sometimes stressful!) application process.
Has anything surprised you about Cambridge? Have you faced any challenges?
I've been surprised by my relationships with my teachers. I expected supervisions to be very formal and rigid, but most of my classes have been really enjoyable. We do the work and learn a lot, and it is clear that the teachers really care about the material and our learning, but that doesn't stop us from having a quick catch up at the beginning of class, or cracking a few jokes here and there. It's much more relaxed than I anticipated, but we still all get the work done because we like our supervisors so much and are motivated to do our best for them. In terms of challenges, the workload was daunting and finding the correct work-life balance was difficult at first.
What else do you do apart from your subject in Cambridge?
As of this year I'm in the Fitz Chapel Choir, which is really lovely as we get to sing new music every week, but it's not too much of a commitment that I get worried that I'm not working enough. It was hard at first as I've not really done much sight singing before, but my friends have been super helpful, and its a great environment so that even if I do sing a wobbly note, nobody really minds and we fix it before moving on.
I also do a lot of musical theatre as part of CUMTS, this year I was in Chicago and I'm preparing to do the Lent term show Guys and Dolls next term. Its a way to get some exercise, and I've met some of my best friends there.
Why did you choose Cambridge? What made you choose Fitzwilliam?
I chose Cambridge because of the supervision system - the opportunity to work so closely with supervisors who know so much was really appealing. Fitzwilliam chose me! I was picked from the Winter Pool and had an interview in College where I was asked to decode some Russian (despite applying for French and Spanish!). I had my interview with Dominic Keown and John Leigh, and as soon as I realised there were some northerners chatting to me about French poetry, I knew this college would be a good fit, if they'd have me. I love the gardens here, and the amount of music going on in College was really appealing when I came to get a better feel for the place.