A Magical Semester at Cambridge December 29, 2019

By (Wellesley College) - abroad from 09/08/2019 to 12/13/2019 with

University of Cambridge, Pembroke College: Cambridge - Direct Enrollment & Exchange

What did you gain/learn from your experience abroad? Was it worthwhile?
I learned so much about myself socially and academically. I grew so much and 100% believe that it was a worthwhile experience.

Personal Information

How much international exposure did you have prior to this program? 6 months+

Review Your Program

* Overall educational experience

Academic rigor, intensity, resources, etc.

Cambridge operates on the supervision system. As a visiting student, I took two papers - one in philosophy and one in linguistics. Visiting students have the option to either 1) write a dissertation and have that count for their entire grade, or 2) to write a 2000 word paper every week and take an exam at the end of term. I chose to write papers every week for philosophy and a dissertation for linguistics. Writing a dissertation was so rewarding: at times, I felt confused but with support from my supervisor, I learned so much - and now feel prepared to thesis. Philosophy was challenging, but I liked my supervisor, and felt that I learned a lot and could engage with the texts. Although we only had two classes, Cambridge was academically rigorous, but I felt like it was worthwhile.

* Host Country Program Administration

On-site administration of your program

The IP office was extremely helpful, always there to answer any questions. My tutor and director of studies reached out a few times during the semester, to make sure I was doing okay academically and socially, which was nice.

* Housing:

How satisfied were you with your living arrangements?

Most of the study abroad students (about 30 of us) were housed far from the main college site - a 15 min walk/5 min bike ride. The distance was probably the worst part, as there were times I had to walk home alone in the dark longer than I would have liked. The housing itself was great - each student has single bedroom and there's a nice shared kitchen. The walls in our housing were very thin though.

* Food:

As students, we had the options to either eat at the Pembroke College Servery (commonly known as the trough) or cook for ourselves. Meals were decent (and pretty cheap, as we got discounts as students) and a great way to catch up and socialize.

* Social & Cultural Integration:

How integrated did you feel with the local culture?

I strongly recommend joining a club/organization to feel more integrated. I joined the boat club, and felt that it was such a good choice. I made so many great friends, and got to know actual Pembroke students really well.

* Health Care:

How well were health issues addressed during the program?

I did not have any experience with healthcare during this program. However, I heard positive things from those who did.

* Safety:

Cambridge is pretty safe at night, but sometimes there were some sketchy moments (especially since our housing was so far from college). Just stay aware of your surroundings, and try to have a friend with you if you're walking home late from a pub or club.

If you could do it all over again would you choose the same program? Yes

My time at Cambridge was life-changing. I learned how to think for myself, write a dissertation (and prepare for a thesis), and made life long friends. I felt integrated with current Cambridge students, as well as the other study abroad students. If i could do it all over again, I would in an instant.


* Money: How easily were you able to live on a student's budget?

(1 = not very easy/$200+ on food & personal expenses/week, 2.5 = $100/week, 5 = very easily/minimal cost)

I think if you plan well, it's manageable to live on a student budget. Beware though: events cost a lot more in Cambridge than they do at Wellesley. Most things charge for entrance fees, a concept which was new to me. I would recommend 1) signing up for Unidays before you leave and 2) asking every place you shop at if there is a student discount (more likely than not, there will be)!

Do you have any general money-saving tips for future study abroad participants? Save up as much as you can before you leave!


* Did your program have a foreign language component? No

Direct Enrollment/Exchange

* Did you study abroad through an exchange program or did you directly enroll in the foreign university? Direct Enrollment

Other Program Information

* Where did you live?

Select all that apply

  • Hostel
* Who did you live with?

Select all that apply

  • Americans
  • International Students
* Who did you take classes with?

Select all that apply

  • Local Students
About how many local friends did you make that you will likely keep in touch with?

A Look Back

* What did you like most about the program?
  • the people I met
  • the town of Cambridge
  • UK culture
* What could be improved?
  • how far housing was
* What do you know now that you wish you knew before going on this program? I wish I knew that it would take some time adjusting to the academics (read: the supervision system). I also had more freetime, so learning how to manage that time was important too.

Reasons For Studying Abroad

To help future students find programs attended by like-minded individuals, please choose the profile that most closely represents you.
The Academic or Linguist
You went abroad with specific academic goals in mind; the program credentials and rigor of your coursework abroad were very important to you. You had a great time abroad, but never lost sight of your studies and (if applicable) were diligent with your foreign language study. Good for you!