Name: Stephanie Bale
What did you intercalate in and where: BA in Zoology (with Biological Anthropology as a minor subject) at Cambridge
When did you intercalate: After 2nd year
Why did you choose to intercalate?
Well, at Cambridge intercalation is a normal part of the course for most students! Anyone who doesn’t have a degree before they get here does the ‘extra year’. This might make it sound as though I didn’t really pick to do it, but it was one of the reasons Cambridge was my first choice uni, and I was considering doing it if I ended up somewhere else. Why do five years at vet school for one degree, when you could do six and get two? As for why I picked zoology, it was mostly because it offered a lot of variety.
What were the best aspects of your intercalation year?
Am I allowed to say free time? Seriously, compared to the rest of a vet degree there was a lot more chance to relax and enjoy the uni experience. The lecture load was severely reduced (maybe two lectures a day max) which gave me a lot more time to spend hanging out with friends and generally enjoying living in Cambridge. However, I also really enjoyed the course. It was nice to be able to actually pick my modules, and sometimes be able to apply veterinary knowledge to understand them (my anatomy knowledge really helped in the evolution modules, when I already knew the names of most of the bones they were talking about). My dissertation was also one of the highlights of the year. While it was stressful at points, there was definitely a sense of achievement of having written it. In general, I’d say I enjoyed the entire year.
Were there any downsides?
Unlike at most unis I didn’t have the disadvantage of leaving my year group behind, as almost all of them intercalated too! I suppose the only real downsides are the cost (both in money and time) of the extra year. However, I figure we have sufficient student debt that an extra year doesn’t make that much difference, and as you can see it didn’t put me off applying to Cambridge!
Would you recommend intercalation to others?
I can understand why people would be put off - 5 years is a lot of time to spend at uni as it is. However, I did really enjoy my third year, and it gave me both an extra degree and (more importantly) a bit of a break before the start of clinical years. I would thoroughly recommend it to anyone.