I wondered if there were people who had experience of both Oxford and Cambridge. I went to Oxford for my MA and disliked the place, many of the people, and the general vibe. Oxford had been my life-long dream (in a way that I never felt about Cambridge, it has to be admitted), and I think I just had wild and unrealistic ideas about it. It inevitably disappointed me, and I found myself growing increasingly isolated from my peers, and even began to miss tutorials (not to mention lectures). I now have a place at Cambridge for a PhD. I do not have the same preconceptions of Cambridge as I once did about Oxford, but am acutely concerned that some kind of psychological identification of the two universities (I mean, you know, 'Oxbridge' and all that) will mean that I end up feeling unhappy in Cambridge. I would not want that at all.
My home departments/faculties from Oxford and Cambridge are, it should be emphasised, extremely different. I am a philosopher. Philosophy in Oxford has an enormous number of students and staff, and as a result the ambient of the faculty is dispersed (it is also toxically competitive, and there is a really piquant culture of favouritism created by pockets of disciples who too-keenly observe the trends of the Faculty Chairs. Cambridge, by contrast, has a very small, liberal, and progressive Philosophy Faculty. I have had extremely good experiences already (from interviewing for the PhD, attending open days, having extensive e-mail exchanges with faculty, and even the odd phone call). The size of Cambridge philosophy is about 1/10 the size of Oxford. This, I think, could dramatically affect how I would end up feeling as a student there.
Nevertheless, I still have concerns about Cambridge as a whole, and whether the vibe of the city will end up giving me the kinds of bad feelings I associate(d) with Oxford, just on account of--you might think--superficial similarities, i.e., architectural, traditional, etc..
So, if you have had experience of both Oxford and Cambridge, could you tell me honestly if an unfavourable experience at one is likely to mean an unfavourable experience at the other? It must be borne in mind, too, that many of the things I found extremely unpleasant at Oxford won't apply to me at Cambridge, simply on account of being a PhD student. That is, I wouldn't have tens of essays to complete within those cramped, insanity-causing short terms, alongside attending compulsory tutorials.
I have said enough. Let me know your thoughts. Thank you!
What do you think?