Sophia Crüwell - Philosophy
I am from Germany, and also finished school with the German Abitur. Coming to Cambridge to do Philosophy without ever having written a proper essay assignment in English before was scary, but supervisors are really helpful with this and after a while I got used to it like everyone else.
To me, the subject choice was not clear for a long time. There are just so many interesting things! I ended up deciding to apply for Philosophy because the course offers many of the things I was and am most interested in. The reason why I chose to come to the UK for this is because the way of doing Philosophy is (mostly) very different between the UK and Germany. I much prefer the analytic approach. In first year, I especially enjoyed the mathsy logic course, but quite a few people were surprised that this was part of their Philosophy degree. You don’t need Mathematics to A-level to do Philosophy, but it is quite useful!
The teaching is fantastic. Most of the time is spent on preparing for supervisions, which are mostly one-on-one. Of course there are also smaller classes - for example to teach logic - discussion groups, and lectures. Sometimes it does get very stressful, but overall the work is manageable and, ultimately, very exciting.
As colleges go, St John’s is pretty incredible. I actually only chose it by accident, because I didn’t have time to visit Cambridge before applying. That accident turned out to be a lucky one - now I would not choose to go anywhere else. The people are interesting and welcoming, the food in the buttery delicious and inexpensive, the buildings and grounds beautiful, and the accommodation unparalleled in Cambridge. Apart from that, St John’s has a huge number of societies you can get involved with. Among other things, I have rowed with the Lady Margaret Boat Club, sung with St John’s Voices and I was even involved in organising our May Ball, which is the 7th best party in the world according to Time Magazine (I still have not found any reference to this that wasn’t in one of the student newspapers, but the fact that not many people doubt this speaks for itself really…).
Another big advantage of St John’s is the strong support system in place should things go wrong. In second year, I had to take a year out because I was ill. Everyone, from my tutor, to my Director of Studies, to the college nurse and the chaplain, was unbelievably helpful. Even the porters and the bar staff were there for me and concerned about me! This support is always there, not only in worst case scenarios. In my opinion, St John’s really is the best college because of that strong support from all directions, and the generally very encouraging and friendly atmosphere.
Sophia Crüwell - September 2016