Siddharth Pandey first came to Cambridge in 2012 when he was awarded a Commonwealth Shared Scholarship by the Cambridge Trust to undertake a Master’s degree in Education.
Thereafter, having spent one year back in his home country of India, Siddharth was successful in gaining a prestigious Cambridge International Scholarship and has returned to Cambridge to embark on a PhD in the same subject.
Writing about Cambridge, Siddharth says “my journey so far as an MPhil and PhD student here has been an immensely joyful experience which has combined together learning of all sorts: academic, photographic, musical and much more! Coming to Cambridge has been a huge privilege because when one realises the innumerable opportunities in every possible avenue available to its students - simply by virtue of being a student at the University - one is truly spoilt for choice.
While being located in the Faculty of Education, I was able to conceptualise and pursue an interdisciplinary project at the interface of literature and material culture in the fantasy genre for my Masters and PhD. I am grateful for working in such a dynamic faculty with excellent experts, all of whom make the academic learning experience an exciting and constantly invigorating process.
The same dynamism holds true for my college, Homerton. As Cambridge’s newest college, it has been heartening to observe how Homerton’s various communities – students, academics and staff – collaborate towards making the college a friendly, warm and an exceptionally effective place to work and reside. I should specifically mention the outstanding librarians at Homerton and at the Faculty of Education, who are directly related to my research work on an everyday basis.
As a researcher, one of the highlights of my Cambridge life has been the freedom to audit several other lectures and seminar series. Since my second research area (unrelated to my PhD project) concerns the literary, architectural and cultural evolution of India’s hill stations, I have had the good fortune of attending several lectures on topics as diverse as materiality, heritage conservation, cultural histories of bodies and objects, and many more, at Cambridge’s vibrant Centre for South Asian Studies and the Centre for Research in the Arts, Social Sciences and the Humanities (CRASSH).”
In October last year, Siddharth was invited to deliver the introductory lecture in the ‘Visual Constructions of South Asia’ series at the Centre for South Asian Studies, and in March 2015, will be delivering his second lecture in the UK on ‘Materiality and Heritage Conservation’ at the University of Durham.
He is a member of the editorial board of the Cambridge Open-Review Educational Research e-Journal, the Faculty of Education’s official e-journal created by higher degree students.
Speaking about his extra-curricular activities, Siddharth commented “while Cambridge has met all my expectations in terms of a wonderfully constructive academic environment, it has also helped me develop my artistic skills. It was during my MPhil year that I developed an interest in landscape photography, and held my first exhibition at the Faculty of Education in May 2013. I then went on to exhibit my works on English landscapes in my Himalayan hometown Shimla, in October 2013 and June 2014, both of which attracted a combined crowd of around fifteen thousand visitors during ten days and received positive media coverage.
In addition, whilst having no formal training in Western music, Homerton graciously accepted me into the college choir, and I recently started composing my own music, all thanks to the wonderfully inspirational environment of this great university town! But the greatest lesson I have learned from Cambridge is in humility. While being one of the world’s greatest institutions, I am always surprised and humbled to find academics and professionals of immense status to be some of the kindest, unassuming people I have ever met. And this definitely includes the superb staff at the Cambridge Trust, which has ensured with enviable work ethic that I live well and engage with University life in as many creative ways as possible. To them, I owe the most, and because of them, Cambridge is my second home”.