“Classics? Class-what?” my parents used to say! To be honest I didn’t know there was such a degree, and even when I found out what Classics was all about I didn’t think you could actually study that at university. Having said that, I always loved reading Latin texts in school, and thank goodness Latin was compulsory because without that first encounter I think I would have missed out on such a wonderful opportunity to study Classics at Cambridge. My original plan was actually to study Engineering at uni. Coming from a traditional background it was kind of expected to go down the so-called professional route. So when I stumbled on a very old copy of Ovid’s Heroides in a charity shop during my gap year I immediately knew I just had to do the right thing and pursue my love of the ancient world. What really attracted me to the course was the fact that you get to explore so many different areas and not narrow it down to one specific area (basically, you get to do as many subjects under one heading, and often, in the process, you find your passionate about a topic you had not previously enjoyed at A-levels!). That’s what so rewarding about Classics at Cambridge - you really get to discover your own niche, and most often, in an aspect of the classical world that you had not previously considered. From discussing Aristotle’s Politics and his ideas about what it is to be human to talking about scatology in popular Roman culture, Classics is both ends of the spectrum and everything in between. In fact, when it came to doing my final year dissertation I could then appreciate just how much the breadth of the course had helped me find new approaches to Classics and research beyond the ancient Greek and Roman world. Being able to explore classical world within the Nigerian colonial setting was truly a remarkable experience.
When I think of my initial ideas about classics as a course only certain people can study, I realise how far from the truth I was – it’s opened a whole new way of thinking of the self and looking at the world anew. I am certain I could not have had a better preparation for further study doing a Masters in International Development.
Nnenda, three-year course alumna and masters student in International Development