I first laid eyes on Cambridge when I went there for my interview in December 2013 and I must say, it is indeed every bit as beautiful as it appears in photos and postcards. Upon arriving at Cambridge, I immediately realised that I had forgotten to bring formal shoes to match my suit. It caused me great distress as I looked to my worn-out sneakers, which even had holes (on the left near my little toe) in them and I was so sure that I was going to give a horrible first impression. Shopping for new ones were out of the question as I didn’t have much cash on me at the time and I was already due to fly back to Malaysia the day after my interview. In the end, I decided that I’d just hope that nobody would notice that my shoes were completely out of place.
My misadventure then started when I was dropped off by the taxi at the Gonville & Caius main Porter’s Lodge (or as they call it, the ‘plodge’), when in fact I was supposed to check into my room at Harvey Court plodge. Luckily, a kind senior who happened to be there offered to show me the way, and led me to Harvey Court by passing through King’s College. I should take this time to mention that King’s College is what most people think the whole of Cambridge looks like, as it’s always shown in postcards and pictures of Cambridge. I collected my room key from the porter’s lodge and proceeded to lug my suitcase up two flights of stairs to a room in the K-block near Harvey Court. I remember spending the night worrying over my interview, and desperately trying to memorise the process of aerobic respiration.
The next day, I spent most of my time in the JCR at Old Courts, waiting for my interviews and generally having panic attacks while listening to other people talk about their interviews. My first interviewer started the interview by asking me a few questions about my work experience to help me settle down and make me less nervous about the interview, and followed this up with questions relating to my work experience. Since I talked about how I had learnt to take blood pressure while volunteering at a nursing home and mentioned that I shadowed a urologist, I received questions pertaining to these experiences. I was also asked about the latest issue of biological sciences review and what the main story was, but I could not give an answer as amidst all my other interview preparations, I did not manage to find the time to keep up with it. That made me feel pretty bad, and was definitely not the best morale booster.
My second interviewer also tried to make me less nervous by talking about his experiences in Malaysia when I told him I was Malaysian, but soon after, he cut the chit-chat and moved on to the serious stuff. This interview was mostly a discussion about the various organelles inside a cell, specifically focusing on mitochondria and their respective functions.
The third interview was the one I felt I screwed up the most, but I suppose it was my fault for not studying my AS syllabus in enough detail. We discussed about the organelles of the cell again (mostly about the mitochondria) and then moved on to discuss the sex chromosomes, followed by a series of questions about kidneys and oxygen dissociation curves.
I made sure to thank each of my interviewers after the interview for their time and also for teaching me something new, because I truly did learn something new in each interview. I should also note that each interview is conducted sort of like a typical supervision, so as to give a taste of what Cambridge life would be like.
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