Completing an undergraduate degree at Cambridge is an intense experience. The demanding teaching, short terms, and close-knit college communities combine to create an environment in which both work and extra-curricular activities can become all-consuming. It was a common saying among students that one had enough time during the term for only two out of the three of work, sleep and social life; although only true in part, this gives a flavour of the pressures experienced by students who, in their schooling prior to Cambridge, may not have had to make such compromises in order to achieve everything they wanted.
The demanding nature of studying at Cambridge is balanced by the sense of achievement, common endeavour, and opportunity: working with some of the top academics in their field stretches students to reach their potential; whatever your interests, there will no doubt be a welcoming community who share it – whether within your college or in the wider university; and the collective atmosphere created by the history, architecture, and indeed energy of the various institutions that make up the University was not one of stuffy tradition, but one of excitement and innovation. I think I appreciate it even more in retrospect than I did at the time.
A word on the course: the Classics Tripos at Cambridge consists initially of two years of intense linguistic and literary study, during which reading of Latin and Greek texts is the dominant component of the course; this, along with a selection of optional papers, prepares students to specialise into their preferred disciplines in the third year. The supervision system is an excellent, if sometimes inconsistent, the way in which to study texts in-depth, developing skills for both close reading and thematic analysis of texts.