Lefteris Paparounas

Hello! I’m Lefteris and I’m in my second year studying Linguistics. Before coming to Cambridge, I went to a state school in my hometown in the northwest of the Greece. Few people from my town study abroad, while no one from my school had been to Oxbridge before.

In my first year of senior high school, I became really interested in Linguistics. By my penultimate year I was sure that this was what I wanted to study, but I didn’t know where. After many weeks of late-night googling and navigating scary admissions websites, I knew Cambridge was my best bet: I found the course very exciting and Cambridge seemed like a very attractive place to live and study.

But knowing that Cambridge would be great was different to actually deciding to apply here. Coming to Cambridge really didn’t seem like a realistic goal at first: my background certainly didn’t fit most people’s stereotype of ‘the Cambridge student’. To add to this worry, regardless of the high academic standards (or perhaps because of them) I expected Cambridge to be a mostly strict, formal sort of place. If anything, I found the idea of coming here a bit intimidating.

Nevertheless, I thought it would be good to see the place for myself, and so I visited Cambridge early in the summer on a University Open Day. Talking to teaching and admissions staff, as well as students, really helped de-mystify Cambridge for me. I found the friendliness and simplicity of the people I talked to very reassuring: it was certainly nothing like the formality I had associated in my head with Cambridge. This change in perspective, coupled with tons of support from teachers, family and friends, made applying seem less daunting.

Getting in was a thrill, but it didn’t make all my initial doubts go away: what if I really didn’t fit in? If everyone’s backgrounds were different to mine, would that be a problem? Looking back, I wish I could have known what an accepting place Emma is. When I arrived, I was happy to find no-one cared about your background. Before long, I’d made friends with people of many different nationalities, cultures and backgrounds.

As a Linguistics student, I find that every day is different. A busy day will consist of one to two lectures in the morning, followed by a supervision and the occasional practical after lunchtime. This leaves plenty of time for the necessary studying time in the library, as well as socialising and being involved with societies. Completely lecture-free days, however, do exist once or twice a week, and these can be used either for much-needed lie-ins or more studying!

Perhaps my favourite thing about Cambridge is College life. With all its quirks, living in College means being part of a community. In my experience, every aspect of College life has brought me closer to the other people living here, which has made me feel very at home. Being around people is effortless in College: eating with friends in Hall, living with so many other people in a house or staircase and having the occasional cup of tea and chat with the lovely Emma porters all are essential parts of College life that reinforce the sense of community everyone feels around College.

My advice to anyone considering applying to Cambridge would be this: don’t be held back by preconceptions. Your interests and motivation should be the only factors influencing whether you should apply here, not considerations of what you think Cambridge is like or other people’s definitions of who can go to Cambridge. If you’re passionate about what you want to study and you feel like Cambridge is a good place to do that, just go for it. If you still aren’t sure, see for yourself: come and visit or send a few emails to Colleges and departments. As for me, I’m just really, really glad I ended up applying here.

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