Newnham Faces – Classicist Harriet Arrives at Newnham

We’re welcoming our first of the 2017-18 Newnham freshers this week – Classicist Harriet.

Harriet is here to study the 4-year Classics degree, a course for people who are learning Latin and Greek from scratch, which involves a prelim year studying languages. Alongside other students who haven’t had the opportunity to study Latin at school, she’s arrived for an introductory Latin course. It’s a friendly, relaxed atmosphere, with classes in the morning, and private study time in the afternoons. Harriet’s impressed at how quickly she and her fellow students have gone from knowing nothing, to being able to translate real Latin texts.

Harriet’s first ambition was to be an archaeologist – mainly based on Indiana Jones. Then, “I went into my first Classics lesson and fell in love.” When a Newnham Classics student came to her school and talked about the Cambridge degree, she knew she wanted to apply to Cambridge. She was less sure about applying to a women’s College – until she found out more.

Visiting the College, she loved the beautiful gardens and architecture, from the start. “It was a sunny day in April, and the dew was on the grass,” she remembers. “There were already people picnicking outside…” With her practical head on, she liked that all students lived on site for the whole course. She’s planning how to make her room a home, with a collage of her own photos on the pin-board and maps and artworks hung on the walls.

But what really grabbed Harriet was Newnham’s story of women’s empowerment. Here, the library isn’t just a library, but a symbol of the “power move” the College made, by setting up its own library when early women students were excluded from the University’s own library facilities. “I love the history of Newnham,” she explains.

Of course, there’s also the obvious benefit – with Newnham only 3 minutes from the Classics department, Harriet anticipates that she and her new friends are going to be spending a lot of time in the Newnham Café…