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My Reflections on a Year in Cambridge

Time:2018-10-08 10:23:11

At 8:30 p.m. on 24th September 2011, I arrived at London Heathrow Airport with great excitement and a little anxiety. This marked the beginning of my new life studying and working in the UK, which is now in its seventh year.

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My hard work at University of Exeter landed me one of two exchange opportunities at the University of Hong Kong, as well as, a year later, the most exhilarating moment so far in my life: an offer of MPhil in Real Estate Finance (REF) from the University of Cambridge.

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Cambridge University is one of the most prestigious universities in the world, with an unsurpassed global reputation for outstanding academic achievement. During the Induction Week, we were told the learning and survival strategies in Cambridge and the institution is different compared to other universities. The key difference is the requirement to be proactive and to remember that you are not merely passively listening to a lecturer in order to obtain a degree.

 

Most of our modules have solid theoretical foundations and practical implications. For example, Real Estate Fund Investment, Macroeconomics and Housing, Project Modelling & Decision methods embodied theoretical and practical elementsIn addition, we had weekly academic and industrial seminars delivered by professors and professionals from all over the world, who bring innovative academic studies and combine them with real-life cases. The most interesting module in my opinion was Real Estate Development, which entails a team project on land development. I was part of a team of six students with different backgrounds, including an architect from Ghana, a former officer from the World Bank in Indonesia and former surveyor from JLL Hong Kong. We accomplished a project with distinction that included the planning, design and valuation of a development and presented our proposal to a group of senior managers from a real estate private equity fund. Furthermore, to allow us to better apply our knowledge to real-life scenarios.The programme also included field trips to London and Madrid to visit popular properties, top real estate companies, and Real Estate Funds. I was also privileged to be the Student Representative for MPhil and PhD students in the Department of Land Economy within the Student Liaison Committee and Board of Land Economy of the University, which afforded me an opportunity to facilitate some changes within the department.

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The University of Cambridge provides an outstanding careers service for students, including careers fairs, networking events, personal consultations and interview practice sessions. The Department of Land Economy in particular handed out CV books to hundreds of companies to assist students in promoting themselves effectively. I was contacted by the HR representative of my current company, Euler Hermes, and fortunately I was able to secure a full-time position before finishing my studies. I have met many senior people in the industry and obtained very useful advice.I believe that the University of Cambridge is a badge of honour and it has one of the most powerful alumni networks in the world, which has the capacity to help me with my further studies or with careers advice for the rest of my life.

 

Cambridge is not only about academia and careers but it is also a place for a great deal of fun. The University of Cambridge is one of the world's oldest universities, which was established in 1209. It is rich in history and has many traditions, including the collegiate system. There are 31 colleges in Cambridge and I attended the most international - Wolfson College. A college is a place where students live and have tutorials. Most of them have accommodation, a canteen, a library, a common room, gardens and a chapel. One thing to bear in mind is that colleges are not departments, therefore, students in a college are from mixed academic backgrounds.

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One of my favourite traditions is the formal dinner, which is a three-course dinner where students must wear gownssenior members in the colleges sit on the high tables. Mobile phones are prohibited during formal dinners and students are seated mainly with people whom they do not know, with the intention to allow students to mingle with people from different courses and broaden their knowledge and networks to new areas. For example, I met PhD students in Theology, Biochemistry, and Politics and former officers in the Japanese Ministry of Finance.

Every June after final exams, a May Ball is organized by each college for students to celebrate the end of the Lent term. I went to the ball held by St John’s College, which has been ranked as the 7th best party in the world. Guests in previous years have included celebrities and royalty.

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I also participated in various societies, including the Cambridge Union Society - the oldest continuously running debating society in the world, as well as in fencing, rowing, shooting, golf and wine-tasting. Recently, I obtained my Wine and Spirit Level II Certificate with distinction. Traveling is my other great interest, as I like to explore different cultures. So far I have been to more than ten countries in Europe, including France, Italy, Germany, Spain, Switzerland and Greece. 

Having lived abroad and away from my family for more than six years, I have seen myself grow in various ways. I have become more independent in that I can confidently cook, fix home-ware and even unblock drains. I have learnt how to deal with loneliness and homesickness, even though my parents are always at the other end of the phone to help me, and I have made lots of friends from all over the world. My international exposure has prepared me to collaborate with people from different cultures and backgrounds. Moreover, I have become calmer, more resilient and confident in my ability to face any issues.

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My year in Cambridge not only provided me with advanced knowledge relating to real estate finance and the capacity to conduct research, but it also taught me how to think deeply, thoroughly and critically, how to make the most of the opportunities that I have been presented and how to strive to realize my ambitions.

 

I would like to share with you a message from University’s alumni package, which deeply resonates with me:

“Dear World,

The people who arrive in this city change Cambridge. The ideas that leave this city change the world.

Yours,

Cambridge”

I would like to take this opportunity to extend my gratitude to all of the teachers in JXUFE who have

helped me.

 

By Tian GU (International Finance 104)