The University of Cambridge’s International Summer Programmes has run for over 90 years. It is very popular with people wanting to take some time off work and go back to a classroom to have fun studying again. For me, it is a long-held wish for a first-hand experience in this institute so enriched in culture and heritage.
Late July, I had my wish materialized.
The Programme offers a wide range of topics, from medieval studies to science, law to psychology, history, literature, politics and economics. I enrolled in an interdisciplinary programme. This allowed me to pick three subjects from vastly different fields to make up a personal summer course.
So, I had:
- Words, Deeds and Democracy: British Politics and Political Thought, 1800 to the Present,
- Living film – a Life in Pictures, and
- Great Modern Philosophers
The whole experience turned out to be intensive, totally absorbing and rewarding.
The formal schedule was hectic. Everyday, we had three classes in the morning, one in the afternoon, and one informal talk in the evening. Weekends were packed with excursions. Apart from scheduled activities, there were things to do and see in Cambridge’s downtown and other colleges: plays, concerts, films, bookshops, galleries, museums etc. And then, of course, you can easily spend hours meeting and making friends with fellow students.
My favourite class was by far the one about modern British democracy. The presentation was highly focused, yet rich in big picture contexts. Dr McCann was a very disciplined narrator. He strung together with deft the social and industrial movements of the time that underline the context in which political thoughts were formed and reasoned. His tidy info organization made it easy to follow long stretches of history, and enjoyable to listen to.
One of the evening talks was also priceless. It was about the Enigma code-breaking machine. A cracking mix of war arms, spy tales and secret codes. Dr Grime was an absolute ripper. He is a mathematician by day and does stand-up routines at a local pub on Saturday nights. — Alright, I made up his second job😋😋. What I wanted to say is that his talk was so animated, and aided with the clever use of a camera-projector-combo for visual effects, that he is a dinky-di pro.
I stayed in Selwyn College, one of the University’s 31 autonomous Colleges. It was not my first choice. However, thanks for the misfortune of missing out on my first choice (Clare College), I made do with a top level room in Ann’s Court, Selwyn College. It turned to be the best spot. Selwyn College is all I will recommend to anyone. It is the closest to the Sidgwick Site — a major complex where all summer programme classes are held. Its facilities are modern. The administration staff, housekeeping and dinning room staff are exceptional.
Here are some photos I took at the beautiful Selwyn College: