Life here at Cambridge can be challenging but it is also very rewarding. Sidney is a wonderful College and has a very supportive community, filled with friendly people. It is really central and right opposite Sainsbury’s, so you don’t need to go far to get anything you need!
You will have two Directors of Studies (DoSes) for pure and applied, and they will oversee your academics and can help with any concerns that arise. The ones at Sidney are amazing, and you will be well looked after! There’s also your Tutor and the whole Sidney pastoral team if you need advice or support with anything else.
Your general week at Cambridge will consist of two hours of lectures each day, Monday to Saturday. All of these are quite close to Sidney – about 5 mins walk away in the town centre. Lectures are very different to school classes, but you soon get used to them. It definitely takes a while to get used to the pace, so don’t worry if you struggle to follow and don’t understand bits. This happens to everyone often! By going over notes after lectures, and consolidating knowledge with example sheets and supervisions, things should become clear.
Example sheets are sheets with a selection of difficult questions (not examples, funnily enough) based on the previous week or two of lectures. Some you will be able to do, and some you won’t, the sheets are designed to really test your problem-solving skills and understanding of the module. There is no shame in handing in partly completed or incorrect solutions to the sheets, and it is also completely normal. The sections you find more difficult are the ones you will focus on in supervisions. I remember when I arrived I was nervous to admit the points I didn’t understand, but this meant I didn’t make the most of the opportunities to sort them out, so I’d really recommend asking your supervisors for help! You also will learn as you go along what is an acceptable time for you to spend on a question, and at which point you need to stop for your supervisor to fill in the gaps. This can be frustrating at first, but being stumped by a question (or sheet) is to be expected and all part of the learning experience. It really teaches you to think outside of the box and in ways you may have never done before.
When you have decided to put the example sheets to one side, you can focus on the other exciting aspects of Cambridge life! It can be very busy so I really recommend having a planner to keep track of deadlines and events, and that way ensure that you are making time not only for maths, but also for University life. There are countless societies to join, and you are sure to make lots of friends at Sidney. Sidney also has its own amazing gardens, a great bar (well-priced too) for events or just playing a game of pool with friends, JCR room and also Hall which serves meals throughout the week and also hosts formal dinners which you can book onto. There is plenty of scope for lots of fun, and it’s important to do something outside of maths. Hopefully, you will have an amazing time, meet some amazing people, and learn some very cool mathematics!