By on October 13th, 2023


In this week’s blog, our Cambridge resident and Content Creator Marilia reflects on her experience of her exciting first month at university as an international student.

Name: Marilia Pai

Age: 20

Studying: MPhil Pharmacology

Living at: The Railyard, Cambridge

My First Month at University

Pursuing a degree can be a significant milestone in anyone’s life. For me, this transition brought me to the prestigious University of Cambridge, where I embarked on my MPhil Pharmacology journey. My first month at university, was a whirlwind of new friendships, academic challenges, and personal growth.


Connecting with the Community

One of the first things I did was attend the welcome events organized by the University. These events were a fantastic opportunity to meet fellow students and form early connections. The warm and friendly atmosphere made it easy to strike up conversations and find common ground with others who were navigating the same new beginnings. I also made an effort to connect with my neighbours. Knocking on their doors, introducing myself, and sharing a smile not only made me feel more at ease, but also helped me build friendly relationships with people living nearby. The staff at the reception were instrumental in helping me settle in. Their welcoming demeanour and willingness to assist with any questions or concerns were truly invaluable. Knowing that I had support readily available made the transition much smoother.

Settling into Downing Students Accommodation

My journey began with the excitement of moving into my new accommodation at Downing Students. I was eager to make my room feel like a home away from home, and I wasted no time in personalizing it. Fairy lights adorned the walls, personal photos captured cherished memories, and decorative touches filled the space with my personality. Custom bed sheets added a cosy touch to my sleeping quarters. These small details played a significant role in helping me settle in and feel comfortable in my new environment.

Exploring My New Home

My exploration of the accommodation didn’t stop at my room. I eagerly ventured into the common areas, where I could socialize, study, and relax with fellow residents. The gym facilities offered a convenient way to stay active and maintain a healthy routine. To stay connected and informed, I joined social media groups dedicated to our accommodation.

Discovering Cambridge

Outside the accommodation, I was on a mission to explore the charming city of Cambridge. During my first weeks, I dedicated time to familiarize myself with the city’s layout. I pinpointed essential places like shopping centres, restaurants, supermarkets, and parks making daily life more manageable.

Equally important was acquainting myself with the university campus. I visited the Department of Pharmacology, my assigned college, and various libraries. These would become the academic hubs where I’d spend a substantial amount of my time during my MPhil program.



A Student's Room


Favorite Moments

The first month at university brought countless memorable moments. What stood out most was the warmth and welcoming nature of the people I encountered. I cherished the process of meeting new people, forging connections, and making friends who shared my journey.

Exploring the picturesque streets, iconic colleges, and serene parks of Cambridge was an experience I relished. The city’s rich history and vibrant culture were at my doorstep, waiting to be discovered.

The university itself offered a plethora of opportunities. From joining sports societies to receiving guidance and support from my tutor and mentors, I felt like I was part of a thriving academic community. Traditional events like matriculation, formal dinners, picnics, and balls allowed me to immerse myself in the unique collegiate atmosphere, where I met some truly wonderful individuals.

Challenges Faced

The first month also came with its share of challenges. The academic workload demanded rigorous time management and a commitment to academic excellence.

Adapting to the weather in Cambridge, which often contrasted with the climate of my home country, was an adjustment. I learned to embrace the changing seasons and come prepared for the infamous English rain. Homesickness occasionally crept in, reminding me of the distance from loved ones. Balancing socializing, studying, and settling in required effective time management skills that I had to develop.

Looking Ahead

As I reflect on my first month at university, I’m filled with anticipation for the experiences yet to come. I look forward to immersing myself in the rich cultural offerings of Cambridge, from attending theatres to engaging with guest speakers who will undoubtedly broaden my horizons.

Most importantly, I’m excited about my academic and personal growth during this journey. As I progress through my MPhil programme, I’m eager to discover my true passions and delve deeper into my chosen field of study. The challenges that lie ahead are opportunities for learning and development, and I am determined to embrace them. In the months and years to come, I anticipate making lifelong friendships with people from diverse cultures, interests, and academic backgrounds. The University of Cambridge is a melting pot of talent and knowledge, and I’m excited to be a part of this vibrant community.

My first month at university in Cambridge has been a whirlwind of emotions, experiences, and challenges. I eagerly await the journey that lies ahead, confident that my university experience will continue to shape me into a better, more knowledgeable, and well-rounded individual. You can see my move in journey from Cyprus to Cambridge here!

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