This student profile is part of a series on the students who attend Pembroke’s vacation programmes.
Jonathan Chng travelled from his home in Singapore to attend the Pembroke-King’s Programme in 2014. Here, he describes his experience:
‘I waited with eager anticipation all summer for 29th June to arrive. After all, this was Cambridge – a grand town with rich history, high quality teaching and scholarship, and Formal Hall. And it was summer, the most beautiful time of the year.
‘I am glad to say, after the Pembroke-Kings Programme, that my time in Cambridge was even more excellent than I had imagined before I arrived.
‘The rigor of the academics was impressive. One of my subjects was International Law – a very different kind of legal subject compared to what I am used to. The instructors were highly knowledgeable and engaging, and distilled for me great insights into the multi-layered, complex interactions that take place within this universe. Many of my classmates were also students of International Relations, which added colour and perspective to our seminar discussions. I made great friends through this class, and I will always remember the energetic discussion on nationalism we had one afternoon, while sipping Earl Grey and munching on scones in Fitzbillies.
[Photo Credit: Adam Saxton]
‘My second subject was an intensive course on Shakespeare, which I pursued out of interest. My love for Shakespeare has grown from respectful admiration to profound adoration. The magic and theatrics of A Midsummer Night’s Dream. The practical chivalry of Falstaff in Henry IV. The madness and internal conflict within Hamlet. The mythically and allure of Cleopatra in Anthony & Cleopatra. The drama of Hermione’s resurrection in A Winter’s Tale. The works of Shakespeare were further brought to life through the plays staged at Cambridge Shakespeare Festival and a performance of Julius Caesar at the Globe Theatre in London.
‘Finally, I took a supervision on the subject of financial regulation. My supervisor assigned a list of books as pre-reading and every week we would engage in a discourse on a current topic in finance, such as the specificity of regulation in relation to banking moral hazards, funds that constitute the shadow banking industry, or the history of financial crises. As a student of law, I benefitted in the exchange of perspective with my mentor, an economist by training, on the nature of rules and their operation in specific contexts.
‘I enjoyed the variety of guest lectures offered by the programme. As a student of the law, I was particularly captivated by the talk entitled To Die or Not To Die delivered by The Rt Hon Sir Alan Ward, a former judge of the Court of Appeal. The talk was about a case that Sir Ward had presided over, concerning the surgical separation of conjoined twins. I had come across the case previously, but this talk infused it with context, emotion and life. I had never heard a judge speak so frankly and passionately about the ethical and legal dilemmas faced over a judgment, not the least one that involved deep questions on the value of life.
‘A whole host of activities were organized by the awesome Programme Assistants: we were truly spoilt for choice. In the midst of a busy academic schedule, I had the chance to participate in a cocktail workshop, a trip to watch the BBC Proms (a classical music festival in London), cream teas on Sunday afternoons and ballroom and Latin dance lessons. On multiple occasions, I punted with a group of friends down the beautiful River Cam under the golden rays of the sun.
‘Separately, I did a solo bicycle tour from Cambridge to Ely, passing through the gorgeous Wicken Fen National Nature Reserve to the towering Ely Cathedral. I tried to retain the precious moments of PKP in photographs – if only for the sake of my poor, fleeting memory.
‘Entering (and winning) the T-shirt design competition gave me a further opportunity to capture all the adventures in PKP within a single frame and to pay tribute to the PAs, whose labours of love made it all possible.
‘Finally, I am grateful for the chance to meet many admirable people on this programme – people studying a wide spectrum of disciplines, of diverse backgrounds and cultural heritage, of multi-faceted gifts and talents.
‘My memories of Cambridge will be formed of the fun experiences and the conversations that we shared together. I am glad for the opportunity to have called Cambridge my home.’