FAQs from a Robinson Undergrad turned Postgrad
Why did you apply to Robinson for your undergraduate degree?
As a female scientist from a state school, in the north of England, I wanted to avoid all of the “big” colleges because I felt that I wouldn’t fit in. I read the alternate prospectus for Robinson and it made me laugh. It sounded like a place that I would like to call home one day. I liked the idea that it was out of the centre of town, but close enough to walk in. The gardens looked really lovely, and I wanted to be able to walk on the grass!
Why did you stay on at Robinson for your Post-grad?
I’ve loved Robinson since my very first day here. Why would I ever want to leave? It is so friendly and welcoming, and it has become my home. Robinson is one of the few colleges that integrate between the years, which I really like. I can’t walk through college without stopping and having a full conversation with a few people! There is always someone you know, whether you are in the café, bar or library. All of the staff are so friendly and watch out for you. The Porters take the mickie out of you, the bar staff always want a bit of gossip, the serving staff love a good natter and the office staff will drop everything to help you. The chapel is gorgeous, the bar provides a place for you to meet friends, the gardens are a great for chilling out in the summer and the rooms are really big! We are also really close to the UL if you feel like an adventure…
Did you enjoy your degree?
Loved it. A Cambridge degree is hard. I don’t think anybody here would say otherwise, but it is worth it. In my first year I was told that at Robinson you “work hard” and you “play hard”, and we do! We have college bops every Friday, and there are some really nice pubs, bars and clubs in town. It’s not quite London, but that’s only a 45 minute train away if you want! The natural sciences degree is brilliant. You don’t have to narrow down which science you want to do immediately and can try out them all in your first year. By the second year, most people have decided on a subject they want to “drop” and by the end of your degree you are specialising in one of the many choices! Robinson is really handy because it is half way between town and the west Cambridge site, where physics, materials science, computer science and now chemical engineering are now based. You can wake up at 8.30 for a 9am if you want to!
What do you do in your spare time?
Cambridge may be a lot of work, and you will find yourself working most of the hours of your day, but there is always time for extra-curricular activities. I swim a lot in my spare time. I also spend a lot of time in the college café/bar because it’s a really good atmosphere to work in during the day, and socialise in during the evening. Both the JCR and MCR organise events ranging from bake-athons, to formals, to group runs! There is a wide variety of people that go to Robinson, meaning it is really easy to make friends in the variety of groups/societies that we have.
What’s the food like?
It’s safe to say you will never go hungry in Robinson! The garden restaurant is open every day for every meal, and the food is really good and the portions are huge.
What is a formal hall?
Formal halls are nowhere near as pompous as they sound. It depends on how you look at it. I think of it as an excuse to take Friday night off work, get dolled up and have a three course meal for a tenner! You can’t beat it. The food is amazing, and if you go with a group of friends and a few bottles of wine, it’s generally a guaranteed good Friday night. You can finish your evening either sat in the college bar with the jukebox on, or head down to the college bop.
What is the work load like?
It varies from course to course, and how effectively you work. I usually was in lectures by 9am, had lectures in the mornings, had labs in the afternoons, and started my work after dinner. I struggle to work after 10pm so would normally head to the bar for some “down-time” before heading to bed. Yes, natural scientists have Saturday morning lectures, but I didn’t mind them. It meant you were out of bed and were starting work earlier than everyone else. It meant that you had more of your day/evening to do sports or other activities.
I’ve heard horrible rumours about the application process. Are they true?
The interviewers at Robinson are lovely. They know you are nervous, and want to get the best out of you, not grill you. They are not going to throw a ball at you when you enter the room, or play good cop bad cop. They will ask you questions, which are meant to be difficult. But they know they are hard, and would prefer you to say “I don’t know” rather than sit and panic. I had no idea for some of my questions, and they just moved onto a question that I did know how to answer.
Should I apply?
Why not? You have 5 options. I never thought in a million years that I would make interview, never mind be made an offer. What have you got to lose?
What is the MCR like at Robinson?
I love Robinson’s MCR. We are definitely one of the more sociable MCRs out of all of the colleges. We get 3 FREE formal halls per term, which are amazing. We hold Sunday brunches, film nights, pub crawls, swaps with other colleges, academic events, bake-offs, bowling trips and many many more things! We take both Masters and PhD students alike, so there is a constant flow of new and old faces at our events. The graduate accommodation may be pricey, but it is really really good! The rooms are spacious and all of the houses have communal areas where you can catch up with your housemates. Living out of college is also popular at Robinson. I never feel secluded from the social side of the MCR despite living out. The common room for the MCR has a huge tele, a kitchen and really comfy sofas where you can chill out on an evening. There’s also the college bar/café if you fancy a change of scenery. Robinson is perfectly placed for most science departments on the west Cambridge site, but it also very close to the centre of town.