The University of Cambridge International Summer Programmes has run for over 90 years. It is very popular with people wanting to take some time off work, go back to a classroom and have fun with learning again. This year, the Programmes include Ancient and Classical Worlds, Shakespeare, Medieval Studies, Creative Writing, English Law and Legal Methods among the usual subjects in science, literature, history, politics, economics and so on.
For years I had longed for first-hand experience in this institute so steeped in culture and heritage. Finally I got organised enough to materialise it. I enrolled in an interdisciplinary programme, which allows me to pick three vastly different subjects to make up my summer programme. My three subjects are: “Words, deeds and democracy: British politics and political thought, 1800 to the present”, “Living film – a life in pictures?” and “Great modern philosophers”.
The whole experience turned out to be intensive, absorbing and rewarding.
The formal schedule is hectic. Everyday, we have three classes in the morning, one in the afternoon, and an evening talk after dinner. Weekends are packed with excursions. Outside of the schedule, there were things to do and see in any of the other colleges and downtown Cambridge: plays, concerts, films, bookshops, galleries, museums etc. And then, of course, you can easily spend hours on end meeting and making friends with other students.
My favourite class is by far the one about modern British democracy. The presentation is highly focused, yet selectively rich in big picture contexts. Dr McCann is a very disciplined narrator. He strings together with deft the social and industrial movements of the time that underline the context in which political thoughts are formed and reasoned. Such tidy organisation of information makes following long stretch of history easy and enjoyable.
One of the evening talks is also priceless. It is about the Enigma code-breaking machine. Dr Grime is an absolute ripper. His talk is a cracking mix of war arms, spy tales and secret codes. Dr G is a mathematician and does stand-up routines at a local pub on Saturday nights. ——- Alright, I made up his second job 😜😜. What I wanted to say is his talk was jolly animated, aided with the clever use of a camera-projector-combo for visual effects spooking everyone out.
I stayed in Selwyn College, one of the University’s 31 autonomous Colleges. It was not my first choice (Clare College). However, now I have lived there, Selwyn is all I will recommend to anyone. It is closest to the Sidgwick Site — a major classroom complex. The facilities are modern. The administration staff, housekeeping and dinning room staff are exceptional.
Here are some of photos I took.