Sidney is such a friendly College, and its small size means that you’ll get to know your year, and lots of students in other years really quickly. It’s also conveniently located at the centre of Cambridge, so many of the shops, restaurants, clubs and theatres are within a five-minute walk away.
Our College normally has about five or six English students per year, and you’ll have supervisions with each other in small groups or pairs. Each term you’ll have a supervisor for the time period that you’re studying (eg Medieval literature) and another for Practical Criticism (responding to unseen texts). All this is organised by our Director of Studies (DoS), who you’ll meet at the beginning of the year (and start and end of each term), and can contact if you have any questions or issues. You may also be aware of the College family system, where you’ll have one or two ‘siblings’ in first year and a couple of ‘parents’ from second year. One of your parents will likely be an English student so you can always as them for any advice/clarifications as well. One of the nice things about the English course at Sidney is that you won’t have any formal exams in the first year. Our DoS wants us to be able to spend the first year mostly enjoying exploring the texts without worrying too much about exams, so though you’ll have a few internal College mocks, you won’t have any University-wide exams looming over you at the end of the year.
As so much of the English course is based around independent reading and writing, there are fairly few contact hours. Our lectures take place in the mornings (Monday to Friday) and tend to run in series.
You’ll also have two or three classes or supervisions each week, in the afternoons. The rest of the time you’ll be left to do your independent work, which usually means writing a weekly essay. There are three main libraries for us to use, and staff are always happy to help if you have queries: the College library, which is open 24hrs a day, the faculty library; and the University library (UL). You’ll have inductions as to how the libraries work in freshers’ week, but don’t worry if the UL still seems confusing several terms in! There are also plenty of more relaxed settings where you can work if you prefer, like cafés (I recommend the one in Waterstones), the College gardens (when the weather’s good) or College/faculty rooms which you can book out for group studying.
Apart from studying, you’re also here to enjoy your university experience, and it’s important to give yourself time to relax. There are so many societies, both within College and University-wide, which you can get involved in. Societies are a great way to get away from work for a little while and to mingle with students from other years or Colleges. We have some great spaces in the College for chilling with friends as well, such as the JCR which is stocked with board games, consoles and DVDs, and the College bar, which is student-run.