After reading posts on the forum, there appears to be some interest in the International summer programme at Cambridge University. I attended the Creative Writing Summer program in August 2019, and I’d like to share my experiences and also a trip report on what my wife and I did for a week in Cambridge. If the moderators think this should be in the Study Abroad forum, please feel free to move it there.
I had visited both Cambridge and Oxford over 40 years ago, while backpacking through Europe after college. I liked Cambridge more than Oxford because of its more outdoor and rural ambiance and ever since then, studying at Cambridge had been on my bucket list of things to do. I probably should have done this 40 years ago, but better late than never.
Institute of Continuing Education (ICE) International Summer Programme
You don’t have to be a genius with top entrance exam scores to attend a summer program. Although there is an application process, and you have to write a short essay on why you want to attend, my gut feeling is that if you pay the fees and can speak English (to the University’s satisfaction), you can attend the summer program. I don’t think you even need a previous college degree, but everyone in my programme had one. The official website for the summer program is https://www.ice.cam.ac.uk/courses/international-summer-programmes
There are many programmes to choose from. Popular ones are Shakespeare, Medieval Studies, English Law and History. Most summer courses are for two weeks during July and August, but a lot of students, including myself, only attend one week. Applications for Summer 2020 opens in December 2019.
In the Creative Writing Program, we had to choose one topic ( Fiction, Non-fiction, etc.) per week and each topic met for two daily classroom sessions with the professor. We were also required to attend a plenary lecture on a specific literary topic. Attendance was mandatory and we had to sign in every day to prove we attended the class and plenary lecture.
If you are living in the dorms, breakfast was from 7:45 – 8:45. Classes started at 9:15 am. There was an hour and 15 minutes lunch break at 12:30 pm. Class ended at 3:15 pm and then dinner was served in the college dining room from 6:30 to 7:30. Each evening there was optional lecture at 8 p.m. in Lady Mitchell hall that was open to everyone in all programmes. There was free time in the afternoon, but not for those who had homework assignments due.
Most programmes did not have homework assignments with deadlines, though all programmes had reading assignments, which could be done in the evenings at your leisure. But, the Creative writing programme did have a writing assignment due every day by 6:15 pm, just before dinner.
While the course is sponsored by Institute of Continuing Education (ICE) out of Madingley Hall, the actual classes were held at the Sidgwick Site, very close to town. My class room was in the Alison Richard building and we also met in Lady Mitchell Hall. That location made it very convenient for students living in any of the four dorm locations to walk to class. The Sidgwick site is located west of the river and the Kings Parade, so if you were staying at St. Catherine’s or Gonville and Caius (pronounced “keys”) college dorms, you would walk from the Kings Parade area, past the old colleges, cross over the river on Silver Street with a wonderful scenic view of the Mathematical Bridge and the River Cam, and onwards to the Sidgwick Site.
Living in the College dorms
For those that stay in one of the four college dorms, most rooms are single rooms, some with ensuite (at additional cost). Otherwise the bathroom was down the hall. There were some double rooms for couples who were both attending the programme, but spouses who were not students could not live in the dorms with you.