My name is Catherine Willoughby, and I am hoping to join Murray Edwards this autumn, having been offered a place to study Classics. Last week I travelled to Cambridge for the Offer Holders Overnight Stay, an event which aims to familiarise offer holders such as myself with the college and with each other. I made immediate friends with my student host, a first year Classicist, and it soon became apparent that all the students were equally excited to welcome us to the college they were clearly so proud to be part of.
To present a flavour of the friendly atmosphere, I’ll describe what we got up to once everyone had arrived: after the welcome talk, a laughter-filled tea party in the corridor was followed by dressing up for Formal Hall, then after dinner I headed down to the bar with most of the girls to watch some Cambridge bands perform – a very chilled out way to end a busy and exciting day.
The next morning began with a meeting with my future Director of Studies, and the other Classics offer holders. We got to know each other a little, shared the reasons for our interest in Classics, and had our questions answered. My student host then showed me around the classics faculty and even where to do the weekly shop in town.
The whole experience was, I feel, epitomised by the simple act of hanging a bead on a tree. Sitting in the gloriously sunny college garden, roasting marshmallows over a small campfire and sampling fresh herbal tea brewed by the gardeners, we each chose our favourite from a bunch of large, colourful marbles on metal wires, and attached it to a branch of one little tree. I saw last year’s offer holders’ bead tree twinkling across the path, and it was such a special feeling to be involved in this college tradition. I already felt like part of the Murray Edwards family.
I have come away from the Overnight Stay with a bunch of new friends and a sense of confidence which seems to be one of the most important gifts that Murray Edwards gives to its students. For us, the universally daunting prospect of an unfamiliar environment full of strangers will no longer be a worry when we return in October – on the contrary, I can’t wait to start!