Luke Smith


It feels odd that a little over 2 years ago (2013) I was filling out that awful UCAS form and applying to university. Back then if you'd have told me I'd be going to the University of Cambridge I would have laughed at you. If you take one thing from this blog post, let it be this: believe in yourself. Believe that you can be right where I am now.

So I should probably introduce myself: my name is Luke, I'm currently a second year at Emmanuel College studying medicine. I'm from Sheffield and I attended a state secondary school which was far from ideal. It had major issues being in and out of special measures. The staff were trying hard just to get many of the students to engage enough to pass their subjects. University was a word seldom mentioned and it wasn't until I moved for Sixth Form that Cambridge as a university even manifested itself in my mind.

So why did I apply to Cambridge? A group of students from Emmanuel came to my Sixth Form to do an access talk to de-mystify' Cambridge. It was this talk which gave me the confidence to even dream about Oxbridge. My Sixth Form then sent a group of students to an Oxbridge conference, which I attended and it was here I decided I was going to apply to Cambridge. Did I think I would get in? Not at all but I thought what do I have to lose?' The worst they can do is say no.

Whilst I was quite gung-ho about applying, I did have some concerns about actually coming which I feel are quite common; Cambridge was this seemingly monolithic institution, symbolic of wealth and status. I held the widespread stereotypes that it was full of pretentious, self-absorbed snobs (and that is probably much tamer than anything people from home would say). With all these preconceptions I wondered if I'd be able to fit in or if I'd like it. That's the most important thing I wish I'd known before coming to Cambridge: there is a place for you. I became very close with the people who lived on my staircase (like a corridor in halls of residence, but winding around a staircase); people from all different walks of life. So, yes, there are people who fit the Cambridge stereotype' but there are so many more who don't. Something that might surprise people is my timetable. It is not 9am-5pm, 6 days a week of contact time. Something I was kind of expecting and actually, 9am-5pm days are very rare for me. An average day might look something like this:

  • 9 am: lecture
  • 10am-12pm: a lab class or dissection
  • 12pm-1pm: lecture
  • Supervision at some point in the evening

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