I made the long journey south in 2016, leaving Falkirk for Trinity Hall, Cambridge. I had been crossing my fingers for most of my last year at Dollar Academy and was still in a state of mild disbelief when the text came from the SQA with my exam results.
There was only one other Scot in my year, who ended up in the same accommodation block as me. Homesickness manifests in different ways; by the end of the year we had developed a taste for Skerryvore, and tried and failed to learn Gaelic. That said, Trinity Hall became a second home in the three years I was there. For me, that was one of the greatest, most unexpected parts of the Cambridge experience, and the one that was hardest to leave.
At the initial ‘personal statement’ stage of applications I was still debating whether it was English or History I should be applying for. This combined with a tendency to overthink meant that I second-guessed every word I wrote. I found it helpful to get as many pairs of eyes on it as possible – friends, teachers, family members, no-one escaped. Later, when I was invited to interview, I was a little star-struck when I realised that one of my interviewers was also a popular TV historian whose documentary I had recently watched. Definitely research your interviewers in advance!
Evidently, after some soul-searching, I realised that my future lay in History; it would allow me to combine all elements of the subjects I enjoyed. I was able to explore this throughout my degree and it quickly developed into a passion for cultural history. In three years I explored topics ranging from medieval popular belief, to identity formation in nineteenth-century Charleston, to the Russian avant garde, and became intimately acquainted with the University Library.
Aside from the course itself, I spent most of my time over-committing. In first year my parents conspired with the women’s football coach to rope me into the team, having never played a game in my life. I was involved, more successfully, in my college’s JCR (Student’s Union), History Society, Arts Society, and the University’s Scottish Society.
Beyond a vague notion of further study, I had no idea what I wanted to do once I graduated, and over the past two years have worked in two very different industries; beauty, and banking. The history-bug stuck though; in October I am planning to begin an MPhil in Modern British History.