I have to divide this story into a series of posts because my journey was definitely not simple or short.
- Why I didn’t choose Cambridge
- My Cambridge Interview (most asked question EVER)!
- The Trinity Disaster
First up, when I decided to apply to Cambridge I never believed I would get an interview let alone a place there. The initial hurdle was my personal statement which definitely wasn't conventional. They didn’t care if I was kind or loved to exercise (which FYI I don’t incase you were worrying), they were concerned with my passion to study Law and my drive to succeed and how I’ve demonstrated that so far. To be honest that part wasn’t challenging because I was one of those people that HAD to be involved in everything and anything going. If there’s one piece of advice I can give to students it would have to be to get all your extra curricular activities out of the way before the year you apply to university because you have way too much stuff on with exams looming. Make sure you have 3-4 solid things you can discuss in your personal statement that show you are committed, compassionate, have a strong work ethic and are driven. You can list off the skills you have/‘say you have’ for 2000 words but without evidence they’ll mean very little.
I got an interview. I didn’t know whether to be scared or ecstatic about the process to follow. I have to say I was really interested to see how the infamous interview worked (nerd). You have at least two interviews and an admissions test on legal reasoning/legal problem solving. You definitely can’t go into the interview blind with no preparation. With Law I got sent bundles of material to read over but this definitely wasn't the complete focus of my preparation. I’ll discuss all the weird and wonderful parts of the actual interview in the next post. I didn’t find the admissions test too difficult because I didn’t let myself get too nervous or wound up about the whole thing. I just went in there and approached it like any other exam.
Crazy enough, hundreds of students in preparation for their interview pay hundreds of pounds to tutors in England to prepare them for their interview. I didn’t do any of this. I would actually strongly advise people not to. They really want you to be you. They can see through the hours and weekends spent at these Oxbridge training camps. The interview process as a whole wasn’t too stressful for me because I didn’t put much weight on it. It definitely wasn't life or death for me whether I got in or not. I just gave it my best shot and hoped for the best.
Studying Law at Trinity in Dublin, on the other hand I was passionate about. Having visited Dublin from a very young age with my family I fell in love with the city. It’s my Mum and Dad’s favourite place to visit and they transferred their love onto me. It’s somewhere I’ve always had great memories from which certainly influenced my decision to study there. Going to university in Belfast was never really in my plan simply because I wanted to live that bit further away. Although, my friends and family that have studied/worked there have loved every minute, so I might get a chance to live there someday too!
I would have probably preferred the Law course at Cambridge because you get a lot more contact hours and support. This is the one downfall I find with studying at Trinity, a lot of it is up to you. You can pick and choose how much or how little work you do. Even though it would have been very intense I think I would have preferred the one to one tutorial system in Cambridge as opposed to groups of 10-12. However, this does not outweigh the experience I have at Trinity. It is unique in many senses with the Society fair at Freshers Week, Trinity Ball and the emphasis on society life at college. Trinity Ball is magical, dancing in front square under the stars to the Kooks. The campus is closed for one night to the public to accommodate students and staff and some of the biggest stars in the world. Societies are really at the heart of Trinity may it be the Law Society or the Phil, they're super important (even more than your degree some argue). There are at least three speakers every week on campus from Shonda Rhimes (mastermind behind Greys Anatomy) and Nicola Sturgeon to Joe Biden and Tim Cook.
Trinity can be challenging at times especially during exam period or essay deadlines but it is manageable. I have made the most amazing group of friends from all over Ireland and can't imagine studying anywhere else. However, it wasn't easy settling in, and I definitely didn't take to student life like a duck to water. I struggled initially being away from home, finding myself, wishing I was at my own dinner table with my family while sitting there in my room with a Marks and Spencers ready meal. Even worse was seeing my best friends in Belfast having a ball finding their feet immediately. It took time and a bit of getting used to but it was the BEST decision I have ever made and wouldn't change it for the world.
Always follow your dreams but do things for you, not for the approval or satisfaction of others.
Coming Soon... My Cambridge Interview: Tips and Tricks