Throwback Thursday with Nigel Warburton

About our writer

Mark O’Brien is an undergraduate at Gonville and Caius College, University of Cambridge, and studies Philosophy. A veteran Mentor of Cambridge Immerse 2016, he loved it so much he decided to take part again this year.

He will be spending his time this year making friends, practicing his punting technique, and inevitably debating why Cambridge is better than Oxford with students.

The sun came out again this morning! Participants in academic sessions covered a wide variety of topics, ranging from waves and radiation in Physics, to the intricacies of corporate finance in Management.

Many participants have also already started having Personal Statement Consultations and Mock Interviews with Mentors. These sessions are catered to each individual student’s academic needs, whether that be Oxbridge applications, general university advice, or just aiding deliberations over what subject students find most compelling to study! Thus far, students seem to have found them very helpful, but they are also particularly fulfilling for team Mentors, who might end up having a big impact on the next few years of a student’s life!

The rain started just before the afternoon activity – leaving some nervous that they would get drenched on the chauffeured punting tours. Luckily though, as the punts left the bank of the river, the sun came out and stayed shining for the rest of the voyage. Chauffeurs very skilfully divulged yet more trivia to students about some of Cambridge’s 96 Nobel Prize winners, whilst also managing to steer clear of ducks and other vessels along the river. Other students remained back in College, utilizing Brazilian drums and Agogo bells to produce a formidable (and, at least, partially) enjoyable parade of sound.

At this stage of the week, there is a strong sense of comradery among students and Mentors. During dinner, one participant was treated to a loud rendition of Happy Birthday (with everyone present joining in), along with gifts of cake and flowers. Afterwards, some students unleashed their creative side with a much anticipated ‘Cake and Canvas’ evening, creating visual masterpieces whilst enjoying a slice (or two!) of cake. Meanwhile, some opted for a quieter evening reviewing some of the material covered during the day in Homework Club, with Mentors on hand to iron out any difficulties grasping new concepts and ideas.

Other participants attended a talk given by the (quite famous) Nigel Warburton, a freelance philosopher best known for the podcast Philosophy Bites (which has had over 33 million downloads worldwide). His writing has also been published in many newspapers and magazines, including The Guardian and Economist. This skill in communicating complex and abstract ideas in a fun, accessible way, is best illustrated by the fact that Katy Perry was recently photographed reading a book he authored! Students were thoroughly stimulated by his talk, which centred around different conceptions of freedom (political, metaphysical and neurological) – and Warburton himself was highly impressed by the competence of questions he received afterwards.

Here at Cambridge Immerse, we do our best as Mentors to teach and guide our students through what is undeniably one of the most formative, but also disarmingly uncertain periods of their lives. Yet as the week progresses and students begin to open up, we find ourselves continually surprised and impressed by the remarkable ambition, maturity and talent that they exhibit at such a young age.

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