About our writer
Emilia Persson is a current undergraduate of Cambridge University reading HSPS (Human, Social, and Political Science), and is an alumnus of the Cambridge Immerse 2014 Summer Programme where she studied the International Relations course.
“Summer course? Why would you want to study, during your summer HOLIDAYS?”. This was the response I got from a friend when I told her that I was going to Cambridge for two weeks during the summer. It wasn’t for a cultural visit, or to go shopping in London, but to be able to live like a Cambridge student for two weeks.
I had always been interested in International Relations, but my school and the academic curriculum that it offered never allowed me to try it out. How was I supposed to know whether this is what I wanted to do at university? So I sat down, whizzed through the internet, looking for an opportunity to gain some extra experience – and I found it: Cambridge Immerse.
The International Relations programme managed to cover a vast amount of topics in just the two short weeks. We got to explore topics ranging from local case studies of Kenya and North Korea, to analysing broad concepts of IR theory to understand the functions of organisations such as the UN and NATO. Our tutor offered to teach us anything else in particular, depending on our interests. It was the first time I got to explore my academic interests within a subject so freely.
Not only did Cambridge Immerse give me an invaluable experience through the interactive learning in small groups, and the opportunity to explore a subject that truly interested me. It opened my eyes to a city, and a university, that I had never even considered to be a possibility for my future.
Cambridge is a magical place. Its 800-year-old traditions are so evident, even though I was visiting the city outside of term time. The towers of King’s College Chapel seem so majestic, and the cobbled streets are imprinted with the footsteps of academic geniuses who lived here decades, and even centuries, before me. It seems almost cheesy, like it came out of a Hollywood romantic comedy, but I was so taken aback by the sheer legacy of the place.
The Cambridge Immerse programme is undoubtedly something which will take time out of your summer holidays and it is an extra expense; but the benefits of going will always outnumber the costs. Although I was studying for the lessons that we had every weekday, the programme is packed with social events, trips and excursions.
I met some incredible people along the way. It is a truly international programme, so I made good friends from Norway, Nigeria, Denmark, Germany, Argentina and the list goes on. Better still, I even keep in contact with most of these people to this day (almost three years later!).
Lets not forget – having attended a summer course is also a fantastic way of showing universities your dedication to, and passion for, the subject you may be applying for. Cambridge Immerse also offered its students the opportunity to speak to current Cambridge University students, to gain some tips and advice for personal statements, interview practice and valuable answers to general questions about life in Cambridge.
As an alumni, I would highly recommend it, if you have the opportunity to go. As an international student, I gained some really helpful insight as to what living in the UK might be like, and to truly immerse yourself into a university culture is something which will undeniably help you feel more prepared for when you actually go.