Sir James Smith's School

Downing College Visit


On the 15th until the 16th of September 2015, four students each from Sir James Smith’s Camelford, Bodmin College, Fowey River Academy and Looe Community Academy were invited by Downing College to experience the wonders of Cambridge University.


For the students of Sir James Smith’s, the seven hour long journey, beginning at 6:30am was not uneventful. This was due to the jokes, games and nonsense that was joined in by Dr Dixon, the teacher who organised and led the trip.


Being treated to a trip to Cambridge University was an exciting opportunity for all of us, as it allowed us to see one of the world’s best universities for ourselves. In our opinion, when making choices about post-18 education visiting a university in person is far wiser than making important decisions solely based on information and opinions that have come from other people.

Upon our arrival at around midday, we all had lunch and put our bags in our own individual rooms, which will be used by real Cambridge students when their term begins. After that, we had a talk with Lauren Payne, Downing College’s new School and College Liaison Officer, about university life and what the University of Cambridge can offer. We then went on a tour of the beautiful Downing College itself. After the spectacular tour, and a fun creative writing task, we had free time, during which we all went punting. For us, this was the funniest part of the trip. Nobody had done it before and it was hilarious to watch everyone struggle to move the boat. Fortunately, no one went overboard.

Later that evening, after drying off of course, we went out to ‘The Eagle’ pub in the city centre. This pub was very interesting to us students, having studied science for years, as it was where Francis Crick burst in and claimed he had “discovered the secret to life” in 1953 after coming up with his and James Watson’s proposal of the double-helix structure of DNA. After we had drinks (soft drinks, of course, we weren’t all 18), we left and went to bed in our own rooms at Downing College.

The next day as we toured around the grounds of both Downing College and Emmanuel College, we were able to form our opinions about the grounds and the buildings; I personally preferred Downing College because I preferred the aesthetics, taking a liking to the architecture. Although some may say that it’s about the education (not how the university looks), I would say that it’s important that you like the grounds of the university you choose when considering the fact you are going to be living there for three or more years - you want to enjoy your time at university.

Furthermore, it is not only the university itself you want to consider, but the surrounding area - you have to think, would I enjoy living here for three years? Luckily for us, we had plenty of opportunities to explore the city of Cambridge, seeing all the shops, going punting and experiencing the culture of the city. Most of us felt it was a lovely area with great atmosphere, some now considering Cambridge as their post-18 destination .

We then were free to explore the Cambridge area for an hour or so in groups, and that was very exciting, because we got to look in the library, do some souvenir shopping, get some coffee etc. After the groups met up again, we got to look around in the Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology, which had some genuinely fascinating exhibits, many of which were easier to understand because of the knowledge we’d been taught in GCSE Separate Science.

So, overall, this trip was a wonderful experience for everyone involved, and I think everyone who went is immensely thankful for the fun and opportunities provided by both Bodmin and Downing College.

This article was written with the help of Sir Jim's students who were lucky enough to go on the Dowing College trip - Damon Bell, Jas, Annalisa Jernqvist and Emma Davey.



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