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Gregor McMillan - Chinese Studies

'I'm from Scotland, which means I wear a skirt to social gatherings. I went to a small state comprehensive outside of Edinburgh, where I studied Maths, French, Italian and History at Advanced Higher. In my spare time I worked in a chip shop, where I learnt the difference between 'White Pudding' and 'Black Pudding' and experienced the 'Deep Fried Mars Bar'.

'Following school, I took a year out and took an office job in London, before moving to China, where I quickly became accustomed to being confused all the time, and then took to studying Mandarin to remedy this. Living somewhere as different as China was fantastic preparation for St John's, which is different from any environment that I have previously known.

'I don't remember exactly why I chose to study Chinese (which is part of the 'Asian and Middle Eastern Studies' course in Cambridge), but I like to tell people it's because I wanted to earwig at bus stops. The language is a fantastic challenge, but it's the way this is linked to history and culture which makes studying China quite so rewarding. AMES at Cambridge is a course that grounds you very thoroughly in every aspect of language, history and culture. To achieve this, the pace is intense from day one. I have mornings of classes and spend the afternoon reading, preparing or otherwise pouring over the many characters we are given to learn each week.

'St John's is an amazing place, with its unique selling point being the sheer level of attention each individual student is given. Throughout the year, my Director of Studies (DoS) was always on hand to help. Anywhere that serves sixty-seven (and counting!) varieties of potato must be pretty special!

'The social scene, in a large college like St John's, gives you ample opportunity to employ the mantra 'Work hard, Play hard'. The College has its own gym, squash courts, sports fields and music rooms (all free to use!), which supplement what the University provides. Personally, I spend a lot of time with the boat club, which has socials all through term, some spectacular dinners and an unbeatable sense of camaraderie.

I didn't originally apply to St John's, I was pooled here, but now I can see that this was the best thing ever to happen to me. I wake up every morning in an amazing place, with amazing people, doing amazing things, which I will never forget.'

 - Gregor McMillan, October 2013