Over a year before I start, already Murray Edwards is investing in my future. I wouldn’t have had the courage to choose a gap year; I thought I was ready for university and after a taste at the College’s overnight stay I couldn’t wait to start! But luckily MEC offered me a window onto the bigger picture and now I can’t believe I almost missed out on this incredible opportunity.
Applying to medical school, sandwiched between AS and A levels, made a relentless and tough couple of years, with no time for non-scientific interests – particularly languages, art and novels. But it was definitely worth it for the extraordinary privilege of a year free from obligations, to broaden my self-development in ways completely determined by me. It’s amazingly liberating. And it’s made even more so by having the next stage of my life secured, with a place at Cambridge there waiting for me when the gap year is over!
I’m writing in the lovely sunshine of the south of France, where I’m an Au pair for four months. It’s true that being immersed in another language and getting to know another culture is an incredibly enriching experience. It took a few weeks to detach myself from my old life, family and friends, and at first, concentrating so much for every basic conversation was exhausting. I arrived with only rusty, GCSE-level French, causing me to have my accent totally mocked, take ridiculous numbers of minutes to deliver a single sentence, and even be corrected by a two-year-old! …continue reading…
My gap year began in Paris, where I worked in a tea boutique (a shop that is mentioned on Gossip Girl, no less!). This was a fantastic experience for me, since I found myself living alone in a foreign country, which opened the door to so many new adventures. Not only did I learn the wonderful, diverse culture of tea but I also took advantage of living in one of the culinary capitals of the world and expanded my recipe books daily. Having never left the comfort of my parental home before, I was more than a little daunted by the prospect of being entirely independent in such a busy city but within a month I could almost pass for a real Parisienne.
During my days off, I shadowed a neurologist at the world-renown teaching hospital la Pitié-Salpêtrière, which, under the patronage of Charcot, became known as the birthplace of modern neurology. I attended clinics for young patients suffering from Tourette’s Syndrome and learnt more about a disease that I had previously known very little about. While this experience was fascinating from a scientific point of view, it was also thought provoking to learn more about how this syndrome affected the lives of the patients.
I returned to England in January, and spent several months tutoring students in subjects ranging from Maths and Physics to Spanish and Latin. I felt a real sense of pride in these students when they achieved the results I knew they were capable of. It was absolutely fantastic to be able to share in the joy of someone who got full marks on a maths test they had previously failed.
And then, before I knew it, my bags were packed and I was about to embark on a road trip across America. That first night, I couldn’t sleep at all – whether because of the jetlag or the excitement, I couldn’t say. They say a journey of a hundred miles begins with a single step. My journey of over 2000 miles of open road began with a single step into a puddle. The uncharacteristically rainy weather that followed me did nothing to dampen my enthusiasm, however. I really adored absorbing all the different cultures that make up the United States, and found it interesting that crossing a state line was well and truly like entering a new country. …continue reading…