To the Next Generation of PKP
The winner is Angie Cornwell, whose letter to a future generation of PKP students is beautifully written and captures everything we love about PKP. Congratulations Angie, and thank you for your blog!
Article originally published on Angie’s blog. Photos also by Angie
I cannot believe it is already the last week of school. The time has gone by so quickly and I leave in less than a week which is so surreal. I thought I would put together a little post for anyone looking to participate in PKP in the coming years with some of the things I have learned while being at Cambridge. So here goes:
1. The diversity you will encounter within your classroom at Cambridge will be unlike any you experience in your home institution.
Not only diversity within their nationalities but also within their academic backgrounds. I have found the conversations that take place in my seminars to be so enlightening because of how diverse the classroom is, each person using their background to bring a unique view to the discussion. It has also been incredible within the social environment to meet people from all over the world and learn their stories and hear about their cultures. I have learned so much about myself and about the world I live in through this program. Meeting so many people from so many different backgrounds has allowed me to see myself within a global context and widen my view of the world. That is something that cannot be taught in a traditional classroom and I am forever thankful for how PKP has helped me see the world.
2. The classroom environments are stock full of people who want to be there.
This is something I struggle with at home because a lot of times it feels like the people in my classes would rather be anywhere else. But here it is completely different. Both students and teachers come with a sense of enthusiasm and curiosity. The teachers are ready to teach but also to learn from their students. I have had the privilege of learning from Eric Tippin, my Cambridge Writers professor, and one day after a class on children literature where we had discussed AA Milne, the author of the Winne the Pooh stories, he took me and a few other students to a bridge in town to play Pooh Sticks. It was such a unique experience for me and I was so touched that he would take the time to interact with us like that outside the classroom. It just goes to show that, though the academics here are rigorous, they are so rewarding. I have learned so much this summer, both academically and not, because of the learning environment here.
3. Cambridge is wonderful. Completely wonderful.
It has so much to offer. It is so wonderful to just walk around the city and to the market, to go to the different colleges, or go to the gorgeous parks. The people are so friendly too. So take in as much of the city as you possibly can. As I approach my last week, I have a very long to do list of things to do in Cambridge still! Also, I had the privilege of taking dance classes at a local studio called Bodywork during my time at Cambridge and it was one of the best choices I made. I met so many people from the area in the class and got to venture outside of the PKP bubble. I even met one guy through Bodywork named Robert and we have become super close friends. This is something that never would have happened if I hadn’t gone to that class, and now he is already planning his trip to come visit me in Chicago.
4. Put your phone down.
Seriously it is so easy to want to be on your phone all the time because you are so far from home, but I found myself using my phone less and less as the program went on and appreciating being in the moment more. One afternoon, I left my phone at home and walked around the city for three hours. It was one of the best afternoons of my time here. Allowing myself to get lost in the streets of the city without feeling like I had to check my phone was so freeing. I have totally been guilty, at times, of letting my phone distract me from being fully present and taking full advantage of my time here, which I regret. So don’t make my same mistake!
5. A train ticket to London costs 11.60 round trip (with a railcard), 16.00 with unlimited tube access.
Go. To. London. The city is so accessible from Cambridge. The days I spent in London were some of my favourite days over the course of the program. Also once you are in London, you have a ton of day trips like Dover (pictured below) or Brighton. A lot of people focus on traveling around Europe as much as possible, which is amazing! It’s totally great to take weekend trips, but they leave you super tired. So keep that in mind. Going to London was what I found to be my favourite way to spend my weekends. If theatre is your thing, which it is mine, the West End is the place to be! The tickets are extremely reasonable, especially compared to Broadway/tour tickets back in the US and there are so many new works that are only in London that you can go see.
Also you can go to so many of the palaces and parks and see really incredible things for not too much money. I will miss London so much once I leave and already cannot wait to come back. It was so cool to be able to visit the city enough that I ventured away from the touristy spots and get to know the city more in depth.
6. Get to know the PA’s, seriously they are so cool.
Go on the social events- both things you like and things you don’t think you will like, you will probably be surprised. They are really incredible people with incredible stories and talents. I have learned so much from them and I am going to miss them all so much! Also get to know the faculty. One formal hall I went to go sit with a group of friends but we found the table was short one setting so I was left without a seat. I eventually found the only open seat in the room, and it was next to Dr. Geeta Kasanga and Rosie Lawrence who are two of the administrative faculty for PKP. I enjoyed that formal hall immensely because I got to talk to them and learn about what they do and how the program works. Rosie was telling me all about the former heads of the college, whose portraits decorate the hall. They were so sweet and welcomed me to their table kindly and I really enjoyed that hall because of them.