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Mercedes McCambridge - Japanese

Before coming to St John’s College in October 2016, I studied Advanced Higher French, English and Chemistry at a small comprehensive state school in the North of Scotland. I had only done what little Japanese study I could outside of my academic schedule during high school, so choosing to take Japanese to a degree level was a bit of a leap of faith for me. However, looking back now, I am so glad I decided to take the plunge and study what I love at a place that never ceases to amaze me.

My desire to gain a deep knowledge of the Japanese language and my interest in a broad variety of subjects are essentially what drew me towards the Asian and Middle Eastern Studies faculty. I am beyond satisfied with both the intensity and breadth of my course so far; language skills are by no means all you gain, but an understanding of politics, history, sociology and even economics. From day one it is challenging but thoroughly rewarding work, which I find more than satisfactory in terms of pushing myself.

Though I am still only a first year student, the amount of learning I have done in such a short time span still blows my mind. The staff are incredibly dedicated, and classes are small (mine has less than 9 students for example) so teachers are able to give you very close support with your language learning. My DoS here at St John’s in particular has been incredibly helpful and goes out of his way to make sure I am getting the best experience I can from my time at Cambridge.

When I began as a student at St John’s, in all honesty I was expecting not to fit in because of my relatively humble background, but I couldn’t have been more wrong. My College experience has been the cherry on the cake for my whole time at university so far. Living here is like being at a home away from home and I’m always excited to come back to a place where everyone, from the porters and gardeners to the students and professors, makes you feel welcome. There are plenty of clubs to join, and loads of events taking place all the time (of course the May Ball especially is something everyone looks forward to!) which really helps students to find a much-needed balance between work and play.

Yet the thing that has blown me away the most is the sheer amount of opportunities available for students. The staff at St John’s work tirelessly to ensure that its students are able to make the most of their time at here at Cambridge. So whether its access to a variety of ridiculously generous funding packages and bursaries, or travel and internship opportunities, all students are supported from day one by the College so that their prospects extend far beyond their years at the university. All in all, I cannot recommend AMES or St. John’s higher to all students looking for an intellectual challenge and a tight-knit, friendly working environment.   

May 2017