Claire Huxley - MML
'I studied French, English Literature and Politics for my A-Levels at a mixed grammar school in Buckinghamshire. I applied to St John’s for deferred entry and spent nine months of my gap year in the Vendee region of France teaching English in primary schools, after which I volunteered in Malaysia for two months.
My parents both went to Swansea University but I didn’t know anybody who had been to Cambridge and when I made my application I had never been to an Open Day or even visited the city, so I didn’t know anything about the different colleges. Despite this, picking St John’s was actually one of the easiest parts of my application. In hindsight I think not knowing anything about Cambridge was actually quite helpful, as it meant I chose the college that I really wanted to go to without being influenced by other people’s opinions or stereotypes. In the end I just decided to take a long look through the prospectus and pick the college which felt right.
I’ve never ever regretted coming to St John’s. Not only is it a beautiful place to live and work, but its size and age means that there’s a staggering number of resources available that you don’t always have access to at other colleges. From travel grants and squash courts to a student-run cinema and the best May Ball in town, St John’s has so much to offer and as a student here you feel like one of the ‘lucky ones’ in a wider university where there are already so many opportunities. In my first year I was part of the JCR, which is like the College’s student council. It is responsible for representing students’ interests and St John’s College at Cambridge-wide meetings. I’m also really involved with CamFM, Cambridge’s student radio station; I present three shows a week and have just come back from France where CamFM were broadcasting a week of coverage from Cambridge’s annual ski trip.
The MML course is a mixture of language and literature. For the language components we work in the target language, honing our translation, oral and writing skills and almost all of our teachers are native speakers. However, for the literature side of the degree we read Francophone or Hispanic texts (and sometimes watch films) and write essays about them in English. Initially, everybody studies the same texts, but as you progress through your degree you’re given a very wide choice of papers; this year I’m taking a paper in Latin American literature which is fascinating.
John’s is also very good at giving extra academic support to its students; for example, when some of the ab initio students (people who started the language from scratch) had difficulty with our Spanish grammar in first year, John's immediately made arrangements for the extra help we needed to do well in our exams. We also have an MML Society in College which allows the different year groups to meet each other and talk about languages and their studies; this has been especially helpful for me this year as it has given me the chance to talk about some current fourth years about their experiences on their year abroad. My current plan is to go to somewhere in Latin America next year to teach English. In the future, I think I would either like to pursue a career in radio, perhaps at the BBC World Service, or go down the not-for-profit route and work with NGOs abroad.'
- Claire Huxley, January 2013 (2nd Year MML, French & Spanish ab initio)