A Cambridge Reflection

12 Sep 2023

Amber Spurway: Amber’s reflection on her recent travel experience, funded through a Liveris Academy travel support grant.

The first time I stepped foot inside the Girton College grounds at the University of Cambridge was definitely a pinch-me moment. Fuzzy little bunny rabbits and black squirrels darted around the sprawling college grounds behind me, and in front of me stood the awe-inspiring Victorian-era red brick buildings of the college. Fast forward a few hours and I was in my first formal dining hall surrounded by students in black robes while a man at the front of the hall spoke in Latin and struck a ceremonial gong, and the pinch-me moment had been upgraded to an I’m-definitely-dreaming moment. Four short weeks later I am back in Brisbane and still pinching myself as I think about what an incredible experience my short-term exchange was. 

When the Liveris Academy offered to support me in completing a short-term exchange at Cambridge,
I jumped at the opportunity. I chose to study business, with modules on business strategy, business leadership, and responsible investing. As an engineering student, this was outside my normal realm of study, but it was an exciting opportunity to try something new and broaden my skill set. A highlight was the teachings around incorporating ESG principles into business and investment strategies, which allowed me to build on conversations around sustainability we have had within the Academy. All three of my lecturers normally taught as part of the master’s programs at the Judge Business School at Cambridge and had an impressive collection of highly cited papers between them, so the education I received was world-class. 

A typical day at college would start with breakfast in the very Harry Potter-esque college dining hall with the other students from my college, before lectures in the old library hall. After lunch again together back in the dining hall, we would have the rest of the day free to explore the sprawling college grounds or wander around the rest of Cambridge. As the third-oldest university in the world, Cambridge is packed with history, and so there was always something new (and by new, I mean really, really old) to see. 

There were also plenty of other things going on at college outside class including formal dining halls, traditional English afternoon teas, and a packed social activity schedule. From evenings spent watching Shakespeare in various college gardens, to touring our way through Cambridge’s many pubs (in a purely educational capacity of course), there was always something to do. I also had the chance to explore the rest of the UK, with weekends in Edinburgh and London, and lots of day trips around the country including to Ely, Stamford, and Oxford just to name a few. 

Saying goodbye to my new friends and new home (and the squirrels) at the end of the four weeks was a lot more difficult than I had anticipated, and I very begrudgingly packed up my suitcase. I will always treasure my time spent at Cambridge. Not only did I benefit from an excellent educational environment, but I was also exposed to so much history and culture and got the chance to meet people from all around the world who I will be sure to stay in touch with. None of this would have been possible without the Liveris Academy, and I am incredibly grateful for their support. I highly encourage anyone who has the chance to participate in an overseas experience to make the most of it. I know that I will be pinching myself when I think about it for a long time to come.