Student Stories - New Undergraduates 2023.

Pleased to meet you! Over the next few weeks we'll be introducing some of the new undergraduates starting at Homerton in October. Orla Hunt.

By Emma Menniss 5min read

I am going to be studying Human Social and Political Sciences, (HSPS).  When looking at potential courses I found HSPS to offer a unique blend of social sciences that really appealed to me, especially as I studied Politics, Economics and Geography at A level.  I felt that HSPS offered the chance to dive deeper into the political world whilst also being able to branch into new areas such as Sociology and Anthropology.

A team Effort

My school, Bishop Stopford, is state school in the town of Kettering serving approximately 1400 pupils.  As head girl I worked closely with the pupils and also the teaching staff who were a constant source of support especially through the very challenging Covid pandemic.   I didn't originally apply to Cambridge however during my final year of A levels I decided that if my A level results were good enough I would take a year out and apply the following year.  It was in Year 13 where I really found my passion for the subjects that I was studying and I felt Cambridge would be the best place to continue my studies in a progressive and fast paced environment  - which is exactly the kind of way I like to study.  My school were then hugely supportive in helping me think through my personal statement and preparing for interviews.  It felt like a team effort! 

Solo backpacking in Thailand and Vietnam - an experience I will cherish forever

In order to fund my travels I spent 4 months working in central London for a financial search firm, where I was exposed to the financial sector from a really interesting perspective, including hiring crypto traders for global banks.  I then spent two months solo backpacking throughout Thailand and Vietnam. 

I was lucky enough to visit some incredible places and meet interesting people from all over the world. The highs definitely stem from the memories I shared with people while I was out there. I found that people of all ages were friendly and interested in one another's journeys and stories. Connecting with individuals from all walks of life, whether they were travelers or local residents, enabled me to better understand people and appreciate the beauty in various personalities and ways of living. Traveling alone allowed me to gain complete autonomy over my activities, the places I visited, and the people I got to know. This was a very liberating experience that also allowed me to get to know myself better, understanding what I enjoyed and valued the most in each destination. 

One key highlight, however, was the Ha Giang Loop, this was a four-day motorcycle trip around the North of Vietnam. During this trip, we rode through stunning landscapes and stayed in homestays each night, enjoying local food and drinking lots of 'happy water' with a group of young travelers and local riders. The breathtaking views, including incredible mountains and waterfalls, left me captivated. Observing the local villages and their way of life was eye-opening and fascinating. Overall, it was an experience I will cherish forever. 

Orla Hunt backpacking

Nonetheless, there were inevitable lows. As someone who loves being around people, I spent a significant amount of time traveling from place to place on my own. For example, some journeys lasted over 24 hours on crowded buses and sleeper trains in Vietnam, with no native English speakers to communicate easily with. These experiences were very challenging and lonely at times. Additionally, inevitable mistakes, such as booking the wrong nights at a hostel, forced me to take care of situations and rely on myself to resolve certain issues, as no one else was there to assist me. While I did struggle and miss the comforts of home and the people I feel most comfortable around, I believe that it was during these low periods that I learned the most about myself.

I discovered how far I could be pushed and tested as an individual. On reflection, these experiences gave me the confidence and self-assurance that future life struggles are not permanent or defining. No matter how difficult or painful they may be, I now know that I have the strength to push through them and use them as lessons for personal growth. Solo traveling is an experience I would recommend over and over again to anyone, and I really look forward to new adventures and exploring new destinations around the world in the future!

After my solo trip, I returned to work in London to replenish my funds before heading to Europe for a month with friends.  It was a tight schedule that included taking 19 trains and various buses across 9 countries.  One of my favorite places being Lake Bled in Slovenia!  Travelling  taught me that you can survive uncomfortable 20 hour bus journeys, hostels with bed bugs and being on your own for long periods as long as you don't panic and embrace the experience!  Since arriving back home I have taken time to spend with family and friends and prepare for starting at Homerton in a few weeks!  

Strong support network

Being one of the top universities in the world, Cambridge has always been an aspiration, however it was during Year 13 that I really started to get the confidence, passion and desire to contemplate studying at such an academically rigorous University.  My results confirmed for me that this was somewhere I could further achieve and grow, and hence I applied. 

Despite the inevitable nerves, I feel incredibly lucky to soon be joining the College.  There are many 'unknowns' for me about the academic standards required and no doubt there will be a steep learning curve  - however I have also seen the strong support network students have to help them make the next 'step up' from A levels which I am hugely grateful for!   

First Formal

I'm looking forward to Homerton becoming my home for the next three years where I can meet new people and get stuck in to college life.  I can't wait to attend my first 'formal' and try out the Buttery!   

Orla at the Homerton open day