I attended the University of Cambridge in 2013, reading law at Darwin College. My first reaction to getting an offer letter from Cambridge was utter disbelief. I couldn’t tell if it was the years of hard work or just sheer luck.
Going to Cambridge is very expensive though. It costs me approximately £30,000 (RM199,800) for a nine-month course.
The application process was an arduous experience. I can still remember the days where I sat on the floor of my rented room filling up the online application form until midnight. The excitement of getting into Cambridge lasted for a day as there was plenty to do in order to secure an unconditional offer.
Cambridge is an extraordinary university town; with exquisite architecture, oodles of history and driven intellectual curiosity. I found myself literally touching the bricks of the ancient colleges which countless prime ministers, scientists and authors have been to. It is fascinating that after centuries this picturesque university still remains as one of the world’s leading academic institutions.
I would say that it was an experience to be a student at Cambridge. I stayed in the residence of Darwin College, with a room that was right above the college bar. Every night students would gather to socialise at the bar. During the summer time, students would sit on the manicured lawns with their books and gaze upon the punters on the River Cam.
Dressing in a formal gown and sitting at an oak-panelled hall having five-course dinners served before you have become one of the expensive traditions at Cambridge. Every year an event called ‘The College May Ball’ which usually ended with firework displays also often caused pain to students who were not born with a silver spoon. There was some disillusionment when I encountered costly price tags in order to experience the full range of customs and rituals of the university.
Cambridge might seem calm and quiet but the truth is studying at Cambridge can be a psychological wake-up call. It is a place where you can have your confidence smashed or be motivated to be better.
On arrival at Cambridge, I felt strongly that I was in the presence of greatness. Most of the students are outstanding. My class only consisted of 23 students who came from different backgrounds. Some were fresh graduates whereas some were experienced partners in prestigious law firms. That’s why I think Cambridge is tough, not because of its teaching system, but its students. It is a competitive learning environment.
I had chosen a Master of Corporate Law (MCL) course. It was a rigorous degree programme containing four selective corporate subjects, a Master of Law (LLM) subject and a Deals Course to be completed within nine months.
It was an amazing course as I had the opportunity to sit together with partners from different firms from around the world discussing law and making new friends. It was a place where I was impressed by the humbleness of the great. However, at the same time, there were moments where I felt inferior among the brilliant. Everyone here wanted to shine.
With all the experienced lawyers in my class, every discussion became very competitive. While they were debating furiously about the practicality of the corporate tax system in their respective country, a greenhorn like me was still struggling with the terminology.
I would say the Cambridge experience was a humbling eye-opener for me. It was a place that forced me to put down my pride to learn from extraordinary talented people who not only had the grades but also excelled at other non-academic things such as sports, writing, musical instruments and much more. It was a place where professors would ask students for a coffee or tea and debate life-changing research.
In my opinion, going to university is a milestone in one’s life. I am certain that without the hard work and the guidance of the law lecturers at Multimedia University, going to Cambridge would have remained as a dream.
For me, going to Cambridge was the best gift I have ever had and the happiest moment in my life. I couldn’t have asked for more.
Official publication at the Star here