On Thursday 27th February, thirty Year 10 students were selected to visit Gonville and Caius College at the University of Cambridge, along with retired staff (one of which had previously attended Cambridge) who came along to support the trip. The day was facilitated by Schools Liaison Officer Katy Lewis, who delivered presentations and organised activities such as debating and timetabling.

Katy informed us of the college system, application process, accommodation, courses and societies. She also dispelled a few myths such as Cambridge only being for “privately educated white boys” and emphasised the importance of enthusiasm and passion for your course as the school looks for those who have the intellect and determination to flourish in the Cambridge learning environment.

We were also very fortunate as the following activity involved an ex-WSFG student Charlotte who is currently studying history. She hosted a tour of the college, showing us around the library and even Stephen Hawking’s memorial stone. We were also able to see the city’s stunning architecture and the blend of tradition with modernity provided many opportunities for photos. Moreover, we also got to learn about fun traditions such as signing a book as part of the initiation ceremony (which contains signatures of students dating centuries back) and superstitions particularly surrounding the Gate of honour. Charlotte also talked about the nightlife and revealed popular destinations such as the Gardenia restaurant (which is famous for its kebabs) and Mathematical bridge.

The inclusivity and a strong sense of community were very impressive to see. With an emphasis on community, students often dine together and all first years partner up to create “families” as a way of reflecting this belief. Furthermore, it was astonishing to see the university’s willingness to help its students through its extensive range of bursary schemes, pastoral support and unparalleled supervision system of small group teaching. It certainly lives up to its reputation of being one of the most diverse colleges by notably being among the small number of the oldest colleges to fly the rainbow flag to celebrate LGBT+ Pride Month.

Amira Slimani, 14 said: “I think the Cambridge trip was an amazing opportunity as I could see what life at university would be like. It was inspiring and has made me want to work to the best of my abilities to achieve my goal of studying there.”

Hibah Munir, 14 said: “It provided me with an insight into university life and I particularly enjoyed exploring the facilities such as the library. The fact that it went underground was really cool! I also enjoyed seeing the campus and the city’s picturesque landscapes.”

Sindy Elezkurtaj, 15 said: “Personally, I felt that the trip to Cambridge was certainly necessary and very useful for the future to come. It was an eventful, interesting day, we learnt many things and we saw it for ourselves. In my perspective, it was definitely not what I had pictured it to be, instead of it being in a large building, it was separated into different colleges. It gave us an insight into what it would be like which is going to help us when deciding what direction, we would like to head in. After the trip, it showed me that I would love to attend Cambridge in my further education. I loved the trip, it was a lovely day with all the other girls, the people we got to meet and everything we got to see at Gonville and Caius College and the rest of the area nearby. If I had the opportunity, I would certainly go again!”

Needless to say, with many students seeing their dream of attending this school as more of a realistic and exciting prospect, it was a very successful visit providing many stimulating and engaging activities. It was a great way to encourage students to raise their aspirations as well as proving that universities of such high calibre are not beyond their attainment.

Romayssa Sebai