My long day started with the journey from Cardiff to Cambridge by catching the train at 5am. Fast forward about 5 hours - including a stop in London and some breakfast – I finally arrived amongst a huge crowd of people. I had hardly expected such a swarm on a Saturday morning.
I had signed up for the masterclass in Linguistics, an area which I grew an interest in some time last year. I was very much convinced, until the lecture, that multilingualism was at the core of studying Linguistics. That assumption and a few others were soon disproved.
Our lecturer was Kayeon Yoo, a Korean PhD student, specialising in phonology – the study of sounds in language. Her first lecture took us through the main focuses of Linguistics in Cambridge, which were the theoretical areas. These areas look in-depth into the many areas of language, such as sounds, structures and meaning. It was amazing to learn that the process of just understanding a simple sentence could be broken down into several steps in our brains, and that the reverse of those steps would enable us to construct a reply.
The second lecture looked at psycholinguistics – an interdisciplinary subdivision of the subject. Interactive examples and experiments were presented to us to illustrate some of the important points being made. For example, getting us to find specific numbers among sets, but later explaining how we subconsciously understood that the numbers also formed patterns. This is a phenomenon known as implicit learning, which is an area of research being done in Cambridge on language acquisition.
The last session of the day was a talk specifically on studying Linguistics in Cambridge. There was a thorough explanation on what the degree covers as its structure is different from many Linguistics courses in other institutions. We were then told about the collegiate system within the university – something it shares with rivals Oxford. The admissions tutor made sure to bust any myths that we may have had about the university, ensuring that those with the potential didn’t leave feeling too intimidated to apply.
I had a few hours after the lectures to explore Cambridge before heading back to Cardiff, so I made my way to the renowned King’s College located in the town centre. The front of the college’s building was an impressive display of gothic architecture looming over the main high street. There were numerous groups of tourists doing the same as I was – hurriedly taking pictures while trying to avoid getting run over by cyclists!
The streets were quaint and charming despite being overrun by people. Moreover, the live music scene was surprisingly active with everything ranging from opera and accordion to electric guitar being performed on the sidewalks. Many students had apparently just arrived back from a huge joint Oxbridge students’ party held in London the night before. Who says they don’t have fun, right?
Overall, from a visitor’s point of view Cambridge is well-worth a trip, and especially so if you do intend to apply there. If you are interested in finding out more, all of the colleges in the university are happy to answer questions or concerns via email or phone call.